China arrival…first Akasaki post

We are now in Beijing, 15 hours ahead of Los Angeles. Plenty of thoughts to share, but we’ll start with the hero who got us here, Scott Akasaki, our team travel manager. As I mentioned, he’ll be adding to the blog this year and here’s his first post…

TEAMWORK, SEATTLE AND REST

Putting together the first two Major League Baseball games in China has not been easy.  It has been the work of a small army of people working in collaboration from such cities as Los Angeles, San Diego, New York, Peoria, Vero Beach, Beijing, and Tokyo.  The games, the travel, the hotels, the sightseeing, Chinese visa procurement, and all the other detailed logistics have been a collective effort – from concept to fruition, the groundwork set forth has been complex and has involved every level of cooperation, understanding, and patience.

Amongst all the work put in by everyone involved, I can only offer a singular viewpoint to the China Series – that of the Dodgers’ Traveling Secretary.  To say the least, there have been many phone calls, e-mails, text messages, and long days putting the Dodgers’ team travel together.  Over the next few days, I hope that I can provide you, the reader of this blog, with some different insight into how I view the China Series experience.

China is very far away.  Our journey started yesterday, Tuesday, March 11th, when we took three buses from Vero Beach, Florida to Orlando.  We stayed overnight at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress and then flew five-and-a-half hours to Seattle, Washington.  We were able to stretch our legs for about one hour and many of us, walked around the terminal, sipped Seattle’s Best Coffee, or purchased magazines and gum – many had changed out of their departure-day business casual attire into comfortable athletic warm-up gear.  (I forgot to bring a change of shoes so I walked the terminal with my black dress shoes and my Under Armor sweats.)  During our technical stop, everyone seemed to be on their cell phone calling loved ones.  Arriving in Seattle meant we were one-third the way there.

As I write this, we are approximately 6 hours (or 2,952 miles) away from Beijing.  About two hours ago, we flew past Anchorage, Alaska and many of us took photos of a snow-capped Mt. McKinley.  Some brought video and digital cameras to record this historic trip.  It’s not everyday you get to see the tallest mountain in the United States above the clouds.  Some of us were even lucky enough to take a peak into the cockpit and see the skies from the pilots’ vantage point.

Back in Vero Beach, where we begun Spring Training on Valentine’s Day, the time is now 1:00 am.  Inside the plane, all the lights are off, many are asleep, and I hear snoring behind me.  Perhaps rest is the best idea for us right now because upon arrival, I imagine everything will be a blur: a morning workout; a trip to the Great Wall of China; a formal welcome dinner; two day games against the Padres; and then a return to the United States.  We will fit all those activities in three days.  Good night for now with more to come from Beijing.

123 Comments

Thanks Josh, glad you had a safe trip. We’re holding the fort. Enjoy.

Top 1: Dodgers Batting: Shawn Chacon Pitching:
Delwyn Young flies to left center

Andre Ethier hit by the pitch on the right thigh

Russell Martin reaches on a fielders choice, Ethier is safe at second when Tejada drops the ball from Blum at second base, everybody is safe, error on Tejada

James Loney flies to deep center field, nice play by Bourn to grab it one handed over his head, saved at least a run

Mark Sweeney hit by the pitch on the right knee, he walks gingerly to first, bases loaded, Tommy comes out to check on him, he’ll stay in

Jason Repko flies to left

0 Runs 0 Hits 3 LOB End of 1/2 inning No Score

Yankees on MLBTV. Thanks Alex.

Dodgers also on MLBTV.

Bottom 1: Astros Batting: Hiroki Kuroda Pitching:
Michael Bourn grounds to Young at second, first pitch

Hunter Pence grounds to DeWitt at third

Lance Berkman strikes out looking on a full count

0 Runs 0 Hits 0 LOB End of 1 No Score

Crystal At Bat:
Ball 1 outside

Strike 1, chopped foul down first base line

Ball 2 inside

Ball 3

Strike 2 swinging at fastball

Strike 3 swinging at fastball

Nice going KURODA HIROK!

thanks alex!

Hey Dodgers, careful with those HPB!

Top 2: Dodgers Batting: Chacon Pitching:
Blake DeWitt strikes out swinging

Ivan De Jesus flies to deep center

Logan grounds out

0 Runs 0 Hits 0 LOB End of 1 1/2 No Score

Kuroda is solid, cant wait till clayboy. on another note i do not know why people think tyler hansborough is a good ball player. this guys stinks and will never make it in the nba! his shot decision are horrible and his game is ugly.

I don’t know how CK can top Sunday’s performance. Can’t wait to find out.

What’s going on? I heard Kuroda is getting beat up…

Bottom 2: Astros Batting: Kuroda Pitching:
Carlos Lee flies to Ethier in deep left

Miguel Tejada bloops a double that falls right on the chalk on the right field line, just an inch out of the reach of a diving Repko and just an inch from going foul, tough luck double

Geoff Blum doubles to right, Repko misplayed the liner and it tipped off his glove, Tejada held and only advanced to third

Mark Loretta singles under the glove of De Jesus into center, Tejada and Blum score, 2-0 Astros

Loretta steals second, ball was underthrown

Jose Cruz Jr. walks, full count

Humberto Quintero doubles to the gap in right center, Loretta and Cruz score, 4-0 Astros

Bourn chops an infield single, rushed low throw by Young allows Quintero to score on the error, 5-0 Astros

Pence singles to center, Bourn to second

Berkman forces Pence on a great play by Kuroda snagging the ground ball, De Jesus dropped the potential double play throw

Lee strikes out swinging

5 Runs 6 Hits 2 LOB End of 2 5-0 Astros

(Don’t be overly concerned about Kuroda, he only used his fastball for most of the inning and his defense let him down big time)

tyler hansborough not good? haha come on. pros may be a different story, but dude is a stud right now.

Top 3: Dodgers Batting: Chacon Pitching:
Young flies to center

Ethier walks, full count

Martin singles to center, Ethier to second

Loney singles to right, Ethier scores, Martin to third, 5-1 Astros

Sweeney singles to right center, Martin scores, Loney to third, 5-2 Astros

Repko doubles to left, Loney scores, Sweeney to third, full count, 5-3 Astros

DeWitt triples to deep right, Sweeney and Repko score, the Dodgers come all the way back, great at-bats all around, working the count, making good contact, 5-5 Tie

De Jesus blows the squeeze play, didn’t even square to bunt, DeWitt hung out to dry, Lasorda is NOT happy

De Jesus walks

Logan forces De Jesus

5 Runs 5 Hits 1 LOB End of 2 1/2 5-5 Tie

Sounds like this DeWitt kids trying to make a lasting impression!! Go Blake.

Hey, Alright, New Game.

Hot dog!

go kids! (& sweeney)

Bottom 3: Astros Batting: Kuroda Pitching:
Tejada reaches on an error by Young at second, the ball did have some weird spin/bounce but should’ve been handled, Tejada advances to second on a rushed throw by Young

Blum flies to center, Tejada advances to third

Loretta reaches on a fielders choice, De Jesus’ throw home is late, 6-5 Astros

Cruz forces Loretta at second (4-6)

Quintero lines to Young, Kuroda threw 72 pitches on the day

1 Run 0 Hits 1 LOB End of 3 6-5 Astros

Top 4: Dodgers Batting: Lefty Stephen Randolph Pitching:
Young walks, full count

Young picked off

Ethier flies to right

Martin flies to left

0 Runs 0 Hits 0 LOB End of 3 1/2 6-5 Astros

And it could be Clayton Kershaw time!

Nope not yet, Proctor is in.

Bottom 4: Astros Batting: Scott Proctor Pitching:
Bourn reaches on an infield single

Pence strikes out swinging, Bourn steals second, Bourn to third on the throwing error by Mr. Canada

Berkman sac flies to center, Bourn scores 7-5 Astros

Lee grounds to third

1 Run 1 Hit 0 LOB End of 4 7-5 Astros

Sure playing fast and loose on defense today.

Well this has been a sloperly played game by the Dodgers, with some timely hitting in the 3rd. I just found out we had a new thread. Kuroda had one bad inning the 2nd, but the D’s were terrible behind him.

Top 5: Dodgers Batting: Randolph Pitching:
Loney grounds to second

Sweeney strikes out swinging

Repko strikes out

0 Runs 0 Hits 0 LOB End of 4 1/2 7-5 Astros

Kershaw is in!

I was posting on the previous threat but I forgot to get off it so I didn’t know we had a new one

PierreEW, Crystal AB summary is up top of this thread. He made contact. Actually hit a hard chopper foul down the first base line.

I guess they kicked DY out of the infield.

We don’t get the YES channel where I am today.

Bottom 5: Astros Batting: Clayton Kershaw Pitching: Maza at second, Young now in right (which in contrast to previous games, Young’s defense today was brutal)
Tejada doubles to left center

Blum pops to Maza at second,

Loretta walks on four pitches

Cruz Jr. reaches on an error by Maza, (blew an easy double play grounder, with a little spin, but should’ve been made)

Quintero lines to DeWitt, Loretta doubled off

0 Runs 1 Hit 2 LOB End of 5 7-5 Astros

It seems like the Dodgers are supermen today but the ball has Kryptonite on it.

Kersh a little tentative looking today compared to his last outing. Still very effective. Defense today is awful.

What is up with the defense today – lol!

Top 6: Dodgers Batting: Geoff Geary Pitching:
DeWitt singles up the middle

De Jesus singles to right, DeWitt to second

Logan strikes out swinging

Young fouls to third

Ethier grounds to first, first pitch

0 Runs 2 Hits 2 LOB End of 5 1/2 7-5 Astros

why did logan not bunt…he is a poor mans Pierre….

Dewitt is hitting the ball. He is going to Vegas, but what great exposure for him. He does not seem intimidated.

NICE GOIN’ KERSH.

Bottom 6: Astros Batting: Kershaw Pitching:
Bourn lines to left, full count

Pence grounds back to Kershaw, first pitch

Reggie Abercrombie walks, full count

Abercrombie is picked off (1-3-6)

0 Runs 0 Hits 0 LOB End of 6 7-5 Astros

I like DeWitt, he looks good to me.

Nice inning boys!!

Kersh just may make it boys..It is probably best for him to go to Vegas for 2 months, but come June 1 goodbye whoever is the 5th starter and hello Mr Kershaw.

right on, dodgerboy!

Man, it would be great experience for Dewitt to backup Nomar for 2 months instead of that crappy never was ex-Giant Ramon Martinez.

Immagine having a John Lindsey and a Carlos Santana on our team.

Maybe next spring we have the LaRoche/DeWitt battle (them and us!!)

Hey Scott we agreed on something, that is a first…LOL…Martinez is a stiff…he is very painful to watch. but you have to give him credit he has carved out a nice little career with a nice pension.

Unfortunately or Fortunately Scott, Martinez can play short. That could be what gets him on the 25 man roster.

Top 7: Dodgers Batting: Geary Pitching:
Martin walks

Loney strikes out looking

Sweeney singles to center, Martin to second, Carlos Santana (mhm, Carlos) pinch runs for Sweeney

Maza 6-3 Double Play

0 Runs 1 Hit 1 LOB End of 6 1/2 7-5 Astros

Think you’re right db – Kershaw needs somemore seasoning at AAA. He gets a little more control he’s gonna be lethal.

Torre says Ramon is what he is.

Depends if Hu or Abreu also make as well probably.

Anyhow, Dewitt is a good kid waiting his turn no doubt.

You guys are wrong about Kershaw and DeWitt going to Vegas…they’re not. Those two guys didn’t spend enough time in Jacksonville last year, so that’s where they should go.

I saw Santana last week in Vero in a minor league squad game, he threw out 3 baserunners at second…not bad for a converted fielder…can he hit? Maybe Dewitt can play second again after Mr Kent leaves this year.

“Immagine having a John Lindsey and a Carlos Santana on our team.”

Posted by: pierreseastmeetswest@yahoo.com | March 13, 2008 11:24 AM

The Mayor and the Rockstar!

I would just as soon see Hu. Abreau could start out on the DL and go to AAA for awhile. Hu can also play 2nd, 3rd, and SS. I would go with Hu.

Momo, you could be right about dewitt, but with Kershaw acceleration this year I would not be surprised to see him start in AAA. Either way Kershaw, unless he struggles with his control as he did last year will be at Dodger Stadium in June. That is my prediction.

We won’t see Kershaw until Sept unless Loaiza and Schmidt are just horrible. Good possibility that Loaiza will blow and Schmidt will still be rehabbing in late June.

Some guys just belong in the pro’s and Kershaw I think is one of those players. He’s no Edwin Jackson for God’s sake, he’s the real deal, a natural.

DeWitt smoking.

Hey, what if this Kuroda dude comes out of the gate with a 5 ERA, then what? All that money. Would they consider removing him from the rotation if he gets lit up?

Bottom 7: Astros Batting: Rudy Seanez Pitching:
Pinch hitter for Lee puts out

David Newhan grounds to Loney who makes a nice play to his left

Tomas Perez flies to left

0 Runs 0 Hits 0 LOB End of 7 7-5 Astros

Nice shot by DeWitt!

Rudy eats up another inning.*****Poor Tommy, yesterday they couldn’t hit today the fielding is hurting them.*****If anyone cares to know..If the guys on the Mets bench get to opening day healthy, Olmedo’Killer Tomato” Saenz & Brady Clark will NOT make team. ********Another nice Clout by DEEEEEEwit. Boy this kid’s having a great time.

I don’t really see that happening with Kuroda scott. I surmize he’ll get much more latitude than Loaiza though if he hits a rough stretch.

I am not that concerned with Kuroda, he is getting acclimated and by the sounds of the game he did not have a good defense behind him.

Dewitt hit a HR?

Loaded for Loney!

Rats!!

Top 8: Dodgers Batting: Ryan Houston Pitching:
DeWitt HOMERS to deep right, 7-6 Astros

De Jesus reaches on an infield single off the pitcher into right

Logan forces De Jesus

Young flies to left

Logan to second on a wild pitch

Ethier walks, full count

Martin reaches on an infield single up the middle, bases loaded

Loney lines to third

1 Run 3 Hits 3 LOB End of 7 1/2 7-6 Astros

I don’t know as soon as the bases were loaded I lost hope.

Dewitt has to be on such an adrenaline rush…Keep it up kid.

Yea PierreEW, unfortunately I know that feeling.

maybe the cycle today for Dewitt.

This game wouldn’t mean a thing but I’d like to see them win a couple for Tommy. I’d like to see him jump happily out of the dugout.

Even though there’s no dugout.

I do not think tommy should be jumping…but i know what you mean Pierre it would be nice for the ol boy.

How did Crystal do, today?

he struck out but apparently hit a hard ground ball down the 1st base line. What a thrill that has to be…Money and fame can get you anything.

Crystal At Bat:
Ball 1 outside

Strike 1, chopped foul down first base line

Ball 2 inside

Ball 3

Strike 2 swinging at fastball

Strike 3 swinging at fastball

Bottom 8: Astros Batting: Alfredo Simon Pitching:
Edwin Maysonet walks

Cruz Jr. flies to left, full count

Maysonet to second on a balk

Quintero grounds to second, Maysonet to third

Joshua Johnson grounds to short

0 Runs 0 Hits 1 LOB End of 8 7-6 Astros

You can say that again, Dodgerboy55.

Rick Sutcliffe has been diagnosed with a treatable form of colon cancer…good luck Rick..

Black Magic Women

DeWitt needs a double for the cycle.

Man 11 hits and 5 walks in 8 innings and we only have 6 runs… ‘course we usually only have 3.

He walked.

They are scared of him!!!!! Go Dewitt!!! Way to get on come on boys!!!

Top 9: Dodgers Batting: Carlos Hines Pitching:
Carlos Santana singles to right

Maza lines into a double play at second

DeWitt (one double short of the cycle) walks

De Jesus flies to right

0 Runs 1 Hit 1 LOB

Dodgers

6 12 4

Astros

7 8 1

WP: Shawn Chacon

LP: Hiroki Kuroda

SV: Carlos Hines

Time of Game: 3:02

I would think both the Astro fielding and their OWN beat them. Well….MAYBE TOMORROW.

Maza killed us!!! Poor Tommy he has to be going nuts…maybe he will realize how lucky he is to be retired!

Shaky defense today gang.

Actually DYoung killed us.

I refuse to go on their website – who’d the Pads take to China? – any big names?

Didn’t I say he was a difference maker?

Doesn’t really matter, we’re one day closer to opening day. Our defense was horrible today, that second inning was just a disaster. Kuroda should’ve walked off giving up just one run at the most. Instead of being ‘charged’ for 5 earned. We had 4 official errors but Repko and De Jesus had balls they should of gotten to. Bowa better set them up an appointment early tomorrow morning, as well as D Young.

right, alex. Box scores can be deceiving.

Except Dewhitt going 3-4 with a triple and a bomb!

how did kershaw look for those of you that were able to see the game.

Had some problems with his command at times, there wasn’t a Sean Casey moment like last time. But, he was solid, he faced mostly righties.

I know this is off the beaten path, but Shelly Duncan does not think his slide was dirty…the way he came in with his cleats up, he could have hurt Akinora really bad. He is either a ***** or he is a psycopath. Screw the Yankees…Go Rays beat the H3ll out of them

We get T.V coverage of the Padres/Dodgers China Series!

KCAL Channel 9 will televise the Dodgers’ first game in China at 10 p.m. Friday, according to Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News, and FSN Prime will follow up with the second game 24 hours later.

Also, the Dodgers’ final game in Vero Beach will only be available at MLB.com, Hoffarth said.

BTW that was from Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts

how about the Bosox/As games being televised at 6am…that is ridiculous to the red sox fans at home…We should be playing in the offseason over there not regular season. the same goes for football.

From Tony Jackson:

After the game, Larry Bowa had some pointed comments.

On the game

“We made errors, and you can’t make errors. You can’t give the other team 32 outs. You can’t do it.”

On DY, who presumably is a lock to make the club as a fifth OF because he is out of options, but is now hitting .121 for the spring, with 13 strikeouts in 33 at-bats

“Young is not an everyday player, but he has to get better than he’s doing, I know that. He isn’t swinging the bat, and he isn’t making plays, and you have to do one or the other.”

On Blake DeWitt, who has no chance of making the club but is now hitting .333 for the spring after going 3 for 4 with a triple and his second HR of the spring, plus a walk

“He is swinging the bat good, no question. Other guys are getting opportunities and not doing anything about it. He is getting opportunities and showing he is legit.”

I think Bowa is going to have a MAJOR impact on this team that goes WAY beyond deciding whether to hold runners or wave them around. He’s going to be fun to cover, too.

As far as I’m concerned D Young can just go someplace else – he can’t field and he can’t hit when he gets the real opportunity and when it counts. I want him GONE. DeWitt, however, should be kept around, even though his experience level in the minors would not seem to be enough. Some guys just can deliver when it counts, and unlike DY, DeWitt apparently can do that – so, I would keep him with the big club until he plays himself off it, and that just may not happen. Frankly LaRoche may not come back, or will get some other injury like his back, so his time may just be over, and I’m fine with that. Abreu should be GONE also with his achies and pains. Some guys are just pu$$ie$, and they have no place on a major league ballclub when the chips are down.

Yeah, LaRoche should be dumped because of a freak thumb injury. Makes sense. He only has one of the best power bats in the organization.

Care to comment on what the air pollution is like. Any trips planned for the team? How does everyone like the food etc…

vr, Xeifrank

I can imagine the excitement of all those young Dodgers & everyone on the China trip, taking photos & movies. It will be an adventure they will remember the rest of their lives. I can’t wait to watch the games at 1:00 AM ET on Friday & Saturday night. I would imagine they’ll end around 4:00 AM for me. I’ve done worse things at that time of morning. I’m just wondering how much coverage this will get outside of L.A. and San Diego. Man I hope they can win a couple for Lasorda down in Florida.

Bowa is kind of ridiculous though. Like two weeks ago he was praising Young’s play at 2B and he’s overreacting to one bad game. Yeah Young has to improve but I would hate to think the coaches are this impatient. Messagebear a little harsh on Abreu. To me it makes no sense that he doesn’t want to play, this is his time to shine for the coaches and win a spot on the team. I believe if he could he would play. Maybe he’s paranoid about reinjuring himself. Glad DeWitt is doing well, I though I was one of his only remaining believers!

wow messagebear, I can’t tell if that was sarcastic or if you are really basing your opinions on DY off of some ST ABs. The kid raked when he had a REAL opportunity last season while up with the Dodgers. Remember the 4 hit game? On the flip side remember how well Wilson Valdez did last ST? I think we have a pretty strong bench and DY will prove his worth as the season progresses.

I’m obviously not that sold on DY. I know that he accumulated a great average in his brief stint with the Dodgers last year. This year everybody assumes that he should have a job simply because he’s out of options. He’s had more opportunity than most to prove what he can do, and he hasn’t convinced me that he can do much at the major league level. There are some other guys that are making more of the Spring Training opportunity, and I think they may be more deserving. For one, I would like to give Lombard a better look and consideration. When it comes to filling in on the infield, I think Hu may have more potential. Obviously our manager and his coaching staff will make that final decision, but that’s just how I feel about DY.

I think DYs got a spot on the team. If anyone gets bumped by Hu it’ll be Martinez. I don’t however think DYs an everyday kind of ballplayer, at least not on the Ds. He’s becomming a little more versatile, and I think eventually he’ll carve himself a nice little niche, something like we envisioned for Nomar this year – a supersub. Give him a couple years to settle into that roll and I think he becomes a valuable member of this team.

When you mention Martinez, you really make my blood boil. As much as I’ve said about DY, I’d take him or most anybody else in place of Martinez. We’ve already had Martinez long enough with very little to show for it. Keeping him on the major league roster would be totally inexcusable.

Its not that I want him on the roster, believe me mb. I was shocked when Ned invited him to ST, but given the state of LaRoche and Abreu, and the fact I don’t think they want Hu caddying at the ML level when he could be playing everyday at Vegas, AND the fact that RM can play all around the IF, I think he’s got a spot.

what is the big deal at 3B? that’s is what you have a utility inf for. his name is ramon martinez. nomar doesn’t have cancer, for cryin’ out loud! he will start opening day and hu and ramon can fill in until la roche comes back. why make a trade for an AL 3B who will be no better than ramon anyhow?!?

Very well said Prepress, and I concur.

No need to panic.

i am a long-time dodger fan living in philly for the last 25 yrs so i know much about bowa. he did win mgr of the year before the team and ownership turned on him. he is fiesty, firey and just now is learning to not swallow his fist after every loss. he will be a great asset and is a veritable quote machine.

prepress – can I take it you’re in the printing industry? Flexo, offset or screenprint?

messagebear: George Lombard is THIRTY-TWO years old and been a professional since 1994 – talk about having “had more opportunity than most to prove what he can do”.

Cautiousness about D Young is likely appropriate. A commenter on Tony Jackson’s blog wrote, I think correctly:

*****************************

Young age 23 AA/AAA: .305 / .350 / .492, 35 BB, 121 K, 576 PA

Young age 24 AAA: .273 / .326 / .457, 42 BB, 104 K, 583 PA

Young age 25 AAA: .337 / .384 / .571, 38 BB, 105 K, 537 PA.

Yes, Young raked last year, but that BB/K ratio is still pretty disturbing; he doesn’t walk much more than Juan Pierre does [old_fogey: in the minors!]. The ball does jump off his bat, but I worry that he has a hole in his swing that major-league pitchers can more consistently exploit. (It helps that his 2B career is being resuscitated.)

Posted by: El Lay Dave Author Profile Page | March 10, 2008 5:46 PM

******************************

Larry Bowa should calm down. Young hasn’t played 2B regularly since 2005, and has only logged 1 game in the minors and 5 INNINGs in the majors since then before this spring. Gee, there might be a few bumps in the road, ya think?

And thanks to Scott Akasaki for the blog entry. It’s a good read, good enough that I’m feeling the travel fatigue from here.

I have not chimed in much recently, because I’ve been swamped at work and there’s not too much to say (other than Kershaw–Wow. I saw Vinny call that “public enemy number one” pitch in real-time, and it’s wow enough to watch by itself, but with Vinny calling it–it’s like it’s another plane of existence).

Anyway, a couple of thoughts:

1) Messagebear–why so harsh on DY and Abreu? DeWitt is doing well, to be sure, but the Grapefruit League is not “when it counts.” DeWitt may prove very valuable, but he’s a little ways off. DY clearly has ability, and I think should make the club. His problem is partly that he isblocked by guys like Ethier and Kemp, but depth is good. And, if we aren’t going to use him, but he can be an asset in the big leagues, better to trade him than let the (Devil)Rays pick him up on waivers.

2) Very bad about LaRoche. I hope he’s back soon. In the meantime, I hope Nomar’s back sooner. If Andy is back by May 1, ethier Nomar will be performing or not.

3) Lot’s of ripping on Pierre. I feel that our three best OF are Kemp, Jones, and Ethier. But it’s spring training, it’s a certain-to-be-Hall-of-Fame Manager, and I’m willing to give it a little time to see how it works out. I’d like to think that Joe Torre agrees with me on this, or at least comes around to my view, but it’s still worth giving him a little benefit of the doubt. If in May we’re struggling and Pierre is in the lineup and is not getting the job done, so be it. (Though I note–in the unlikely event that Pierre causes Matt Kemp any significant playing time, I will protest on Opening Day–Ethier is good; Kemp could be great.)

4) Overall, things look very good for us. The 25-man roster is going to be good–will it be Ramon Martinez, or Abreu, or even Hu? Repko? Young? Who rounds out the rotation and the bullpen? The questions at the margins are still undecided, but the variables are not surprising. And, the other part is that it has really finally rounded off into a team in 2008 and a foundation for the next ten years. The Jacksonville 5+ from 2005 now form the heart of the team, and whether they make the team out of camp, likely future stars Tony Abreu, Andy LaRoche and Clayton Kershaw are going to be factors during the year.

5) Clayton Kershaw–Back to him. It could be that if Matt Vasgergian, Kenny Albert, Joe Buck, or any other lesser mortal had been calling that game Sunday, rather than Vin Scully, I might not be thinking so seriously about him. And I don’t discount the possibility that Vin Scully could make watching Mark Hendrickson pitch seem fun (while those other guys could make watching Sandy Koufax seem plodding). But that was a heck of a curveball, and I don’t remember seeing Vinny react that way to very many pitchers, and over 59 years, he’s seen some pretty good ones. So maybe, just maybe, Kershaw’s time is now. Loazia obviously has a contract, and Kuo is out of options and can hopefully still turn into a starter, but sometimes you just have to let the phenom have it. Anyway, it’s fun to watch–though I guess that we’ll see him pull a 2006 Chad Billingsley–come out to LA for the exhibition games in LA, go back to Las Vegas, and get called back sometime in June/July.

That’s as hard as Pierre will hit the ball. On the Fly to center field.

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