Dodgers End Dynamic Day With Dull Defeat

What a day, right? The Dodgers kicked things off this afternoon by recalling Dee Gordon, and then finally rid us all of Juan Castro and Jay Gibbons. With the #16 pick in the draft, they selected Stanford’s Chris Reed in the first round.

Oh, right – they played a game, too.

The less said about that the better, however, because the Dodger lineup was completely dominated by Philadelphia starter Cliff Lee. Now you may have heard both that Lee is somewhat good at baseball and that the Dodger offense outside of Matt Kemp is something less than imposing, so this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, particularly with a wide strike zone benefiting both pitchers. Still, Lee was masterful in striking out 10 over seven shutout innings. The Dodgers briefly threatened when Jamey Carroll & Aaron Miles (who combined for five of the nine Dodger hits, all singles) both hit bouncing singles to start the game, but Marcus Thames grounded into a double play, and only once more before the 9th did they manage to even get a runner to second.

Ted Lilly tossed out a decent enough start only to be victimized by the total lack of run support, holding the Phillies scoreless in five of six innings, though being touched for two runs in the third on three hits and a walk. Blake Hawksworth looked good in his return from the disabled list, tossing a perfect 7th, before Mike MacDougal began his inevitable regression to being Mike MacDougal, allowing two walks and a Carlos Ruiz double to put the third run on the board in the 8th.

Really, the first eight innings are barely worth noting, but we finally saw some action in the 9th, when Gordon made his debut running for Juan Uribe after the veteran infielder had singled. James Loney followed with a single to right-center, and Gordon easily ran to third.”Easily” probably isn’t strong enough there; Gordon barely looked like he was exerting himself in blazing around the bases. Whatever concerns we may have with his offense and defense, there is absolutely no question that his speed is as good as advertised.

Anyway, with Gordon on third and Loney on first with no outs and the Dodgers down two, it looked like the Dodgers might actually have something going against Phillies closer Ryan Madson. Andre Ethier, hitting for Jerry Sands, nailed a hard-hit grounder to shortstop Wilson Valdez. A better shortstop could have perhaps started a double play, but it was hit so hard that it was all Valdez could do to knock it down and force Ethier at second. Gordon scored to cut the lead to two, with a man still on first with one out, but with the bench emptied, they were forced to stick with catchers Rod Barajas and pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro. Each struck out – Navarro particularly looked bad while doing so – and the game was over.

But forget about the game. Gordon’s here, and likely to start tomorrow behind Rubby De La Rosa. Sure, they’ll have to face Roy Oswalt. But if you’re not optimistic about the present, this will at least be a good glimpse at the future.

Dodgers Select LHP Chris Reed

With the 16th pick in the first round, the Dodgers have selected LHP Chris Reed from Stanford. I’m not a draft expert, and I don’t pretend to be. So here’s some pre-draft scouting reports, while we all try to learn a bit more about the newest Dodger first round pick.

MLB.com:

Reed might be the best arm few knew about heading into this year. The Stanford lefty hadn’t pitched that much prior to this season and was serving as the school’s closer. He’s got the pure stuff for the role, with a fastball that he can get up to 96 mph, sitting typically anywhere from 91 to 95 mph, with good arm-side run. He complements the plus fastball (mainly a four-seamer) with an outstanding slider, giving him enough right there to excel in short relief. But while his command is average at best, he does have the stuff — his changeup could be a plus pitch in the future as well — along with a strong, durable frame. He’s still a bit of an unknown quality, but the stuff is there, and that kind of power from the left side doesn’t often exist. At worst, the team taking him has a lefty setup man who could move quickly. But there might be more there.

ESPN:

The genius of college coaches: Chris Reed, a 6-foot-4 left-hander who sits 92-94 as a reliever with two off-speed pitches that will at least flash above-average, has made exactly one start this year for Stanford, instead working out of the pen where he’s been successful but wasted.

Reed adds a sharp, short slider in the 82-84 mph range to that fastball and will show a very hard-fading changeup in the upper 70s, throwing strikes with all three pitches but not yet showing the fastball command he’ll need to start in the big leagues. He comes from a slot just under three-quarters and repeats his delivery well enough to start, although he could stay upright longer and get more downhill plane on the fastball. Many scouts like Reed as a potential starter, and we know he can pitch in the bullpen if that doesn’t work out, but I like his chances to end up a No. 2 or 3 starter once he’s stretched out.

Jim Callis, Baseball America:

LHP Chris Reed had late helium, goes to #Dodgers here. Signability had to count, but is a LHP who shows three plus pitches.

Baseball America:

16. LAD – Chris Reed, lhp, Stanford – Athletic lefthander will get a shot to start as a pro thanks to a mid-90s fastball and 3-pitch mix

Jim Bowden at ESPN live chat:

Dodgers took Chris Reed…..was Stanfords closer…like Drew Storen, great make-up, intelligent…signable, quick to major leagues…..wipe out slider….Big physical power lefty 92-94 good change-up…nasty nasty movement….will become a starter for them…..this was a great reach down and take my guy draft by Logan White who’s history includes the drafting of Clayton Kershaw…..I love this pick here

Kevin Goldstein at ESPN live chat:

Reed is a long-armed lefty with average velocity, average breaker and good changeup. Still needs a lot of refinement, as he didn’t pitch that much until this year. Seen by many as a supplemental or 2nd round talent.

Some higher-level pitchers had fallen, and no one really thinks that Reed was the best player still available. However, we all know that the Dodgers were constricted financially here, and Reed sounds like an easy sign. Still, that doesn’t mean that’s the only reason he was selected; clearly, some of the experts like this pick, and he’s coming off an excellent spring. More later.

Dee Gordon Arrives, But Is the Timing Right?

I dipped out of a slow day at work early today to enjoy the weather and run some errands, keeping one eye on Twitter for the inevitable roster move news. We’d all expected that when Blake Hawksworth, Marcus Thames, & Juan Uribe were activated, John Ely, Ivan DeJesus, and probably Jerry Sands would be shipped off to take their places. Yesterday, I had prepared a post about how Sands heading down wouldn’t be a bad thing, despite the negative response I expected from fans, planning to hit publish while out and about today. In it, I noted that Matt Kemp & Clayton Kershaw had each returned to the minors after making their debuts, and how doing the same for the slumping Sands might not be the worst thing in the world – and I got to compare Juan Castro to a potted plant. It would have been great.

Well, that’s a post that will never see the light of day, because the Dodgers threw us a series of curveballs by making four roster moves today. Yes, Hawksworth, Thames, and Uribe are all back. Yes, Ely and DeJesus got shipped out. But so did veterans Juan Castro and Jay Gibbons. And joining the club, most surprisingly of all, is young shortstop Dee Gordon. As I write this draft on a crowded subway train home, I am, quite frankly, stunned.

Let’s start with the small fish first. Hawksworth for Ely was expected, particularly after Ely threw over 50 pitches yesterday, and so was Uribe for DeJesus. Each move represents an upgrade. Gibbons getting a DFA for Thames is far more surprising, though not entirely unwelcome. I’ve been pretty clear for a while in saying that Gibbons provides little value on either offense or defense, though I didn’t think they’d send out the lefty bat, and I wasn’t against Sands getting a minor league breather. Gibbons is almost certain to pass through waivers and report to ABQ anyway, so we might not have seen the last of him. This decision to stick with the young Sands over the veteran Gibbons is really one that deserves more attention, but it’ll be brushed under the rug because of the Gordon move.

I really can’t say enough how surprised I am that Gordon is coming to replace Castro. First and foremost, credit is due the Dodgers for finally deciding to stop wasting a roster spot on the completely useless Castro, though I suppose it’s not like he is any more useless now than when they chose to sign him in the first place. (Or the time before that, or the time before that…) Like Gibbons, he won’t be claimed so we may yet see stint #5 from the ageless, hitless, gloveless wonder.

All of this takes us to Gordon, and I must admit that I am torn. He’s the most exciting player the Dodgers have in their system, and a roster spot used on him rather than Castro pushes the team light-years ahead as far as watchability and interest. Yet, the speed of his promotion is difficult to wrap my head around. Many observers, myself included, expected him to start 2011 in AA, and were somewhat surprised that he was pushed to ABQ to start the year. In an offense-heavy environment, he has a good-but-not-stellar line of .315/.361/.370. (Lest you think I’m being too harsh, remember that this is the team on which career nothing JD Closser is hitting .298/.389/.529.) Not a single reputable analyst expected him here this quickly, and when I interviewed Christopher Jackson, who covers the ‘topes daily, he joked that if Gordon were put in the majors right now, he’d break Jose Offerman‘s errors record. As we’ve all heard so many times, Gordon, who didn’t play baseball seriously until high school, is an extremely raw prospect, and not the type likely to be rushed.

I bring this up not to be the wet blanket. I’m excited to see Dee Gordon play. I’m really excited to not see Juan Castro play. I’m just curious about the timing of all this, and how the Dodgers see themselves in the 2011 season. If you bring him up, you have to play him every day. It does no good for his development to be sitting on the bench. But if he plays every day, he’s likely to commit a ton of errors and may or may not be able to hit major league pitching. As I said in the tabled Sands piece, Kemp and Kershaw each had early struggles and were sent back down, and both were more highly touted than Gordon. If the Dodgers see themselves as a team that can win in 2011, will they suffer through the inevitable growing pains? Will they be okay with the fact that he’s almost certain to cost them a game or more with a defensive miscue? Will they really bench Juan Uribe and/or Jamey Carroll on a regular basis to let Gordon play?

We’ll have to see how this plays out to get the answers to those questions. I’ll say this about the Dodgers, however; though much of this is because of all of the injuries they’re fighting through, the 2011 edition has committed to youngsters like we haven’t seen in years. We’ll see that in full display this week against one of the NL’s top teams in Philadelphia, where Sands is starting tonight, Rubby De La Rosa goes tomorrow, and Gordon is likely to make his debut.

Welcome aboard, Dee. Can’t wait to see what you can do.

******

Not to be lost in all the furor today – as I joked on Twitter, “based on my Twitter feed of the last 2 hours, Anthony Weiner tweeted a Dee Gordon dong shot to Paul Revere” – is the creative lineup that Don Mattingly has put together tonight:

Tonight’s #Dodgers lineup: Carroll SS, Miles 2B, Thames LF, Kemp CF, Uribe 3B, Blake 1B, Sands RF, Barajas C, Lilly P

Okay, I suppose I’m not a huge fan of Thames hitting third, but look at what he’s done against one of the toughest lefties in the game, Cliff Lee. Andre Ethier, benched. James Loney, benched. Three righties in the outfield! Casey Blake at first! Whether this works or not – and don’t bet on it, since Lee has held current Dodgers to a .088/.099/.113 line in 81 PA – it’s what we’ve been calling for forever, and I love Mattingly for it. Actually, maybe that’s the answer to the “will the Dodgers play Gordon over Uribe or Carroll” question above. Put one of them at 3B, play Blake at 1B, and now you’ve got Gordon over Loney. Now we’re getting somewhere.