The Least Depressing Shutout Loss Ever

Sometimes your team gets completely shut down, and you get frustrated. You wonder why your stars look bad at the plate, you can’t figure out how the opposing pitcher is getting everyone out with his junk, and you wonder why Garret Anderson continues to exist.

Not last night, though. Despite getting about 10% of the press that Ubaldo Jimenez gets, Josh Johnson is just about indisputably the best pitcher in the NL right now, if not all of baseball. And when you run into a train like that, sometimes it’s better to just sit back and appreciate the performance, even if it’s sending your team directly to a loss.

Besides, as Jon noted, the Dodgers tossed out 8 scoreless innings of their own, so aside from a tough 2nd inning, it was hardly a disaster. Definitely one of those games where you say, “yep, that happened” and move on.

Anyway, tons of other minor notes to get to:

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Remember the other day when I mentioned that Brad Ausmus‘ recovery from back surgery was ahead of schedule and that he might be looking to begin a rehab stint after the All-Star break? Apparently, it was even closer than that, since he DH’d for Lake Elsinore last night, going one for two. He’s supposed to catch three innings today, and while 1/3 of a game after DH’ing the night before may not sound like much, not forcing a 41-year-old coming off of back surgery to take a day off after his first game back sounds like he’s in better shape than any of us anticipated.

Barring a setback, that means Ausmus’ 30-day rehab clock is ticking, putting his return in the first week of August at the latest. I already discussed whether that was really a good thing or not, but it’s also worth noting the domino effect that will have throughout the organization. A.J. Ellis would likely get sent back to AAA, where Lucas May has a .902 OPS that’s only partially fueled by the ABQ effect. You’d think the team would want each to play every day, but it’s hard to demote May to AA now.

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Still no news on what sent Ronald Belisario to the restricted list, but the more I hear about it the more it sounds like it’s a family emergency and not a substance abuse problem. Tony Jackson:

Kinzer also said that Belisario was still in Los Angeles, but indicated the pitcher might be heading home to Venezuela at some point.

“It’s just some personal problems, and he’s got some things he’s got to work through,” Kinzer said. “It’s just a lot of anxiety, and that is about all I want to say right now.”

 Pressed on what he meant by the word “anxiety,” Kinzer declined to offer details.

“Right now, he is [still in town], but we will have to see how things work out later,” Kinzer said. “Obviously, his family is in Venezuela. But we haven’t set up [any travel].”

If it was some sort of disciplinary action or rehab issue, you’d think that leaving the country wouldn’t be an option. The fact that he’s from Venezuela is doubly concerning, as Yorvit Torrealba, Victor Zambrano, and Ugueth Urbina have all had to deal with kidnapping situations there in recent years.

Again, we have no idea if that is the case, but the pieces all fit. For the sake of everyone involved (and while I include the Dodger bullpen on that list, they’re about 78th on it) let’s hope it’s something else entirely.

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Garret Anderson put up another 0-4 with 2 K, plummeting his line to .182/.197/.280. For once, I’m actually not trying to single him out here, because it’s no shame to go hitless against Johnson, and Casey Blake and Rafael Furcal suffered the same fate.

However, earlier this week I noted that 1,337 Dodgers in history had as many plate appearances as GA did, and his OPS+ rank was 1,318, putting him in the bottom 1.33% as far as productivity goes. The four chances last night knocked out a few of those players who now have fewer PA’s than his 138, and the four outs pushed GA’s OPS+ from 34 to 29.

That means the updated standings have Anderson at 1,322 of 1,334 seasons, or in the bottom 1%. With one more plate appearance, he’ll be able to remove Moe Berg’s 1921 and Ben Geraghty’s 136 from the cutoff point, and another out or two will probably push his OPS+ below Bill Bergen’s 1904.

And yes, I am going to keep track of this, because the historical significance is stunning. He just needs 14 more plate appearances to qualify for the worst offensive season in Los Angeles Dodger history by someone with that many chances, and that’s something worth tracking. Fortunately for him, the -4 (yes, negative) that Bergen put up in 250 PA in 1904 is probably safely out of reach.

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Albuquerque updates: Claudio Vargas got lit up for 7 earned and 10 hits in just 3.2 innings for the ‘Topes last night against the Iowa Cubs. His ERA is 7.71. It’s ah, not working out. In better news, Jay Gibbons will be taking part in the Home Run Derby, before playing in the game alongside teammates Lucas May and John Lindsey. Gibbons is somewhat a result of the ABQ air, but he’s also a lefty who can play outfield and a bit of 1B, and doesn’t have his OBP about to drop below .200, like Garret Anderson‘s is. Just sayin’.

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For the sake of completeness, let’s note that the Dodgers released Timo Perez from AAA and signed former D-Back Trent Oeltjen, who had opted out of his minor-league deal with the Brewers last week. The Australian native has had minor league OPS’s over .800 in each of the last three years, and had been on a hot streak recently. But it’s not his bat that denied him a call-up:

Oeltjen had been on an offensive tear with the Sounds, raising his batting average to .301 with 24 doubles, two triples, eight homers, 38 RBI and a .851 OPS. But his defense wasn’t considered major-league ready, so the Brewers opted not to call him up and move out one of their players.

“Our reports were that he was coming on dramatically with the bat,” said assistant general manager Gord Ash. “We liked him, obviously. That’s why we signed him. But as a defensive outfielder, he wasn’t what we were looking for.”

So after opting out of his deal, a man who clearly should have signed with an AL team in order to keep the DH option open not only stayed in the NL, but he signed with perhaps the only other team who can top Milwaukee’s level of outfield stackitude. Time for a new agent, maybe?

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  1. [...] other oddity is that the other day, the agent said Belisario might be headed back to Venezuela. You would think that international [...]

  2. [...] for Oeltjen, he was signed by the Dodgers in July after being released from Milwaukee’s AAA club. Oeltjen’s had his share of success at [...]

  3. [...] Report. Though he was doing well in the minors, he didn’t even warrant a second mention until July 8, 2010, when I noted that he would be taking part in the AAA Home Run Derby. (That’s how come he [...]

  4. [...] Fine, fine, let’s make this quick. He was released by Milwaukee’s AAA club in July, with me laughing at his choice to join the Dodgers: For the sake of completeness, let’s note that the Dodgers released Timo Perez from AAA and [...]