Monthly Archives: August 2013

Last-minute stuff from a crazy day at the yard

Matt Kemp went 0-for-3 for Rancho Cucamonga tonight and now is hitless in 11 at-bats, with a bunch of strikeouts and I’m thinking only one ball hit out of the infield, in his first three games. The good news is the Quakes did win in extra innings, helping their cause as far as getting to the California League playoffs, so that could buy Matty some more time on his rehab. Put it this way, if he continues to struggle as much as he has against Single-A pitching, the Dodgers aren’t going to feel any sense of urgency to activate him, especially at a point when it isn’t entirely clear where he is going to fit into the picture anyway.

By the way, to clear a 40-man roster spot for the Michael Young trade, the Dodgers moved Josh Beckett to the 60-day disabled list. But that doesn’t preclude them from adding someone from outside the 40-man for tomorrow’s first round of September callups. They could still move Jose Dominguez or Shawn Tolleson to the 60-day.

By the way also, Yasiel Puig‘s picture-perfect throw to nail Rene Rivera at the plate in the fourth inning tonight — which was absolutely huge in what became a one-run victory for the Dodgers — was his seventh outfield assist of the season, tying him for the 12th-most in the National League despite the fact he has played in just 78 games.

Day game tomorrow. Dodgers aren’t expecting Young to be here, but the first round of September callups will be here, I’m thinking. I’ll try to get here as early as possible and get them up as quickly as I can once it becomes clear who they are.

Good night, everyone.

Acquiring Michael Young is a “why-not” move for Dodgers

In a way, it’s sort of reminiscent of when the Dodgers got Jim Thome at the waiver deadline in 2009 — a move that happened exactly four years ago tonight. Granted, we’re talking about two completely different players. Thome was purely a designated hitter at that point in his career, and it seemed strange that the National League Dodgers wanted him, even though they got him from the Chicago White Sox for a minor league infielder named Justin Fuller, who played one more season before hanging it up.

Michael Young, even though he has played most of his career in the American League, is a classic N.L. player, a guy who can play first base, third base and maybe even his original position of shortstop, where he once won a Gold Glove. He is a guy who, as Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said, can be mixed and matched into the lineup or into games off the bench. He could be an everyday starter, but the Dodgers don’t need him for that. But like Thome, they got him for, basically, not a lot — a left-hander from Pasadena and UCLA named Rob Rasmussen who originally was a second-round draft pick of the Marlins and was in his first season with the Dodgers, going a combined 3-11 with a 4.11 ERA in 24 starts and four relief appearances at Triple-A Albuquerque and Double-A Chattanooga.

And really, the Dodgers picked up Young for much the same reason they picked up Thome back in 2009 — he’s a veteran who has been through the wars, has considerable postseason experience and, presumably, has a lot of wisdom to impart.

And if he gets a key hit somewhere along the way, well, that’s OK too.

“When you get to this time of year, sometimes one swing of the bat or one at-bat can help you win a game,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti had said on Friday, before any of us even knew he was talking to the Phillies about Young.

Meanwhile, assuming he’s accepting of his role — and you can be absolutely certain his role was presented to him before he agreed to waive his no-trade rights — it’s a good deal for Young, as well. He’s essentially coming home, having grown up in Covina and attended Bishop Amat High School in La Puente. He’s said to have been a Dodgers fan as a kid. And after 14 years in the big leagues, he’s still hungry for his first World Series ring — the kind of hunger that can only come from having come so tantalizingly close, as his Texas Rangers team did two years ago when they took a 3-2 lead into Game Six and two-run leads into both the bottom of the ninth and the bottom of the 10th before letting it slip away, and then losing a lopsided Game 7 to the St. Louis Cardinals.

It isn’t going to cost the Dodgers a lot of money, at least not by the stratospheric standards of what they now consider to be “a lot of money.” And it absolutely didn’t cost them much in terms of players. And given that Mattingly made it clear, with Colletti sitting next to him at the front of the interview room, that he sees Young as a guy to fill in for other guys, we can be reasonably assured the move won’t mess with team chemistry.

So, I guess, why not?

Chris Capuano postgame video

Says he identified some mechanical stuff with Honeycutt after his previous start. This was his first time pitching past the fifth inning since Aug. 3. He went 7.

Postgame video: Colletti and Mattingly

Ned is first, and then Donnie talks about where Michael Young will fit in — it’s clear Donnie views this guy as a backup, even if he’ll be an oft-used backup. Donnie says he already talked to Juan Uribe to reassure him that his job is safe, and Uribe told the media later that he wasn’t upset by this acquisition at all. Donnie said Young can “spell” both Uribe and Adrian Gonzalez, and Ned talks a lot about Young’s postseason experience, which may be the most appealing part of this pickup.

Dodgers 2, Padres 1

Mark Ellis came off the bench to deliver a pinch-hit RBI single with one out in the eighth inning off Padres reliever Nick Vincent, snapping a 1-1 tie. Chris Capuano bounced back from a difficult to stretch to give the Dodgers seven strong innings, scattering eight hits but giving up just one run. Dodgers got to 80-55 and maintain their 10 1/2-game lead in the National League West while shaving their magic number to 18.

Dodgers have acquired Michael Young

Just before the 9 p.m. deadline for Young to be eligible for postseason play, the Dodgers announced the deal, saying minor league lefty Rob Rasmussen will go to the Phillies in return for Young,

Young is a seven-time All-Star and won a Gold Glove at shortstop for the Texas Rangers in 2008. He has 10-and-five rights so could have refused a trade anywhere, but Young grew up a few miles from Dodger Stadium in Covina and graduated from Bishop Amat High School in La Puente. He is in his 14th major league season and will turn 37 on October 19. He has appeared in 125 games for the Phillies this season, none of them at shortstop, and is hitting .272 with eight homers, 41 RBI and a .333 on-base percentage.

Young has spent the vast majority of his time this season (98 games) at third base, with the rest at first base. It isn’t immediately clear what role he would fill with the Dodgers.

Young is a right-handed batter with a career average of .300.

Young has a $16 million salary this season, the final year of a five-year, $80 million contract.

Game No. 135: Dodgers vs. San Diego

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Beautiful night, but not a comfortable one. Whole place is like a sauna, so the ball should once again carry a little better than it normally does for night games here. Andrew Cashner (8-8, 3.55) to the mound for the Pods against Chris Capuano (4-7, 4.74). If you look really closely in this photo, you can see Spongebob Squarepants and his pink sidekick, whose name I’m told is Patrick.

Was great to see former Dodgers broadcaster Ross Porter here to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. As he walked out to the mound, Dodger Stadium organist Nancy Bea Hefley played Oklahoma! in honor of Ross’ home state.

The Padres, who throughout their 45-year history have always been the team of a thousand jerseys, are wearing navy blue pajama tops tonight. Dodgers in home whites as always.

Also, one of you posted a comment to my post about the bat thing from last night, and while deleting the mountain of spam comments this blog is suddenly receiving, I inadvertently deleted it. I apologize.

Play ball.

More on likely September callups

Don Mattingly was understandably coy on the subject, just reiterating what Ned Colletti said yesterday, that there will be some guys coming up tomorrow and some other guys coming up later (presumably Tuesday, after the minor league season ends on Monday). The only Dodgers affiliates with a shot at the playoffs are advanced Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, which is in the hunt in the California League, and low Single-A Great Lakes, which is already in in the Midwest League, but the Dodgers aren’t likely to bring anybody up from A-ball.

“I hope not,” Mattingly said.

The only thing he did hint at was that they would be looking for somebody who could help out in the middle of the infield, so figure it’s some combination — or perhaps all — of the group of Elian Herrera, Dee Gordon, Alex Castellanos and Justin Sellers, all of whom are on the 40-man roster. Chris Withrow is a lock, even if nobody will say it, and so is Scott Van Slyke. And count on Stephen Fife, who still has a locker in the Dodger Stadium clubhouse.

Oh, and someone asked about Onelki Garcia, and Donnie didn’t shoot it down. He said, “there may be a lefty in there,” and there are no lefties on the 40-man who aren’t either in the bigs or on the DL. Not sure how they’d go about clearing a 40-man spot though.

There may be others, there may not be. The timing of the callups will be interesting, as well. The ones coming up tomorrow presumably already have been told and have flights booked tonight or early tomorrow morning because tomorrow is a day game. If we find out after the game, I’ll try to get them right up on the site as quickly as possible.

The bat mystery cleared up …

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So several of you asked me about this last night, and I admittedly didn’t see it, when plate umpire Greg Gibson picked up a bat belonging to either Hanley Ramirez or Carl Crawford, or possibly both of them, and walked it over to Don Mattingly and had a conversation about it. I pulled Mattingly aside after his media session today to ask him about it, and a couple of other reporters were waiting to ask him the same thing. What he told us was this:

The issue with the bat was the COLOR of the barrel. As you can see in this photo (this is Hanley’s bat), this bat is two-toned, with a clearly delineated change from black to a sort of deep reddish brown color between the handle and the barrel. Apparently, there is some rule against having bats that are red, and what Mattingly said Gibson told him was that the bat “could be considered red.” Well, a lot of things could be considered a lot of things. I once shared an airport parking shuttle-van ride with former supermodel Rachel Hunter, and as we were getting off the van, she dropped her cap, and I picked it up and handed it to her, and she said, “Thank you.” I guess that “could be considered” as she and I having had a past relationship, if I were so inclined to want to stretch the bounds of what “could be considered” something.

But as usual, I digress.

Anyway, Gibson wasn’t telling Mattingly the bat couldn’t be used. He was just sort of issuing a friendly warning that if some other umpire came along who was a little more of a stickler than Gibson, well, it might be a problem. And according to Mattingly’s account of the conversation, Gibson also pointed out that there were Dodgers uniformed personnel — coaches, I assume — who spilled over from the dugout to the adjacent camera well at the homeplate end of the dugout during the game, and that when the Dodgers get to the playoffs, that won’t be allowed.

Today, after Hanley finished doing the interview he was doing as I was snapping this picture of his bat, I asked him if this was the bat that came into question during the game. He said, “No. I don’t know anything about that. That wasn’t me. That was C.C.”

OK, well, a few minutes later, Crawford walked by carrying the exact same bat. Might have been a different model, different weight, different length, whatever, but it was that same black-handle, reddish-brown barrel appearance, and Mattingly said Ramirez and Crawford sometimes use each other’s bats. So this was definitely the one Gibson was talking about.

I’m half-tempted to Google Greg Gibson to determine whether he might have been a student hall monitor while he was in junior high school, but I have more important things to do. Would seem to me that if he’s working the plate in a big league baseball game, he has more important things to do as well.

Official word on Kemp for now

Matt Kemp will NOT be activated tomorrow, according to Don Mattingly, because he isn’t feeling comfortable at the plate yet with his timing. He’ll DH tonight AND tomorrow, and then the situation will be evaluated.

“I haven’t talked to him, but from talking to Stan (Conte), Matt just isn’t comfortable baseball-wise,” Mattingly said. “I’m hearing that he is more and more comfortable with his ankle. … It’s hard to get in there and see 94, 95 (mph pitches) when you haven’t seen it regularly. When you see it regularly, it looks normal. But he hasn’t played in a while.”

The Quakes are in the Cal League playoff hunt, and although it hasn’t been discussed as to whether Kemp might stay with them through any potential playoff series, Mattingly said, “I don’t know why that would be outside the realm of possibility.”