Dodgers Now

Steve Dilbeck and The Times' Dodgers reporters
give you all the news on the boys in blue

Category: Bill Plaschke

Dodgers Web musings: Can Clayton Kershaw do it again?

Short answer: Not likely.

At least not at the same glorious heights he pitched during his 2011 Cy Young season. ESPN/LA’s Jon Weisman examined the top pitching seasons by pitchers 21-25 years old since 1958, using ERA+ (earned-run average adjusted for the type of ballpark pitched in).

Of the top 50 performances, only four showed a slight improvement the next season. The rest dropped off fairly significantly.

Also on the web:

-- Here is a video of Kershaw’s acceptance speech for the Cy Young award last week.

  

-- Former Dodgers managing partner Bob Daly had a lot to say to The Times’ T.J. Simers on Frank McCourt: "The man got a gift from God and unfortunately blew it, and blew it on his own personal craziness."

And this wise word for McCourt’s successor: "Here's the test to see if we get a smart or stupid owner. If you make a deal and allow McCourt to keep the land and parking lots, you are out of your mind.”

-- The Times’ Bill Plaschke thinks the Dodgers’ main priority now should be signing Kershaw to a long-term deal.

-- USA Today’s Bob Nightengale examines the pros and cons of each group reportedly bidding on the Dodgers, as does blogger Chad Moriyama.

-- Thanks to blogger Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy for pointing out this roundtable segment on the Steve Mason and John Ireland show on ESPN 710-AM called "Meet the Bidders."

-- Hall of Fame baseball writer Ross Newhan said of all the groups interested in the Dodgers, only three or four may actually have the equity to purchase the team.

-- Andre Ethier "punked" his good friend, Red Sox Dustin Pedroia, on a WEEI sports show, actually getting him riled when he pretended to be an irate Boston fan unimpressed with Pedroia’s talents.

-- Ethier is also scheduled to appear with Mark Willard on Saturday at 710-AM, but a release of the interview includes this comment: "I've kind of dealt with this knee thing for the past two years, put it off for one off-season and then last season it just became a thing where a lot of things started multiplying and getting worse and something where I couldn't quite get back my swing."

-- Forbes’ Mike Ozanian writes Stan Kroenke’s bid for the Dodgers implies he’s bringing the Rams with him.

-- ESPN’s Buster Olney looks at the legacy of McCourt (Insider status required), and it ain’t pretty: “Frank McCourt will be remembered as the Richard Nixon of baseball owners, as someone who inexplicably squandered enormous opportunity and went out the door in shame.”

-- Safe to say, Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown is unimpressed with the Dodgers’ off-season, ranking them 19th best team in MLB.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Magic Johnson says he's bidding for Dodgers

Magic_600Magic Johnson wants to buy the Dodgers, putting one of Los Angeles' most beloved sports figures in pursuit of the city's cherished baseball team.

Johnson announced his bid in an interview Friday with Times columnist Bill Plaschke.

"I love baseball," Johnson told Plaschke. "I've been a Dodgers fan and gone to the park many, many times."

PHOTOS: Magic Johnson through the years

Johnson would be the face of a high-powered ownership group that would include Stan Kasten, the former president of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, and Mark Walter, chief executive of Guggenheim Partners, a financial services firm that controls over $125 billion in assets. The firm is headquartered in Chicago and New York, with an office in Los Angeles.

"Stan Kasten is my man," Johnson told Plaschke. "He's a winner, he's built two incredible organizations, and he's well respected. That is what was important to me. I had to get with a winner, a guy who understands baseball inside and out.

"The first thing I asked Walter was, 'Do you want to win, and do you want to put money in?' He said, 'Absolutely.'

"Both guys are about building a winner and making a difference in the L.A. community."

That Johnson has his money lined up puts him, for now, ahead of several potential bidders, including former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley.

Kasten, one of baseball's power brokers, has been rumored as a candidate for commissioner upon the eventual retirement of Bud Selig.

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Dodgers Web musings: The post-Matt Kemp loses MVP edition

Kemp3

Did they get it right or was it a mindbogglingly dumb decision?

Nothing like a controversial MVP vote to get everyone’s baseball juices going in late November.

The Baseball Writers Assn. of America gave its National League MVP award to Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun and not the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp on Tuesday, which was exactly as it should be, or the worst decision since somebody decided, "Hey, how about a remake of Conan the Barbarian!"

The various opinions came fast and heavy:

-- The Times’ Bill Plaschke said Kemp not winning the award was plain robbery and writers should have given more weight to Braun having Prince Fielder hit behind him.

-- Fox Sports’ Tracy Ringolsby said the writers got it exactly correct and is confused why some can’t correlate valuable to winning.

-- Sports Illustrated’s Cliff Corcoran said the voting defies logic and that the BBWAA has a long way to go.

-- CBS Sports’ Danny Kobler said it was a tough call but extra points have to be awarded to Braun for affecting a pennant race.

-- CBS Sports’ Matt Snyder said not so fast, most valuable should equate to most outstanding player.

-- ESPN’s Christina Kahrl said writers are showing signs of utilizing sabermetrics, but not nearly enough.

-- Whereas ESPN’s Dan Szymborski (Insider status required) thinks writers are embracing the new stats.

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Dodgers Web musings: Don Mattingly doubts big bat is coming

Don3Say this for Don Mattingly: He usually does not try to snow you. He might, understandably, favor the company line, but he is a straight shooter.

That was on display again this week during a radio interview with 710 AM's "Mason and Ireland," when Mattingly first stated the obvious -– that the Dodgers most need an impact bat -- but then acknowledged he was not counting on that happening.

"I can't say I'm confident that we're going to be able to do it," he said. "We've talked about different things. ... You hear Prince [Fielder], you hear Albert [Pujols]. Those are nice thoughts; there's a lot of teams talking about those type of guys ... but you got to have a Plan B, a Plan C. How do we put offense together if we can't do something like that? That's the biggest thing.

"And obviously, I don't know where we're going to be as far as what we're going to be able to do. Are we going to go backward with the budget, are we going to go forward? ... It's hard to know right now."

Got that right. Hard to know the budget when you can’t be sure who will own the team come next spring.

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Dodgers Web musings: Shot still heard 'round the world

Dodgers-blog_640 So you’ve heard/read about it a zillion times, there’s a great retelling of the infamous -– at least in Dodgers’ lore -– playoff home run by Bobby Thomson against the Brooklyn Dodgers that sent the New York Giants into the World Series.

Where you should always mention, the Giants fell, 4-2, to the Yankees.

But the historic ninth-inning blast in the final playoff game against the Dodgers is caught in terrific detail by Michael Bohn for the Boston Herald. Saturday was the 60thanniversary of Thomson’s blast off Ralph Branca.

Also on the Web:

-- Tony Jackson at ESPN/LA is asking you to be the GM and vote on retaining each individual Dodger, plus management. Jackson offers his own thoughts on each.

-- Brandon Lennox at TrueBlueLA offers a preview of this year’s crop of Dodgers who will be participating in the Arizona Fall League. Last year’s cast included Javy Guerra, Jerry Sands and Scott Elbert.

-- The Daily Breeze’s Joe Haakenson offers a postseason report card of the Dodgers at each position.

-- ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson writes it’s looking grim for Frank McCourt’s never-ending battle against MLB.

-- The Dodgers have nominated Matt Kemp for the 2011 Hank Aaron Award that goes to best offensive player in each league. This one he should get.

-- The Times’ Bill Plaschke thinks the Dodgers should pony up big time and sign Kemp to a long-term deal this winter.

-- The Dodgers have made it official and announced a three-year contract with KLAC-AM (570) as their primary radio home starting next season.

-- [Update: TrueBlueLA's Eric Stephen has the contract status of each layer on the Dodgers' 40-man roster.]

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Ralph Branca, left, and Bobby Thomson in 2000. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Dodgers web musings: The Clayton Kershaw lovefest

Clayton3 Love is everywhere for Clayton Kershaw after he won his 20th game Tuesday against his favorite patsies, the San Francisco Giants.

Kershaw improved to 5-0 this season against the Giants.

Wrote the San Francisco Chronicle’s Henry Schulman: "If Clayton Kershaw wins the Cy Young Award, he might ask the trophy manufacturers to add an engraving of his foot standing on a Giant's throat."

The race for this year’s National League Cy Young Award figures to be a close with Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies, but after Kershaw’s victory left him a threat to win the pitching triple crown (he is tied in wins and leads in strikeouts and earned-run average), the needle seemed tilted his way.

The Times’ Dylan Hernandez describes Wednesday’s victory, as others chime in with flowers at Kershaw’s feet:

-- Tim Lincecum, who has been on the wrong side of his matchups with Kershaw four times this season, tells the San Jose Mercury News’ Andrew Baggarly theDodgers’ left-hander should "definitely" win the Cy Young: "You think, 'Hey, I did my job the best I could today, and he was just better.' Which is tough to say."

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Check that: Now Dodgers-Nationals game is back on [Updated: Now it's off again]

Dodgers-rain_600

When is a rainout not a rainout?

When Joe Torre says so.

Yep, that rained-out game today in Washington between the Dodgers and Nationals is back on. I say that with all the conviction of a teenage boy calling up a girl on the phone for the first time.

Anyway, it’s not officially rained out. Which means the Dodgers will have to wrestle up their players, or at least enough of them to play a game, should it now go off.

[Updated at 3 p.m.: Wait, check that again, MLB just officially postponed the game again.]

This day was just more proof that this has been a season to remember, all the way around.

The Nationals and Dodgers had agreed to the rainout at 10:37 a.m. PDT Wednesday, announced it and scheduled a doubleheader for Thursday. Then Major League Baseball said: No so fast.

Because this is the Dodgers’ last trip on the East Coast this year, and there is a 70% chance of showers again Thursday, MLB wants them to try everything to get Wednesday’s game in.

Torre, the ex-Dodgers manager who is now a MLB executive, called Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo Wednesday afternoon to let him to try to play.

The gates at Nationals Park were re-opened. The Dodgers were back at the team hotel trying to get their team together. When the rainout was announced, several took off to points unknown, thinking they had the day off.

Turns out they did, after all.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: A member of the grounds crew pulls the tarp over home plate on Tuesday night during a rain delay. On Thursday, the game was eventually postponed. Credit: Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

Dodgers web musings: Reaction to the commie invasion

Good news! No word today of any offers for the Dodgers from former KGB leaders, Kim Il Sung Inc. or the Illuminati.

Kinda makes you all warm inside, huh?

Yep, one day after The Times’ Bill Shaikin wrote of a local businessman, backed with funds from the People’s Republic of China,  making a record offer of $1.2 billion for the Dodgers, people are still trying to make sense of it.

Major League Baseball apparently was not too impressed, but then there is probably precious little involving Frank McCourt that would impress them these days, save for his announcing he is officially putting the team up for sale to the highest bidder.

That 21-day window in the offer makes it seem all but impossible, anyway, and Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan views the messy ongoing struggles of the Dodgers and Mets as teams united by greed, "excess, profiteering, power -- the usual ills that come with entities worth billions of dollars and the people who live in the netherworld that rewards their pursuit."

Coming next, a bid from the legion of the dead!

Harold Meyerson in The Times writes that if the deal with the Chinese were to actually go through, the Dodgers would become the  "very symbol of the decline of American capitalism." Like McCourt doesn’t have enough to worry about.

Paul Oberjuerge wrote he’s so fed up with McCourt that "As long as they don’t sell 'The Book of Mao' at the concession stands and brutally crack down on fans who boo the club … we’d be good!' "

And then in a video (sort of), Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi said the Dodgers' ownership mess is taking so much of MLB’s attention it is holding up the progress of the Astros' sale.

   

Non-communist Dodgers’ news on the Web:

-- The Times’ Dylan Hernandez says that not only is Casey Blake headed for season-ending surgery, but Juan Uribe likely is too.

-- Mike Petriello fantasizes over Uribe just staying away at MikeSciosciasTragicIllness.

-- Hernandez also credits rookie Dee Gordon with sparking the Dodgers victory Thursday in his return from the disabled list.

-- The Times’ Bill Plaschke thinks Matt Kemp is the National League MVP and Clayton Kershaw its Cy Young winner. Hold tight, still a month to go.

-- Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman, however, said voters put emphasis on "valuable" and only lists Kemp as his fifth-leading candidate, while tabbing Kershaw at No. 1.

-- The McCourts have actually sold one of their seven homes.

-- Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins compares two stars reacting very differently to the crossroads in their careers, the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier and the Padres’ Heath Bell.

-- ESPN/LA’s Tony Jackson looks at Jamey Carroll after the Dodgers failed to move him at the trading deadline.

-- Fox Sports’ Joe McDonnell thinks Juan Rivera is building a case to return next season.

-- The Register’s Howard Cole tries to find worse baseball things than Eugenio Velez’ 0-for-30 start to his career as a Dodger.

-- And for those of you who enjoy videos of old Dodgers, here’s one of Don Drysdale in a Vitalis commercial that also features ex-Giants manager Herman Franks.

  

 -- Steve Dilbeck

The bad days all run together for Frank McCourt

Frank When do you think was the last time Frank McCourt had a really good day?

Pretty sure Baseball Reference doesn’t keep a stat for most consecutive crappy days by a major league team owner, but if it did McCourt would be its Cal Ripken Jr.

The list of those lining up against McCourt stretch from here to the Atlantic, which is where it all began for him. McCourt thought he had problems with the locals in Boston, but he was treated like John Adams compared to what’s going on in Los Angeles.

In Boston, that parking lot he leveraged to buy the Dodgers and then lost to Fox is poised for a $3-billion redevelopment. It seems he at least had the right general idea.

In Los Angeles, it’s a bad day followed by a worse one.

He is involved in court action against his ex-wife, his ex-attorneys and the family of Bryan Stow, with Commissioner Bud Selig still to come. He has taken the Dodgers into bankruptcy. He has been investigated by the state attorney general. He is rumored to be investigated by the IRS. Dodger Stadium attendance has become an embarrassment. He is broke and no one will loan him a dime, save for a hedge fund that gets a nifty $5.25 million up front.

Oh yeah, and the team is 48-59 and was trying to sell veterans at the trading deadline for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Most fans, politicians, media, judges, MLB officials, creditors and Chavez Ravine critters are against him.

And now it turns out, so are his fellow owners. Or at least according to the Oakland Athletics' Lew Wolff, who Sunday became the first owner to publicly ask McCourt to sell the team.

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Dodgers Web musings: The all-Frank McCourt and bankruptcy edition (videos)

And before getting underway, I don’t want to scare you or anything, but the Los Angeles Times' parent company, the Tribune Co., filed for bankruptcy in December 2008, and it’s still in court.

-- The Times’ Michael Oneal, Carol J. Williams and Kim Christensen review Tuesday’s results, and experts claim that Frank McCourt may be in a better position than we would like.

-- The Times’ Bill Shaikin and Oneal write that Major League Baseball may ask the court to strip McCourt of team control during bankruptcy proceedings.

-- The Times’ Tim Rutten writes, "If litigation were a competitive sport, Frank McCourt would have a trophy case filled with silver."

-- The Times’ Bill Plaschke says McCourt has ignored his strongest base, season-ticket holders.

-- Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown said MLB was happy with Tuesday’s results.

-- ESPN’s Jayson Stark writes the Dodgers have gone from an elite franchise to a bad reality show.

-- ESPN’s J.A. Adande said people desperately want McCourt out, but there's no guarantee the next owner will be an improvement.

-- In a video, ESPN’s Buster Olney -- who calls the Dodgers’ bankruptcy one of the 10 most embarrassing moments in MLB history -- says it could take four or more years for the Dodgers to recover from the McCourt fiasco to become competitive again.
 

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