Tonight is the first chance for Dodger fans to see 21-year-old Nathan Eovaldi pitch at home, following his first big league victory this week in Arizona. Fittingly, it comes on the same day that the Dodgers signed their first-round pick, Chris Reed, out of Stanford University.
It’s amazing how quickly these things happen. Nathan signed just three short years ago in 2008 and already he’s here and having an impact. Dee Gordon, selected just seven rounds ahead of Eovaldi, is also making his mark in the big leagues already. And then there’s Clayton Kershaw, who is already an All-Star and Cy Young candidate at age 23.
We meet many of these kids on their first visits to Dodger Stadium shortly after they sign, and it’s really cool to watch them progress through the minors. I can still remember Chad Billingsley showing up here in 2003, wide-eyed and ready to start a pro career and he’s already been in the big leagues now for six seasons.
Of course, some of our youngest players are here now because of injuries or other circumstances, but it’s still incredible to see how quickly they turn into Major League players. That obviously comes with hard work from the player development staff, which is responsible for getting them ready once the scouts go out and identify their talent level as amateurs.
It’s a unique process that you don’t really see in football or basketball because there aren’t really minor leagues the way we have it. But for those who see Chris Reed at tonight’s game, be sure to track his progress through the minors. Hopefully he’ll get here as quickly as some of his recent fellow draftees.
There’s no sugar-coating the fact that this season has not been anything like what we all had hoped back in February, but there are some bright spots that are impossible to ignore. In fact, the performances of Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw last night once again put their names among those that have to be considered for Cy Young and Most Valuable Player in the National League.
The Dodgers haven’t had that happen since 1988 when Kirk Gibson and Orel Hershiser pulled it off and it hadn’t happened before that in Los Angeles since 1974 with Steve Garvey and Mike Marshall. Of course, we got spoiled in the early 60s when Maury Wills and Don Drysdale did it in 1962, followed by Koufax winning both awards in 1963. Don Newcombe pulled off the double-feat in 1956 back in Brooklyn, the first year the Cy Young Award was given out.
Meanwhile, it hasn’t happened to any team in the NL since Pujols and Carpenter did it for St. Louis in 2005 and the last time it happened in the bigs was when Minnesota did it with Morneau and Santana in 2006.
If the season ended today, do you think they’d both take home these coveted awards?
Hope you’ll be tuning in tonight to the All-Star Game. Kemp batting third and playing CF with Kershaw and Ethier ready to contribute and hopefully extend the NL’s “winning streak.”
Matt had a tough time last night at the Home Run Derby, hitting just two longballs and both came with nine “outs” already but it seems he enjoyed it quite a bit and hopefully he’s saving his pop for the second half of the season.
On behalf of Andre and everyone at the Dodger organization, we can’t thank you all enough for trying to get Andre to Phoenix for the All-Star Game next week. It was arguably the biggest push we have ever made, and our All-Star campaigns go back to the days of Cesar Izturis, Russell Martin, Nomar Garciaparra and many more. But what made this one the best is how much you all embraced it.
Andre was downstairs in the clubhouse earlier today and telling people how grateful he was that you all took this to heart. Seeing some of the chatter on this blog, Twitter and Facebook, there were some of you that literally voted thousands of times, which is unfathomable. From the #VoteAndre TweetSuite to the clubouse t-shirts and the various celebs who threw their Twitter endorsements behind him, it was a fun four days. Ideas came from clubhouse attendants, team execs, fans and just about everyone who wanted to see him play in front of his home crowd.
So thank you! And let’s keep pulling for Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw, who will be there to represent your team.
In the meantime, hope many of you are at Andre’s Throwback Bobblehead tonight…should be a crowd over 50,000.
Right around the first pitch of tonight’s game against the Phillies, the draft room on the eighth floor at Dodger Stadium will start buzzing as the Dodgers gear up to make their first selection, the 16th overall choice this year. You can watch it live on MLB Network or follow the unparallelled coverage at mlb.com, as Maury Wills and Dodger scout Rich De Lucia represent the team at the draft in New York.
Last year, the Dodgers were the surprise of the first round, snagging Zach Lee with a pick late in the day though he was considered “unsignable.” With a bonus of more than $5 million, he joined the ranks of Dodger prospects which includes the last eight years worth of first-round pitchers (James Loney in 2002 was our last position player taken in the first round).
A day like today (and the next few days) are the culmination of an insane amount of work by all of our scouts who traverse the country looking for the next great Dodger player. It could be a first-rounder like Clayton Kershaw or a sixth-rounder like Matt Kemp…or even later in the draft, as many success stories come from then, too. But these scouts are truly the backbone of the game of baseball and rarely get the credit they are due.
So tune in tonight and give a shout out to the Dodger scouts and administrators who have made it their life’s work to find the next player you’ll root for at Dodger Stadium.
What was your favorite baseball video game growing up? Stratomatic (pre Atari)? Earl Weaver Baseball? RBI on Nintendo? The more recent versions of MLB-licensed games for X-Box or Playstation?
For me, it was Baseball Stars on Nintendo, where you could build your own team and rack up sick stats. And that’s what Shawn Tolleson is doing these days in the minors. Tolleson’s prep teammate, Clayton Kershaw takes the mound today against the Reds while another of his teammates, Jordan Walden, is the Angels’ closer. In fact, Kershaw might have been the third-best pitcher on their high school travel team and Tolleson is showing why these days.
After Tommy John surgery shelved him in high school and sent him to college at Baylor rather than the minors, the Dodgers drafted and signed him last year. In his first pro season, he had a 0.63 ERA and 17 saves so he popped up on a lot of radars. But what he’s doing this year is, well, the exact same thing. In 21 games for three different minor league teams, he has an identical 0.63 ERA with 13 saves and has struck out 52 batters in 28.2 innings. That’s a career so far of 47 games, 30 saves, 57.1 IP, 28 hits and 91 strikeouts. Those numbers belong in a video game, not the minor leagues.
Talk about a no-hit jjinx…I had literally typed these words when Casey just got a hit:
“Sitting here watching Roy Oswalt throw five-plus no-hit innings while Clayton Kershaw has 11 strikeouts through six innings and”
That’s as far as I got. So, I’ll go back to my original thought. With Tim Lincecum’s Giants coming to town this weekend (he won’t be pitching), I thought back to the 2006 draft when we took Kershaw a couple picks ahead of Lincecum.
Of course, the right-hander has gone on to win a couple Cy Youngs so clearly he’s an incredibly talented pitcher but here’s my question to all of you: As you sit here on Sept. 1, 2010, with Kershaw leading the NL in strikeouts and just 22 years old, would you rather have him or Lincecum under your team’s control over the next three years.
Obviously Lincecum has had a down year by his standards, though still not bad (11-9, 3.80, 179 K, 1.35 WHIP) while Kershaw is 11-8 (possibly 11-9), with a 3.01 after today’s outing.
Given what you know about both, if you could only have one on your team next year, who would it be and why? And of course, pretend you’re not a Dodger fan and try to be objective.
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…
What an awesome series this has been so far! Fifty-six thousand fans, waving towels and getting into the game the last 48 hours. While some say that it feels like postseason baseball in the stadium, I’m not sure it’s quite reached that level. I’d say it’s more like late September pennant-race baseball. But it’s been a heck of an atmosphere in stadium and the finale is just a few hours away.
We’ve been so busy with the extra media and all that’s going on, somehow we didn’t post anything Friday or Saturday, but you guys have kept the conversation going on Inside the Dodgers. We’ll figure out a tour soon…and it’ll obviously be open to any and all who read these messages.
Should be cool to hear Orel Hershiser break down Clayton Kershaw on tonight’s national telecast. A series win could do a lot to boost the confidence of the team after a tough couple weeks. And with a six-game road trip looming back against the NL West teams the Dodgers seem to play well against (with Billingsley coming off the DL), a win today would be huge.
And by the way, if you come out early today, be sure to stop by Viva Los Dodgers and get an autograph from Steve Yeager, who will be signing out there.
Word has spread quickly through Dodger Stadium that John Wooden has passed away. The entire Dodger organization extends our sincere thoughts to his family and friends, which include several members of the team…Vin Scully, Joe Torre and so many others.
My understanding is that Vin will mention Coach Wooden’s passing at the top of the fourth inning on the broadcast and there are few who can do so with such class. For those who were fortunate enough to meet him, it is surely something they’ll never forget.
Many of our then-young prospects, including tonight’s starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw, Blake DeWitt and Ramon Troncoso had the good fortunate to meet Coach Wooden during a private dinner one night during our Winter Development program on Jan. 11, 2008.
He will be missed by so many but his teachings and wise words of wisdom will carry forward for generations. There are so many great quotes, but here’s a personal favorite:
“It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit.”
Rest in peace, John Wooden.