Best News of the Year: Vin Scully to Return in 2014

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Somehow, I doubt Vin Scully would agree with me here, but I’m going to say it anyway — nothing is going to happen on the field or off for the Dodgers this year that’s better news than this news, via Bill Shaikin, that Scully will return for a 65th year in the broadcast booth next year.

In Scully’s words:

“It has been such an exciting, enjoyable, wonderful season — the big crowds in the ballpark, everybody is talking about the ballclub, and I really respect, admire and love the management — so everything just fell into place,” Scully said.

“I really still enjoy it immensely. My health is good, thank God. So why not? And my wife said, ‘Why not?’ as well.

“Just the thought of walking away from it to retirement — and looking out the window or something? It’s just too good. As a baseball man, and someone who has always loved the game, the situation and the conditions are perfect.”

There’s just something so, so, right about that, especially knowing that he’ll be around to kick off SNLA next year. (Hell, even Giants fans are happy.) Imagine if the last we had to enjoy of him was during the dark depths of the McCourt years? To know that he’s still going to be around to see the team rebound to respectability and beyond is an incredibly comforting way to kick off a homestand with a big series against Boston… even if, due to the team’s popularity and the rights accorded national broadcasts, we’ll only be hearing from him tonight.

As Shaikin finished with, “the thrill is ours.” Damn straight.

Vin Scully Makes Yasiel Puig Even More Fun

Presented without comment, just as Vin would want it:

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When you’re doing something that makes even the great Vin — who has seen everything — jump for joy… well, you’re doing it right, Yasiel Puig. And let’s all be thankful that it was Vin on the microphone and not… well, anyone else at all.

Six Days Before Opening Day, Six Questions Left For the Dodgers

With less than a week before Opening Day, the Dodgers still have a fair amount to work through. Taking from the most popular questions I receive across all forms of media…

1. Is Yasiel Puig going to make the team?

No. Well…. no. Right? I think?

We’ve been over this a lot, but he’s still here, and even though management said weeks ago that he definitely wouldn’t be on the team, it’s hard to argue .526/.508/.842. But with Carl Crawford looking like he’s going to be ready to play, there’s not a spot here without bouncing Crawford to the bench, which doesn’t seem realistic. Besides, there’s service time considerations at play with Puig, in addition to obvious concerns about his true readiness.

92topps_alexcastellanos2. So who will get that last spot off the bench?

For most of camp, we thought this was simple. Carl Crawford would start the season on the disabled list, Jerry Hairston & Skip Schumaker would platoon in left field, and Tim Federowicz, Nick Punto & Juan Uribe would staff out the rest of a very unappealing bench. But now it looks like Crawford will be active, and Hairston may be needed for additional duty at third base thanks to Hanley Ramirez‘ injury.

That makes the outfield extremely left-handed, which is why Don Mattingly has been talking about wanting a righty corner outfielder so much. (Thanks for joining the rest of us in “every year since 2009″ in wanting that, by the way, Don.) That’s partially why Puig remains in the mix, as does Alex Castellanos and multipositional switch-hitters Alfredo Amezaga & Elian Herrera. Amezaga’s non-40 man status probably hurts him here, so I really think Castellanos is the right call. That being the case, it’ll absolutely be Herrera because of course it will.

3. Oh my god, Kevin Gregg is going to make this team, isn’t he?

Wellll… yes. I’m sorry.

We know that Brandon League, Kenley Jansen, J.P. Howell & Ronald Belisario are locks. Matt Guerrier, much as I hate to admit it, is probably getting one spot, and let’s say one additional spot goes to an excess starting pitcher. That leaves one final spot for Gregg, Peter Moylan, Paco Rodriguez, etc, but we know that Ned Colletti almost always has one NRI pitcher on the club.

That worked out okay last year with Jamey Wright, who just made the Tampa roster today, and the Dodgers have had success with it in the past. (They’ve also had more than one Ortiz on the same time, so there’s that.) You’ll hear a lot about Gregg’s “1.00 ERA this spring!”, but I’m guessing surprisingly little about his 4/0 K/BB in nine innings. Can’t say I have super high hopes on that one.

4. So if just one starter makes the bullpen, then…

… yes. I expect some sort of trade before the end of the weekend, because noise and rumors have really picked up over the last few days, especially with the amount of scouts watching Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang. My guess is that one (likely Capuano) starts in relief, one gets moved (likely Harang), and as for Ted Lilly, well, he probably has to hope that Chad Billingsley‘s injured fingernail falls off. Considering how rotten his spring has been, it’s probably not too hard to see some sort of DL stint get ginned up for him.

5. Where is Kyle Cofield going to end up?

If the reaction here is “wait… who?” that’s more than justified. The Dodgers signed the minor league free agent in January after many undistinguished years in the low minors for Atlanta & Pittsburgh. He didn’t receive an invite to major league camp (though he has suited up on occasion to fill out the big league roster for the day), and is more than likely destined for the Chattanooga bullpen, if he even makes a roster at all. Why am I bringing this up now? Because I have one person who has asked me about him at least a half-dozen times this spring, both via email and Twitter. I have no idea why I should care about Kyle Cofield, but someone clearly does.

6. What can’t Vin Scully do?

Nothing, apparently.

 

Ten Days Until Vin Scully

Just in from the Dodger Twitter feed:

That’s ten days from now — a week from Monday — in the third game of the spring, home against the Cubs. So soon!

This is an apparent change from the originally announced broadcast schedule that indicated Fox would not be broadcasting any games. Still, four games is significantly down from what it has been in previous years.

So far, here’s which games we know will be on television:

2/25 vs Cubs (FOX)
2/28 vs Angels (FOX)
3/1 @ Angels (FSW – Angels)
3/5 @ Padres (FSSD – Padres)
3/7 vs Rangers (FOX)
3/17 vs Brewers (KCAL)
3/18 vs Diamondbacks (FOX)
3/23 vs White Sox (KCAL)
3/26 vs Rockies (KCAL)
3/28 @ Angels (FOX)
3/30 @ Angels (FSW – Angels)

More to come, no doubt, as other teams and MLB Network announce their schedules.

Happy 85th Birthday, Vin Scully

I don’t believe in any particular deity, but any power cool enough to drop a rainbow on Vin Scully day is the closest I’ve come to reconsidering.

I post about this every year on this day, and I’m not sure why I would stop now: happy birthday to the best there is and ever will be. Every additional year we get with Vin is a gift, especially now that he’s on a year-to-year basis and we never know when might be his last.

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I was largely out of the loop yesterday due to day job related business, so I think I missed a lot of derpitude about this tidbit from ESPN’s Mark Saxon that the Dodgers had “inquired” about Kyle Lohse, which turned into this tweet saying they were “showing interest,” which then turned into an MLB Trade Rumors story, because that’s what MLBTR does.

This all makes for a good opportunity to step back and remember the media rules of the offseason, which is that 99% of rumors are fake. In this case, it’s not even a “rumor”, because the story here is apparently that the Dodgers placed a phone call. The Dodgers, like every organization, would not be doing due diligence if they didn’t at least reach out to anyone on their radar. There’s nothing here that indicates the call was anything more than ringing up Lohse’s agent and saying “wait, he really wants more than $40 and a bus ticket, even though he’s inconsistent, overrated, injury-prone, and would cost a first round pick? Yeah, good luck with that.”

Or it could go the other way, in which the Dodgers just want to remind Zack Greinke – who is their true target – that they have other options should his demands get too unreasonable. The point is, these things may be enough to get Twitter in a fury, but it’s far from appropriate to pillage the Dodgers as though Lohse is headed to the park to sign a contract. (Which, in case I haven’t been clear, would be awful.)

I have sources too, and it’s of course up to you as to whether you want to trust me or not, but I’ve been assured that the Dodgers have little true interest in Lohse. I’m not worried about it. You shouldn’t be either.

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The Dodgers aren’t going to sign Lohse, but they are going to sign at least two pitchers, and perhaps three. I still firmly believe they’ll end up with Greinke (my current estimate is now 6/140 with an option for a seventh year) and the only conceivable way they’re not ending up with Hyun-jin Ryu is if they somehow manage to get Greinke and another starter like Anibal Sanchez or James Shields. I don’t think even the new Dodgers are crazy enough to pay to get Greinke and Sanchez – especially not with Clayton Kershaw‘s free agency looming – and they just don’t have the prospects to get Shields. Ryu’s made it clear he wants to pitch in America, his Korean team obviously wants the posting fee… there’s like a 95% chance this is getting done.

But who else? Brandon League may be back in the fold, but Jamey Wright & Randy Choate aren’t, and it’s likely the team adds at least one veteran reliever. Tim Brown of Yahoo! reports that likely non-tender Brian Wilson would like to pitch for the Dodgers. Whether that’s true or not, I can’t say, though unlike many of you, I don’t really care that he’s an ex-Giant. (Juan Uribe‘s terrible because he’s terrible, not because he used to play in San Francisco.) Even if he would like to join the Dodgers, it doesn’t matter unless the team has some interest, and I doubt they will – Wilson’s unlikely to pitch until mid-2013 at the earliest anyway, given that he had Tommy John surgery on April 19 of this season. Besides, if we want a former closer coming off a zipper, a more reasonable target might be Joakim Soria, who I’m quite sure the team has had some contact with.

Another fun option comes courtesy of ESPN’s Jayson Stark, who reports that the Angels are making Jordan Walden available, and while this of course falls under the “don’t believe everything you read” category we just discussed, it’s a lot more fun to think about than Lohse. A 25-year-old flamethrower with a career 10.83 K/9, 2.80 FIP, 3.06 ERA, and some assorted control problems? Yes. Please.

Obviously, trades between the two clubs are rare, though it’s well-known that the Angels need starting pitching. Assuming Greinke & Ryu land, would I trade an excess starter like Aaron Harang or Ted Lilly and a mid-level prospect for Walden? You’re damn right I would. The only problem there is that it might be an excuse for Ned Colletti to dream on Vernon Wells as his answer to the ongoing need of a righty bat who can play multiple outfield positions, and that’s of course terrifying. However, I do like Walden..

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Today’s a big day simply because of Vin’s birthday, but don’t forget that tomorrow has a lot of significance as well, given that it’s the end of the exclusive Fox negotiating period for a new television deal. It was reported the other day that they’d strike a deal between $6 – $7 billion, and maybe they will, but I wouldn’t be so sure. As I noted on Twitter on Tuesday, players almost always get bigger deals when they reach free agency and can field offers from many teams. The same principle applies here; what’s to stop the Dodgers from shopping these rights around and getting more? For the record, I never believed Nikki Finke’s insistence that Fox would drop out if they didn’t get a deal done by tomorrow – it just doesn’t make sense. Is $8 billion out of the question? $9 billion? It all sounds absurd, and it is, but just remember the shock around baseball at the original report, and then imagine what it’ll be like if they actually top that. (Borrowed that GIF at the right from good friend “EephusBlue”, and it couldn’t be more appropriate.)

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Hey, it could always be worse – on Vin’s 84th birthday, Frank McCourt still owned the team and they were close to signing Adam Kennedy. I’d say… things are slightly better now.