Alex Guerrero, Juan Uribe or Justin Turner, Who Should be Starting?

Alex Guerrero has been dubbed by some as, “the hottest hitter in baseball right now”, or the everyday third baseman for LA. This is all rubbish.

There is no way in the world that this 28 year old rookie out of Cuba should be starting over the likes of Juan Uribe, when he’s healthy, or even Justin Turner, a man who had every shit at the role coming into the back end of last year’s season.

Yes Guerrero has been good and he probably should be getting more time than he is under Don Mattingly but he should not be starting.

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Dodgers Drop Game 2 via some Unneeded Help

Blanco runs into third base coach in the ninth inning
Blanco runs into third base coach in the ninth inning

Rule 7.09(g) of the Major League Baseball states,

It is interference by a batter or runner when … In the judgment of the umpire, the base coach at third base, or first base, by touching or holding the runner, physically assists him in returning to or leaving third base or first base [this results in an out]

In today’s Dodgers and Giants game, this exact thing happened.

With the runners on first and second, Brandon Belt hit a line drive through the short stop and third basemen’s hole for a single. Gregor Blanco rounded third and was held there by the base coach.

With no signs or warning, just his body.

Blanco runs into third base coach in the ninth inning

Blanco runs into third base coach in the ninth inning

The thing that angered me, and most Dodger fans (including players) about this was the third base umpire looking into the outfield and not at the bag.

Both Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson showed their frustration on twitter.

The explination third base umpire Fieldin Culbreth gave was simple,

If he (Roberto Kelly) doesn’t physically assist (Blanco) in returning to the base then there’s no interference.

The only problem was he sure did help him get back to the base.

With the score at 2-2 and it being the bottom of the ninth maybe the umpire should have been doing his job, just a thought.

This was a sour end to the game as Joe Panik then sent one into center field for a sacrifice fly and the game winning run.

This was also Kershaw’s fourth start, and not that he was in line for the W but today’s game means his ERA is a shocking 4.07 for his standard with a win/loss of 1-1 but no need for panic as it is only 14 games into a 162 game season.

This has been the story of the series for LA, whether it has been their own luck or at the hands of someone else. For example in the first inning of yesterday’s game Puig hit a line drive right into the first baseman’s glove starting a double play with a runner on first.

Hopefully the Dodger’s luck flips around tomorrow at 3:45 when the final game of the 3 game set will be played at AT&T Park.

Brandon McCarthy Isn’t Terrible, He’s Actually Quite Amazing

Upon watching the first game of this regular season between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals at the ever-stunning Wrigley Field, John Kruk, on ESPN, pointed out that the reason Adam Wainwright was so good that night was because all of his stuff fooled batters; made them swing at pitches out of the strike zone. Now, of course this is the case, not too many guys can get lucky on wild swings at pitches with their arms fully extended or when their knuckles are jarred up.

For Brandon McCarthy of the Dodgers though this was not the case for him in the opening game against the Mariners at Dodger Stadium on Monday.

McCarthy’s line of 7IP, 6H, 5ER and 10K’s can be taken in a number of ways. Firstly, the K’s, he struck out 10, that is a good effort on a number of levels. But the reason he struck out all those Mariners was because of his ability to drop the ball out of the zone with his sinker, which accounted for 8 of his strikeouts.

Of course what you next look at is the 6 hits, along with the 5 earned runs. This is because he conceded 4 home runs. Yes, four, and in doing so became the first pitcher ever with that many homeruns, strikeouts and still managed to walk none.

Walking none, now that isn’t a bad feat either.

The point I am getting to here is that McCarthy is good, he is very good and worthy of his job on the LA roster, though it mightn’t be obvious with that line or his 4.05ERA last year. In fact Brandon should have got the win on Monday, had he had thrown his 4 home run at bats differently.

Right from the first at bat of the game we can see that throwing it out of the zone works, throwing it in side and fat does not. This is the game day pitch recording from the first at bat against Dustin Ackley. Pitch 1 is a sinker down and in that missed the zone… this is okay. Pitch 2 however, is a sinker that is a swinging strike. The best bit about this pitch is that it misses the zone, makes the batter swing at a ball and gets nothing from it. Then the next pitch, a curveball is middle away that Ackley doesn’t get a hit on but does his pretty sweetly to Howie Kendrick for the first out.

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McCarthy v Ackley, Top 1, 0 Out, GO 4-3

Skip ahead now to when he has two outs and needs to get out of the inning, Robinson Cano is up. This is the worst at bat of his day in my opinion and was lucky only to be taxed with a single. In this at bat Brandon threw 3 sinkers for 2 strikes and a hit. This is terrible pitching, all 3 are in the zone with number 3, the one Cano hit, sitting up and allowing to be punished.

McCarthy v Cano, Top 1, 2 Out, Single to Left

McCarthy v Cano, Top 1, 2 Out, Single to Left

This is now when McCarthy loses his confidence, on the next at bat he again places a sinker smack bang in the middle after already missing his first one way down and away and locating a curveball on the previous pitch in the same spot. Good batters tattoo these, which is good and it is what needed to happen.

However, McCarthy isn’t stupid and he knows he stuffed up, this isn’t him thinking that because of the 2 strikes on him a strikeout is present, he just missed his spot as seen by Grandal setting up outside for that home run pitch, and again the Cano single pitch but he just missed.

Of course missing your spots is what makes a bad pitcher but this is where you see he isn’t bad, in fact he is quite good. The right-hander missed his spots, it’s obvious but the way he bounces back after he did and settles down into a great game is quite remarkable. Most guys after giving up two two-out base hits for two runs will be defeated and annoyed. Brandon however sits down with Grandal and talks about it, in fact the cameras pick them up sitting and showing hand gestures about what the ball did instead of what it should have done.

Then, for the next 2 innings, Brandon is lights out. 6 up, 6 down, 3 strikeouts. For those 3 K’s he throws 12 pitches and one of them would have been a called strike.

McCarthy v Miller, Top 2, 2 Out, K

McCarthy v Miller, Top 2, 2 Out, K

McCarthy v Paxton, Top 3, 0 Out, K

McCarthy v Paxton, Top 3, 0 Out, K

McCarthy v Ackley, Top 3, 1 Out, K

McCarthy v Ackley, Top 3, 1 Out, K

For these two innings, these 3 at bats in particular, Brandon is doing what he should be doing all the time. Even though the last one took 5 pitches it got the out in the end. If he could only go 6 innings and face 20odd batters, each with 5 pitches per AB, then that is a solid outing and I would take that any day over centering balls just for the sakes of strikes.

Then it went wayward again, facing the 2, 3 and 4 hitters in the 4th, Cruz and Seager (brother of LA prospect Corey) hit solo shots to extend the lead to 5. Right from the top of the fourth, in the out to Cano, something was different; he was centering that sinker again. Look at these at bats as opposed to the three strikeouts before; it is clear that they are badly placed. I don’t need to tell you that centering the sinker like that will end up badly, Brandon saw that himself

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McCarthy v Cruz, Top 4, 1 Out, HR

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McCarthy v Seager, Top 4, 1 Out, HR

But then, like a switch has been flicked, McCarthy sits down the next 2 via the old strikeout with 0 of the pitches being placed in the zone.

Everything seemed to be sorted after that for Brandon, only one more homerun to Ackley and again this was off a curveball that hung, something different for McCarthy to think about.

2 more innings of perfect ball, his pitch count was up to 98 and Brandon McCarthy was out of there.

I am not sure whether the centering sinkers are a problem of fitness or in his head or just the ball not going where he wants them to because he isn’t that good for 21 perfect outs but Brandon has stuff to be a solid pitcher, I just don’t think he has ever worked on it for very long to get it perfected. Now, at 31 it might be a little late to get the amazing status as the starter but he can help the Dodgers go a long way into 2015.

Julio Urias’ First Start in AA

Ranked number 8 by MLB.com on their prospect lists for the whole of baseball and up there with one of the best 18 year olds as of right now, southpaw Julio Urias made his first start in the highest team he has ever played for, the Tulsa Drillers of AA.

As the Dodgers are managing his pitch count and starts they never usually go for more than 5 innings and today was no different, Julio threw 74 pitches for his 15 outs, a nice economy rate to keep the count low.

Some people wanted Urias up in the pen or even starting for LA in the 2015 season but this wont happen just yet. Although his first outing did show he has some potential. Urias went 5IP, gave up 2H and only 1BB with 4K’s and didn’t concede a run. A performance that would have given him the win on most occasions was spoiled by an error in the 9th, causing the Drillers to go down 1-0.

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Why Joc Pederson is too Young to Start in Centre Field

Joc Pederson doesn’t need to be the every day centre fielder just yet for the Dodgers. He is 22, for the start of the season anyway, this one-year isn’t his whole career, if he doesn’t start for this year that means nothing. Joc Pederson will be the Dodgers centre fielder for the next 5, 10 years if nothing else goes wrong.

The thing I can’t see about him from this year’s perspective is that the Dodgers have a realistic chance at that ever illustrious World Series trophy. A 22-year-old Rookie in centre field, no matter how good he is, will have nerves and excitement and that is good, it is fine. Why throw him into the deep end from game one?

Joc came off the bench when the rosters expanded last year for the most part and didn’t exactly shine but it was as expected. Continue reading

Who “Won” the Matt Kemp Trade?

Grandal with the Padres before the trade.
Grandal with the Padres before the trade.

After Matt Kemp went 2-4 in his return to LA playing in right field, hitting all 3 of the Padres RBIs with one of his hits coming off a double, people were left shattered that the Dodgers traded him away; maybe, probably, they were wrong.

Apart from the fact that one game is not enough to determine whether a trade was successful or not, the main man LA got in return didn’t even play, not because he isn’t worth the Opening Day start but because it seems Clayton Kershaw has a personal catcher, and when you are the reigning MVP and Cy Young winner, you can really get what you want.

The actual trade was Matt Kemp and then minor league catcher Tim Federowicz to San Diego in return for big league catcher Yasmani Grandal, Joe Wieland and Zach Eflin.

Zach Eflin, who never made it past high A was then moved on, along with Tom Windle in exchange for the new shortstop for LA, Jimmy Rollins. Both of these young guys have never seen any AA or higher ball but are only 20 and 23 respectively. Continue reading

2015 Opening Day Lineups with Predictions for the Season

With Spring Training drawing to a close and Opening Day now under just a week to go, it is time to preview who Donnie Baseball and his crew will send out onto the Dodger Stadium turf to face the Padres and Matt Kemp on April 6.

A number of prospects have impressed during spring, both pitching and batting wise but there shouldn’t be much change to the lineups that were there last year, minus of course the players they’ve lost to other teams.

Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw. How could it not be the reigning NL MVP and twice in a row Cy Young winner, going for another season with a sub 2 ERA and possibly some more trophies to stick on the mantle piece, Clayton has been a key aspect in the Dodgers making the post season these last few years. Although he hasn’t exactly been Clayton Kershaw in them at all he has shown during the regular season he is ready to be one of the al time greats from the mound. Continue reading