August 2007

Tonight's game

Since August 15, only one NL team has a better winning percentage than the Dodgers’ .714 mark and it’s the Giants (.733). Time to keep this little run going. It’s another huge game for David Wells so we’ll see if he’s up to the task against his former team.

Furcal, SS

Pierre, CF

Kemp, RF

Kent, 2B

Ethier, LF

Martin, C

Loney, 1B

Hillenbrand, 3B

Wells, P

My job isn't bad

Most days, as I drive into Dodger Stadium or walk into a visiting ballpark, I try to keep in mind how fortunate I am to be working for the Dodgers and remember how many people would gladly take my job in a second if I didn’t want it. And while there are long hours, travel and quite a few sacrifices that all of us in the front office make to do these jobs, there are very few people who don’t realize just how good we have it.

Today is yet another day where I think about how cool this job is at times. I’m currently on a boat in the Pacific along with Brad Penny, Tommy Lasorda and 40 kids from the Daniel Hernandez Youth Foundation who wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to spend a day fishing, let alone get to do it with a Hall of Famer, an All-Star pitcher and one of the most well-known fishermen in America.

Brad first brought up this idea back in Spring Training and while we looked into other programs, he told us to contact Dan Hernandez, who has a fishing show. Dan donates his time, money and expertise to trips like this and the kids are all having a blast on the boat. Tommy led the kids in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and there’s several media members also on the boat, so you’ll get to see the highlights on TV and in the newspapers.

So while most of the team is enjoying a day off (and Brad’s horse is currently racing at Del Mar), he’s giving his time to these kids, as are Tommy and Dan and it’s a very cool reminder of just how fortunate I am to have this job and all of us are to have the things we have in life.

With a three-game sweep of the Padres and we’ll be a game out…two out of there would be nice, too. We’ll see how it turns out starting tomorrow…

Lineup + Loaiza

Don’t look now, but the Dodgers have won nine of the last 13 games.

It’s a 12:10 game today…anyone starting to feel "sick" at work and needing to go "home?" Just curious.

Furcal, SS

Pierre, CF

Kemp, RF

Kent, 2B

Gonzo, LF

Martin, C

Loney, 1B

Hillenbrand, 3B

Penny, P

UPDATE: We just claimed Esteban Loaiza from the A’s.  Again, I’m sure Ned and Grady will have their comments shortly but here’s my take, for what it’s worth. Assuming he’s healthy, which is obviously not a definite (but he has thrown two 7.0-inning solid starts this week), he could be a very nice addition down the stretch. And given that we don’t know what Wolf’s status is next year or just how strong Schmidt will be when he comes back, he’s a very good gamble at one-yeare and $6.5 million. I know that sounds crazy but if you think about what’s out there on the free agent market in terms of pitching, it’s extremely thin. Given that, marginal guys could get huge contracts from everyone who needs starting pitching. This guy has won 10 or more games in five of the last six years coming into this year, which has mostly been lost to injury, so he could be a very nice fourth or fifth starter next year. Again, that’s just my two cents as a fan.

A very busy day at the Ravine

We’ve got quite a bit going on today at Dodger Stadium and a lot of it is stuff you’ll want to know about.

In addition to our regular duties in the PR department (game notes, press releases, etc.), today included lots of side gigs that has kept all of us busy. At 11:45, three of our players met at the player’s parking lot for a visit to White Memorial Hospital, where they visited with some of the sick kids there. Brad Penny, Eric Stults and Shea Hillenbrand each spent time talking to them and though I wasn’t there, in a strange way I was excited to hear that no media showed up for the event. Obviously we let them know when we’re doing stuff like this but the real goal of these visits is for the kids to have a great day in the middle of some tough realities they’re facing. The report back was all positive and it obviously hits on one of the key goals that the team has – giving back to the community.

At noon, Andre Ethier arrived here for the second part of his stadium tour that I wrote about last homestand. FSN Prime Ticket continued to film him going around to places that fans can’t access and I think it’s going to be a great show when it’s all said and done. Still no air date set, but keep an eye out for more on that front.

At 1 p.m., I broke off from Andre’s tour to introduce Derek Lowe to a reporter who has an extremely unique angle he’s taking to a very cool story. Believe me, I know that’s vague, but I would keep an eye out in the L.A. Times for a very cool story on Sept. 5 while the team is in Chicago.

And at 2:30 we had the biggest news of the day. The next phase of the renovation at Dodger Stadium will be the entire concourse on the field level as well as creating two new clubs on that level for fans with baseline tickets to enjoy. There’s a lot more to the announcement than just that, but this should dramatically reduce the lines at concession stands that fans have always complained about. In subsequent offseasons, the Loge Level, Reserve and Top Deck will all be modified as well. This obviously speaks to another key goal that has been set out and that is creating the top fan experience in all of sports and we’re working out way toward providing that for all of you.

And of course, the most important goal of them all is winning baseball, year in and year out. We’re not where we need to be, but we’ve got 31 games left to get there. Chad takes the hill tonight trying to keep the momentum alive and here’s the lineup behind him:

Furcal, SS

Pierre, CF (15-game hitting streak, one shy of his career best)

Ethier, RF (.444 avg, .545 OBP over last seven games)

Kent, 2B

Gonzo, LF

Martin, C

Loney, 1B

Hillenbrand, 3B

Billingsley, P

Late arrivals

With the team arriving back at 4 in the morning, most guys won’t be here until closer to 5 p.m.

But, with a little time to kill yesterday, I found all the Dodger MLBlogs and put them on the left side of the screen, so feel free to check out the fans out there with their own Dodger sites.

Meanwhile, Dodger Thoughts proprietor (is that what he’s really called?) Jon Weisman passed along this link where fans can "scout" the fielding ability of players in the Majors. It’s an interesting concept, though I’m not sure how valid the answers will be because there’s no way of knowing if people just go in there and screw up the system on purpose or how often they really watch the players they’re rating. But, it’s an intriguing that’s been put together over the last two years on on the web.

Last night was a huge win from David Wells and hopefully it will turn the tide for the team. If you want to come down tonight, be sure to get here early, as Don Sutton is throwing out the ceremonial first pitch (Wes Parker will be honored during pregame on Wednesday).

And if you’re not coming down, tune in 40 minutes early, as Brad Penny’s Before the Bigs debuts tonight at 6:30 PT.

Also, since many of you are minor league enthusiasts, here is some info you’ll want to know. The Dodgers announced their participants for the Arizona Fall League and they will be: pitchers Zach Hammes, Justin Orenduff, Greg Miller, Wesley Wright and Cory Wade, infielder Blake DeWitt, outfielder Xavier Paul and coach Garey Ingram, who will all be on the Peoria Saguaros starting on October 9. Headed to the Hawaiian Fall League are pitchers Steven Johnson, Garrett White and Kyle Wilson, catcher Kenley Jansen, infielders Josh Bell and Russell Mitchell, outfielders Jamie Hoffmann and Ryan Rogowski and pitching coach Ken Howell.

On another minor league note, Jacksonville’s Clayton Kershaw was named the Southern League’s Pitcher of the Week today after just four starts at Double-A.

Finally, I noticed that someone has been posting from Australia, which is pretty cool. Are there any other countries represented here?

Still waiting on a lineup, so I’ll add it when we see it.

UPDATE: Lineup

Furcal, SS

Pierre, CF

Kemp, RF

Kent, 2B

Ethier, RF

Martin, C

Loney, 1B

Ramon, 3B

Lowe, P

Boomer, Baby

Time to see what the big guy’s got left in the tank.

Furcal, SS

Pierre, CF

Kemp, RF

Kent, 2B

Ethier, LF

Hillenbrand, 3B

Loney, 1B

Lieberthal, C

Wells, P

Today's lineup

Furcal, SS

Pierre, CF

Ethier, RF

Kent, 2B

Gonzo, LF

Martin, C

Loney, 1B

Hillenbrand, 3B

Stults, P

New York City

Judging from most comments yesterday, you’ll all be happy with today’s lineup.

And while I’m saddened to know that some of you have lost respect in me because I defend the team’s decisions, you’re certainly entitled to that. I think it’s also important to know that just because I try to explain their decisions and I defend Grady, Ned and everyone else here doesn’t mean that as a fan, I agree with every single thing that we do every single day. Just like all of you, I have my own opinions but as many of you have learned in your own careers, everyone expresses their opinions in private and then you come to a group decision. Once that decision is made, you publicly stand behind the people making it. You don’t point fingers, blame others or explain why you were right and someone else was wrong. That’s called being a good teammate and those who don’t do that are promoting themselves above the team, no matter what walk of life you’re talking about. To me, that’s a pretty slippery slope in a world where people need to lean on others for a group’s success.

At the end of the day, Grady has a .558 winning percentage as a big league manager, which is among the best of all active big league managers, if not the best. That’s not an accident and the name of the game is winning.  Ned has been a GM for one year and the team went to the postseason while holding onto the future prospects that are so highly valued by everyone in the industry. So I’ll gladly defend both of them and their decisions and try to explain why they make the decisions that they do, even if some of you don’t understand that reasoning.

As for David Wells and his pending signing, there will obviously be those who agree and those who disagree with it and again, that’s a very welcome part of the game (and this blog). Some of you asked for an explanation and while I’ll leave that Grady and Ned who will obviously be quoted on the record once it’s official, as a fan I can say that I think it’s a pretty low-risk signing. I don’t think anyone would argue that we haven’t exactly seen great results out of the back end of our rotation and hopefully David will have enough left in him for five or six quality starts before the end of the regular season. But in response to the comment made about Wells vs. the fifth-round pick that wasn’t signed this year, I can tell you that the two are completely unrelated. They come from totally different budgets and the dollar values on one is drastically different than the other.

All that said, here’s today’s lineup:

Furcal, SS

Pierre, CF

Kemp, RF

Kent, 2B

Ethier, LF

Martin, C

Loney, 1B

Hillenbrand, 3B

Penny, P

UPDATE: Brett Tomko designated for assignment

Something to do tonight…

A great pitching performance by Chad Billingsley again today and a nice win, giving the team two consecutive series victories. Taking it one day, one series at a time seems to be a good way to get back on the right track.

If you’re free tonight (and in LA), the South Pasadena Public Library is screening the award-winning movie American Pastime and there’s more information here. The film is about baseball that was played at the Japanese internment camps during World War II, so if watching Saito slam the door this afternoon didn’t give you enough "Japanese baseball" for the day, check this out tonight. The Dodgers also donated a Saito autographed ball to the library so they could auction it off at the event, so maybe it’ll be yours.

Also, I did my best to read the posts from this morning and obviously there are a lot of you who simply don’t agree with Grady’s lineups. That’s certainly your right and Ken Gurnick does address this in his notebook from today. But I’d imagine that after a win like today, Grady shouldn’t get any of the credit for putting Ramon Martinez in the lineup or any of the other moves that worked out. It’s the nature of the game…when we win, the players get the credit and when we lose, it’s on the GM and the manager.

I can assure you Grady has a pulse (I’m assuming that question was a joke) and that he does actually know a little more about baseball, the players on this team and their availability, injuries and tendencies than me, you and just about anyone else who follows the team. Just like those of you who work in any other industry know more than those who follow it from afar.

I really don’t really understand the comment that this is "just a job" for Ned and Grady and that because they didn’t come up through the Dodger system, they somehow care less about what happens here than all of you do. These two (and their staffs) literally spend every waking minute of their life trying to help this team win and just because they don’t have the same theories as some of you doesn’t mean that winning is less important to them.

And while I greatly respect Logan White and the job he has done drafting players for the farm system, the comment that somehow he has that "Dodger pride" but that Grady and Ned don’t is simply absurd. Did he get his Dodger pride working for the Orioles for seven years or the Mariners for two before he came here? Or was it the years he played in the minors with the Mariners? Keep in mind, he has spent more time with either of those organizations than this one.  And is Kim Ng, who has had as much to do with the rebirth of the farm system since coming here at the same time as Logan or anyone else at the team, any more of a Dodger than someone who has only been here for three years? We’re a team – on the field and in the front office and we win and lose that way.

There is tons of Dodger pride running up and down these hallways and in the clubhouse. Just ask Mariano Duncan or Manny Mota or Rick Honeycutt or any number of the people who pour their heart and soul into this team every day to create a winner and a great fan experience. To suggest otherwise is a slap in the face to all of them. The decisions made here won’t always be right or the ones you’d make, but the people who are making them have earned the right to do so from countless years of hard work and dedication.

So, while I love how devoted many of you are and wholeheartedly respect your opinions (and am very glad we have created this forum to do so), the vicious personal attacks on the people in the organization do get a little old and I thought it was about time I addressed it.

I hope you all enjoy a night off and we’ll be back at it again tomorrow from New York.

Day Baseball

In regards to the question about travel, yes, the Dodgers charter a plane when we travel and it’s definitely a nice way to get from one place to another. Safe to say, there isn’t a lot of sitting in airports and waiting for your bags.

Though they are taking train today to NY, the equipment won’t likely go on the train. There’s a huge moving truck that always takes our stuff from the stadium to the airport and I’m guessing that the truck will just drive straight to New York, with each guy taking a "carry-on" on the train.

I’m not sure why we decided to take a train, but I’ll ask Scott Akasaki, who does an incredible job with our team travel. I’m guessing it might have something to do with the fact that our game will end right about at rush hour and it could take forever to drive from Philly to the Big Apple. But, that’s just a guess. I’ll definitely ask Scott to do a "guest-post" on here sometime in the near future.

Here’s today’s lineup:

Furcal, SS

Pierre, CF

Kemp, RF

Kent, 2B

Hillenbrand, 1B

Martin, C

Gonzo, LF

Martinez, 3B

Billingsley, P

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