April 2015

Dodger Insider magazine — May 2015 edition

May 2015 cover image

May highlightsBy Jon Weisman

Adrian Gonzalez is having a great start and has been highly regarded among Major League first baseman for quite some time. But there hasn’t been much focus in the media on where Gonzalez will ultimately rank among the all-time greats.

In the May issue of Dodger Insider magazine, Cary Osborne explores Gonzalez’s potential legacy, highlighted by Gonzalez being on track to become one of the top 25 first basemen of all time.

The cover story is one of more than two dozen features in the latest issue of the blog’s companion publication, which will be on sale at all Dodger Stadium stores beginning Friday. Other top stories are highlighted at right, along with our usual collection of Dodger history, news, notes, photos and more. It’s Dodger past, present and future in one great 152-page package.

To subscribe to Dodger Insider, visit dodgers.com/magazine. Orders taken through May 11 will begin with the June issue.

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Dodger minor league report No. 3: Urias bounces back — emphatically

By Cary Osborne

You want to see how someone bounces back when adversity comes their way. On April 21, Tulsa Drillers 18-year-old Julio Urias surrendered five earned runs in four innings. It was the second time in his three-season professional career that he had given more than three earned runs in an outing. The last time was April 14, 2014 with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes when he gave up five earned runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Urias was incredible on Monday in an emphatic bounceback start. He struck out 10 batters, walking none, allowing one hit and no runs on Monday in six innings. Even with the 10 strikeouts, Urias threw just 70 pitches — 52 for strikes (74 percent).

Urias reached a three-ball count to one batter in the game — the second batter in the first inning. Of the 18 batters he faced, just five got to two balls. He struck out four batters on three pitches.

On to this week’s roundup …

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Eury De La Rosa becomes latest pitcher to join Dodger organization

By Cary Osborne

The Dodgers claimed 25-year-old left-hander Eury De La Rosa on Thursday from the Oakland Athletics and moved Brandon McCarthy to the 60-day disabled list. McCarthy is scheduled to have Tommy John surgery today.

De La Rosa’s addition gives the Dodgers five left-handed relievers on the 40-man roster. He appeared in 44 Major League games (all in relief) for the Diamondbacks in 2013-14, going 2-1 with a 4.21 ERA (24 earned runs in 51 1/3 innings) and 48 strikeouts in that time. He will be assigned to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

De La Rosa had a 2.95 ERA/3.49 FIP/1.39 WHIP in 36 2/3 innings for Arizona last season. Remove one bad outing on September 19 in which he gave up five earned runs in one inning to Colorado and his ERA in his other 24 outings was 1.76.

De La Rosa was designated for assignment by Arizona in December and traded to Oakland the same month. The 5-foot-9-inch reliever pitched six innings (seven games) in Triple-A Nashville this season, allowing three hits, five walks and no runs while striking out four.

Since April 9, De La Rosa is the fifth pitcher the Dodgers have acquired from outside the organization. He joins the club of Ryan Webb (traded for April 9 from Baltimore and released April 13), Ryan Dennick (claimed April 15 from Cincinnati), Daniel Corcino (claimed April 17 from Cincinnati) and Xavier Cedeno (traded for April 22 from Washington, then traded to Tampa Bay April 27).

Fun with projections: Homer crazy

San Francisco Giants vs Los Angeles Dodgers

For more images from Wednesday, visit LA Photog Blog

By Jon Weisman

“On pace.” Is there any more beguiling, teasing, misleading two-word construction than you? You engage and mock us all at once.

But with the Dodgers clubbing four home runs in their final game of April, a 7-3 victory Wednesday over San Francisco, let’s start today with some off-day amusement.

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 7.18.53 AM

Yes, that projection has Adrian Gonzalez and Alex Guerrero combining for 101 home runs. On the other hand, two of the biggest power players in the Dodger lineup, Yasiel Puig and Yasmani Grandal, have barely gotten going.

Who knows what the future holds, but the power display has been fun to watch for fans of the Dodgers, who played .619 ball in April, putting them on pace for … 100 wins.

Pederson pops up — to leadoff, that is

For photos from Tuesday, visit LA Photog Blog – here and here.

Giants at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Joc Pederson, CF
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Andre Ethier, RF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Juan Uribe, 3B
Zack Greinke, P
Notes: Don Mattingly told reporters that Carlos Frias would start Friday’s game against Arizona and Scott Baker would start Saturday. In addition, Brandon McCarthy confirmed to reporters he will undergo Tommy John surgery Thursday, with Dr. Neal ElAttrache performing the operation.

By Jon Weisman

Five weeks ago, I tweeted out the above prediction about Joc Pederson roaming the Dodger batting order. With more than five months to go in the season, I’m nearly halfway there.

Pederson, whose batting prowess this season was discussed here Sunday and Monday, has been moved up from the Nos. 7 and 8 spots to leadoff for tonight’s game.

Frankly, I was tempted to bet Pederson would go nine for nine, figuring it wasn’t out of the question that he might bat ninth in an American League park, but the Dodgers don’t play a road interleague game until June 15 at Texas, and I figured Pederson’s days at the bottom of the order would be over by then.

Pederson enters tonight sixth in the National League in weighted on-base average (wOBA, .428) and fourth in OPS (1.014).  As noted Sunday, his stats would be impressive even accounting for the walks he has drawn batting eighth with the pitcher on deck.

Will he ever reach the in-between spots of the order? Based on the Dodgers’ ever-changing roster and needs, and whether he gets increased playing time against southpaws, I wouldn’t rule it out.

Five other players tonight – Jimmy Rollins (second), Howie Kendrick (third), Adrian Gonzalez (fourth), Yasmani Grandal (seventh) and Juan Uribe (eighth) – are also in new lineup slots for 2015. Don Mattingly commented to reporters this afternoon that there has been input from the front office toward the Dodgers’ efforts to come up with an ideal lineup configuration. (Mattingly added that he feels Grandal has been pressing.)

Despite its difficulties against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, the Dodger offense is hardly in crisis, ranking first in the NL in wOBA and weighted runs created (wRC+) by a wide margin. But it is an oddly stratified offense through 20 games, with none of tonight’s starters offering an OPS between .680 and .880.

In short, as far as 2015 is concerned, there isn’t really an average player in that lineup.

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 4.24.39 PM

The reality, however, is that these extreme differences will smooth out over time, and the lineup changes don’t make that much of a difference as you might believe. In fact, this gives me a chance to offer a sneak preview of an article examining batting orders in the May edition of Dodger Insider magazine, written by Mike Petriello of Dodgers Digest. (Click each image below to enlarge.)

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All-Star voting begins today

Voting for the July 14, 2015 MLB All-Star Game, which is exclusively online/digital for the first year ever, begins today. Yasmani Grandal, Adrian Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick, Jimmy Rollins, Juan Uribe, Carl Crawford, Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig are listed on the National League ballot. From today’s announcement:

The AL All-Star Team will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the NL All-Star Team will have eight fan-elected starters.  The pitchers and reserves for both squads – totaling 25 for the NL and 24 for the AL – will be determined through a combination of “Player Ballot” choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers – NL skipper Bruce Bochy of the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants and AL manager Ned Yost of the Kansas City Royals.

Following the announcement of the American League and National League All-Star rosters, fans will begin voting to select the final player for each League’s 34-man roster via the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote.  Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each League over the balloting period.

The Dodgers had four All-Stars last year, their most since 2010. Pederson is looking to become the Dodgers’ first rookie All-Star Game participant since Hideo Nomo in 1995. Will he do it? You tell me.

— Jon Weisman

Crawford heads to disabled list, Hernandez recalled

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

For more photos from Monday, visit LA Photog Blog.

Giants at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Kershaw CCXIV: Kershawl Blart: Mall Cop 2
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Kiké Hernandez, CF
Justin Turner, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Scott Van Slyke, RF
Alex Guerrero, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Clayton Kershaw, P

By Jon Weisman

Carl Crawford has joined fellow outfielder Yasiel Puig on the disabled list with a right oblique strain, and infielder-outfielder Kiké Hernandez has been called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Crawford injured himself during his second-inning triple Monday, on the swing, telling Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. today that it was a “bad tear.” He has a .260 on-base percentage and .408 slugging percentage in 50 plate appearances this season. Crawford had an even slower start (.224/.278) in April 2014, but finished last season at .339/.429.

The 23-year-old Hernandez had a .321 OBP and slugged .421 in 134 plate appearances during his MLB debut in 2014. With Oklahoma City in 2015, Hernandez was at .219/.254, thanks largely to a 1-for-29 slump from April 12-20.

Peter O’Malley earns top honor from Japan

peter_omalleyBy Jon Weisman

Former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley will receive the honor of “The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon” from the Government of Japan, conferred by Emperor Akihito, at a ceremony in Los Angeles later this spring.

The Government of Japan established The Order of the Rising Sun on April 10, 1875 as its the first national decoration awarded and the country’s highest honor for a non-Japanese citizen. award celebrates those who have “distinguished achievements in international relations, promotion of Japanese culture, advancements in their field, development in welfare or preservation of the environment.”

O’Malley is being recognized for more than 60 years of promoting friendly relations through baseball between Japan and the United States and the development of Japan’s baseball world. With approximately 85 trips to Japan, O’Malley has been at the forefront of numerous cultural exchanges between the two nations, dating back to 1956, when he joined his parents, Kay and Walter, and his sister, Terry, on the National League champion Brooklyn Dodgers’ first Goodwill Tour to Japan.

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Dodgers RBI participates in coaching coaches

Photos by Mikey Williams/Los Angeles Dodgers

Photos by Mikey Williams/Los Angeles Dodgers

CS Fielding ActionBy Erin Edwards

Dodgers RBI is fortunate to have dedicated coaches who work to provide our youth with the best instruction and mentoring possible. On April 18, 74 of our committed coaches attended the largest coaching clinic in Dodgers RBI history, at Rancho Cienega Sports Complex in Los Angeles. The clinic was sponsored by the LA84 Foundation and Coaching Simplified.

CS Hitting ActionCoaches from L.A. City Recreation and Parks, L.A. County Parks and Recreation, and Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club were in attendance. The coaches participated in a presentation and discussion about coaching philosophy. When asked why they coached, the most common responses were “to give back to my community” and “to help kids.”

After the classroom portion of the clinic, the coaches took the field and learned ways to keep the student athletes engaged and active. Jake Alba, from Coaching Simplified, led the group in specific skill development drills that the coaches can incorporate into their practices.

To show appreciation, all the coaches in attendance received tickets to one of the upcoming Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks games. The strong response to the clinic illustrates that Dodgers RBI really is reviving baseball in the inner city of Los Angeles.

Jimmy Rollins nominated for Humanitarian Award

LOS ANGELES DODGERS V SEATTLE MARINERS

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jimmy Rollins has been nominated for the All-Stars of Giving Humanitarian Award, recognizing the efforts of professional athletes as philanthropists.

Through May 15, fans can vote to choose the organization’s 10 All-Stars of Giving and then for the Humanitarian of the Year Award.

Rollins, who shared baseball’s Roberto Clemente Award last year, has focused on helping children, at-risk youth and families through the Rollins Family Foundation, which is dedicated to providing families-in-need access to fresh food and nutritional education.

— Jon Weisman