More on the Folly of the Darvish Trade

The thought of Yu Darvish, a declining, over-rated barely .500 pitcher possibly replacing Kenta Maeda in the Dodgers’ starting rotation is very depressing. As I wrote after the trade, giving up power hitting Willie Calhoun, who strikes out just about 10% of the time while hitting for average as well as hitting home runs, plus two other young farmhands, was a major mistake that will do little to help the team achieve its World Championship goal of this year, and will in ten years be looked back upon in the same light as those miserable trades that gave away the likes of Pedro Martinez and Mike Piazza.

After a slow start to 2017, Maeda has been lights out over the past months, and his performance last night, seven shutout innings allowing only two hits, was indicative of his

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talent and his importance to the Dodgers’ rotation. As I described a couple of days ago, while Darvish began his major league career on a high note with two solid seasons, those were now quite awhile ago, and looking at his recent performances shows a very different pitcher, one who has complied a 6-9 won-lost record over this season, with an ERA over 5.00 for his last dozen starts and whose team has won only one of his last eight decisions. Continue reading

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Dodgers’ Deals Today Were BAD NEWS

The world of Dodgers’ fandom is rejoicing, thinking with the moves the team made today that a world series title has been assured. People in the media and fans across SoCal have not bought into hype like this since the LA Rams brain trust said they were drafting a franchise QB in Jared Goff. Two of the three deals made today are just as good as the deal the Rams made trading away gold for a rusty tin pipe.

First the good news. The Dodgers did acquire a quality left-handed relief pitcher in 32-year-old Tony Watson, and to do so they only had to part with a couple of lower level prospects that were not on their radar for the near future, Oneil Cruz, a 18-year-old third baseman in low “A” and Angel German, a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher who has gone 3-15 with a 5.10 ERA so far in the low minors, but who has shown marked improvement in

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21 games this season at Great Lakes in the Midwest League (1.91 ERA over 33 innings with 37 strikeouts). Watson is a solid major league-quality reliever who pitches in 70-plus games every season and who over six seasons has compiled a solid 2.68 ERA along with a fine 31-16 won-lost record and a 1.09 WHIP. He’s been that seventh or eighth-inning guy, and he’s also been a closer, though in that role he has not been overly successful. But he fits the bill for a solid, late-inning lefty.

And then there is that other lefty reliever that the Dodgers traded for today, Tony Cingrani, a 28-year-old, five-year veteran who had an excellent first full year in 2013 and who has been awful since. He is in no way a major league quality pitcher, period. Continue reading

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Angels’ Pitching, Always an Issue

Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker, Andrew Haney, Tyler Skaggs and Nick Tropeano. Nice sounding rotation. Solid guys with a track record in Richards and Shoemaker, top-of-rotation talent in the phenom Heaney, and solid young prospects in Skaggs and Tropeano. Well, as of July 20, 2017, Shoemaker has pitched 77-2/3 innings this season, and the total amassed by the other four is all of 34 innings, 4-2/3 from Richards and 29-1/3 from Skaggs. Heaney and Tropeano have yet to see a major league stadium, as all five are on the LA Angels’ disabled list. That is Bad News Part One. Good news Part One is despite the heart of their pitching talent spending virtually all of 2017 disabled, in many cases recovering from major surgery and bottom line unable to pitch, the team and manager Mike Scioscia have pieced together a starting rotation composed of journeymen,

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has-beens, never-weres and “really, him?” guys culled from the scrap heap of baseball, to sit, after 97 games, only three games out of a wild-card spot, even after losing Mike Trout for 45 games.

But there is also Good News Part Two, and that is the fact that two of the injured five starters, Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney, plus similarly injured relieved Andrew Bailey, have all now embarked on rehab assignments. Continue reading

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Dodgers Strike Out in Today’s Personnel Moves

A couple of days ago, the Dodgers’ had completed a sweep of the Colorado Rockies, extending their winning streak to ten games, and increasing their National League West lead. However since then, they first learned that outfielder Franklin Gutierrez has had a flair-up of his chronic arthritis, and was headed for a stint on the disabled list. Called up to replace him was left-hand hitting infielder-outfielder Mike Freeman who previously saw time in the majors with both Arizona and Seattle. Not replacing Gutierrez with another right handed hitter seemed unusual, but a testament to the fine play of Yasiel Puig and Chris Taylor, who have been outstanding in right and left field, respectively.

Then today there was word that rightly starter Brandon McCarthy had suffered a knee injury and that he also was headed to the DL. The Dodgers recalled fellow rightly Brock

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Stewart, but in other moves that boggle the mind, they also sent down to Oklahoma City righty Ross Stripling, who has struggled some of late, and recalled a righty-hitting outfielder that they felt unneeded just a couple of days earlier. Among the choices at Oklahoma City for that outfield spot were veteran Scott Van Slyke, the most obvious and best choice, a veteran with power and solid defense who can play first base as well as all three outfield spots. They also could have chosen to recall 27-year-old righty-hitting outfielder O’Koyea Dickson, who has played almost every day for the OK City Dodgers in left field, and hit 17 home runs. They could also have turned to the organization’s top outfield prospect, 21-year-old Alex Verdugo, Continue reading

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Magic-Pelinka Partnership Off To Great Start

When Magic Johnson was appointed President of Basketball Operations for the Lakers, on one hand it was an absolute step forward to remove the moribund Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak regime, but on the other hand, the list of star NBA ball players who successfully transitioned to top caliber management or personnel executives can be counted on the fingers of a single hand. Though a fine player and great coach, there is no argument that Phil Jackson has failed miserably as the guy making personnel decision for the New York Knicks. And who in LA will forget the great play and awful executive career of Elgin Baylor? Sure, Magic was a great player, has been a success in the business world, and has that engaging personality, but he did fail as a coach and fail as a TV host. That sounds like he’s batting 50-50 and his history is thus no prognosticator of what might come next.

Rob Pelinka was a players’ agent and a successful one, but does that translate into becoming a successful General Manager? My first reaction is an absolute No as a general

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rule, but hey, maybe this guy has something that could work. As do many top level agents, he is well educated, with both a law degree and a business degree, each earned from the University of Michigan.

Well, the two of them came in with their work cut out for them, and with plenty of room for world-class mistakes. The biggest single challenge that developed was what to do with the second pick in the 2017 NBA draft, Continue reading

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Urias’ Career Derailed, He’s No Longer a Top Prospect

There have been a couple of monumental advances in sports injury medicine over the past few decades that produced surgical procedures that have saved the careers of untold numbers of players, stars and journeyman alike, from the pioneering work of Dr. Frank Jobe in developing the ulnar collateral ligament transplant, commonly referred to as “Tommy John Surgery”, that reconstructs the elbow and in 90% of instances returns the player to his former elbow strength, to micro-fracture surgery, developed by Dr. Richard Steadman, a surgical process that for the first time enables the actual repair of knee cartilage, as opposed to traditional surgical procedures that could only remove damaged cartilage. As with “Tommy John Surgery”, micro-fracture surgery has resurrected and extended the professional careers of significant numbers of athletes, from baseball players to football players and to others around the world.

But when it comes to significant injuries to other areas of the body, and in particular to professional baseball players and among them to pitchers, medical advances over the years

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have been far less successful, and most significant among those where success is yet to be found involve injuries to the shoulder. It was back in the late 1960s and early 1970s that sports’ injuries to the rotator cuff first began to be diagnosed, and the immediate medical response was surgery, surgery to repair tears to any of the four muscles that attach at different sites on the scapula, a.k.a. the shoulder blade, either the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor or the subscapularis. Back in the 1970s, guinea pigs such as star Continue reading

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Suddenly Need Pitching? NOT Jose Quintana

How quickly fortunes change in baseball. It seems like it was just hours ago when the Dodgers were rich in starting pitching, with manager Dave Roberts juggling seven starters by putting healthy pitchers on the ten-day disabled list here and there, and shuttling starters and relievers back and forth to Triple-A. Well, just guess what happened.

First, the inevitable happened with the team’s latest $48 Million Dollar Give-A-Way, Rich Hill. First it was missing time with his usual state of affairs, the blister, and then lo-and-behold, his lack of pitching ability caught up to him! As I’ve written so often, the journeyman walking injury, on the scrap heap for most of 2015 after an undistinguished career of demotions, releases and waivers among five major league teams, the then 35-year-old Hill was picked up by the Red Sox and pitched four solid games in September.

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That netted him a million-dollar deal in Oakland for 2016, and after his usual DL stints and all of 76 inning pitched through the first four months of the season, the Dodgers load up the truck and let the A’s steal the silver in a horrible deal for Hill and the totally non-productive free-agent-to-be Josh Reddick. Once he got off the DL, Hill managed a grand total of 34-1/3 innings for the Dodgers, for which he was rewarded with his three-year, $48 M deal, the sort of thing art thieves and incompetent cooked politicians dream of. Continue reading

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“Kike” Hernandez – And What If His Name Began With An “N”?

LA Dodgers utility player Enrique Hernandez chooses to use as his preferred nickname a disgusting religious slur, and no one cares.

Throughout “polite”, i.e. “white” society, the use of the “N” word is universally vilified, finding a place in today’s popular culture only among African-Americans who seem to have drawn a wide pass, in particular those who are entertainers, and among racists who as in the past use the term to leave no doubt about their bigotry and hatred.

Recently, popular comedian and political commentator Bill Maher, a fixture on late night television for over two decades, came under extreme fire for his use of the “N” word in a joke precipitated by an inadvertent straight line fed him by a republican US Senator. The

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comedian in him took over, and without thinking, Maher spoke the “joke”, and the word, and has spent more than a week being vilified and profusely apologizing.

Folks, there are other words that carry similar connotations that are just as racist, ignorant, mean spirited and bigoted out there, and there are some that apply to every racial, religious and cultural group. But as opposed to the use of the “N” word and knowledge of it’s effect on any and all African-Americans who may be victimized by the word, people are quick to ignore or minimize the use of some of these other words that are equally as offensive to other groups. Continue reading

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Red-Hot Kole Calhoun Making Up For Trout Loss

For the last three years plus, the Angels’ Kole Calhoun has been one of the top right fielders in the American League, playing solid defense, hitting for power, driving in runs and averaging in the .270s. As this season began, a big year from Calhoun was an absolute necessity if they Angels were to have a shot at the post season, given the state of their pitching staff, which today features two closers and four of their best five starters all on the disabled list for extended periods, several to be there for the rest of the season.

The Angels did get off to an ok start, bolstered by the best career start of baseball’s best player, Mike Trout. After the team’s first 53 games, they were one game under .500, which put them in contention for a wild card spot. And they did this despite a very poor start from Calhoun. Over those first 53 games, Calhoun hit only .209 with five home runs and

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16 RBI. But in that 53rd game, Trout injured his thumb sliding into second base, tearing a ligament, and putting him out of action for about two months.

Most people figured that the Angels would then tank, given the poor performances up to that point from several players, only one of whom was Calhoun. But a funny thing has happened: The Angels overall have played better since Trout’s injury, now posting a record in those games above .500, at 6-5. And a big part of that is due to the resurgence of Calhoun. Continue reading

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