June 2006

Weekend series

There are some really great stories out there today about the Dodgers. Tim Brown wrote an awesome article about the farm system’s rejuvenation and all the people who have had a hand in it, from Dan Evans, Kevin Malone, Paul DePodesta and Ned Colletti to some of the names you don’t hear as much, like Terry Collins, Jon Debus, Ken Howell, Dann Bilardello, Jeff Schugel, Kim Ng and several others. And, in case you missed it last week, Tim’s article on Jim Abbott is one of my favorite reads all year.

Among the other interesting reads today is Tony Jackson’s article that focuses on Olmedo Saenz and Ramon Martinez, two guys that don’t get nearly enough attention, in my opinion. I didn’t know that Ramon had an interest in being a manager someday, much like Sandy Alomar, until I read this. Another interesting fact about Ramon that he mentioned to me on the bus the other day – his grandmother in Philadelphia is 102 years young.

Bill Plunkett writes about what it will take to win the West in his off-day feature while his colleague, Mark Whicker (who does great Jim Tracy impressions) ponders a new divisional alignment that would have the Dodgers and Angels face off 16 times a year.

In the Riverside Press Enterprise, there’s a series of articles on our rookies by Allison Otto, Diamond Leung and Kevin Pearson that’s definitely worth reading.

Also in the LA Times online edition, Lewis Abraham Leader gives his all-time Dodger/Angel teams for those gearing up for the Freeway Series.

It should be a great weekend for California baseball.

Selfless approaches

Tim Kurkjian of ESPN.com has a great piece today about five players whose selfless approach helps their team more tham most people realize. Not surprisingly, Sandy Alomar Jr. is the first guy mentioned and I can’t put into words how much this guy adds to our club. It’s like having an extra coach who happens to hit .400 with runners in scoring position. There’s little doubt in my mind that he’s going to make a great manager someday and will be a valuable asset during the second half as a pinch-hitter, as Grady will be able to use him without worrying about not having another catcher in case of an injury.

Also, Tom Verducci wrote a piece for the CNNSI website and SI Magazine that talks about all the great rookies in baseball. Despite the bad captioning (it shows James Loney and talks about Matt Kemp), it’s another good read.

Enjoy the day away from the game. Hopefully we’ll come back recharged tomorrow after a tough three games in Minnesota.

Today's lineup

We get the first of two Cy Young Award winners today and the sixth since April 17. Let’s see if we can make Santana more like Pedro and not like Maddux, Glavine and Zito.

Furcal, SS

Lofton, CF

Kemp, RF

Kent, 2B

Saenz, 1B

Alomar, C

Cruz, LF

Izzy, 3B

Martin, DH

Perez, P

Great debate

For what it’s worth, I’m thrilled we’ve got such fervent fans out there. Whether you think this was a good trade or not, I’m happy to see so many people voicing their opinions on this blog.

We’ll know more in a few months whether this trade worked out or not and rest assured, Ned Colletti knows that this isn’t the only move that has to be made to improve the club. Right now, it’s a move that he believes really helps us and I personally agree. I’ve put my faith in him and our talented scouting staff that really sees something in Hendrickson and Hall.

Now let’s hope we can knock off a pair of Cy Young Award winners in the next couple games…

Today's lineup

Furcal, SS

Izzy, 3B

Nomar, 1B

Kent, 2B

Drew, RF

Saenz, DH

Kemp, CF

Cruz, LF

Martin, C

Lowe, P

More on the Hendrickson trade below…as for my "spin," I should have said that he has been one of the top lefties in the AL this season. There’s no debating that, statisically. Plus, he’s gotten 3.1 runs per game from his offense and I’m told from my counterpart over there that he could easily by 7-4 this year. An ERA under 4.00 in the AL is pretty impressive and it seems the turf in TB did not help his numbers. When he’s on grass, he’s pretty darn good.

Dodgers Acquire Hendrickson and Hall

Navarro

Jon Soohoo / Dodgers

The rumors are true. We’ve acquired Mark Hendrickson, one of the top lefties in the AL this year and catcher Toby Hall, plus cash, for Dioner Navarro, Jae Seo and a player to be named later. I’ve pasted the press release below. We’re also putting Brett Tomko on the 15-day DL, so we’ll carry three catchers at this time.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Public Relations
Tuesday, June 27, 2006 (323) 224-1301

DODGERS ACQUIRE HENDRICKSON AND HALL FROM TAMPA BAY FOR NAVARRO AND SEO

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers announced today that they have acquired left-handed pitcher Mark Hendrickson and catcher Toby Hall from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, along with cash considerations for right-handed pitcher Jae Seo, minor league catcher Dioner Navarro and a player to be named later, according to Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti.

“Mark will add some depth to our starting rotation as we head into the second half of the season,” said Colletti. “Toby is an experienced catcher who will serve us well both behind the plate and off the bench.”

Hendrickson, who turned 32 on Friday, has been among the top left-handers in the American League this season, posting a 2.20 ERA on the road, the lowest mark in the league. He has also held AL batters to a .241 batting average which ranks eighth in the league. Overall, he has posted a 4-8 record and 3.81 ERA in 13 starts, going six or more innings in 11 of those outings while receiving just 3.1 runs per start by his offense (40 runs/13 starts).

Among AL lefties, Hendrickson ranks eighth in ERA behind Johan Santana (2.75), Scott Kazmir (3.21), Mark Buehrle (3.27), Barry Zito (3.36), Nate Robertson (3.38), Kenny Rogers (3.44) and Jamie Moyer (3.51).

Hendrickson began his professional baseball career in 2000 following a four-year career in the National Basketball Association. The six-foot, nine-inch southpaw was a second-round pick of the Philadelphia 76ers in 1996 and spent four season with Philadelphia (1996-7), Sacramento (1997-8), New Jersey (1998-99) and Cleveland (1999-2000), averaging 3.3 points and 2.8 rebounds in his 114-game career and became the 10th player in Major League history to also appear in the NBA. He will become the tallest player in Dodger history and joins teammate Derek Lowe as two of the 12 players in franchise history to top six-feet, six-inches in height.

The Washington native played baseball and basketball at Washington State University and was drafted six times in baseball from 1992-97. He made his big league debut in 2002 and has won 37 games in the Majors, including team-high totals of 11 victories in 2005 and 10 wins in 2004. This season, most of his success has come on natural grass, where he has a 2.09 ERA in six starts, compared to a 5.40 mark on artificial turf.

Hall, 30, is hitting .231 with eight homers and 23 RBI in 64 games this season. In seven Major League campaigns with the Devil Rays, he has a lifetime average of .262 with 44 homers and 251 RBI, including career-highs of .287 in 2005, 12 homers in 2003 and 60 RBI in 2004. He has thrown out 35 percent of runners attempting to steal off him in his career (145-for-412).

Navarro, 22, batted .280 with two homers and eight RBI for the Dodgers before suffering a contusion to his right wrist and being placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 5. The Tampa resident was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas on June 15 after being reinstated from the DL.

Seo, 29, appeared in 19 games for the Dodgers, including 10 starts, posting a 2-4 record and 5.78 ERA. In 90 career big league games (76 starts), the right-hander has a 24-26 record and 4.13 ERA.

From the Metrodome

A busy day here in Minnesota and from my first glance, the Metrodome isn’t as bad as I’ve heard it is. It’s not your typical new ballpark with every new amenity, but to me, there’s a lot of character here which is what you want in your yard. I’m glad we got to see it before the new one opens up in a few years.

We arrived last night at about 11:30 local time and were in the hotel shortly after midnight. I cranked out the game notes in the morning and then Scott Akasaki, our team travel manager, and I headed to the Mall of America. After all, while I’m sure there’s plenty more to do in Minneapolis, I’m not exactly sure what it is. Maybe we’ve got some blog readers out there with recommendations.

Ironically, we arrived at the Mall around noon and saw a huge crowd gathering in the middle of one plaza. Sure enough, it was part of the citywide celebration of the 1965 World Series anniversary. Yes, we went all the way across the country and stumbled upon an autograph session by Willie Davis and "Sweet" Lou Johnson, two guys who are in our offices on a daily basis. Those two will join several former Twins in a pregame ceremony tonight here at the ballpark.

As for the Mall, it is pretty impressive in size and has just about every single store you’ve ever seen in any mall. The amusement park and underground aquarium were a nice touch, though we didn’t visit either of them with our limited time.

Another nice thing about this city that we’ve found so far is the public transportation. We took the train to the Metrodome, though it absolutely started pouring on Scott, myself and A Martinez as soon as we got out. But we’re now dry and under the dome for the next six hours or so and hoping to keep this win streak going.

Here’s today’s lineup and a final thought:

Furcal, SS (got 1,000th hit yesterday)

Lofton, CF

Garciaparra, 1B (hit 200th homer yesterday)

Drew, DH

Kent, 2B

Ethier, LF

Kemp, RF

Izturis, 3B

Martin, C

Billingsley, P

Read in today’s USA Today that the CEO of Sun Microsystems, Jonathan Schwartz is doing a blog and that more CEOs could follow suit. I think this is a good step for big business all around the country and so far I think the Dodger organization has been glad that we’ve been able to communicate directly with our fans through this avenue.

Mark Langill – Return to Minnesota

The Dodgers return to Minnesota today for the first time since the 1965 World Series and former outfielders Lou Johnson and Willie Davis are expected to take part in special pregame ceremonies at the Metrodome. Johnson hit a home run in the deciding Game 7 of the World Series and Davis went 5-for-12 with three stolen bases in Games 3-4-5 at Los Angeles.

The 1965 World Series against the Twins’ mirrored the Dodgers’ Fall Classic 10 years earlier against the New York Yankees. In both matchups, the Dodgers lost the first two games of the series on the road; won three straight games in their home ballpark; wasted a chance to clinch the Series by losing Game 6; and finally won the deciding game. And both Game 7 efforts were complete-game 2-0 victories from left-handers who were named the MVP of their respective Series – Johnny Podres in 1955 and Koufax in 1965.

When Minnesota hosted the annual All-Star Game in 1985, Koufax and former Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew were named honorary team captains.

Today's game

Today’s lineup features four shortstops on the infield. Nomar Garciaparra (1,024 games), Ramon Martinez (249), Rafael Furcal (846) and Cesar Izturis (559) have played a combined total of 2,678 games at shortstop during their careers entering today’s game. For good measure, the starting catcher Russell Martin is a converted third baseman.

Happy Birthday goes out to Aaron Sele, who celebrated last night with a victory.

Furcal, SS

Lofton, CF

Nomar, 1B

Drew, RF

Ethier, LF

Martinez, 2B

Izturis, 3B

Martin, C

Penny, P

If we can get out of here with a sweep, it will be nice, given our recent track record on the road in AL cities. Check out Tony Jackson’s Daily News blog for more on that.

Today's game(s)

Quite a long day for stadium workers today…

From 12-2, we’ve got the WIN clinic, as a girls’ softball instructional is going on down on the field right now with Jamie McCourt, Eric Gagne, Manny Mota and Jeff Kent.

The car gates open at 5 p.m. for tonight’s Hollywood Stars Game…among those coming are Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Jimmy Kimmel, James Van Der Beek, Mia Hamm, Louis Gossett Jr., Carlos Mencia, Michael Clarke Duncan and Corbin Bernsen. That game starts at 5:15.

The real Dodger game starts at 7:10, with Cesar Izturis set to leadoff and play shortstop. He will appear in his 560th game a short, leaving him 11 games behind Jose Offerman for third place on the L.A. Dodgers all-time games played list at that position. Bill Russell (1,747) and Maury Wills (1,497) are in the top two spots.

Here’s the lineup:

Izzy, SS

Cruz, RF

Nomar, 1B

Kent, 2B

Saenz, 3B (6-for-7, 2 HR, 5 RBI off Zach Duke)

Kemp, CF

Ethier, LF

Martin, C

Sele, P

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