December 2009

One last post for this decade…

As promised, here’s a quick look back at some of the highlights from 2009. As always, my glass is half full…just creating this list gave me a pretty good feeling about the year we just completed on the heels of an equally special 2008.

- Orlando Hudson and Randy Wolf sign as free agents, bolstering the team late in the offseason while becoming an All-Star and a very consistent starter, respectively (and effectively replacing the departed Derek Lowe and Jeff Kent)

- Camelback Ranch opens in Glendale and thousands of Dodger fans experience Spring Training for the first time

- “I’m baaack.” Manny Ramirez signs back with the Dodgers following an eventful offseason of negotiating

- The World Baseball Classic provides arguably one of the great games ever played at Dodger Stadium, with Japan defeating Korea in the championship game filled with drama on a whole new level

- Orlando Hudson’s cycle was the first by a Dodger in nearly 40 years and first-ever at Dodger Stadium…and it happened on Opening Day

- Dodgers set the MLB record for wins to start a season at home…at times people wondered if we’d ever lose a game at Dodger Stadium

- Juan Pierre plays incredibly well while Manny is suspended and the fans show their appreciation for his efforts with a heartfelt standing ovation in his first game back after Manny returns

- Billingsley and Broxton have All-Star first halves to join Hudson in St. Louis

- Manny’s pinch-hit grand-slam on his own Bobblehead Night!

- Ethier’s six walk-off hits and eventual Cluth Performer of the Year Award

- Joe Pierre makes a visit to Dodger Stadium for the inaugural Inside the Dodgers tour…a trip he’ll likely never forget. All thanks to the efforts of those on this blog who brought his situation to the attention of the team

- Trade deadline deals for Garland, Belliard, Thome and Padilla solidify the team with the best record in the NL

- Kershaw among the league leaders in ERA

- Capturing back-to-back NL West championships for the first time in three decades

- Loretta’s pinch-hit sends Dodger Stadium into pandemonium

- Sweeping the Cards en route to consecutive NLCS appearances for the first time since 1977-78

- Gold Glove and Silver Slugger for Matt Kemp, while Ethier takes home the Silver Slugger

And those are just the ones I could think of off the top of my head while typing this. It’s been a great year and despite some surprises, setbacks and disappointments, that’s a heck of a lot to be excited about. Hopefully many of you got the chance to take part in some of these events and there will surely be many great ones ahead, too, in 2010.

Ken Gurnick broke the year down month by month in addition to a video recap for those so inclined but as this decade comes to a close, all of us at the Dodgers — from ownership, to management, to the front office and every usher, ticket taker and maintenance worker — wish all of you, your families and friends a healthy and happy 2010. Let’s hope it concludes with a parade in the streets of Los Angeles like we haven’t seen in 20+ years.

We interrupt this holiday break…

Over at DodgerThoughts, Jon Weisman offers an incredible look at Dodger blogging through the years and it’s fascinating to see the way the blogosphere has evolved this decade when it comes to our favorite team. It’s hard to believe ITD was the 19th blog on the scene, according to Jon’s list, but far more incredible to think that 26 others have popped up in cyberspace in the four years that this site has been live.

Quite obviously, this blog is different from all the rest…it’s unabashedly pro-Dodgers because it’s written by people who work in the front office and we have an added benefit of seeing the inner workings of the organization. But the truth is, it’s no better than the rest of the sites out there, all of which are run by Dodger fans who have second (some would say “real”) jobs. Each provides a view of the team from a different perspective and every one of them has the potential of a global readership, which is a huge reason why the Dodgers became the first big league team this year to extend media credentials to some of the bloggers who cover the team.

Over the next decade, I have little doubt that many sites out there will become profitable ventures for the people who run them and even more valuable resources for information about the team. They’ll also change in the way in which they create a place for fans to gather, which is really what this is all about.

So from one of the humble hosts of ITD and behalf of all of us at the organization, Happy New Year and Happy New Decade (by the way, fellow blogger Tony Jackson had a great piece on ESPNLosAngeles.com about the Top 10 Dodgers of the decade).  I’ll probably put up one last post on Thursday recapping the 2009 season, much like we did for 2008.

Taking a break…

Our front offices are closing between now and Jan. 4 so the posts might be less frequent but here’s to a happy and healthy holiday season to everyone who visits Inside the Dodgers and those who read these posts on Facebook. I hope you are all as excited as I am about the 2010 season and of course, the rest of the hot stove league that will lead up to pitchers and catchers reporting to Camelback Ranch.

See you all next year and thanks for another great season…

Happy Birthday

Two key members of the 1981 World Champion Dodgers are celebrating birthdays today.

Best wishes go out to Steve Garvey and Kenny Landreaux! Also Al Ferrara, who came back to Dodger Stadium for the first time in nearly two decades earlier this season and has been back in the mix with the team ever since. In fact, he even came out to our company holiday party last week, as did Kenny.

 

 

Best and worst Dodger trades

Here’s a news release that came into inbox today…an interesting read that doesn’t even touch on the Pedro Martinez/Delino Deshields deal, which most of the Dodger legions believe is the worst one in our team’s history.

 

If nothing else, it’s a new thread to discuss your thoughts on the good trades and bad ones over the years…

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dec. 10, 2009

Los Angeles Dodgers rank twenty-sixth in lopsided trades in the twentieth century
Dodgers lost a net -297 games due to lopsided trading 

 

In Traded: Inside the Most Lopsided Trades in Baseball History, statistical consultant Doug Decatur uses Win Shares, a statistic developed by baseball guru Bill James to determine how many wins a player contributes to his team, to objectively rank the 306 most lopsided trades of the twentieth century. (Lopsided trades are those in which the trade produced a net value of 111 future Win Shares, or 37 wins, by the players involved after the trade was made.)

 

Here are the top five positive lopsided trades for the Los Angeles Dodgers:

 

Season   Principal Acquired Principal    Traded Net Future    Wins

1939  Pee Wee Reese  Red Evans  105 
1974 Pedro Guerrero  Bruce Ellingsen  82 
1918  Burleigh Grimes  Casey Stengel  65 
1938  Dolph Camilli  Eddie Morgan  51 
1900  Lave Cross  $3,000  43 

 

The Dodgers won their last five World Championships not because of trades and not because of free agency. Their formula has been simple: Put a good, home-grown team on the field as a result of a very good farm system, and then wait for a dominant pitcher to put them over the top, such as Don Drysdale in 1959, Sandy Koufax in 1963 and 1965, Fernando Valenzuela in 1981, and Orel Hershiser in 1988.

 

Here are the five worst lopsided trades for the Los Angeles Dodgers:

Season    Principal Acquired Principal    Traded Net Future    Loses

1965  Claude Osteen  Frank Howard  103 
1936  Tom Winsett  Dutch Leonard  82 
1983  Rafael Landestoy  John Franco  61 
1977  Rick Monday  Bill Buckner  60 
1940  Joe Gallagher  Roy Cullenbine  57 

 

More than just a ranking of trades, Traded provides a team-by-team overview of the best trades in each team’s history and the human side of the story behind those trades, as well as a listing of the worst trades for each team. Author Doug Decatur also explores the GM who made the best trade for each of the thirty MLB teams.

 

More importantly, however, in Traded Decatur identifies thirteen red flags to look out for when evaluating future trades that could indicate a lopsided deal is about to take place. These include secondary average for hitters, strikeout-to-walk ratio for pitchers, and the under-valuation of minor league statistics that often occurs in the majors.

Jamey Carroll officially on board

Jamey Carroll took his physical today and has passed, making official his signing to a two-year contract. At the winter meetings, several people told me what an amazing guy this is and what a great addition he’d be to the team. It seems he’ll share time with Blake DeWitt at second base, so our next item on the list is clearly starting pitching.

Also on the pitching front, the two players to be named later from the White Sox “arrived” today and they are John Ely and Jon Link. Ely was 14-2 with a 2.82 ERA at Double-A and Link will be on the 40-man roster.

Keep an eye out for Ken Gurnick’s coverage at dodgers.com, as I’m sure he’ll be speaking to Ned later today and can fill you in on the latest thoughts from the GM’s office.

Holiday spirits…

I know that many of us who are fortunate enough to work for the Dodgers spend a lot of time thinking about how lucky we are to work for an organization of this stature, but there are certain days that are just better than others.

Most days, as I pull into the parking lot, I try to remember what an amazing job I have. But much like all of you, there’s also an office culture and office life and with that, comes an office holiday party. Ours starts in about 30 minutes when the offices will close for the afternoon and the games begin. There’s lunch in the Dugout Club, a softball tournament down on the field, some sort of Olympic games (not sure what it will entail) and then dinner before we head home. Office camaraderie is important anywhere you work, even more so when you log the kind of hours that are required of these sorts of jobs.

I certainly don’t write this to brag…just to give a little insight into a great day like this for the organization. We get hammered plenty publicly but it’s days like this that it’s hard to deny how fortunate we are to be associated with the Los Angeles Dodgers…there are very few teams in baseball that can say they’ve been in the playoffs four out of the last six years and three out of the last four, not to mention back-to-back NLCS for the first time in three decades. I’ve worked with a lot of people through the 90s and early 2000s who spent a lot of years here and never got to witness the sort of success we’ve had on the field in recent years. We still have the ultimate goal in mind – a World Series – but we also have to know that only one team can win it each year and hopefully our time is coming soon. And off the field, I think we all know that there are several million people who would trade jobs with us in a heartbeat. I’m just hoping I don’t pull any muscles in advance of tomorrow night’s front office basketball tournament…yet another cool thing organized by the accounting department.

Anyway, changing subjects, one more cool thing happened today…Camelback Ranch won an award from Ballpark Digest and I’d imagine that any of you who got to visit understand why. Those who didn’t should start making their plans now because it really is a very cool experience.

Pierre to the Sox

“Juan always put the Dodgers first, even when it wasn’t in his personal best interest. In this day, that is a rare attribute. When he and I spoke at the end of the season, we agreed that if an opportunity presented itself in which his change to play would be enhanced, we would pursue it and that’s what we’ve done. He deserved the chance to play more.”

Those are the words of Ned Colletti in a release that will go out momentarily. From a personal and professional standpoint, all of us at the Dodgers truly wish Juan well. He really handled himself in an unbelievable manner over the last year and a half when circumstances changed beyond his control and you have to respect that, regardless of what you feel about his play on the field.

Last year, when we needed him most, he stepped up to help the team and the fans really seemed to appreciate it. I’m sure their standing ovation for Juan upon Manny’s return ranks up their with his best moments in a Dodger uniform…plus, he got to play in two postseasons (and NLCS) with us during his three years.

Here’s wishing him the best…

Winter Meetings Recap from a team travel perspective

What Do Traveling Secretaries Do At The Winter Meetings?

If you did not know, the Winter Meetings are not just about trades, free agents, GMs, team meetings, and news conferences.  There is actually a whole lot more from medical meetings with physicians and trainers, job seekers/interviews, a huge baseball goods trade show, club publicity meetings, and also a host of activities for the traveling secretaries.  In essence, everything that is baseball happens here.  For my counterparts and I, it’s meeting-after-meeting and reception-after-reception.

Here is a brief look at our agenda:

Sunday night – All-Traveling Secretaries dinner hosted by MLB

Monday morning/afternoon – Marriott Luncheon and Traveling Secretary of the Year Presentation

Monday afternoon – All-Traveling Secretaries Meeting

Monday pre-dinner – Enterprise Rental Car Reception

Monday pre-dinner – Four Seasons Reception

Monday evening – Ritz-Carlton Reception

Tuesday morning/afternoon – Traveling Secretaries Trade Show (Air charter providers, hotels, bus companies, rental car companies, travel agents, etc.)

Tuesday pre-dinner – Parc 55/Westin San Francisco Reception

Tuesday pre-dinner – Hilton Reception

Tuesday dinner – Dodgers Minor League Affiliates Reception

Tuesday evening – Starwood Worldwide Reception

Coupled with that, the traveling secretaries are the point people for our own staff’s travel and hotel accomodations.  In truth, it was a little more complicated here in Indianapolis due to the cold weather and snow.

On Wednesday, I spent virtually the entire day in my hotel room working.  I had missed some time in the office recently and I tried to play catch-up with all of my work.  In a few hours, I will be boarding a plane back to Los Angeles while keeping tabs on our staff’s travel out of Indianapolis back to Los Angeles, Phoenix, Newark, Baltimore, Tampa, and San Diego.

Traveling secretaries meet a lot of people during these meetings and we collect a lot of business cards.  It’s a chance for us to say thank you to those vendors who have helped us over the years and also an opportunity to make new contacts to help our respective teams.  The meetings are enjoyable yet hectic and I look forward to them every year.

Sidebar: Ellen Harrigan is our Winter Meetings MVP because she keeps all of our team events and meetings organized/on-time — she is a huge help to all of us and did a great job of putting together our minor league affiliates reception on Tuesday night.  She is our Director of Baseball Administration and has spent time with Baltimore and Toronto with over 20+ years of baseball experience.

– Scott Akasaki

Rule Five Draft and Holiday spirit

The meetings come to a close today and the news out of Indy is that the Nationals took Jamie Hoffmann in the Rule Five draft. Ned told the media today that he’d be comfortable with a healthy Jason Repko as the fourth or fifth outfielder and I know there are a lot of Repko fans in LA, myself included. He’s a great kid with a lot of talent and hopefully he’ll be healthy in 2010.

Back in Los Angeles today, Matt Kemp and Ramon Troncoso are attending our holiday party for local underserved youth, which is a tradition that goes back about a quarter century. I’m bummed to be missing it, as it’s always a very cool thing to see these kids’ faces light up when they might not otherwise get to experience the holidays in this fashion.

My next post will be back when I get to Los Angeles but I wouldn’t worry too much that no moves got made at the meetings. I know how much everyone loves to see their team make moves at this time of year, but in general, it was pretty quiet for many teams. But, a lot of groundwork gets laid here and acted upon in the coming weeks. The important thing to remember, as far as I’m concerned, is that we’re not re-creating a whole team. We’re trying to add a pitcher or two and perhaps a second baseman and we’ll be right back to where we were last season – competing for the division title and hopefully, taking the next step to advance past the NLCS and into the World Series. And as you recall, the second baseman and pitcher that we’re trying to replace were signed in February/March last year, so there’s still plenty of time before the Opening Day roster will be complete.

 

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