Of the three runs the Dodgers scored tonight, two came off the bats of regular whipping boys James Loney (a homer, no less!) and Dioner Navarro, who drove in Casey Blake with a pinch-hit single in the 9th. Shocking, breaking news, indeed.
I’m joking, but not exactly in the way you might think. After Hiroki Kuroda went seven innings allowing just two runs (the 25th time in his 3+ years as a Dodger he’s done that), Matt Guerrier entered, and that’s where things started to go sideways.
Here’s the damage:
I make jokes about Guerrier because as painful as that list seems, it wasn’t really as bad as all that (and I’m someone who hated his signing in the first place). Both of his walks were intentional. The last run would have been saved had Dioner Navarro not dropped a perfect throw from Jerry Sands at the plate (hey, isn’t it great he’s up instead of A.J. Ellis?). And none of the hits were screaming line drives. The first, by Will Venable, was a bouncer between first and second that a better second baseman than Aaron Miles may have come up with. Jason Bartlett‘s single to left-center fell just out of the reach of Sands, and almost certainly could have been caught by Tony Gwynn or any number of outfielders more fleet of foot than Sands. The final one, by Cameron Maybin, was nothing more than a bouncing ground ball just out of the reach of Jamey Carroll at shortstop. Even on the wild pitch, you could make a good argument that it should have gone down as a passed ball by Navarro.
The point here isn’t to absolve Guerrier of blowing the game, because he did, and it looked bad. The point is that this is exactly the sort of bad luck / good hit placement / subpar defense that has often victimized Jonathan Broxton this season, yet the outcry over it won’t be 1/10000th as large. I know the reply to that will be “well, Broxton’s issues have come in the 9th inning while Guerrier was in the 8th”, but that’s silly: a game can be lost just as easily in the 8th inning as the 9th, as we saw tonight. All of Broxton’s issues aside – and there are issues, which I have never denied – baseball is still a game that largely relies on batted ball luck and the support of your defense, not ‘heart’. For a guy like Guerrier who’s never had strikeout stuff, being on a team that doesn’t always put out the best defensive squad behind him can lead to trouble. Tonight, we saw that combined with the whims of the BABIP gods, and the results weren’t pretty.
Oh well. At least Andre Ethier extended his hit streak.
…or something like that. Bill Shaikin, once again coming up with the scoop, breaks the news today that Bud Selig has appointed J. Thomas Schieffer to be the trustee of the Dodgers while the McCourt mess shakes out.
I don’t know who Tom Schieffer is, and neither, most likely, do you. But according to his Wikipedia entry, he’s done a lot of living in his 63 years. After getting his masters degree in International Relations in 1972, he was elected a state senator at just 24 years of age. He then left public office, got his law degree, and become a corporate oil lawyer, then partnered with George W. Bush and others to purchase the Texas Rangers in 1989. Schieffer was apparently the driving force behind the push to build the new ballpark there, which he did on time and within budget, and served as President of the team from 1991-99. After that, he served as ambassador to Australia and then Japan until 2009, before briefly running for Governor of Texas (as a Democrat, surprisingly) in 2010. Oh, and he wrestled a bear.
I’ve seen people complaining that it’s not Joe Torre or Kim Ng, but neither of them were appropriate for the job. Torre’s a baseball man, while this is a role that requires business acumen, and as great as Ng is, she’s probably too junior for this. (Not to mention how awkward it’d be to make Ned Colletti report to her). Schieffer seems like a decent enough choice, as a man with a wealth of experience both within and outside baseball. Remember, Schieffer is not the decision-maker; he’s there for oversight, making sure that the club doesn’t do anything financially that MLB would deem out of line. He has veto power over any expenses over $5,000.
Well, Ivan DeJesus is in the lineup tonight, alright, but not how we’d hoped. He’s not in there in place of Aaron Miles, but in place of Casey Blake, as Juan Uribe is still unable to play. Still, it’s a chance, and he’d to well to take advantage of it if we want to see him get at least a share of the time with Miles at some point.
The lineup is: Miles 3B, Carroll SS, Ethier RF, Kemp CF, Sands LF, Loney 1B, Barajas C, DeJesus 2B, Garland P. Yes, that makes an infield of Loney / DeJesus / Carroll / Miles, potentially the least dangerous in the history of baseball.
Ken Gurnick reports that Dioner Navarro has rejoined the club. There’s been no corresponding roster move, but we all know it’s A.J. Ellis headed back to AAA. (Update: Ellis has been sent down.) Speaking of injured Dodgers, I believe that Jay Gibbons‘ rehab stint ends tomorrow. At that point, he’d either need to be activated or DFA’d. Though I find it hard to believe anyone would claim him if he were DFA’d, my guess is they’ll be able to restart his rehab clock because of his continuing vision problems.
Per everyone, Dioner Navarro tore his oblique and is likely out until May. I’ve long said A.J. Ellis is better anyway, so that’s fine by me. I know Hector Gimenez is the camp darling and is out of options, but he’s barely seen any time behind the dish, so I’m not sure how comfortable you can be with just him behind Rod Barajas (despite Don Mattingly’s terrifying claims that Barajas could play every day.)
That’s all the analysis you get from me on this for the moment, since I’m sitting in the stands at Astros / Yankees in Tampa. Figured I’d toss this up for discussion, though. Eric Chavez just crushed a dinger. Dammit! (On the other hand, people are yelling fat jokes at Andruw Jones. So, there’s that.)
Nice weekend for the starting staff, right?
Chad Billingsley, today: 3.2 innings, 3 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 2 K, after last week’s 3 scoreless inning debut.
Clayton Kershaw, yesterday: 4 scoreless innings, facing the minimum 12 batters, giving him 7 scoreless innings this spring in which he’s allowed just 3 hits.
Jon Garland, on Friday: 3 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit.
Any comments about the offense, or lack thereof, should be held back on a day that has a lineup missing Matt Kemp, Rafael Furcal, Andre Ethier, Casey Blake, and Juan Uribe, and features Dioner Navarro hitting cleanup. On the other hand, Marcus Thames, on his 34th birthday, doubled off the left-center wall to tie the game at 3 in the 8th.
25th man update: Justin Sellers replaced Juan Castro in the starting lineup at shortstop, walked once in two tries and made two errors on the same play in the first inning, destroying a WGN banner in the process. Castro struck out pinch-hitting in the 5th (against Carlos Marmol, to be fair) and later doubled. Aaron Miles, playing third, tripled and scored the first Dodger run, while Ivan DeJesus went 0-2. The arrow is still pointing strongly in Castro’s direction.
Ramon Troncoso got four outs on seven pitches, prompting new DodgerTalk co-host Joe Block to claim that he’s made the team; Troncoso has now thrown 3.1 scoreless innings without allowing a walk. I think that may be a bit premature, but with the turmoil at the back end of the bullpen, there’s certainly opportunity. You’d think that his history, and time away from the overuse of Joe Torre, would get him some consideration, though.
Hey, Navarro’s going to get a hit sometime, right? I know, it’s spring, it’s early, I get it. Just saying, guys who have hit .212 over the last two seasons and have an arguably superior player behind them need to show something a little more than not getting on base once over their first eleven plate appearances. He at least plated Gabe Kapler on a sac fly today, though of course if Kapler hadn’t been on third, it’d have just been another flyout. Meanwhile, A.J. Ellis drew a walk and threw out a runner trying to steal.
At the Los Angeles Times blog, Steve Dilbeck wonders what might happen if James Loney‘s knee troubles end up being worse than they appear. Despite Russ Mitchell getting the most playing time in Loney’s absence right now (where’s John Lindsey?), Dilbeck thinks that Casey Blake would get the bulk of the time during the season, with Juan Uribe sliding to third and Jamey Carroll entering at second, because it’s just not realistic to think that Jerry Sands breaks camp with the team.
I think Dilbeck’s assumption is probably correct, but it got me thinking – would that alignment actually make the team better? There’s a few reasons to think that it might:
- Carroll would add badly need OBP. His mark has been .355 or higher in each of the last three seasons, four of the last six, and five of the last seven. Carroll doesn’t hit for power, but then again neither does Loney; overall, Carroll had a higher OPS+ last year.
- It’d help optimize the lineup, since Carroll could be a good #2 hitter, pushing Blake down to 6 where he belongs.
- It’d shift Uribe to 3B, which is his stronger defensive position.
- It’d improve platooning possibilities. If Blake were the 1B, then he’s a much more dangerous hitter against lefty pitching than Loney is (though I hope that’s going to happen regardless). You could also spot in Gibbons against tough righty pitching, which likely wouldn’t happen if Loney was in.
It’s not all roses, of course, because you couldn’t expect the 37-year-old Carroll to play every day, and you’d weaken an already questionable bench by removing him from it. The ideal solution is that Loney is healthy and productive, so by no means am I rooting for him to be out. But just the fact that this is a conversation worth having shows the extent of the questions that he’s going to have to answer this year.
Update #1: Well, looks like Carroll has injury concerns of his own:
Jamey Carroll was unable to throw comfortably Sunday after taking a pitch off his right index finger Saturday, but X-rays were negative.
Carroll was able to hit despite the swelling in the finger and will probably need a few more days before he can return to game action.
Scott Elbert, the lefty reliever struggling with his control in games, was held back from a scheduled Sunday appearance and instead will throw batting practice Monday while working on a mechanical adjustment.