Dodgers Recall Three to Not Face Stephen Strasburg and Nationals


With the AAA season at an end, the Dodgers have recalled three Isotopes to bolster the roster, according to Dylan Hernandez: Jerry Sands, John Ely, and Tim Federowicz. Not a single one counts as a surprise, and if anything that seems to say that we should not be expecting Ivan DeJesus or Jamie Hoffmann to be making cameos, since there’s no reason to delay their recalls. If anything, I’m more intrigued to see what happens when AA Chattanooga’s playoff run comes to an end, since there’s been a lot of fun names tossed around as possible callups from that club, names like Shawn Tolleson, Allen Webster, Scott Van Slyke and Cole St. Clair.

Of the three newcomers, only Federowicz is seeing the bigs for the first time, and it will be interesting to see how they’re used. Ely is simply depth, of course, who may or may not get a start down the stretch depending on schedules, health, and Dana Eveland. Ideally, Sands will see a healthy amount of playing time as the club attempts to see if he can be counted on in 2012. Considering that Juan Rivera has been awful for the last two weeks (and remember, he was already DFA’d once this season) and that James Loney has only his recent hot streak to fall back on, you’d think it wouldn’t be too difficult to get him time, but things have a way of getting complicated. (He is not in tonight’s lineup.) (Update: Hernandez later added this, which, yay: “Mattingly wants to see Sands. Could result in more days off for Ethier and Rivera.”)

Then there’s Federowicz, who I had given little chance of being recalled in September until the Dodgers cut Dioner Navarro, this making Federowicz the third catcher on the depth chart. My guess is that he’s here mostly to get acclimated to the bigs and serve as depth rather than see any real playing time since he’s still so raw (just 115 games above A-ball). (Update: Hernandez, killing it today, confirms this as well; Federowicz is unlikely to play before the last week or two.) With Rod Barajas telling Steve Dilbeck of the LA Times that he would very much like to return in 2012, the catching situation is certainly in flux. I absolutely wouldn’t give Barajas another $3.2m, but if he wants to stay a Dodger so badly that he’s willing to do so for $1.5m or less, I’d be okay with that, since even though he’s generally terrible, his power is rare among catchers and a Barajas/A.J. Ellis combo would allow Federowicz more time to mature in AAA. Federowicz will wear #31, and while that may invite Mike Piazza comparisons, I’ll settle for at least being better than Jay Gibbons.

Of course, none of the three callups need to worry too much about getting to the ballpark on time, since it’s been raining all day in the east and the much-hyped return of Stephen Strasburg looks unlikely to happen tonight, setting up a likely doubleheader for tomorrow. Beyond tonight, the weather looks terrible in the DC area all week, and the Dodgers don’t have a day off before flying to San Francisco to start a weekend series on Friday, which raises the fun-but-ultimately-meaningless question, what happens if all three games get washed out? It’s not likely, but remains possible; other than a three-game set to end the season in Arizona, the Dodgers don’t leave California for the rest of the year.

With both teams hopelessly out of the chase, the league could choose to just not make up the dates, leaving the Dodgers and Nationals with a 159-game season. It’s not at all rare for teams to miss one game and finish with 161 games, which has happened dozens of times. Even a 160-game season isn’t unheard of, which has happened 17 times, though not since the 1991 Cubs. But 159 games? Since MLB went to a 162-game schedule in 1961, and excluding the strike years of 1972, 1981, and 1994-95, it’s happened just ten times, and even then it’s been over three decades since the 1979 White Sox did it. Of course, even they can’t top the 1971 Orioles, who played only 158 games thanks to 13 home rainouts. (Hat tip to Bob Timmermann for that info.)

2011 Midseason Grades: Pitching and Management

Thanks for all the feedback on yesterday’s hitting grades, and today we move on to pitching and management. Remember, the letter grades are just for fun, without a whole lot of thought or science behind them.

Starting Pitchers

Clayton Kershaw (A+) (9-4, 3.03 ERA, 2.45 FIP)
Is A+ even high enough? I’m not sure it is, though we certainly expected great things from him. Think about this: his HR/9 rate and H/9 rate are unchanged from last year, but he’s managed to do that while lowering his walk rate (again!) and increasing his strikeout rate. He’s leading the league in whiffs, and he has two shutouts among his three complete games. He’s 23. He’s lefty. He’s an All-Star.

Don’t let anyone tell you that he’s progressing towards being an ace, or one day he could be one of the best. Clayton Kershaw is, right now, one of the 10 best pitchers in baseball. The scary part? He could still get better.

Chad Billingsley (B) (8-7, 3.87 ERA, 3.41 FIP)
Over at Baseball Prospectus this morning, Geoff Young of DuckSnorts offers the opinion that Billingsley “should be a star, but isn’t”. And that’s true. 26-year-old Billingsley is walking more and striking out less than 23-year-old Billingsley did in 2008. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because he’s still a very valuable asset and the extension he signed over the winter was welcomed, but he’s also not going to be a Kershaw-level star like we’d once hoped he would be. Again, that’s not to get on Billingsley, it’s just seemingly who he’s going to be – a durable #2 or 3 type who will be consistently inconsistent (3 starts this year of at least 8 IP and 1 ER or less, 3 starts allowing 5 ER or more). That’s not a star, but it is a quality pitcher we should be happy to have.

Hiroki Kuroda (B) (6-10, 3.06 ERA, 3.73 FIP)
Only five pitchers have received less run support than Kuroda (shockingly, no other Dodger appears on the top 40 of that list), so let’s not pretend the poor win/loss record means absolutely anything at all. Conversely, the ERA is a little misleading as well, since he’s striking out fewer and walking more than he did in either 2009 or 2010, facts which are reflected in the higher FIP. Still, he’s been a solid member of this rotation… and probably the only Dodger with any real trade value at the deadline. I’ll be sorry to see him go, if he does.

Ted Lilly (D) (6-9, 4.79 ERA, 4.59 FIP)
Lilly hasn’t been awful (back, back, it’s gone!), but nor has he been (throw to second, and the runner is in!) in any way worthy of the $33m deal he received in the offseason. He’s (that ball is far, it is out of here!) striking out fewer than ever, and more (he’s going, and he swipes second without a throw) batted balls in front of a defense that isn’t great at converting them into outs isn’t (that ball is crushed into the second tier!) a good mix. Oh, and he’s 35 and has complained (Navarro’s throw to second, not in time, another steal!) of arm soreness already. Loving that three-year deal more than ever.

Rubby De La Rosa (A) (3-4, 3.74 ERA, 3.40 FIP)
Probably the most impressive of any of the rookies pushed ahead of their schedule this year, de la Rosa has shown immense talent while being forced to learn on-the-job. While his first few starts were dicey – good lord, the walks, and that one game that he nearly got bounced in the first inning was a heart-stopper – RDLR has shown marked improvement, even flirting with no-hitters in each of his last two outings. The talent is unquestioned, but the real concern now is limited his innings, since he’s quickly coming up on matching his previous high with more than two months remaining in the season. But if he’s limited and if someone like Kuroda is dealt… how do you finish out the season? John Ely? Dana Eveland? Yikes.

Jon Garland (D-) (1-5, 4.33 ERA, 4.59 FIP)
Hey, remember when Garland was signed largely because he’d never been on the disabled list before? If you do, then you probably also remember him saying he couldn’t get multi-year deals because other teams didn’t like the looks of his medical reports. Garland gets a lousy grade not because of his performance (ignore the 1-5, a 4.59 FIP is in line with his usual season), but because he sells his durability as a skill. Clearly, that’s one item he forgot to pack for his second (and likely final) tour with the Dodgers. At least that large 2012 option won’t kick in.

John Ely (inc.) (0-1, 6.23 ERA, 5.61 FIP)
Remember Ely-mania last year? Seems so far away, doesn’t it?

Relief pitchers

Jonathan Broxton (MRI) (1-2, 7 saves, 5.68 ERA, 5.56 FIP)
I have absolutely no idea how to grade Jonathan Broxton. Was he good this year? No, of course he wasn’t, and for many people that justifies their opinion that at around midseason 2010, he somehow lost his heart / mind / balls / toes / earlobes / whatever. The fact that he somehow managed to even close out seven games earlier this year is somewhat misleading, because he rarely did so smoothly; conversely, it’s difficult to blame him entirely for the big blown save in Florida because the Dodgers would have won if Jamey Carroll had merely fielded a simple ground ball.

I’d say the answer lies in the fact that he’s been on the disabled list for over two months due to a right elbow injury, with no estimated return date. We never saw the healthy Broxton this year, just as I felt we never saw a healthy Broxton in the second half of last year. The lesson, as always? Joe Torre cannot be trusted with relievers. You hate to say it about a guy who is only 27, but Torre may just have ruined Broxton’s career. Thanks for stopping by, Joe!

Hong-Chih Kuo (-) (0-0, 8.71 ERA, 4.12 FIP)
Take everything I said about Broxton above and multiply it by 100 for Kuo, because the anxiety issue he’s been fighting for years makes it impossible to really judge his on-field performance. Since returning, he’s at least managed to limit the walks (6/2 K/BB in 5.2 IP), though the results (five runs, four earned) haven’t all been there yet. The fact that he even returned as quickly as he did should count as a win.

Kenley Jansen (B+) (1-1, 4.40 ERA, 3.15 FIP)
I bet a lot of people will be surprised by this grade for Jansen. “But his ERA is 4.40, rabble rabble rabble!”, they’ll yell. That’s true, it is. That number is also heavily inflated by two poor outings – allowing 5 earned runs to Atlanta on April 19 in a game that the Dodgers were already losing in, and allowing 3 earned runs on May 23 in Houston, a game which preceded his stint on the DL with right shoulder inflammation by less than a week. Since returning from injury on June 18, he’s been nearly untouchable, striking out 13 while allowing just two singles in 9.2 innings. While the walks remain a problem, he’s actually striking out more per nine than he did in 2010, and you might remember that even last year’s rate was on the verge of being historic. The question for me is, why is he stuck in middle relief and garbage time rather than in higher leverage situations?

Matt Guerrier (C-) (3-3, 3.10 ERA, 4.44 FIP)
Boy, who would have thought that handing out an expensive multi-year deal to a non-elite middle reliever wouldn’t have worked out well? Besides everyone, that is. Guerrier actually hasn’t been that bad, but that’s sort of the point: players who get $12m over three years should be able to do better than “hasn’t been that bad”. Though he’s striking out slightly more than he did as a Twin, he’s allowing both more walks and hits than he did in either of the last two years, despite moving to the easier league. He’ll be 33 in less than a month. It’s not a good trend.

Mike MacDougal (C+) (0-1, 1.67 ERA, 3.74 FIP)
2003 All-Star MacDougal has done an excellent job of reviving his career after several years bouncing between the bigs and AAA. MacDougal, who made the 2003 All-Star team as a member of the Royals, has just a 1.74 ERA, emerging as a leader of the injury-plagued Dodger bullpen. The former All-Star has allowed only six earned runs to score, putting him in contention for 9th inning responsibilities. All-Star.

(I can’t do it. MacDougal has allowed approximately 982 of the 48 inherited runners he’s received* to score. For nearly the entire season, he’d walked as many as he’d struck out, before finally giving himself some distance in recent days. He’s not a good pitcher, but like Aaron Miles, we expected nothing, so the small contributions he’s made get him some minor credit. *note: numbers may be fabricated.)

Number of Ortizii: 0 (A++++)
Say what you will about this club, at least they’re not employing anyone named Ortiz who was last useful 6-8 years ago, much less multiple players like that.

Javy Guerra (B+) (1-0, 4 saves, 2.33 ERA, 4.01 FIP)
Guerra, like MacDougal all those years ago, is a perfect example of why we shouldn’t overrate saves. For a guy who walked 6.8/9 in the minors last year and was forced to the bigs simply because of injuries, he’s been fine. He’s keeping the ball in the yard, he’s cut down on the control issues, and he’s even managed to steal a few saves while serving as the last-ditch closer. As far as debuts go, his has been a successful one. Let’s just not go overboard in anointing him as the man in the 9th inning, because he hasn’t been that good – 13 K in 19.1 IP doesn’t thrill me – and in each of his last two saves, he loaded the bases before getting out of the jam. That’s not the kind of tightrope you can walk for very long.

Blake Hawksworth (B) (2-2, 3.00 WHIP, 4.12 FIP)
“Isn’t Ryan Theriot“, and that alone gets him a boost. Actually, I joke, but it’s sort of true: when healthy, Hawksworth has been a perfectly acceptable and average reliever, doing a decent job of keeping runners off the bases (WHIP of 1.000), and striking out more than double as he’s walked. Considering that Theriot is doing his usual “I’m not a very good baseball player, but I am short and white, and that counts for something, right?” routine in St. Louis, even just getting that moderate level of contribution in exchange is a big win.

Scott Elbert (B-) (0-1, 5.25 ERA, 2.54 FIP)
I know there’s been a lot of turnover in the bullpen this year, but Elbert is one of those guys where I constantly have to check if he’s still on the team or down in ABQ. I suppose that’s partically because he’s pitched just twice in the last two weeks, and partially because he’s rarely in for more than 2-3 batters at a time. As for his performance, he’s a bit of an oddity in that you’d expect a power lefty to be hell on lefty hitters, but he’s actually rocking a reverse split: lefties (.701 OPS) are actually doing more damage than righties (.561 OPS) against him. Overall, I guess you can say he’s been “acceptable”, in that he’s finally gained a foothold in the majors, but hasn’t exactly made us think he’s going to be a difference maker.

Then again, considering his mysterious disappearance at this time last year, even that is a massive step forward.

Ramon Troncoso (D) (0-0, 6.23 ERA, 4.92 FIP)
I know it’s popular to blame Torre for Troncoso’s downturn as well, and maybe that’s part of it, but I do remember writing a post last year that outlined how he had larger issues than overuse. Whatever it is, he’s barely a major league quality pitcher right now… which probably explains why he’s not in the major leagues. That’s what’ll happen when you aren’t striking anyone out and giving up an absurd amount of hits, though I’ll allow that since he was never a strikeout guy, pitching in front of a defense that does no favors probably doesn’t help.

Ronald Belisario (MIA)
Ha, no. There’s about as good of a chance that he pitches for the Dodgers again as there is that you’ll see Orel Hershiser or Don Drysdale out there.

Josh Lindblom (B+) (0-0, 1.69 ERA, 3.43 FIP)
Nearly two years after we first thought we might see him, Lindblom finally got the call this year, and so far, so good. It’s hard to make judgements based on just eight games, but he’s yet to allow more than one earned run in an appearance, and for now, that’s good enough.

Lance Cormier (dFa) (0-1, 9.88 ERA, 6.84 FIP)
I’m still convinced the only reason Cormier wasn’t DFA’d a week or two earlier than he eventually was (on May 24, when Rubby De La Rosa came up) is because he had a charity event for tornado victims set up at the stadium on May 15, and it would have been poor form to cut a guy just before or after that. I also like that we can say “nah, he wasn’t as bad as his ERA, look at his FIP” and while that’s true, even his FIP says he was awful.

Vicente Padilla (inc.) (0-0, 4.15 ERA, 2.61 FIP)
I sure do feel like we’ve talked about Padilla a lot this year for a guy who piched just 8.2 innings. First he was signed to a somewhat confusing 6th starter/longman/Broxton insurance role, in a move for depth I actually really liked. Then he required surgery for a forearm injury in the spring, preventing him from taking Garland’s rotation spot to start the year. He returned exceptionally quickly from that, taking over for the injured Broxton to nab three saves of varying quality in late April and early May, leading many to proclaim him the next big thing… until he returned to the DL with a recurrence of the arm injury. But the fun doesn’t stop there, because he was supposedly hours away from being activated in June before a neck injury flared up, leading to more surgery and probably the end of his season. Got all that? Phew.

Management

Don Mattingly (B+)
It may sound odd to praise a rookie manager when we weren’t fans of his hiring in the first place and when the club he’s leading is on pace for its worst finish in decades, but I don’t see how you pin much of this mess on Mattingly. He’s proven himself to be far more than a Joe Torre clone, in particular showing a nice willingness to be creative with his bullpen. It hasn’t been perfect, as some of his Navarro-related pinch-hitting escapades still burn, and he likes bunting more than I’d prefer, but he was handed a subpar roster that had its infield and bullpen totally destroyed by injuries, all as fans stayed away thanks to the off-field mess. It would be an impossible situation for any manager, and though the final record won’t be good, Mattingly has been a pleasant surprise, managing to keep the team playing hard through it all. Let’s just hope he doesn’t end up shouldering more of the blame than is needed when all is said and done.

Davey Mutha-F’ing-Lopes (A+^100)
I don’t usually grade the base coaches. Matt Kemp doesn’t usually lead the league in WAR. There you go.

Ned Colletti (F+)
Let’s quickly review all of the contracts handed out last winter by Colletti that were for at least $1m, shall we? Uribe, massive bust. Lilly, missing fewer bats than ever. Guerrier, adequate but overpaid and having one of the lesser years of his career. Garland and Padilla, both injured multiple times and likely out for the year. Barajas, crappier than usual and hurt. Thames, ineffective and injured. Navarro, hitting .183. To be fair, Kuroda has been very good, but it’s hard to say that without caveating that he clearly took a huge paycut to stay in LA.

There’s been a few positives – signing Billingsley was great, the no-risk NRI of Miles worked out, and trading Ryan Theriot for Hawksworth was a good move if you try to forget that it was necessitated by acquiring Theriot in the first place – and you want to be sensitive to the fact that the ownership mess has really put him in a bad position. But overall? Not good, Ned. Not good.

******

Tomorrow, the final review of the series: me.

The Injury Merry-go-round Keeps On Spinning

Per the official Dodgers Twitter feed, Rafael Furcal and Jon Garland have each been placed on the disabled list, as the team will go with a 23-man roster going forward. I suppose that’s only half true – Ivan DeJesus and John Ely are headed to join the team for the third and second time this season, respectively – but based on how little we saw DeJesus in his previous stints, there’s little reason to believe he’ll get any more of a shot now, particularly with Juan Uribe expected to return in the next 24-48 hours. Actually, I’m not even sure why DeJesus is bothering to get on the plane; when Uribe is activated, is there really any chance they’re not just going to send him right back down so they can keep Juan Castro?

As for Ely, he’s had a very bizarre season in Albuquerque. He dazzled Reno, one of the top hitting clubs in the PCL, with a three-hit shutout on May 22. But in his two starts since, he’s been crushed, allowing 11 baserunners in three innings to New Orleans on May 29, and then nine hits (including two homers) to Memphis on Wednesday. What makes all that so weird is that for all we’ve heard about the high-offense environment of Albuquerque, the Reno shutout was at home, while the last two disasters have been on the road. While there’s some argument to be made that he should get Garland’s start in order to protect Rubby De La Rosa, the team has made it pretty clear that de la Rosa will get the ball, and Ely’s poor last two times out makes it hard to dispute that. That said, he’ll probably be used in tandem, as de la Rosa’s unlikely to go deep into that game.

We’re still awaiting an official report on Furcal, but all indications are that he’s pulled his oblique muscle, an injury that can take weeks to heal even in the best of conditions. Furcal’s hardly wowed us with his durability, so I wouldn’t expect to see him until at least mid-July. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for him to get healthy and productive to impress any potential suitors before the deadline, which, as you can tell, is my main priority right now. I sure hope Hiroki Kuroda enjoys pinstripes, though.

Hiroki Kuroda Was Awful, and That’s The Least Of Our Problems

At this point, if it weren’t so sad, it’d be funny.

Through three and a half innings, this was just another nondescript game in what’s quickly turning into a very forgettable season. The Dodgers were down 4-0, thanks to Hiroki Kuroda allowing first-inning homers to Alexei Ramirez and A.J. Pierzynski on his way to giving up nine hits and six runs (four earned) in 5.2 innings. (It should be noted that most of the last two innings fall under the category of “taking one for the team”, as mopup guys Lance Cormier and Ramon Troncoso each threw multiple innings yesterday.) With one out, the White Sox were threatening to add to the lead, having Gordon Beckham on first thanks to a Rafael Furcal error.

Pierre came up, and took a Kuroda meatball deep to right field. (The simple fact that Pierre was able to do that should tell you all you need to know about how ineffective Kuroda was today.) Andre Ethier went hard to the wall trying to come up with the ball, but was unable to, allowing Pierre to reach second. It was immediate from the moment it happened that Ether had injured himself, though while it initially appeared he’d hurt his shoulder, we later learned that it was a “right elbow contusion, lower right back contusion and sprained left big toe”. That’s three injuries for the price of one, apparently. Ethier stayed in for one more batter, a run-scoring single to right by Ramirez that Ethier clearly was hindered in getting to, before being replaced mid-inning by Tony Gwynn.

Pierre wasn’t done yet, however, apparently having decided he hadn’t caused enough damage to the Dodgers in his three years with the team. Having advanced to third on the Ramirez hit and standing firm while Adam Dunn walked, he took off for home on a Paul Konerko sacrifice fly to center. 95% of the time, Pierre scores on that ball without breaking a sweat, but Matt Kemp‘s laser throw made it a tight play. Kemp’s throw was just ever so slightly to the first base side, so Rod Barajas shifted to grab the ball and dove back to the plate to try and tag Pierre. He was unable to do so in time, but came away with a fun parting gift – Pierre’s spikes in his right wrist. Barajas stayed in for Pierzynski to strike out, and was hit for by Dioner Navarro in the next inning; while x-rays came back negative, he has a sprained right wrist and is “day to day”.

This was a day that had actually started with some optimism, as Furcal had returned and Casey Blake & Blake Hawksworth are each expected to within the next week. The Dodgers were one game away from finally winning a series in an AL park. Now? Now, they were just a Russ Mitchell last-second homer away from being swept, and have to quickly make some roster decisions. They’ve been playing shorthanded all weekend, with the combination of the extra hitter in the lineup at DH and the “active but unavailable” status of Aaron Miles & Juan Uribe before today meaning that the team had only two healthy bench players for the first two games of the series. That became three today when Furcal took Uribe’s spot, but while you can get away with that when you’re in the AL and not hitting for your pitchers, that’s not going to fly when they head back to the NL with a series in Houston tomorrow.

Uribe’s trip to the DL was the 15th disabling injury the Dodgers have had this season in less than two months, and it’s hard to believe that we won’t see at least one more in the next 24 hours, between the uncertain statuses of Miles, Ethier, and Barajas. Since the 40-man roster is pretty sparse at this point, the AAA call-ups would seem pretty straight forward: Ivan DeJesus for Miles, Jamie Hoffmann for Ethier, and A.J. Ellis for Barajas. My total speculative guess? Ethier and Barajas go to the DL, Miles does not. Barajas probably gets less leeway than Ethier does, because if he is unavailable for even a few days, you either have to call up Ellis or be comfortable with Mitchell as your backup catcher.

******

Let’s not totally ignore some bright spots: As I joked on Twitter, James Loney is slowly moving into “not our biggest problem” territory, after reaching base three times today. That doesn’t mean that he’s suddenly become all that good or that I’ve changed my overall opinion on him, but he has doubled in three straight games and hit in 8 of 9 & 15 of 18, raising his line from an unbelievably bad .167/.191/.211 on April 23 to a more realistically poor line of .240/.283/.292 after today. With the rest of the injury and production issues mounting, and Loney still contributing his usual solid defense, he’s no longer the biggest concern. That said, he can’t afford any mental mistakes, like the one he made today by being doubled off of first on a Barajas pop-up caught by the second baseman in short right field.

In addition, Jerry Sands followed up his first career homer on Saturday with his first career four-hit game today. His OBP is now up to .330, which is far from great, yet still miles better than anyone on this team not named Kemp, Ethier, or Carroll. In May alone, his line is .289/.407/.467, which is a great sign. Like the Saturday homer, the first three hits were pulled to left field, which could be a sign that he’s becoming more comfortable. It’s also a good sign that the first two of those hits came against righty Edwin Jackson, as recent comments from Don Mattingly had me worried that Sands would be in a strict lefty/righty platoon with Jay Gibbons.

******

Yes, Furcal went 0-5 with three strikeouts and an error, far from the spark we’d all hoped for. Still, it reminded me that we’ve seen this before. Last season, he missed nearly a month starting in April due to injury, returning in late May. In his first game back on May 25, the Dodgers went into Chicago and lost 3-0 to the Cubs. Furcal went 0-4 with two strikeouts and two errors that day in his return to the lineup.

Sound familiar at all? The good news is that after that day, Furcal hit .319/.381/.518 through May, June, and July, before being injured again in early August. He’ll need to have another run like that if this team is going to stay afloat.

******

Bullet dodged: Ken Rosenthal reminds us that it could still be worse, passing along the news that Scott Podsednik signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies today. Frankly, I was shocked that Ned Colletti didn’t jump on him as soon as he was cut by Toronto a few weeks ago, and the timing here is key, particularly if Ethier is out for any significant period of time. Hey, remember when Podsednik turned down his half of a team option this winter? Yeah, me neither.

******

(Update) I meant to add this originally, but there was good news from Albuquerque today as well.  John Ely throw a complete game three-hitter today, needing 107 pitches to beat Reno. He struck out seven and walked just one. Christopher Jackson has the full story.

You’ve Seen This Game Before

If you didn’t watch today’s game, then you didn’t miss anything you haven’t already seen, unless you’ve somehow managed to miss the awful San Diego camouflage uniforms before. Seriously, let’s run though the list of what happened this afternoon, and tell me that I couldn’t be describing 90% of the other games we’ll see this year, wins or losses:

Part of the Dodger scoring came from friendly opposition defense. Just as we saw in the opening San Francisco series, some of the Dodger scoring came directly as a result of poor defense. After Matt Kemp singled and stole second, James Loney grounded weakly back to pitcher Aaron Harang, who attempted to get Kemp at third but threw wildly to the fence, allowing Kemp to score. The first run wasn’t exactly a fireworks display either; Tony Gwynn singled, stole second, was sacrificed to third, and came home on a fielder’s choice.

The outfield provided all of the offense. Kemp, Andre Ethier (on his 29th birthday) and Gwynn had the only four Dodger hits and both runs, with Ethier getting the only RBI and Kemp & Gwynn each notching steals. Kemp and Ethier are off to good starts, but Gwynn’s been a pleasant early-season surprise too, even collecting his first walk today. This kind of production from the outfielders is great, but it’s only going to get you so far when…

Juan Uribe, James Loney, Rod Barajas & Aaron Miles provided absolutely nothing. Nothing. The foursome combined to go 0-for-12, with Loney ending the game by grounding into a double play, and with Barajas the only one who isn’t showing at least 2/3 of his triple-slash line in the .100s. (Jamey Carroll went 0-3 as well, but I’m exempting him here because he’s at least shown some life this season.) I’m still confident that Uribe and Barajas will at least start to add some power to their generally lousy production otherwise, so we can be a bit patient there. Loney, well, we know all about – completely unrelated, Jerry Sands hit his second homer of the season for ABQ today – and Miles has no place on a big-league roster whatsoever.

Don Mattingly’s batting orders will always confound me. I don’t particularly like the idea of putting Gwynn leadoff, but I suppose on a day where Rafael Furcal is sitting I can see the case for it. But Aaron Miles hitting second, really? The guy who is, by one measure, the fourth-worst player in baseball over the last eight seasons? I get, of course, the idea that batting orders generally don’t mean as much as we like to think they do, but Miles shouldn’t even be on the team. Letting him generate outs in front of Ethier and Kemp, particularly while Carroll is buried at 8th, makes no sense.

Pitchers who don’t belong on major league rosters aren’t going to produce. Actually, that’s a bit harsh on John Ely, because his line of four earned runs in 5.2 innings leaves him with an ugly 6.35 ERA, with no expectation to have a chance to change that any time soon, but it obscures what was mostly a decent spot start. Ely’s basically the club’s 7th starter, but managed to work into the sixth inning having allowed just two runs before running into trouble. There’s plenty of teams who can’t get that out of their third starter, and Ely wasn’t going to win today anyway due to the offense, so overall I’m satisfied with that out of a fill-in guy. Really, I’m referring more to Lance Cormier here, who gave up two hits and a walk in allowing two runs in his one mop-inning.

Now tell me none of that sounds familiar? Of course it does, and it’s partly why the Dodgers have the second-worst run differential in the National League, ahead of only Houston. (That is, of course, also largely due to the 10-0 loss to the Giants, and that’s something that won’t last throughout the season.)

For all of that, of course, the Dodgers did win two out of three in this series, and head to San Francisco tomorrow with Clayton Kershaw on the mound against Madison Bumgarner.

******

Before the game, Hector Gimenez was placed on the disabled list with an all-too-convenient knee injury, opening up a spot for Ely. I joke about the timing because the spot was needed and we hadn’t heard anything about this until now, but Tony Jackson reports that A.J. Ellis was already packing his bags for Albuquerque before being told to stop, so apparently it’s real. Ellis is more valuable than Gimenez anyway, so I consider that a win.

Ely will almost certainly be returned to AAA in time for tomorrow’s game, with an extra arm (Ramon Troncoso, Scott Elbert, Travis Schlichting) or additional bat (Jamie Hoffmann, Russ Mitchell) coming up to round out the roster for the week. Whomever does come up would do well to travel light, since they’d be heading back down for Jon Garland on Friday. Garland allowed six hits and three runs in 4.2 innings for Rancho Cucamonga in a rehab start today.