Anyone Want To See the Dodgers Wear The Most Bizarre Throwback Ever?

Okay, here’s something that’s actually pretty cool. For six weekday home games this year, the Dodgers will be wearing throwback Brooklyn jerseys. But there’s a twist, because these aren’t the standard Jackie Robinson/Duke Snider-era jerseys that we’ve seen in the past, which are essentially the same as the current version.

No, these are jerseys which I’m guessing that 99% of Dodger fans never knew existed. (I consider baseball uniforms and jerseys another dorky hobby of mine, which is why I follow UniWatch religiously). The Brooklyn Dodgers of 1911, 1931, and the 1940s looked quite different than the Dodgers you know today, and starting on February 7th, fans are able to choose from one of these three options:


Look carefully at the description of the third choice, because while the image above makes it look like it’s powder-blue in the same way that the Royals used to wear, it’s actually something a lot different.

No, really, a lot different:

Yes, that is a shiny, shiny satin. The idea at the time (remember, this was just a few seasons after the first night baseball game) was that it’d be easier for fans to see under the low-quality lights in use at the time.

I can’t imagine they’d really put players in shiny satin (especially during day games), though the press release does say “”The throwback uniforms worn in 2011 will be made of the same material and maintain the same feel as those worn by the Dodgers throughout the season,” which does seem to rule out actually wearing satin. If they don’t, that does sort of defeat the purpose. The first uniform does nothing for me – and the idea of the Dodgers in pinstripes is weird – and if it’s not satin, then I don’t need to see the Dodgers looking like the Royals. I do kind of dig the understated middle one, and if I can’t vote for the outright spectacle of a shiny satin jersey, then that’s without question my choice. Then again, I’m the only guy who wouldn’t mind seeing a solid blue alternate jersey every now and the, so what do I know.

Anyway, the vote is up to you. Voting starts on the 7th at dodgers.com/throwback.

******

Speaking of uniforms, I received a tip a while back from a devoted reader (thanks, devoted reader!) that the team is possibly considering going back to having “Dodgers” on the road uniforms rather than “Los Angeles”, as they did for many years. I have absolutely no proof to back this up at all, so don’t put too much stock into it. How would you feel about that?

Looking For a Holiday Gift?

Good news, I’m proud to announce that the 2011 issue of the Graphical Player is now available for purchase. I’ve been working with Heater Magazine for a few years now, a great resource for fantasy players, and every year Heater publishes a yearly fantasy annual. I’ve written the Dodger player captions, of course, but each team is represented by top bloggers from around the country.

Through working with Heater, I’ve been lucky enough to write a weekly fantasy article at Baseball Prospectus, and the combination helped me get to the finals in each of my two main fantasy leagues this year. The Graphical Player book is full of the same stats and graphs you can see in my latest BP article, and it’s a must-have for anyone looking to gain a fantasy edge. As a bonus, here’s an 18-page sample from the new GP book.

If this all sounds interesting, here’s the link to order. The book sold out last year, so act quickly. A rundown of what you can expect in the GP2011:

Graphical Player includes dashboards for over 1,050 ballplayers from both the majors and the minors, chosen expressly for their interest to fantasy leaguers. Featuring analysis from 24 of the web’s savviest baseball writers, Graphical Player is now bigger and better than ever. Key features include:

  • NEW FOR 2011 Ownership figures for online leagues
  • NEW FOR 2011 New metrics such as RS% and RBI% for hitters and Lead and Disaster Starts for pitchers
  • NEW FOR 2011 A mega “Draft Pack” section for easy drafting
  • NEW FOR 2011 A table comparing each player to his competition at his position
  • NEW FOR 2011 Four years of factors for Scoresheet Baseball
  • Projected and historical dollar values for single and mixed Roto leagues, as well as tallies for point-based leagues
  • Support for a variety of fantasy categories, including Caught Stealing, Complete Games, Blown Saves, Holds, Quality Starts, and more
  • A unique mini-browser showing five players with similar projections at the same position
  • Profiles of more than 100 top prospects, with independent rankings from three experts
  • Full player stats by team for 2010
  • Four years of career stats for each player, including splits
  • Minor-league stats down to Single-A for each player for 2010

First Half in Review

As the second half kicks off tonight, let’s take a quick look back at the first half and issue some grades. (I actually got requests for these on Twitter. Ha!) These are slightly condensed compared to years past, but you only want to read so much of my garbage anyway.

Remember, these are totally subjective opinions of one man, and they reflect only what was expected from the player before the season – they’re not meant to compare them to other players on the team or in the league. I say that so no one thinks I really consider Jeff Weaver more valuable than Chad Billingsley.

A+
Hong-Chih Kuo. He’d get at least a B just for still being able to pitch with his history, but he’s dominating out of the pen in a way we haven’t seen in years. Still hasn’t allowed a hit to a lefty since last season. I’m pretty sure George Sherrill allowed three hits while I was writing this sentence.

Clayton Kershaw. That’s A for Ace. ACE. ACE. Tied for 6th in lowest batting average against, and the only one of the guys ahead of him who didn’t make the All-Star team should have – Mat Latos.

Juan Pierre. Wait, what? Oh, that’s right. He’s got a .615 OPS for the White Sox, and John Ely (and much less so, Jon Link) has been a huge contributor for the Dodgers in a time of need. This is without question the most valuable Juan Pierre has ever been to the Dodgers.

A
Rafael Furcal. Docked slightly for the missed time, but I did already call him the best shortstop in LA Dodger history, so there’s that.

Jamey Carroll. Hey, I’ll admit when I’m wrong, and Carroll’s been so much better than I ever expected he’d be. His OBP is stellar and his steady play at SS during Furcal’s absence prevented the kind of “Angel Berroa, 2008″ disaster which could have sank the entire season. That said, if someone’s actually looking to trade something of value (like a pitcher) for him, you do it ten times out of ten.

John Ely. Kind of funny to give an A to someone who got demoted before the break, right? Well it doesn’t matter. He could not pitch another inning for the rest of the year, and it wouldn’t diminish the excitement he brought out of nowhere when the starting rotation was at it’s lowest.

Jeff Weaver. Once again, a non-roster invite, and once again, a reliable jack-of-all-trades in the bullpen. If anything, he’s actually been better than last year (dig the lower WHIP). He’s not flashy, but he’s provided value from basically nothing.

Travis Schlichting. I jinxed the poor guy’s scoreless streak. Least I can do is give him an A. Now can someone please update his Wikipedia page so that the picture is no longer of him as a Devil Ray (yes, Devil) third baseman?

A-
Jonathan Broxton. Broxton’s awesome. Refute me, and be wrong. He’s only knocked down a peg because that Yankees debacle was so public and gave so much unneeded fuel to his detractors, which I could certainly have lived without.

Andre Ethier. Kicked down only because of his missed time and mediocrity since returning, but holy hell was he on fire before he got hurt.

James Loney. The power’s still not there, and I don’t know that I really expect it to come any more. That said, his .803 OPS would be nearly a 50-point improvement over last season, and his OPS has improved each month of the year. So for this season, on this team (with three top bats in the outfield)? He’s fine. But as arbitration costs go up, and as Manny’s going to get replaced with someone less productive next year, he may not be worth the price going forward. For now, he’s having a nice year.

Carlos Monasterios. I still don’t know how he’s getting by with a 4.5 K/9, but this is a guy none of us had heard of when he was acquired in the Rule 5 draft. Most kids who jump from A-ball to the bigs via Rule 5 either get sent back immediately, get torched in the bigs, get hidden on the DL with a phantom injury, or some combination of the three. Monasterios not only has stuck but has been decently effective, even while being forced into a few starts. That’s impressive.

B+
Chad Billingsley. Oh no! Run! Chad Billingsley doesn’t have “it”, the undefinable existential quality that all great pitchers have! Trade him! Cut him! Kill him! Oh, what’s that? By many standards, he’s having one of the best seasons of his career, because 3.2/9 is his lowest walk rate ever, and his 3.40 FIP is comparable to his 3.35 2008 mark when he won 16 games? Nah, facts bore me. I’d rather indiscriminately say that he’s got mental problems.

B
Hiroki Kuroda. Hey, he’s stayed healthy, and on this squad that counts for something, right? He’s been more hittable than in previous years, but he’s also striking out more, and his ERA+ is an even 100. I’ll take it.

Vicente Padilla. Such a hard grade. Missed so much time, but has been awesome since his return. Ah hell, no gunshot wounds, no fistfights or arrests, I should probably have given him an A+. Why do I feel like I’m about to take a beanball?

Manny Ramirez. Manny rightfully loses credit because he’s missed a lot of time, but the claims that he’s finished are laughable. His career OPS is an even 1.000, and at 38 he’s got a .937 OPS, which leads the team and would be 12th in MLB if he had enough plate appearances. Damn those pesky facts getting in the way of a good story!

B-
Justin Miller. He was going to be lower, but then I remembered that he was a non-roster guy who’s striking out 11.4 per 9. Even though he’s struggled lately and constantly seems on the verge of losing his job, that’s nice performance from a guy you invested nothing in.C+
Blake DeWitt. The nearly complete lack of power is concerning, and I’m still not convinced he’s the long-term solution at 2B. However, his defense has definitely improved since the beginning of the year – he’s clearly put a lot of work into it – and his OPS has improved each month of the year. Still plenty of room for improvement here.

C
Casey Blake. This is kind of an average between “Casey Blake = D” and “Casey Blake‘s Beard = A+”. So C it is.

Matt Kemp. This is another one of those tough grades, but only because we had such high hopes for him. Benching or no, it’s hard to ignore the obvious regressions in baserunning, fielding, and plate discipline. On the other hand, those who consider his season a disaster are way off base; he’s going to hit 25-30 homers and he’s got a 113 OPS+.

Reed Johnson. This is basically what we expected, right? Slightly below-average offense, slightly below-average defense. That sounds about right.

C-
Russell Martin. Can’t go any lower than this because I expected him to suck before the season started, and indeed he has. If anything, it annoys me that we have to say this is acceptable because every other catcher sucks, too. I just still can’t believe I actually wrote this in reviewing the 2008 first half:

Without question, the best offensive player so far. There were actually some inane stories out there that I won’t even subject you to linking to saying that he’s been off his game this year, but that’s mostly thanks to his very slow start to the season, hitting .197 as late as April 20th. But you know what? Martin’s actually having the best offensive year of his career overall. His 118 OPS+ is up 5 from last year, and while his slugging % is down slightly (.029 less than last year), it’s more than made up by his exemplary .394 OBP, which is actually better than Alex Rodriguez, Josh Hamilton, and Hanley Ramirez. Plus, he plays third base! What can I say? This guy’s the heart and soul of the team. He’s the best player, and he never complains. Love this guy. Love him.

Ugh. Not enough facepalms in the world. Seriously, I wish I was on fire right now.

D
Ramon Troncoso. Blame Torre if you want, and that’s certainly part of it, but just read this post from June and remember that this isn’t as shocking as it seems. Still, don’t forget how valuable he was in April when the staff was falling apart.

Ronnie Belliard. Remember the excitement he brought after coming over via trade last year? So far the only interesting thing he’s done was get weighed daily in camp to see if he’d made his number. He’s also got one hit in his last 27 at-bats. When do we start calling for his job?

D-
Ronald Belisario. We still don’t know the true extent of his situation, but has proven to be absolutely unreliable. Obviously, you hope he can overcome whatever’s causing his issues. Does he still have a future in LA? Hard to say.

F
Charlie Haeger. What can I say, I had the highest of hopes for Haeger, and he disappointed. Was his foot injury really that serious? Who can say. All I can cling to at this point is that he’s still just 26, which is an infant in knuckleball terms – and that in his last three AAA outings, he’s got a line of 14 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 11 K, 8 BB. It may not be until September, or next year, but he’ll get another shot in the bigs. I just hope it’s with the Dodgers.

George Sherrill. All-Star to waivers in the space of a year. Just unreal. Like Haeger, I bet we haven’t seen the last of him, because no one’s claiming that contract.

F-bomb
Ramon Ortiz. After predictably failing as a Dodger, he’s now getting lit up even worse for the Mets’ AAA club (18 ER in 19 IP). Nothing makes me happier, except…

Russ Ortiz. …knowing that Russ Ortiz was forced into retirement, he was so bad. I’m not even sure that’s enough, he should be in witness protection. Really, was anything more predictable than the failure of these two?

Holy god, FFFFFFF
Garret Anderson. For the record, I said this was a terrible idea from day one. (Before day one, actually.) But even I never thought it’d be this bad. Remember, he’s having ONE OF THE TEN WORST SEASONS IN TEAM HISTORY, and this team’s been around since about 30 years before Vin Scully was even born. How is it okay that Sherrill gets dumped because he’s unfixable, but Anderson keeps on keepin’ on?

Incomplete
Brad Ausmus. One game before back surgery, but he may be back as soon as next week. Hooray?

A.J. Ellis. No, he’s not hitting. He’s also played about as much as I have. What did we really expect?

Nick Green. Hitting a robust .154 with Toronto. Boy, who could have seen that coming?

Chin-lung Hu. Hu got into three innings over two games, and didn’t even get a single defensive chance, much less an at-bat. I’m honestly not sure what you want me to say here. At least he’s hitting a (mostly empty) .300 at ABQ?

Jon Link. Link’s been up and down about five times this year, yet only has seen action in four games. Still like him better than Pierre.

Scott Elbert. Geez, I’m not sure how his season could be any worse. His one MLB appearance this year was a 3 BB, 0.2 IP disaster, he hasn’t been great in AAA (1.846 WHIP)… oh, and he basically disappeared for over a month. He’s only recently returned to Camelback to start throwing, but his future is hugely in doubt at this point.

Xavier Paul: Hasn’t really played enough to judge, but he isn’t Garret Anderson, and that alone counts for something.

In Which The Dodgers Enter The World Of the Onion

The Dodgers are winning 4-3 in the 4th inning, as Ryan Ludwick just hit a home run off the Hollywood sign, but you’ll forgive me if my focus isn’t on the game right now, because Bill Shaikin of the LA Times just published a story that’s – and I apologize here, because I know my parents read this – so fucking unbelievable that I can’t even believe it’s real.

Look, when I started writing this blog, I knew it wouldn’t always be strictly about baseball, but I guarantee you I never thought I’d write these words:

The Dodgers paid a Russian faith healer at least six figures to send positive feelings from thousand miles away.

Yeah. We’re through the looking glass here, people.

I’m not going to go through this section by section like I’ve done with other pieces – because really, what am I going to do, say “Yep, that’s pretty goddamn messed up” thirty times? – so I encourage you to read the full story. If even 20% of this is true, Bill Shaikin deserves a Pulitzer, an Emmy, and a Tony.

Here’s just a taste…

Shpunt could not transform a bad team into a good one, Cohen said, but his energy could increase the chance of winning by 10% to 15%.

Quick! Someone calculate Vladimir Shpunt’s WARP! By which I of course mean, “Wins over Replacement Psychic”.

On Oct. 2, 2004, Steve Finley capped the first season of McCourt ownership by hitting a walk-off grand slam, clinching the Dodgers’ first playoff spot in eight years.

“The miracle finish … was the result of V energy,” Cohen wrote in an e-mail to Jamie. “Frank was privileged to actually feel the energy.”

“V energy”. V ENERGY. I always thought that the McCourts had no regard for advanced statistics when they fired Paul DePodesta. Looks like I was wrong, but instead of OBP or WARP, they were into V ENERGY. Speaking of DePo…

Cohen also wrote that Shpunt had “diagnosed the disconnects” among Manager Jim Tracy, General Manager Paul DePodesta and the team’s pitchers and catchers.

“Your general manager destroyed last year’s team,” the e-mail read, “and put together a group of players that could not be a team and could not win.”

There’s about forty jokes I could make here, but let’s keep it simple: I don’t want to live in a world where we ended up with Ned Colletti rather than Paul DePodesta because of a RUSSIAN FAITH HEALER’S OPINION.

I mean… jesus. Just read the article. Didn’t think your opinion of the McCourts could get any lower, did ya?

Lights Out in Chicago

Five Dodger runs in the first two innings, three innings of increasing difficulty for Chad Billingsley, and yet another Rafael Furcal error: looks like Wrigley Field couldn’t stand to watch either, since the power just went out in the top of the fourth inning.

How this camera stayed on despite the power being out, I have no idea. But it’s creepy and beautiful at the same time, right?