And Then There Were Eight…

Well, in theory. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that “at least eight” bidders have advanced to the second round of bidding for the Dodgers, so it’s not certain that there’s not other groups still in the running who we don’t know about.

But here’s what we do know so far: Mark Cuban & Dennis Gilbert are each out of the running. While Cuban’s departure will disappoint a lot of Dodger fans, this is hardly a surprise, since he’s been saying for a while that he placed a certain value on the Dodgers and likely wouldn’t be tossing out numbers above a billion dollars. Gilbert missing out is a bit more newsworthy, since he’s been rumored to be a serious bidder for years and I came away with a largely positive impression when I took an initial look at the bidders earlier this month, but with the dollar figures skyrocketing it’s quite possible he could keep up. (Or it could be what Peter Gammons is reporting, that Frank McCourt would never have selected Gilbert due to his relationship with Bud Selig.)

As for the eight survivors…

1) Magic Johnson/Stan Kasten/Mark Walter
2) Joe Torre/Rick Caruso
3) Steven Cohen (1-3 via Bill Shaikin in the Times)
4) Stanley Gold/Roy Disney
5) Peter O’Malley
6) Stan Kroenke (4-6 via Shaikin on Twitter)
7) Leo Hindery/Marc Utay (according to Wall Street Journal, via Dodger Thoughts)
8) Josh Macciello?? (perhaps – according to Macciello’s own Twitter)

Of course, it’s hardly as simple as that. We haven’t heard anything about some of the other groups, like the Orel Hershisher/Steve Garvey pairing, or Alan Casden, or Ron Burkle, or a few others, so since all we know is “at least eight” they could still be in. (And we’re just guessing about Macciello at the moment). Besides, even if these are the eight, they won’t all stay exactly as they are. We’ve already heard rumors that the O’Malley group might join the Gold/Disney team, and it’s still possible that Patrick Soon-Shiong or someone like him joins a group to add some financial muscle.

So while we’re making progress… there’s still a long way to go over the next two months until April 1, when McCourt has to make a choice. For the moment, I favor the Magic Johnson group over the others, with the Cohen, O’Malley, and Torre groups all having significant flaws in my eyes.

******

Ghosts of Dodgers past: two of my least favorite Dodgers of recent years, Ryan Theriot and Juan Pierre, have found new homes. Theriot collects $1.25m to join the San Francisco infield, even though he can’t really hit or play shortstop anymore, and Pierre landed with the Phillies on a minor-league deal, even though he’s a poor fit for them despite the zero-risk deal he received. Fun fact: over the last two seasons with the White Sox, Pierre has a .277 batting average along with a .335 OBP and a 71.5 % success rate on stolen base attempts. In 2005-06, two seasons immediately preceding his arrival in Los Angeles, he had a .284 batting average to go with a .328 OBP and a 75.6% on steals. One of those two-year stretches earned him a non-roster invite to big league camp, and one earned him a five-year, $44m contract. And you wonder why the idea of a Joe Torre ownership, one that would potentially retain Ned Colletti, scares me?

Off-Day Fun With Numbers

After a disappointing weekend sweep at the hands of the Angels, there’s nothing to look forward to today; the Dodgers are off as they fly to Cincinnati to take on the Reds for three games. So it’s a good time to distract ourselves with some interesting statistics, presented with little or no commentary.

Garret Anderson‘s OPS – that’s on-base plus slugging – of .452 is lower than Justin Morneau‘s .460 on-base percentage alone.

After making a career of destroying lefties (.928 career OPS, opposed to .782 vs righties), Matt Kemp is a completely different player this season, hitting better than ever against righties (.847) but flailing against southpaws (.643).

178 hitters have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. If Garret Anderson had enough to make that list, he’d be dead last by 65 points.

I don’t even need to link you to how many times we discussed James Loney‘s struggles to hit at Dodger Stadium last season, yet so far this year he’s enjoying being at home (.841) far more than the road (.704).

Russell Martin isn’t really doing any better than last season, but there’s also only nine catchers who have played enough to qualify for the batting title, and he’s fifth in OPS, highlighting the absolute dearth of quality catching.

716 players have stepped to the plate in the bigs this season. Of the 11 who have a lower VORP than Garret Anderson (that’s right, he’s 705th), 3 are not currently on active rosters (Brandon Wood, fake DL trip; Aramis Ramirez, fake DL trip; Kazuo Matsui, released) and 1 just lost his job (Casey Kotchman, benched). The others are either backup catchers (Gerald Laird, Wil Nieves), light-hitting good-fielding infielders (Cesar Izturis, Brendan Harris, Pedro Feliz), or in situations where the teams don’t have any other great alternatives (Jose Lopez, Feliz).  

Results of this winter’s White Sox trade: John Ely, 3.38 ERA in 9 starts with a 41/13 BB/K. Jon Link, 4.15 ERA in 4.1 innings. Juan Pierre, career-worst 59 OPS+ in 272 PA.

Andre Ethier, last calendar year: 145 games (135 starts), .295/.372/.556 (.929 OPS), 31 homers, 108 RBI.

Clayton Kershaw, last calendar year: 32 games (31 starts), 11-6, 184.2 IP, 2.34 ERA, 213/96 K/BB, .194/.301/.263 line against.

Jonathan Broxton, last calendar year: 74 games, 4-2, 37 saves, 6 blown, 74.1 IP, 2.42 ERA, 106/21 K/BB, .212/.269/.282 line against.

Ramon Ortiz, DFA’d weeks ago for incompetence, still has more innings pitched (30.0) than Broxton, arguably the most dominating pitcher on the staff (29.1).

Casey Blake, pre-beard: in 34 games, .233/.323/.397.

Casey Blake, post-beard: in 21 games, .297/.350/.514.

Carlos Santana, first three MLB games: three hits, one double, one homer, two walks and zero strikeouts – and is the only Pirate or Indian starter who didn’t strike out against Stephen Strasburg.

Thanks For Stopping By, Jon Link

After two scoreless innings in his debut last night, Jon Link is headed back to Albuquerque, with Ronald Belisario almost certainly being activated today to take his place. Steve Dilbeck of the LA Times sensibly asks why Link was sent down, yet Ramon Ortiz remains. Link, after all, is young and had a nice debut, while Ortiz is, well, Ramon Ortiz. Yet, I can actually see the logic here. This roster spot – Ortiz or Link - is almost certainly going to go away in the next 2-3 days once Hong-Chih Kuo comes back. If Link’s not available today after throwing two innings yesterday, why not keep the pitcher who can go today (even if it is Ramon Ortiz) while sending the kid back to the minors on a huge high? I get it. (Update: as Sam points out in the comments, Ortiz threw two innings yesterday as well. But who cares if you destroy his arm at this point?)

Fun fact, though: who’s more valuable to the pitching-starved, offense-crazy 2010 Dodgers today? Link’s two scoreless and hitless innings, or the man he was traded for, currently rocking a .192/.263/.192 line in Chicago? That trade looks like a bigger win every day.

In other news, the results of the Chad Billingsley poll from yesterday are in, and with 249 votes, “Let him pitch through it” was the winner, at 46%. “Send him to the minors” (which is sort of a trick question, because I don’t believe that’s doable without exposing him to waivers) came in a distant second, at 20%. This is, of course, the right answer. While you can’t keep running him out there forever, now is not the time to replace him. It’s only been three starts, and the first one was very good. Besides, who are you really replacing him with right now, James McDonald?

Billingsley may or may not turn it around this year. But with the way the rest of the rotation looks, the Dodgers almost certainly aren’t going anywhere unless he does, so denying him the chance to do so in mid-April is just hurting the team in the long run.

Did Juan Pierre Get Traded to Buffalo?

If you ever read Sons of Steve Garvey (and if you don’t, you should), you’d know that they’ve affectionately referred to Juan Pierre as “Beast Mode” for some time now.

It’s with that in mind that the picture on the marquee of a recent Deadspin article caught by eye…

Marshawn Lynch Is All About The Jacksons


We thought quiet little Buffalo would be good for the troubled Lynch. We thought wrong, as the RB couldn’t avoid the criminal breeding grounds of the T.G.I. Friday’s at the mall, where he’s accused of stealing $20 from a woman.

A policeman’s wife and her friend were out to dinner at the Friday’s in the McKinley Mall last month, when the friend was chatted up by an unidentified member of the Bills. Lynch then came over to join them for dinner. When the check comes, you’d expect the one making $3 million a year to say “don’t worry about money.” And in a sense that’s what happened.

When the woman’s girlfriend stepped away from the table, Crawford said his wife pulled out a $20 bill to pay their check in preparation for leaving.

Lynch, 23, of Hamburg, then grabbed the money from her hand.

“He takes the $20 out of her hand, and my wife says “What are you doing?’ and Lynch says “Don’t worry.’ When my wife’s girlfriend came back to the table, she told her about it. The girlfriend approached Lynch and said, “Give my friend her money back,’ and Lynch threatened her saying “Do you know who I am? There’s going to be consequences.’

The woman filed a complaint the next day, but waited until the offseason when Lynch was out of town to pursue charges. Lynch, for his part, reportedly told Bills security the woman was a friend in an attempt to downplay the incident.

Oh, Marshawn. To paraphrase the great Arrested Development, “Twenty dollars means means a Jack Daniels Chicken & Shrimp to me/But it means a good deal to you.”

Marshawn Lynch accused of stealing $20 [Buffalo News]

Of course, a story like that could never be about Juan Pierre, because he’s such a good guy… and because Lynch appears to have actually successfully stolen something.

Dodgers of the Decade: Center Field

It’s our first surprise of the balloting, at least in my opinion - Gary Sheffield beats out Manny Ramirez in left field, and while him winning isn’t the surprise, I am intrigued that Sheffield won by nearly 30%. Let’s put him up on the board…

Dodgers of the Decade team:
C: Russell Martin (68%)
1B: James Loney (62%)
2B: Jeff Kent (88%)
3B: Adrian Beltre (80%)
SS: Rafael Furcal (87%)
LF: Gary Sheffield (62%)

…and move on to center. Hey, there’s a chance that Juan Pierre beats Matt Kemp, right? Personally, I’m voting for Marquis Grissom.

Center Field

Matt Kemp (464 games, 2006-09)
Dodger stats: .299/.346/.480 .826 61 hr 242 rbi
WAR: 9.5

Juan Pierre (426 games, 2007-09)
Dodger stats: .294/.339/.357 .696 1 hr 100 rbi
WAR: 1.4

Dave Roberts (302 games, 2002-04)
Dodger stats: .262/.342/.341 .683 7 hr 71 rbi
WAR: 4.8

Marquis Grissom (246 games, 2001-02)
Dodger stats: .245/.281/.450 .731 38 hr 130 rbi
WAR: 0.9

Jason Repko (230 games, 2005-09)
Dodger stats: .226/.297/.371 .668 11 hr 47 rbi
WAR: -0.1

Milton Bradley (216 games, 2004-05)
Dodger stats: .275/.358/.446 .804 32 hr 105 rbi
WAR: 4.8

Tom Goodwin (161 games, 2000-01)
Dodger stats: .239/.296/.316 .612 5 hr 33 rbi
WAR: -0.2

Kenny Lofton (129 games, 2006)
Dodger stats: .301/.360/.403 .763 3 hr 41 rbi
WAR: 0.9

Top three seasons
5.8 WAR Kemp, 2009
3.6 WAR Bradley, 2004
3.0 WAR Kemp, 2008

Man, I forgot how good Kenny Lofton was for the Dodgers in 2006. Imagine if they’d just signed him to a cheap one-year deal to keep the seat warm for Matt Kemp in 2007 rather than giving $44m to Pierre? I can only imagine where this franchise could be right now.

Best center fielder? Have at it.

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