July 2010

Deadline dealing…

What a whirlwind morning. With a series of moves over the last few days, Ned was able to improve the team in four different spots – outfield, rotation, bullpen and second base (though some have said they feel it’s a wash with Theriot and DeWitt). Hopefully this is the shot in the arm the Dodgers need to go on a roll.

There’s no doubt Ned likes to make deals and at the deadline, he seems to do his best work. Obviously only time will tell how the various prospects turn out, but he’s acquired numerous likely HOFers (Manny, Maddux, Thome), and a ton of other valuable veterans that have helped enormously down the stretch (Sherrill, Belliard, Garland, Padilla, Podsednik, Dotel, Lilly and Theriot…well, we still have to see what the last four do down the stretch).

That said, it’s never easy to say goodbye to an indvidual as classy as Blake DeWitt. He’s gone through so much in the past few years and I’m not sure I can name anyone whose handled it with more grace. It’s a good opportunity for him to be closer to home, which is cool, though I’d imagine the fine folks in Sikeston, MO are going to have a hard time rooting for the Cubs in Cardinal-town. I wonder if they’ll start to carry Cubs’ games the way they carried ours!?

Chad did a great job today on short rest and as the team looks to hold on to a 1-0 lead, the team has got to be feeling pretty good about the moves that were made today. Should be a fun final two months! 

A big weekend by the Bay

First pitch is happening right now and while nothing is truly must-win until the end of the season, these are some pretty huge games right now against the Giants and Padres.

Charley Steiner pointed out that including tonight, we have one third of our remaining games (20 of 60) against these two teams. Obviously that gives us a lot of opportunity to make a move and at the same time, gives these teams a chance to create some distance between us and them.

Should be a fun series, with tomorrow’s trade deadline looming large…less than 20 hours away.

Inside the Dodgers Tour

The Inside the Dodgers tour is officially set for Sept. 4 and 12:00 p.m. and it’ll be a special group rate of $10 per person or $5 for kids. You can also purchase group tickets for that night.

If you’re interested in the group tour, please email Brett at bretts@ladodgers.com and he’ll take credit card info, etc. to get you set up. If you want to attend the game that night against the Giants, please contact Bryan at bryans@ladodgers.com or 323.224.1376.

I’ll be the tour guide and we’ll see what we can come up with to make it interesting…

Hope to see many of you there and meet those of you who we haven’t met.

The King of Pop

In the past year, the 80s have made a surprising surge back to relevance in Hollywood. Movie remakes of 80s movies (Clash of the Titans), 80s toys turned into movies (Transformers), 80s TV shows turned into movies (A-Team), even movies about returning to the 80s (Hot Tub Time Machine).

We’ve decided to ride the wave back to the days of Space Invaders, the Delorean and of course, the King of Pop as we celebrate 80s Night in less than two weeks at Dodger Stadium (August 6th for those keeping track).

In honor of the decade that brought us Bon Jovi and  Big Hair, the entertainment for the evening will have an acid-washed tint to it. In addition, the first 20,000 fans will take home a limited-edition poster featuring Matt Kemp. We penciled in Kemp as the 80s poster-boy back in January, however, we didn’t determine the exact direction for its design until about a month ago.

As some of you may have seen on twitter and even Deadspin the resulting shoot will remind many of the days of “Thriller”, “Beat it” and the moonwalk.

Kemp was happy to lend his likeness to the poster, but I don’t think he knew exactly what he was getting in to when we agreed to take part in the photo shoot on Friday. We had a full wardrobe ready, with an authentic (read: costume shop replica) red leather jacket, aviators, fedora, white v-neck and of course, a silver glove! Matt already has a gold one to go with it, but once he slid the glove on, donned the fedora, and looked into the camera, MK channeled MJ pretty quickly. Using my iPhone as the soundtrack (hopefully DMN can enhance the audio on the Inside Dodgertown piece coming soon) Kemp gave us a few “he-heee’s” as he struck poses under the direction of Jon SooHoo.

The shot to be used is still to be determined, but Matt gave us plenty to work with and we’ll release the design on dodgers.com later this week. For now, start digging out the legwarmers and parachute pants (in Dodger blue of course) and plan on joining us August 6th as the Nationals come to town on 80s Night with their prodigal pitcher, Stephen Strasburg (born in 1988!), scheduled to pitch (perhaps against Kershaw, given that he’s also scheduled to pitch on Sunday due to his suspension). Here’s hoping Kemp proves to be the king of pop at the plate when the two face each other.

-Josh Lukin

Welcome back Brad Ausmus

With Brad Ausmus starting today’s game, he will surpass Al Lopez for seventh-place all-time on the games caught list in Major League history (1919) and is only a few games shy of catching Jim Sundberg (1927) for sixth place.

And for those who track such things, today’s game also is Ausmus’ 1952nd of his career, and he will pass Shawn Green for the all-time Jewish record for games played according to JewishMajorLeaguers.org, a not-for-profit organization that documents American Jews in America’s Game.

Brad has worked incredibly hard to come back much faster than most expected from his back surgery and hopefully he’ll play a big role in today’s game on FOX.

 

Stephen Strasburg – is this guy for real?

Just noticed that Stephen Strasburg got another win last night and as a few of us were talking in the office today, it seems more and more likely that he’s going to be starting for the Nationals against the Dodgers during our next homestand in our first game against Washington (Aug. 6).

As much as it would be nice to miss him, I’m actually looking forward to seeing him pitch just to witness the hype. And if we can beat Ubaldo (the only ones to do it so far), who’s to say we can’t beat this young phenom? To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best! Anyway, I’d imagine tickets will start flying for that game once people realize that he’s scheduled to pitch so don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Meanwhile, as impressive as he’s been, he hasn’t had a complete game yet (or a shutout), which is exactly what Chad Billingsley did last night when we needed it most. He was very impressive and gave the Dodgers their first complete game of the season.

Incredibly, we looked it up and over the last 10 years, 19 different teams have had one or no complete games in a season and six have gone to the playoffs – the Yankees in ’04, ’07 and ’08, the Dodgers in ’06 and ’09 and the Twins in ’06. So, while it would be nice to have a bunch of complete games, not having many clearly doesn’t preclude you from reaching the postseason.

I’d imagine each of those teams had pretty impressive bullpens but I wonder if any had two All-Stars on the back end like Kuo and Broxton.

Gotta keep it going tonight…

A wild night all around

Pretty safe bet tonight’s game can’t be as crazy as last night’s. Then again, every time you think that’s the case, something wild happens and you’re left shaking your head.

We need to snap out of this funk. A six-game losing streak is never fun, especially coming out of the break. But as we’ve all seen, this team can streak with the best of them and has an ability to come back when everyone least expects it. Here’s hoping Billingsley and the Boys are up to the task tonight.

Manny to the disabled list…

It appears Manny Ramirez’s calf injury is significant enough to put him on the disabled list, which we officially have done while activating Brad Ausmus from the disabled list. Obviously that’s not the news we were hoping to hear from today’s MRI, but clearly it’s more important to have him healthy down the stretch than have him go out there on an injured calf and make things worse.

Of course, the timing isn’t very good given that the team has dropped five in a row, but for true baseball fans, tonight’s matchup of Kershaw and Lincecum should be a really exciting one (and hopefully the first of many between two division rivals for years to come). And hopefully it’s the start of a winning streak…

Regarding the Inside the Dodgers tour, it looks like Sept. 4 is the winner, so stay tuned for details and mark your calendars. We’ll send out more info shortly…

And finally, I truly appreciate the candor of several people posting on ITD and hopefully you can understand that my job is not to be a voice of baseball operations for the team and to weigh in, point by point, on each position on the field. That’s for Ned, Joe and their staffs to do (and as you know, they answer these questions almost daily in the media).

There’s no doubt just from reading your comments how passionate you all are about the team and how badly you want the team to win. All we can do is assure you that the people who come here every day to work are equally as passionate and literally spend almost every waking minute of every day trying to find ways to win. No one comes into the office hoping that today is the day we start a five-game losing streak.

It’s awesome that there’s debate here about which pitchers should be acquired, what our farm system is like, what the lineups should be and the moves that Joe Torre makes in game. That’s why you all love the game and it’s why I love it, too. It’s why many of us have literally chosen to dedicate our life’s work to it.

We look forward to seeing many of you at the tour and hopefully I can answer a question or two for you, if it’s helpful. And if not, that’s okay, too. Just don’t lose your passion for the team…

Inside the Dodgers Tour

For those interested in a group tour for the Inside the Dodgers crew, please let us know if you have a preference on any of the following dates and how many people you think would make it out, as well as if you’d also want to purchase a ticket to the game that day.

Options right now include Aug. 7, Aug. 21 or Sept. 4…

Second half gets underway

How about that NL? Wouldn’t it be something if it turns out that Broxton gets the last out of the Midsummer Classic and the Fall Classic, with one happening in Anaheim and the other in Game 7 at Dodger Stadium?

Lots of preview stories in the media today about the second half and while some have said that our schedule will be more difficult than most, others have said it will be easier. I guess it all depends on perspective. We will be playing a lot of teams over .500, but we’ll also be playing the NL West a lot, and we’ve fared quite well against our own division, as you all know. In fact, the Dodgers actually have the best record in the NL against NL teams, so that’s a good sign, too.

But there’s plenty of work to be done…four teams are right in the thick of things in the NL West and with Manny coming off the DL, here’s hoping the team can stay healthy from here through the end of October.

The last six games against the Cards have ended in Dodger Ws. How about a seventh?

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