May 2007

Abreu is official…

Indeed, Tony Abreu has had his contract purchased from Triple-A and will be with the club tonight. Hong-Chih Kuo is returning to Las Vegas…once I have a lineup, I’ll post it from downstairs.

A spirited debate…

Based on the comments, it looks like everyone is fired up on Monday morning. Glad to see we haven’t lost our zest for Dodger baseball over a three-game sweep to that team down South.

Anyway, we’ve got to get back on the horse tonight. Here’s the new lineup and a couple of notes, including one that will surprise even the biggest Juan Pierre fans and detractors.

Pierre, CF

Furcal, SS

Nomar, 1B

Kent, 2B

Martin, C

Gonzalez, LF

LaRoche, 3B

Ethier, RF

Tomko, P

WILL BRETT BEAT THE BREWERS? – Since the start of the 2003 season, Brett Tomko is 5-0 with a 3.09 ERA as a starter against Milwaukee. In his career against the Brewers, Tomko is 7-1 (.875), the best winning percentage of any active pitcher with a minimum of 10 starts.       Source: STATS, LLC

CHATTIN’ WITH MO – Former Dodger outfielder and current KFWB 980 broadcaster Rick Monday will host a live web chat with Dodger fans tomorrow at 2 p.m. PT. Monday, who will also play in Thursday’s Dodger Dream Foundation Golf Tournament, will take questions for half an hour, becoming the ninth Dodger player, manager, executive or broadcaster to host a web chat in 2007.

WALK LIKE A MAN – Since being recalled on May 6, Andy LaRoche has walked 12 times, the second-most in the NL behind Barry Bonds (17) during that span. He is tied for fourth in the Majors in bases on balls since his arrival behind Bonds, Jack Cust (16) and David Ortiz (13).

KEEPIN’ IT IN THE YARD – The Dodgers have allowed just 24 homers this season, the second-lowest total in the Majors behind the Padres (21). They are on pace to give up just 86 homers on the season, which would be lowest total by a Dodger staff in a non-strike-shortened season since 1992 when they allowed just 82 longballs. The staff will have its hands full this week, as three Brewers are among the Top 10 in homers, including J.J. Hardy (1st, 14) and Prince Fielder (T-2nd, 12). The franchise mark for least homers allowed was set in 1902 (10).

IT JUST FEELS RIGHT – Juan Pierre is batting .306 with a .333 on-base percentage vs. right-handers this season. He is tied for third in the league with 15 stolen bases, 14 of which have come against righties. Pierre has been particularly effective in close and late situations this season, as he has a .435 batting average (10-for-23) in such situations, the eighth-best mark in the National League. Close and late is defined as taking place in the seventh inning or later with the Dodgers either ahead by one run, tie with their opponent or with the tying run on deck.

BEATING THE BREWERS – With a win in the series finale at Milwaukee on April 4, the Dodgers have won 42 of the 64 meetings between these two teams, including 11 of the last 16. In those games, the Dodger bullpen has posted a 3.46 ERA (20 ER/52.0 IP) compared to a 6.75 for the Brewers’ relief corps (29 ER/38.2 IP).

A WIN FOR WIN – Dodger Vice Chairman and President Jamie McCourt will be honored tomorrow in New York by Women’s eNews as one of 21 exceptional individuals who make groundbreaking news by confronting issues of particular concern to women.  McCourt, the highest-ranking woman in baseball, was chosen from a reader-nominated list of hundreds of individuals that dedicate their lives to improving and empowering the lives the women.   She is being recognized for her efforts to bring more women executives into baseball and to educate women about the thrills of the game through Dodgers WIN (Women’s Initiative and Network). 

Rough weekend

Not much good to be said about the weekend, so I’ll just hope that this week is like last week with a bump in the road in the middle.

There was, however, an awesome story in this morning’s paper about Wes Parker and the work he’s been doing for the last many years with the Braille Institute. It’s refreshing to read positive stories about baseball personalities, which is something I wish there were more of. He’s really a very nice guy who is always in the offices with a positive outlook.

As I mentioned a while back, Wes is also up for the Rawlings All-Time Gold Glove team as one of six first basemen and with voting ending in less than a month, he can use your help. You can vote here.

Today's game

A lineup with a twist…

Furcal, SS

Pierre, CF

Nomar, 1B

Kent, 2B

Gonzalez, LF

Martin, DH

Betemit, 3B

Ethier, RF

Lieberthal, C

And welcome to the blogosphere, Diamond Leung. Diamond covers us for the Riverside Press Enterprise and is one of the youngest beat writers in the country. He’s got fresh ideas and interesting views that he’ll be posting here daily. For now, I’ll try to forgive him for growing up in in SF as a Giants fan. That means two of our beat writers are blogging, a third paper that covers us has a blog and of course, MLB.com, which covers us daily, is the home of all baseball blogs.

Down the freeway

Took yesterday "off" to play in the KFWB Golf Tournament at TPC Valencia, which was a nice day on the course. The tournament benefited the families of fallen police officers and we had several coaches out there (Honeycutt, Duncan, Warthen), as well as Grady Little, Chad Billingsley, Al Downing and some random celebrities like SNL’s Kevin Nealon. Jose Canseco even made an appearance and I hadn’t seen him since he tried out on Field 6 in Vero Beach a few years ago.

Anyway, that’s why there wasn’t much to post yesterday. The Dodgers Dream Foundation golf tournament is also this Thursday, May 24, and spots are still available if you want to buy a spot or a foursome. Please call 323.224.1413.

Last night after the golf event, I attended the Society of Professional Journalists annual award banquet, which was actually held here at the stadium (couldn’t spend a whole day away, could I?). Jaime Jarrin was the keynote speaker and even though I’m fortunate enough to have heard a lot of the stories he told about his early days as a news broadcaster, it’s always cool to hear them directly from him again. Hard to believe he covered JFK’s funeral, plane hijackings, meetings between heads of states and numerous world championship boxing matches, including Ali and Frazier.

As for today, I’m not making the trip down to Anaheim but here’s the lineup. They might come late, if at all, tomorrow and Sunday, but I’ll do my best to post when possible.

Furcal, SS

Pierre, CF

Nomar, 1B

Kent, 2B

Saenz, DH

Gonzo, LF

Martin, C

Ethier, RF

LaRoche, 3B

Penny, P

Tonight's game

Same lineup as last night, with Randy Wolf on the hill. I’ve include some notes below about Furcal’s ridiculous three-game span, as we’ve been doing some serious Furcalating in the office this morning (kudos to Jon Weisman for the new verb).

Before we get to that, though, I want to answer the question from a couple days ago about whether or not Grady sees what goes on this blog, as I didn’t want to ignore the question.

To be honest, Grady actually does an incredible job of not reading any of the media "coverage" of the team, as he doesn’t want it to affect the way he deals with the reporters or other media members. It takes some serious thick skin to not take this stuff personally. A lot of players, coaches, managers and executives I’ve met over the years have claimed that they don’t bother reading "that stuff," but many of them still do. I have found that in the last year or so, the coverage of the team has become of far less importance to those being covered and I credit Grady with setting the tone. At the end of the day, they have a job to do and reading what is written about them is not usually beneficial to doing that job.

If you think about it, it makes sense. Let’s say you’re a school teacher and every day, thousands of people weighed in on what your lesson was like on a given day. Some are knowledgeable, some aren’t. Some are mean about it, some are constructive. Some will never be pleased with no matter lesson you plan and some will always be sure that they can teach the class better than you, even though you know your students and their various strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else. The same can be said for almost any profession.

However, Grady has asked me to let him know when there’s something significant that’s written about or covered that he needs to deal with and I do that from time to time. I also know that all of the players and coaches have tons of family members who read everything that’s written about them in media outlets and fan forums and report back. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them read this blog regularly, though I can’t imagine any of them post any comments.

So the short answer is, while I don’t think Grady is going to necessarily read this blog or message boards or anything else on a regular basis for input, he’s probably aware of what the public’s sentiment is to the extent that it is necessary. I hope that makes sense. Now for the Furcalations (and a Nomar note):

CONNECT FOUR – Rafael Furcal collected his third straight four-hit game last night, making him the first Dodger in L.A. history to have three consecutive four-hit contests. The Major League record is four straight four-hit games, established by Brooklyn Dodger Milt Stock on July 3, 1925. The last player with four hits in three consecutive contests was Furcal’s former Atlanta teammate, Marcus Giles, in 2003. Furcal is just the fifth player in the last 55 years to accomplish this feat with the others being Giles (2003), Brett Butler (1995), Mike Benjamin (1995) and Tim Salmon (1994). After going 4-for-5, Furcal is now hitting .476 (20-for-42) over his last 10 contests and has raised his average from .214 to .297 since the third inning on Saturday, May 12. He was actually hitting .158 on April 21.

MORE ON FURCAL – Rafael Furcal has 14 hits in his last 16 at-bats, becoming the first big leaguer to accomplish that feat since Derek Bell from April 20-24, 2000, according to SABR’s Trent McCotter (and confirmed by Elias). Also confirmed by Elias was Tot Holmes’ claim that in 1923 the Dodgers’ Jimmy Johnston went 23-for-28 from June 24-30.

STILL MORE ON RAFFY – Rafael Furcal now has 15 career four-hit games which is his career high. The only other Dodgers with two consecutive four-hit games since moving to Los Angeles were Willie Davis (1966), Manny Mota (1969), Jimmy Winn (1974) and Steve Garvey (1976).

NO CHANCES FOR NOMAR – In Randy Wolf’s last start on Friday, Nomar Garciaparra did not record a single putout in a complete nine-inning game, becoming the 24th first baseman in Major League history and first player in Dodger franchise history to accomplish that feat. The last big leaguer was Raul Ibañez on April 18, 2005, who played eight innings in the field that day, as did eight others on the list. That makes Garciaparra one of just 16 first basemen to play nine full innings without recording a putout in a big league game. Other former Dodgers to share the record are Dolph Camilli, Bud Clancy, Gary Thomasson, Bill Skowron, Frank Robinson, Len Matuszek, Franklin Stubbs, Fred McGriff and Greg Brock, though none actually did it in a Dodger uniform.

Rauuul

In a neverending quest to find something negative on an otherwise positive night, The Times’ Bill Shaikin writes that Raul Mondesi was "roundly booed" when he was showed on DodgerVision last night. I’m not sure if any of you were at the game last night but I’m pretty sure that they were saying "Rauuuul," as they have for nearly every at-bat the guy had here from his rookie season on. Hardly an egregious error, but I certainly don’t want people to think that a former Rookie of the Year is unappreciated around here, especially given that he’s running for office in the Dominican Republic.

Actually, he already holds an office as a diputado, the equivalent of the House of Representatives in the D.R., but there’s been talk of running for mayor in his hometown, too. Tim Brown, formerly of the Times and now with Yahoo Sports, caught up with Raul at yesterday’s game and should have something forthcoming on the former Dodger right fielder so keep an eye out on his upcoming columns.

Of course, if I’m going to criticize the Times, I should also point out a great article today by Bill Plaschke about California’s new all-time home run hitter for a high school player, Mike Moustakas. Yes, he happens to go to my alma mater, Chatsworth, and play for my old coach, Tom Meusborn, but that’s not why I’m pointing this out. It’s actually a refreshing story about what happens to the record-breaking baseball that doesn’t have anything to do with eBay. Moustakas and another Chatsworth player, Matt Dominguez, are both expected to go in the first round (possibly the first 10 picks) of next month’s First-Year Player Draft.

MLB.com has all sorts of draft coverage and for the first time, the first day of the draft will be televised on ESPN2, which is great for the game of baseball. We’ve seen how the NFL and NBA have turned their drafts into an event and I’m hopeful that over time, MLB will have a similar buzz surrounding it.

Quote of Day

Luis Gonzalez, after the game, said, "I think I’m going to go home and put on my kids Playstation and see if I can go 14-for-16."

Here are some quick facts from STATS, LLC, backed up by Elias Sports Bureau with more backup from SABR:

Most Hits in Three Consecutive Games, All-Time (record book)

14 Willie Keeler (NL – Baltimore, Sept. 3-6, 1897)

14 Mike Benjamin (NL – San Francisco, June 11-14, 1995)

13 Joe Cronin (AL – Washington, June 19-22, 1933)

13 Walt Dropo (AL – Detroit, July 14-15, 1952)

13 Tim Salmon (AL – California, May 10-13, 1994)

12, several, including Furcal

Most Consecutive Games with Four or More Hits by Dodgers – SINCE 1957

Willie Davis          2     08/27/66 – 08/28/66

Steve Garvey          2     05/22/76 – 05/23/76

Manny Mota            2     07/08/69 – 07/08/69

Jimmy Wynn            2     05/11/74 – 05/12/74

Rafael Furcal         3     05/13/07 – ACTIVE

Most Consecutive Games with Four or More Hits, All-Time (record book)

NL Record:  4 by Milt Stock, Brooklyn, June 30, July 1, 2, 3, 1925

AL Record:  3 by many players

Three Consecutive Games with Four or More Hits, Recent Occurrences

Rafael Furcal, LA     3      current

Marcus Giles, Atl      3     07/27/03 – 07/29/03

Brett Butler, NYM      3     07/18/95 – 07/20/95

Mike Benjamin, SF      3     06/11/95 – 06/14/95

Tim Salmon, Cal        3     05/10/94 – 05/13/94

Yes, a move…

…but I didn’t know about it when I said I’d write more when I got upstairs. Funny, though, that that’s what someone thought. We did just recall Hong-Chih Kuo and designate Wilson Valdez for assignment, as the team wants to have 12 pitchers available. However, the move wasn’t made until right before game time, as the team wanted to make sure Kuo got to Los Angeles in time for the game.

I guess I’ll have to be careful in the future when I say there will be "more" later…

Lineup stabilizing

Starting to see a little uniformity on the lineup these days…pretty close to yesterday’s and the day before:

Furcal, SS

Pierre, CF

Nomar, 1B

Kent, 2B

Gonzo, LF

Martin, C

Ethier, RF

LaRoche, 3B

Lowe, P

More when I get back upstairs from the clubhouse…

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