There’s a Lot of Good Info Here That No One’s Going to See Because It’s a Holiday Weekend

After ten days or so in which it became really, really difficult to write this blog every day due to the overwhelming depression at watching the Dodgers flail around on the field… there is a lot going on today. So let’s get to it.

Don’t forget, tonight’s game is a nationally-televised affair on ESPN.

* Manny Ramirez is a beast. No better way to help your team out of an eight-game losing streak than putting two balls out of the yard yourself. Over the last week, Manny is hitting an even .500 (15-30) with 7 extra base hits, including three homers. But Bill Shaikin still isn’t happy. After his article a few days ago that seemed to imply that Juan Pierre should be back in the starting lineup (and kudos to Torre for saying that wasn’t going to happen), Shaikin goes back to Boston to dredge up bad feelings about Manny’s unhappy divorce with the Red Sox. Didn’t we get enough of these stories when the trade happened? And aren’t there more important things to be focusing on right now like, oh, I don’t know, a huge series against the division leaders?

* Is anyone still saying Chad Billingsley isn’t an ace? After blowing it on Friday, this was a game the Dodgers absolutely had to have. Billingsley simply out-dueled Dan Haren, giving up just 2 runs in 7 innings. Fortunately Manny and the bats showed up, because lately 2 runs over 7 innings has still been good for a loss. Let’s not forget to mention Hong-Chih Kuo, as well, who blew away the D-Backs to the tune of 5 strikeouts in 6 batters. The man has simply been dominating all year long, and he really helped keep the rest of the bullpen fresh for tonight’s rubber game.

* Enjoy being the 4th starter in Kansas City, Chan Ho. Chan Ho Park tells Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that he’d prefer to be a starter next year than a reliever and would leave LA if that were the only way he could start – although he does add that he would relieve in Los Angeles next year, saying “I’m willing to sacrifice for this team.” Is there a team out there desperate enough to sign him to be a part of their rotation? Before this year, he hadn’t even been league-average (and I’m being charitiable by not saying “dreadfully horrible”) since 2001, which not so coincidentally is the last season he was with the Dodgers. Hey, Chan Ho? You’ve had 11 seasons in which you’ve gotten into more than 10 games. In 6 of those, your ERA+ has been over 100, and all 6 have been with the Dodgers. Why leave just to be a starter?

* Get ready to see the dugout get crowded. Tony Jackson has the likely callups once rosters expand. No real surprises here, but we’ll get into this further once they actually happen.

The list of players the Dodgers plan to activate or call up from the minors on Monday just keeps getting longer. It now includes Jones, Scott Proctor, Chin-lung Hu, A.J. Ellis, Delwyn Young, James McDonald, Eric Stults and Clayton Kershaw. There could be others.

* Neither Danys Baez nor Lance Carter have thrown a pitch this season anywhere. Want a real depressing read? ESPN.com’s Buster Olney has the story of Edwin Jackson and how he’s blossomed into an effective starter for Tampa Bay this season. So, you’re saying it’s a bad idea to give up on a 22-year old with talent? The hell you say! Here’s the takehome quote that will make you want to claw your eyes out:

Now Jackson and the Rays have been rewarded, with a solid starter who will likely be a weapon in the postseason.

On the list of comparables on Jackson’s baseball-reference.com page, by the way? Roy Halladay. Fantastic.

* Fun from Gotham! Over at MLBtraderumors, they’re already talking about the Yankees’ offseason plans. Why do we care? Because one of the articles linked to is that of Joel Sherman’s from the New York Post – and you might be interested in this paragraph:

ROBINSON CANO - If he is the second baseman next year, fine, he still has the capability to be both a batting champ and Gold Glove. But the Yanks should investigate his market in the way Tampa did in turning a high-end young hitter (Delmon Young) into a young front-of-the-rotation starter (Matt Garza) last offseason. Cano for Zach Greinke, Chad Billingsley or Matt Cain anyone?

Before you freak out, remember, this is just a reporter speculating, and there’s nothing from either side to back this idea up. But let’s just bite this one in the ass right here and say, there is absolutely no way on earth that Chad Billingsley ought to be dealt for anyone who’s not Albert Pujols. Don’t get me wrong, the Dodgers are going to have a gaping hole at 2B this offseason and I would love to fill it with Robinson Cano, as I said the last time his name came up around here. But absolutely not for a 23-year-old who’s already among the best pitchers in baseball. If not for his rough start to the year (thanks, crazy rain delay decisions!), his ERA would be under 3.00, which would be absolutely fantastic. So, Joel? Yeah, thanks but… well, get a clue.

* And the most horrifying thing for last… I had every intention of making fun of Arizona for this story from Ken Rosenthal:

The Diamondbacks are the favorites to acquire Blue Jays shortstop David Eckstein, forcing the Angels to consider other options, major-league sources say.

Eckstein, 33, is almost certain to be traded before the deadline for setting postseason rosters at midnight Sunday. While talks are fluid, the Jays currently are more inclined to trade with the D-backs, sources say.

Trust me, it was going to be good. There were going to plenty of references to “magical pixie” David Eckstein, and I was certainly going to reference this post we made a few months ago on him, where I said, amongst other things,

For a GM who loves veterans like Colletti does, you don’t think he’d love to add his “grittiness” or “hustle” or whatever euphemism you want to use for “short, modestly talented white guy”? Of course he would.

Yeah, it was going to be good. Arizona adding David Eckstein – there’s your answer! Except that then I saw this from Baseball Prospectus

The Red Sox, Dodgers, and Rays also reportedly have interest in Eckstein.

Sweet Jesus. The end times may truly be upon us.

(Update: The D-Backs have indeed acquired Eckstein today. Crisis averted. I now expect to see him hit 9 home runs in 9 at-bats against LA the rest of the year.)

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

MSTI’s First Half Review: Pitching

After dissecting the mess that is the offense, on to much happier subjects: the pitching. With some exceptions, the pitching has been excellent so far, carrying this team where the offense has let it down.

Remember, the grades reflect the performance of the player compared to what reasonably could have been expected of them at the beginning of the year. Less than 10 IP gets you an “incomplete”.

Starters
Chad Billingsley (9-8, 3.25) (A)
Ace. Not “going to be an ace”. Not “potential to be an ace.” Ace. I mean, he’s third in all of baseball in strikeouts behind only two other certified aces, C.C. Sabathia and Tim Lincecum, despite having 21 and 13 fewer IP, respectively. His 3.25 ERA is 11th in the NL, and that’s even though he had a 5.20 ERA in April due to his being jerked around in his first three appearances around rain delays and relief stints. (Relive that terror here.) He still needs to work on keeping the pitch count down and getting deeper into games, but just in case you forgot: he’s 23 years old and he’s already one of the best pitchers in baseball. Enjoy watching this kid for the next ten years.

Derek Lowe (7-8, 3.45) (B+)
Death, taxes, and Derek Lowe, right? Look at Lowe’s WHIPs in his 4 years in LA: 1.252, 1.266, 1.269, 1.226. Look at his ERAs: 3.61, 3.63, 3.88, 3.85. The man has become a model of consistency – although thanks to the Dodgers’ lousy offensive attack, he’s on pace for this third losing season out of four. This year, though, Lowe actually made it interesting, sandwiching excellent months of April (2.88) and June (2.81) around a brutal May (6.11). Yet he still ends up almost exactly where he’s always been. Say what you will about Paul DePodesta, but the deal he signed Lowe to ended up being an absolute steal.

Hiroki Kuroda (5-6, 3.42) (A)
It’s appropriate that Kuroda comes after Lowe, because while Kuroda’s been surprisingly good, he’s also been amazingly inconsistent. I think we’re all thrilled with the 128 ERA+ from a unknown Japanese import, but who’d have imagined how he’d come by it? In just his last 6 outings, he’s had two complete game shutouts (first by a Dodger since Lowe in 2005) plus another 7 shutout inning effort – but also two 6-run games in which he couldn’t get out of the 3rd inning. On the plus side, both of those stinkers came before his short stint on the DL, and he’s been nails ever since.

This man needs a better nickname. I’ve seen “Rusty” and “Hero” floating around, but I’m not sure how I feel about either.

Brad Penny (5-9, 5.88) (F)
Ugh. The supposed “ace” coming into the season – he did start the All-Star Game last year – has been on the DL since June 17, and he was probably hurt for quite a while before that. On June 1, I put forth the idea that Penny had a very good April and a lousy May, so it wasn’t time to panic based on one bad month. Of course, it only got worse and then he went on the DL. Fortunately, the starting depth has been excellent, because there’s not too many teams who can weather the loss of their opening day starter and improve, but it does sort of muddy his future. He’s still got that team option for $8.75 next year which I still feel you simply have to pick up (as long as he can return and show any sort of effectiveness), but it’s hardly a given anymore.

Clayton Kershaw (0-2, 4.42) (B-)
A really hard grade to assign for the kid. In a vacuum, he was only a pretty average major league pitcher (99 ERA+). On the other hand, he’s just 20 years old, so to achieve even that was pretty impressive. Basically, Kershaw came out and did exactly what you’d expect he would have: obvious flashes of brilliance, a little wildness and inconsistency, and difficulty working deep into games due to high pitch counts. Still, I hope the experience did him well; he probably was able to learn a lot about what it takes to succeed in the bigs, and when he returns – as he almost certainly will later this season – hopefully he’ll have taken a step forward. That said, it was the right decision to send him down.

Eric Stults (2-2, 2.67) (A+)
2006: 1-0, 5.60 ERA in 6 games (2 starts)
2007: 1-4, 5.82 ERA in 12 games (5 starts)

MSTI on Stults, March 5, 2008:

Eric Stults, I guess? Actually, I haven’t heard word one about him being in the mix this spring at all, so I’m not even sure if he’s being considered. Even so, his career MLB record of 2 wins and a 5.75 ERA is hardly the stuff legends, or even league-average pitchers, are made of.

Well, let the legend begin. Seriously, if someone told you the “Dodgers will have 3 complete game shutouts at the break” and you guessed “Two by Kuroda and one by Stults” you’d be in a psychiatric hospital right now. And it’s not just been that one dominating game against the ChiSox; even in his last start, after giving up 3 runs in the first inning to the Marlins, he completely shut them down for the next 5 innings. I have no illusions that Stults has stumbled upon the secret grave of Cy Young, but he’s been more than effective and one of the most pleasant surprises of the season. Keep it up, Stultsy.

Swingmen
Chan Ho Park (4-2, 2.63) (A+)
MSTI, March 5, 2008, discussing starting rotation depth:

Chan Ho Park, that’s right, the Chan Ho Park. How’d his 2007 go? Not bad, just a brutal 6-14, 5.99 ERA campaign. In the minor leagues. I’m not even brave enough to do the calculations to see what that would have equated to in the bigs.

Oh well. At least I can take comfort in the fact that there’s no one on the planet – come on, not even Mrs. Park – who saw this coming. Chan Ho Park hasn’t had an ERA under 4.81 or an ERA+ within sniffing distance of league average since… wait for it.. 2001, his last season in LA. In the intervening six seasons, he ranged from bad (3 seasons in Texas with ERA’s over 5) to hurt (just 7 games in 2003) to completely irrelevant (just one game in the bigs last year, for the Mets, in which he gave up 7 runs in 4 innings). Yet back in LA, where he was above league average in 5 of his 6 full seasons.. he’s been amazing. A 166 ERA+? A 2.16 ERA in 5 starts? This isn’t just a rebirth for Park. This might be the best season of his career. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Hong-Chih Kuo (3-1, 1.69) (A+)
Previously known for 4 elbow surgeries, a curious affinity for beating up on the Mets, and flipping his bat after hitting a homer against said Mets, Hong-Chih Kuo has become what no one expected he ever could be: a reliable, effective major league pitcher. Forget “effective”. He’s been dominating at times, with a 1.69 ERA, and he’s been absolute murder on lefthanded batters, who strike out against him nearly half of the time. But for some bizarre reason, Torre insists on bringing him in when the Dodgers are behind; a majority of his batters faced have been in “low leverage” situations. Because when you’ve got a guy who’s mowing people down, you definitely want him to come in for mop-up situations. Of course.

Esteban Loiaza (1-2, 5.63) (F)
Although I suppose, he really should have gotten a “DFA” as a grade. But hey, at least for the $8 million or so the Dodgers paid him, he gave them 2 wins in 8 starts over the last two seasons before being unceremoniously kicked to the curb. Did he really pitch 24 innings for the Dodgers this year? I mean, I know he did, but doesn’t that seem like it was about 40 years ago?

Bullpen
Takashi Saito (3-3, 2.18, 17 of 20 saves) (A-)
I write this review with a lot of trepidation, as the results of Saito’s right elbow MRI are still unknown. But when a 38-year-old pitcher says that his throwing arm hurts too much to brush his teeth with it, that’s not exactly what’s known around the industry as a “good sign”. I hate to say it, but there’s a part of me that’s afraid we’ve seen the last of him.

As for this year, there’s been some sentiment around the Internets that he’s lost it, and I for the life of me just can’t see why. He’s really had two lousy games all season, and his ERA+ is still a fantastic 201. Is it because he’s not as dominating as last year, when he had a better season than future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera has ever had? Sure, he hasn’t, but he’s still been a pretty damned effective closer, and if he’s DL’d or worse, there’s no question this team’s in trouble without him.

Jonathan Broxton (2-2, 3.40) (B-)
Amazing that Broxton’s still only 24, isn’t it? Seems like he’s been here forever, and this is his 4th season in the bigs. It’s been a weird season for the Bull; he’s still been effective, but not as good as he’s been over the last two years. He’s also had a few disaster games (6 runs in 1/3 IP to lose vs. Houston, and 3 runs in 1/3 IP to blow a game in New York).

I guess we’re going to find out a lot more about him pretty quickly, though; with Saito likely hitting the DL, we’re going to get our first look at Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers Closer.

Joe Beimel (3-0, 1.61) (A)
You know what they say about middle relievers; they’re so up-and-down from year to year that it’s a mistake to ever depend on them. Except for the third year in a row, Joe Beimel’s been incredibly reliable out of the Dodgers bullpen. His ERA is a little deceiving; while he’s clearly doing a good job of not letting guys score, his WHIP is from 1.29 to 1.42 this year. Still, 5 earned runs at the All-Star break is pretty impressive.

Besides, how many middle relievers get their own crazy dedicated fans?

Scott Proctor (1-0, 6.82) (F)
Booooooooooooooooooo. Booooooooooooooooo! He was terrible, I mean, truly awful, before going down with a bum arm, which sort of makes me think this post I made after Torre was hired (RIP Scott Proctor, 1977-2008) was pretty accurate. Maybe all those years of abuse from Torre in New York finally caught up to him?

Cory Wade (0-1, 2.56) (A+)
Along with Park, Kuo, and Stults, the Dodgers have been the lucky recipient of several massive pitching surprises this year, and Wade certainly fits the bill. I mean, really: Cory Wade? This is what is so simultaneously great and frustrating about baseball – you can never predict things like this. Wade got called up from AA Jacksonville to be the last man out of the pen and has been so good that he’s become a pretty important piece. A 171 ERA+ and a 1.009 WHIP will do that for you. But still. Cory Wade. Good for him.

Ramon Troncoso (0-1, 4.91) (C-)
Snooze. I have to say, I nearly forgot Troncoso was even on the roster. I mean really, what can you say about Ramon Troncoso? He’s only gotten into 13 games, and he’s been predictably mediocre. In fact, he’s only gotten into two games this month, so it seems like Joe Torre may have forgotten he existed too. Oddly enough, for a right-handed pitcher, he’s way more effective against lefties (.451 OPS) than righties (.917 OPS).

Brian Falkenborg (1-2, 6.43) (incomplete)
It’s amazing how much discussion we’ve had around here for a guy who’s only pitched seven innings. Of course, when you’re a career quad-A pitcher who racked up 2 losses in those 7 innings because Joe Torre insists on putting you into high-pressure situations, you’re going to get some things written about you, and they’re not going to be all that good. Look, for all the vitriol about him, I don’t really have a problem with Falkenborg’s existence so much as I do Joe Torre’s usage of him, and that’s really something that Falkenborg has no control over. So Joe, if you want to use him, that’s fine, but can’t you just give him the Hong-Chih Kuo Memorial “Pitcher Who Only Comes In When the Dodgers Are Losing” scholarship?

Yhency Brazoban (0-0, 6.00) (incomplete)
Remember when we actually called this guy “Ghame Over”? What a year for Yhency. Actually, what a career. This is somehow the fifth straight season in which he’s been on the Dodgers, except that he’s only made it into 11 games between 2006-08. After coming back from arm surgery, he showed up to camp, well, let’s just say, “hefty.” He was pretty good in the minors and made it back up to the bigs on May 9th, but in the 16 days he was up, he only got into two games, giving up two runs in three innings. Now back in the minors, he’s once again been hurt and is carrying a 12.37 ERA in 8 games at Vegas. I still can’t believe this guy was once our closer and the heir to the Gagne Throne.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

Real Men Of Genius Presents: Chan Ho Park

MSTI Presents: Real Men Of Genius.

Real men of geeee-ni-us!

Today we salute you, Mr. I Should Be Sucking And Continuing In A Steep Decline But I Have Made A Miraculous Comeback And Am Now Pitching Better Than I Have In Seven Years Man.

When conventional wisdom said that you were an old, washed up has-been who had completely raped the Texas Rangers 6 years ago of $65 million and couldn’t pitch anymore, YOU came back to defy the odds!

Sure, nobody thought that you had a chance in hell to make the roster when you signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers this spring.  In fact, some of us, including myself, laughed at the prospect, thinking that you would be released before the season started.

However, we were wrong, Chan Ho.  And we’re sorry.

We’re so, so sorry!

Last night, YOU came back to bitch slap the Angels for 6 shutout innings, only surrendering 4 hits, while striking out 7 and walking none.  And what do you know?  You didn’t even need to use your drop kick against them!

But wait… that is not the only good pitching performance you’ve had this season.  Not only was that the second time you’ve pitched well against the Angels this year, but you’re also coming off a start against Cleveland where you went 5 innings, giving up 1 ER, and striking out 9.  In fact, though it’s a small sample size, in your three starts this year, you have a 1.20 ERA and, throughout this season in general, your K/9 rate is higher this year (6.88 ) than it has been since 2002, while your WHIP (1.32) is the best it’s been since 2001.  You’ve even done well in the bullpen.  In the bullpen this year, you have put up a 3.03 ERA and, based on all Dodger pitchers who have thrown at least 50 innings, you have the second highest VORP at 17.9!

Take that Murray Chass!

The truth is, Channy, after being one of my favorite punch lines over the past 6 years, you’re making us feel good again.  Nostalgic… like the old Chan Ho.  You’re healthy, have regained your velocity, and stifling hitters.  Does that mean that if you keep this up the rest of the year we should re-sign you to a new deal?

Oh, hell no!

But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be a fixture in the rotation.  In fact, you have been one of our best pitchers this year and with the numbers you have put up, you could arguably be one of our very top starters.  That’s right, folks.  I am advocating Chan Ho Park to be our starter. He is pitching the best he has in years and, in true Giovanni Cararra fashion, he is doing it with the Dodgers.

Just stay the hell away from Fernando Tatis!

The Ho is back and he’s pimping teams out!  For that, MSTI salutes you!

- Vin vinscully-face.jpg

MSTI Goes to Queens

Yeah, I don’t usually do game recaps around here. That said, I don’t usually get to go to Dodger games live; so here we are.

That’d be the view from the cheap seats tonight at Shea. Looks like that’s the top of the first inning, with Juan Pierre on second and Jeff Kent hitting with one out. You can see the new CitiField rising out beyond centerfield, but this picture really doesn’t do it justice – you can’t imagine how massive this thing looks. As soon as I got off the subway I saw the Ebbets Field-inspired rotunda behind homeplate, and for a split second you nearly forget who the home team was tonight. This thing is going to be the park the Dodgers should have had. Burn in hell, Robert Moses!

I wish I’d thought to have taken a picture of this, but one highlight was the definitely the guy I saw wearing a home-made Kershaw “jersey”, by which I mean “white T-shirt with Dodgers logo and Kershaw written on it”. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that after only one start his masterpiece was out of date – he had 54 on it, not knowing that Kershaw has since switched to #22. Speaking of which, Kershaw’s number change was the subject of this LA Times story, which provides us with this awesome quote from #22′s former owner, Mark Sweeney:

Sweeney said he had no problem offering Kershaw his number, noting that Kershaw is “going to be in this uniform for a long, long time. It’s something important to do from an organizational standpoint.”

Here’s how that quote should have read:

Sweeney said he had no problem offering Kershaw his number, noting that Kershaw is “going to be in this organization for a long, long time, while I will almost certainly be DFA’d within the week, as soon as Andy LaRoche is recalled, so maybe I shouldn’t be getting too comfortable with any numbers. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go ground out weakly to second to lower my batting average to an almost unfathomable .093 while MSTI boos me lustily, confusing every Mets fan around him.”

That said, I can only imagine how awkward this must be for Sweeney. By all accounts he’s a really good person and teammate (let me add the obvious, that I’m only on him because of his amazingly terrible on-field performance, and nothing more), but he has to know his time is short, right? When you’ve got LaRoche hitting in Vegas and getting experience at new positions and you have one hit in May (this is true), you’ve got to know that you’re not going to be around to see whatever this team is going to accomplish this year. Not an enviable position, to be sure.

As for Clayton Kershaw… not exactly what I was hoping for. There were flashes of dominance, especially striking out David Wright in the first inning. But between walking the bases loaded in the 3rd inning and giving up three hits and a walk in the 4th, it’s pretty clear he’s not going to just show up and be Cy Young right away. Though I was obviously excited to have the chance to see him live so early in his career, I’m still not exactly sure why he was called up – especially when Chan Ho Park (has yet to allow more than 2 earned runs in any of his 16 appearances) and Hong-Chih Kuo (2 runs allowed and 22 strikeouts in his last 18 innings) have been so effective, not to mention that Jason Schmidt only gets one or two more rehab starts before returning.

And hey – how about Russell Martin and Blake DeWitt? I’ve spent enough time discussing the struggles of  Kent and Sweeney lately, so I’ve got to point out how great these two were tonight. Martin with a 4-4, including a double and a triple? The fact that he’s only 4th in the All-Star voting is a crime, people (hmm.. sounds like our next cause?) Plus DeWitt.. what more can you say about this kid? I have to admit I was pretty floored when I saw on the Shea Stadium board that he was hitting .382 against lefties – before he knocked an RBI single against Pedro Feliciano. I’m not sure what’s more amazing – the fact that he got off to such a good start when no one gave him have a shot; or the fact that he’s largely kept it up.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

It’s Like Christmas In May…

As has been reported pretty much everywhere, megaprospect Clayton Kershaw’s making his debut today at Dodger Stadium against the Cardinals. First things first: if you’re anywhere near Los Angeles right now, stop reading this immediately, get off the Internet, and go find some tickets to this game. Not to add to the hype unnecessarily, but I can’t even remember the last time we had a rookie’s debut who was hyped this much. Let me put it this way: I have holiday events to attend, and while I normally can live with missing a game or two here and there to be a part of society, you’d better believe I’m going to drop whatever I’m doing to be ready to watch this kid.

For the record, I’m not convinced this was the right time to bring him up. We all knew he was making his debut this season, and that’s fine. But I guess I’m just not sure why it’s happening now. There’s no new injury to the starting rotation, and no one’s pitched poorly enough to lose their jobs. The front four of Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley, and Hiroki Kuroda is about as set in stone as any rotation in the game right now. For the 5th spot – when you even need it, which isn’t always – you’ve got Chan Ho Park and Hong-Chih Kuo, who have each been surprisingly effective, plus all signs are positive so far on the return of Jason Schmidt. Granted, Penny and Lowe (until Derek’s last start) have struggled greatly, but Kershaw isn’t being called up to take their spots. He’s being called up to take the spot of Parkuo (hat-tip on that name: BluePastorKyle); and speaking of that two-headed monster, how is it that after they combined for 7 shutout innings in Anaheim last Saturday, Kuo didn’t get into another game until a meaningless inning last night and Park has still yet to? Point being, it’s not that I’m against Clayton Kershaw; far from it. It’s just that when the two guys you’ve got joining up to be your fifth starter have been pretty good over the season and very good in their last outings, I’m just not sure why now is the time to bring up Kershaw. You’d think you’d at least want to see how long you can ride Parkuo, figure out what the hell is going on with Brad Penny, maybe see if Schmidt’s got any prayer of productivity, and let Kershaw percolate in the minors and continue to work on his control.

That said, while it’s not necessarily the way I would have gone about it, the fact is that Clayton Kershaw’s finally making his debut in a few hours, and I could not be more excited about it. Safe to say, no matter how well or poorly this goes, this is going to be a day we’ll remember for quite some time. Hell, just take a quick look around the Dodgers blogosphere to catch the excitement:

Sons of Steve Garvey:

Aaugh! I can’t help it! This is going to be awesome! Help us, Clayton Kershaw! You’re our only hope!

6-4-2:

Well, good an excuse as any for me to make my first visit to Dodger Stadium.

True Blue LA:

heck, it’s Kershaw time now, what do I have to complain about?

Jeff Kent as cleanup hitter deathwatch: Tonight’s 1-4 puts him at a 61 OPS+. He is now 11% worse of a hitter than the worst cleanup hitter of the last 50 years. Until Torre starts dropping him in the order, I’m going to have to keep harping on this.

Plus: The Free Terry Tiffee campaign worked!

And! With Andruw Jones on the shelf for 4-6 weeks, it seems kind of unfair to keep him up in the “cause corner” busting him for his batting average. Looks like we need a new one already! Thoughts?

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg