…so why is everyone at work in such a foul mood? Anyway, the less said about last night’s game the better (I’m only half kidding when I say that watching it was less entertaining than watching the cat chase bugs around), so let’s touch on a few widely varied topics.
Let’s start off with the rotation, where James McDonald appears likely to get the Monday start in John Ely‘s place, and while that’s not confirmed, McDonald was scratched from his start today. McDonald missed over a month with a hamstring pull, and his three starts since his return have been mixed. Four shutout innings on July 1 was a nice start, but then he allowed four earned runs in 6.2 IP at Iowa on July 6. Then on the 11th, he allowed just one run over 6.1 at Omaha, but did so while walking four and striking out just two, so it’s hard to say what to expect. I’m not convinced that he’s any better than Ely is right now, but I’m glad to see him get a chance – and fortunately for him he gets to face the Giants.
How many people were confused when George Sherrill got into last night’s game? I asked that on Twitter, and the answer was: a lot, since they thought he had been immediately removed from the roster. Think of this like the month of August, where trades are still allowed but only once players have made it through waivers. You never hear about it, but tons of players - even ones teams don’t really plan on trading – are placed on waivers, just to see who makes it through and is available to be used in deals. It’s kind of the same thing for Sherrill, who finds out if he clears waivers today and is on the roster until then. The only difference here is that if Sherrill is claimed, he can’t be pulled back by the Dodgers, unlike the usual August waivers I mentioned.
In a related topic, I suppose this is why waiver deals are supposed to be kept so secret. Imagine if Sherrill had come out and struck out the side last night? (I know, you’d probably need some sort of medicinal help to imagine that.) How would that have made things look then?
Having accentuated the positive, we’ll move on to lambasting the negative, since eliminating it doesn’t seem to be an option, or even very much fun. And No. 1 on the list of teams that deserve it are the Dodgers, who went from leading the league in DE last year by a whole seven points to ranking 10th this year. Not surprisingly, one key culprit appears to be the loss of Orlando Hudson (+17), though Blake DeWitt and friends have been a respectable two runs above average at the keystone. At third base, Casey Blake has declined (+13 to -5), and Rafael Furcal has dropped off (+13 to +4), surprising given how much more Furcal-like he’s been when available. In the outfield, Matt Kemp has lost 10 runs himself (+8 to -2), a particularly rough blow when coupled with his 20-point drop in True Average. Luckily for the Dodgers, they’re second in the league in strikeout rate, minimizing the number of balls in play.
It’s really hard to argue with any of that.
Ramon Troncoso‘s pitched in four games for the Isotopes, and he’s allowed two homers – though he has struck out five and walked just two. Only one of the two homers was at home, so it’s not all the ABQ effect, though last night’s was a walkoff. Not good.
ESPN’s Buster Olney speculates on who may want to buy the Dodgers should the McCourts be forced to sell:
There is speculation within the sport that if the McCourts are forced to sell the Dodgers as they go through their divorce proceedings, the person who is most perfectly positioned to buy the team is Dennis Gilbert, the longtime agent and team executive. Gilbert lives in the L.A. area, is a known quantity to commissioner Bud Selig, and Gilbert essentially finished second in the bidding for the Texas Rangers last year — largely because Nolan Ryan chose to align himself with Chuck Greenberg. Gilbert knows a whole lot of people, big hitters in the money world, and if the Dodgers’ franchise needs rescuing — and in the sport right now, the team’s ownership troubles are regarded as a cover-your-eyes embarrassment — Gilbert will have the financial wherewithal to restore the club to its past greatness.
Also, while I have a lot of respect for Tony Jackson, this part of his chat yesterday killed me:
How much longer will the Dodgers leave the corpse of Garret Anderson out on the field before they waive him?
That’s a good question, Sam, but I get the sense they’re not going to wait much longer, unless Garret suddenly gets hot. I do think Torre and the coaching staff likes having him around for what he brings to the clubhouse. He lockers next to Matt Kemp at home, and I think they think he has been a good influence. So it may come down to how long the front office is willing to go along with the wishes of the staff.
Maybe I’ve been off on a distant planet or something, but haven’t we heard plenty of whispers that people aren’t always thrilled with Kemp’s attitude, culminating in the benching that seemed to be a direct result of a spat he had with bench coach Bob Schaefer? So… wouldn’t that then mean that Anderson’s actually doing a terrible job at mentoring, too? Guess we can just add that to the list of things he can’t do anymore.
As long as we’re getting on Anderson, I should be an equal opportunity naysayer and expand on the D I gave Ronnie Belliard in the first-half grades. He’s got one hit in his last twenty-eight at-bats, and he’s hitting just .220 on the season. Clearly, he’s not much of a contributor in the field, either.
I don’t think cutting him is as clear-cut as it is for Anderson, simply because there’s not an Xavier Paul behind him ready to step in. Chin-lung Hu isn’t any sort of a bat, and Ivan DeJesus needs to play every day after losing last year to injury. In addition, Belliard is really the only backup 1B on the team, unless you count Casey Blake.
So his spot is secure for now, but I’d really like to see if the Dodgers can cheaply go after Russell Branyan, as I suggested earlier this week. Think about it: dump Anderson, dump Belliard, keep Paul, acquire Branyan. You’d then have your non-catching bench split between two righties and two lefties, you’d be covered in the outfield with Paul and Johnson, Jamey Carroll could cover backing up 2B/SS/3B, and Branyan would be a true lefty power bat who could actually play some 1B. Even if you think that stretches the non-1B backup infield to have only Carroll, remember that it’s only six weeks until rosters expand, ABQ isn’t that far away should injury happen, and if worst comes to absolute worst, you could still stick Russell Martin at 3B for the late innings of a game where injuries mount until reinforcements arrive.