Dodgers’ and Angels’ Rotations Face Similar Issues

With the start of the 2015 season looming in a week-and-a half, both the Dodgers and Angels are struggling to to put together five-man starting rotations that can hopefully get each team off to a decent start. Each team has a core of three quality starters at the top of their rotation, each team will be missing one of the three at the start of the season, and each team is closely watching a group of contenders for the remaining spots as the need to

decide who will round out their rotations gets closer and closer. But, the pool of possibilities is vastly different for the two teams.

After Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke at the top of the Dodgers' rotation, and with number three starter Hyun-Jin Ryu set to miss the start of the season with the same shoulder soreness that he has experienced in each of his first two major league seasons, the Dodgers will have three new faces in the rotation come April 6.
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Injury-plagued re-treads Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson were signed in the off-season to fill the number four and five spots, and they now move up to three and four to start the season, and to fill the now vacant number five slot, the team has an additional group of injury-plagued re-treads and injury-plagued wanabees from which to choose. With two of their injury-plagued re-treads already falling by the wayside with spring training injuries, it seems that the job will fall to one of the injury-plagued wanabees, Joe Wieland, who was acquired along with catcher Yasmani Grandal in the Matt Kemp skunking that the San Diego Padres pulled off against the Dodgers. Continue reading

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Lunacy at Dodgers’ Stadium – What The Hell Are They Doing?

I can’t believe how happy I was a few months ago when Andrew Friedman jumped ship in Tampa and signed on as the Dodgers’ new head baseball honcho, in charge of putting a championship-caliber team on the field. Very little that he has done since taking over that role has seemed logical, and certainly little has occurred that figures to actually improve the team. His moves can largely be classified into three groups:

  • Trades that did little if anything to improve the team;
  • Signings of a slew of pitchers with questionable talent and/or worrisome health histories;
  • Throwing good money after bad for more and more Cuban imports with no major league experience, hoping to find a second Yasiel Puig.

Of course, all this is in addition to the biggest act of lunacy of all, retaining the empty uniform non-manager don mattingly to continue to keep the Dodgers from ever becoming a championship team, regardless of the players on the field.

The trades pretty much amounted to re-arranging the deck chairs, except for giving away for a pile of garbage the Dodgers' best hitter and run producer, Matt Kemp. The net effect of all those
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trades is a slightly improved defensive, less speed, and less power. Continue reading

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Pitching is a Fragile Thing

I’ve commented plenty on how the Dodgers are relying this coming season on far too many pitchers whose careers have been dominated by serious injuries and who have seldom if ever been healthy enough to pitch even a single full season. The projected starting staff for 2015 includes both Brandan McCarthy and Brett Anderson, who have one healthy major league season between them. In the background are a slew of other starters with

questionable health histories, all lined up for the opportunities that will surely come when injuries strike: Brandon Beachy (who will miss the first few months recovering from surgery), Dustin McGowan (perhaps penciled in as a reliever but whose career has been primarily that of a starter), Erik Bedard, Chad Gaudin, and David Huff.

Now, just a couple of weeks before the season
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opener, Hyun-Jin Ryu has had a re-occurrence of the sore shoulder that has landed him on the disabled list for portions of each of his first two seasons, and that now will force him to miss at least a couple of early season starts. Continue reading

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Young Athletes Like Kyle Lowry Are Stealing Money From Their Teams and From Their Fans

Earlier this NBA season and before his latest season-ending injury, I frequently wrote about the Lakers’ vacationing millionaire, about how Kobe Bryant passed up game after game to stay home sipping Pina Coladas and counting his $23 million. But, after all he is an ancient mariner at 36 long, tough years of age, and thus entitled to rest his weary bones when ever he feels the need, fans, teammates, and the guy signing the checks be damned.

There is precedent for this, as Gregg Popovich has honed the art of resting star players as his San Antonio Spurs have raced to one NBA title after another. Of course
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his stars, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, are also up there in years, now at the ripe of ages of 38, 32, and 37, respectively. Continue reading

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Paul and Jordan Are Not Enough For Depleted Clippers

Blake Griffin has now missed eleven games since his elbow surgery early last month, and while the Clippers have won seven of them, their lack of depth is getting more and more critical as their roster becomes more and more depleted, seemingly with each passing day.

Following Griffins surgery, starting small forward Matt Barnes suffered a pulled hamstring, and has missed the team's last two games, and invaluable sixth man Jamal Crawford is now also out of action with an injured calf.

With Spencer Hawes and the newly acquired Jordan Hamilton now starting, in last night's game against Portland, the Clippers bench consisted of Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, and
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Austin Rivers, and they contributed a total of 14 points in the come-from-ahead overtime loss. Continue reading

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Baseball’s Pace-of-Game Tweaks Miss the Obvious

In 1974, the average major league baseball game took two hours and 29 minutes. They still play nine innings and there are still three outs per inning, but in 2014 the average game time had increased to three hours and two minutes.

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Major league baseball has rolled out some tweaks to pace-of-game rules in a effort to stop the ever-increasing length of games. While they are right with a couple of these changes, they've missed some areas that would make an actual difference. And of course, there is absolute, total reluctance to establish any meaningful restrictions on the number of or length of tv commercials.

Among what baseball HAS done,
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is the following: Continue reading

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Friedman Taking Over – Is mattingly on Borrowed Time?

The bright ray of hope that the empty uniform non-manager don mattingly might have been sent packing upon the hiring of Andrew Friedman as the Dodgers new head of baseball operations quickly vanished when Friedman endorsed the left-over turkey to continue mis-managing the team. Now, however, Friedman has announced how he will

take part in a few team decisions that in the long history of major league baseball have always been the sole province of the manager. Can this POSSIBLY be a ploy to force the hand of mattingly, and get him to resign? Or, in a move even more nefarious, might Friedman even consider making not quite the correct decision, all the time, perhaps sabotaging the end result?

While real, major-league quality managers both understand and accept the range of duties that job includes, and will take no interference from
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their superiors in the organization, Continue reading

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Lakers (Nash, young, Scott, Price) Never Fail To Make News

As the Los Angeles fka Minneapolis Lakers sprint towards their worst season and worst record in franchise history, they remain newsworthy, but for all the wrong reasons.

The Lakers are always the subject of local talk radio and sports reporter jabber concerning whether or not they should, or in fact are engaged in, tanking, in order to help secure the best possible draft position.

The disappearance of Steve Nash is frequently a subject of interest, as he has deemed it just and proper to sit home and collect his $10 Million salary without attending Lakers' games or lending his experience and knowledge to the
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development of the team’s young players, rookie Jordan Clarkson in particular. He’s made a bit of news, however, the past few days, tweeting about soccer and with a tweet-war over some blow-up or another. Reports have censored Nash’s comments, but Continue reading

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ANOTHER Wounded Pitcher Signed by the Dodgers?

Brett Anderson, Brandon McCarthy, Brandon Beachy, Erik Bedard, and today Dustin McGowan – What are the Dodgers and the Freidman-Zaidi brain trust thinking?

Last season, and in many of the past several years, the Dodgers suffered through long stretches where they did not know who would be starting their next game, due to injuries to one starter after another. Last season, each of the big three of Clayton Kershaw, Zach Greinke, and Hyun-Jin Ryu missed time, and with no real occupant of the fifth spot in the rotation, for large segments of the season the Dodgers were struggling with the likes of Paul Maholm, Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Correia in the
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rotation. Since last season, they have traded away Dan Haren and Josh Beckett has retired, and they have filled the empty rotation spots with a group of pitchers who have missed more time due to serious injuries over the past few years than they have had active playing time. Continue reading

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Dodgers Continue to Make Questionable Pitching Choices

Granted, the Dodgers easily won their division last season, despite monumental deficiencies with both the starting pitching staff and the set-up guys in the bullpen. Relying in far to many games through August and September on starters with names like Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Correia, and with late innings entrusted to the young, the elderly, and the infirm. The brand new Dodgers’ brain trust, led by head of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and his general manager Farhan Zaidi, had the off season task of assembling a complete staff that featured more than three great starters and a solid closer.

At the start of spring training 2015, however, the pitching staff has new names but not a single new, reliable, established major league veteran or one who does not have a history of serious injury to bolster either of those two pitching departments. Yesterday's signing of Brandon Beachy adds yet another talented pitcher who has been missing in action week after week, month after month, throughout his very abbreviated major league career. Through his career with Atlanta, Beachy has at times been brilliant, but those times have been separated by long stretches of inactivity.
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Continue reading

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Clippers’ Thin Roster Undercuts DeAndre Jordan’s Great Play

In their last three games, all after the injury to Blake Griffin, the Clippers have defeated Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, all teams virtually assured of playoff spots, and in the three wins they have been led by the phenomenal play of center DeAndre Jordan. In the three games, Jordan has averaged 22 points per game, on 71% field goal shooting, and 21.7 rebounds per game, along with two blocks and 2.3 steals per game. Jordan led the the NBA in rebounds per game last season pulling down an average of 13.6, and is leading the league again this season with an average of 13.9.

Attempts by both Houston and the Spurs to play "Hack-A-Jordan" failed in their losses to LA, as Jordan became the first NBA player since Wilt Chamberlain in the 1961-2 season to have 25 or more free throw attempts in consecutive games. Jordan's development continues to be exceptional, and as his importance to the team grows, especially during Griffin's absence, he has clearly established himself as one of the league's premier centers, his ridiculous All-Star game snub aside.
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In Griffins’ absence, Doc Rivers has chosen to start Spencer Hawes in his place, and Hawes still has not regained his early season consistency since returning from his left knee injury, but Glen “big Baby” Davis has played really well in an expanded sub role behind him. But, even bigger problems lurk in the back court, now that Austin Rivers has suffered an injured ankle. Clippers’ fans should be thankful that rumors of trading Jamal Crawford were just that, rumors, and that the star sixth man is still the Clippers’ go-to guy in the fourth quarter. Against San Antonio, Doc Rivers played only Crawford along with starters Chris Paul and J.J. Redick in the woefully thin back court. Crawford hit five of seven three-pointers on the way to tying Jordan with a Clippers’ game-high 26 points.

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Dahntay Jones and rookie C.J. Wilcox are the only other guards on the active roster, and their roles have been sitting on the bench and last-minute mop-up in already decided games. It will be difficult enough to survive the short-run without Griffin, but for the long haul, back court help is seriously needed. Yesterday produced an amazing flurry of trades in which somewhere in the neighborhood of two dozen guards changed teams,
but not one of them moved to SoCal and the Clippers’ end of Staples Center.

The Clippers are currently in a pack of five teams whose records are separated by no more than two games. The team with the best record from that group will have no worse than the third best record in the Western Conference, and at lest some degree of home court advantage in the playoffs. The Clippers have the third best record in that group, which puts them only one-half game behind Portland and Houston, who are currently tied. Every game is vital to the Clippers, who could end the regular season with the third best, or even the second best, spot in the conference. But, do they have the depth to make that happen?

Note: Jordan Farmar is still out there.

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One Guy Missing as Dodgers Report to Camp

A few days ago I wrote about how Josh Hamilton, following his recent shoulder surgery, would be missing in action as the Angels reported to spring training. Well, the Dodgers have a similar but worse situation as they filter in for the start of the spring endeavor, as indispensable closer Kenley Jansen has now had surgery to remove a growth from his foot, and will be out of action for up to three months. The Angles have several outfield replacements for Hamilton, and could even be better off without him, given his recent production, but the Dodgers have no viable replacement for Jansen, and have yet to make a move four days after learning of his prognosis. Local media reports have been contradictory, some saying that new head of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has been in no hurry to make any deal and that no new discussions have begun, while others have said that discussions have been focused solely on obtaining a suitable replacement. This at a time where the roster is barren of any acceptable closer and at a time where the free agent market includes exactly two possibilities, Continue reading

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