Dodgers Now

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Category: Jerry Sands

Meet the new Dodgers, same as the old Dodgers?

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Hope you really, really believe in that Dodgers team that finished the 2011 season on a nice roll.

Because the more I think about, the more I expect it to return largely unchanged.

That wouldn’t be much of a stretch given the bankrupt Dodgers’ ever-uncertain ownership situation. Hard to spend a significant amount of money when you don’t have much and it's not clear who can spend it.

But the more closely you look at a lengthy interview that General Manager Ned Colletti gave to ESPN's Jim Bowden, the more it looks like you’d best get out the 2012 welcome mat for the 2011 Dodgers.

Yeah, he wants to add an impact bat. So do about 29 other teams. Yet despite how much sense it makes, no one really expects the team in the second-largest market in the country to make a serious run at either Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols. After that, a serious drop-off. Hey, he could always sign Carlos Beltran. He’s an ex-Giant and everything!

Not signing a free agent leaves trading for a big bat, and the Dodgers have precious little to offer in return. Unless, you know, you want to unload this Clayton Kershaw kid.

So the odds are exceedingly poor that a bat of significance will be brought in, and then there are Colletti’s comments to Bowden where he pretty much has everyone coming back from 2010 save for catcher Rod Barajas.

Which means you’d best get ready for this sales pitch: The Dodgers will significantly upgrade their lineup simply by adding a healthy Juan Uribe and Andre Ethier to it.

Ooooh, when do pitchers and catchers report again?

Assuming health for Uribe (sports hernia surgery) and Ethier (minor knee surgery), and the return of James Loney at first, the Dodgers’ lineup holes would be at second, left and catcher.

And Colletti flat out said, "Behind the plate, we'll probably let Tim Federowicz and A.J. Ellis handle the duties." He also said: "We need to figure out left field as well, but we're leaning towards Jerry Sands, especially after the way he finished this season with us." At second base he noted that Jamey Carroll and Aaron Miles were free agents and said: "Right now we have the two young players in [Justin] Sellers and Ivan DeJesus that we might let compete for that job next year."

Believe that last one if you feel so inclined, but the Dodgers GM –- as he needs to –- clearly has his Plan B in place if he's unable to acquire a big bat.

The same ol' even extends to the rotation, where Colletti at least sounds hopeful that Hiroki Kuroda will re-sign, citing the fact that Kuroda bought a home here and his children go to school here. That would leave a familiar rotation of Kershaw, Kuroda, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly and Nathan Eovaldi.

The bullpen evolved into a young strength, though Colletti would like to add another veteran.

Sounds remarkably like your 2011 Dodgers. The Dodgers were 25-10 in the last five-plus weeks of the season. That's encouraging, but the season is six months long. Keeping that group mostly intact places a lot of hope on a team that excelled for five weeks.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Juan Rivera, who might be returning to play left field, is congratulated by first baseman James Loney after bringing in Andre Ethier, left, and Matt Kemp with a three-run home run against the Phillies on Aug. 10 at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Before Dodgers' off-season plans unfold, first domino must fall

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Oh, oh, domino … I think it’s time for a change.

Ah, yes, but change where? So many decisions. So many that are interwoven.

Do the Dodgers tender James Loney? Try to bring back Juan Rivera? Tony Gwynn Jr.? Keep Jerry Sands?

It all has to start somewhere. And take a wild guess what has to be the first domino to fall?

Prince Fielder?

That’s right, kiddies, if you truly believe the Dodgers are going to make a run at Fielder or Albert Pujols, that piece needs to be in place before the Dodgers can make plans elsewhere. Which is just one more reason why you should doubt they’re seriously going after either one of the big first basemen.

Continue reading »

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

Kuroda shines, but Roberts' slam wins it in 10th for Arizona

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If that was goodbye, Hiroki Kuroda made it memorable. Then Ryan Roberts added his own memory.

Kuroda will become a free agent at the end of the season, and at age 36, has said he’s uncertain whether he wants to pitch in the majors again next year or return for a final season to Japan.

When Kuroda took the mound Tuesday against the Diamondbacks, everyone knew it might be his final performance as a Dodger. So all he did was go out and throw six scoreless innings, holding Arizona to five hits. While not walking a batter and striking out five. It was Kuroda at his best.

Just so the humble Kuroda didn’t think anything had changed, the Dodgers typically offered modest support, scoring  only one run for him. They finally pushed five across in the 10th, only to see the Diamondbacks come back with six of their own in the bottom of the inning, Roberts' walk-off grand slam leaving Arizona with a stunning 7-6 victory.

Kuroda completed his fourth season with a 13-16 record and a 3.07 earned-run average -– ninth lowest in the National League.

Continue reading »

Matt Kemp going out in style, hits 38th homer in 4-2 victory

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If one significant opportunity has slipped away for Matt Kemp during the season’s final days, that doesn’t mean he’s given up on another.

Kemp’s spectacular season flirted down the stretch with a triple crown, but the past couple of days the batting title has drifted out of reach.

Yet with two games left in the season, Kemp still has an outside shot at a highly exclusive club -- 40 stolen bases and 40 home runs.

Kemp hit the 40 stolen-base mark over a week ago and on Monday hit his 38th home run to lead the Dodgers to a 4-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix.

Only four players in baseball history –- Jose Canseco (A’s, 1988), Barry Bonds (Giants, ’96), Alex Rodriguez (Mariners, ’98) and Alfonso Soriano (Nationals, ’06) –- are in the 40-40 club.

Kemp’s monster three-run blast in the first inning left him needing two homers in the final two days. Tough duty, but last season he hit home runs in each of his final five games.

The home run broke his tie with Cardinal Albert Pujols for the National League lead, and pushed his No. 1 RBI total to 123 –- fourth highest in Los Angeles Dodgers history. Still ahead: No. 1 Tommy Davis, 153 (1962) Shawn Green, 125 (’01); Mike Piazza 124 (’97).

Kemp went one for four on the night, dropping his batting average to .324. Mets shortstop Jose Reyes went three for four to push his average to .333962, slightly ahead of Brewer Ryan Braun at .333032.

The victory left the Dodgers 81-78, the first time all season they've been three games over .500, and assured them a winning record this season.

The Dodgers got 5 2/3 scoreless innings from left-hander Dana Eveland, who earned the victory to raise his record to 3-2. The journeyman called up in September retired 14 of his first 15 batters. He allowed five hits, did not walk a batter, struck out five and lowered his earned-run average to 3.03.

Eveland left with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth, but Josh Lindblom came on to strike out Paul Goldschmidt.

The Diamondbacks scored their two runs without a hit in the eighth after rookie Nathan Eovaldi walked the bases loaded. Scott Elbert relieved, but an A.J. Ellis passed ball allowed arun to score. After Elbert walked the bases loaded again, reliever Mike MacDougal came on and walked in another run.

Despite some shaky defense by shortstop Dee Gordon, rookie right-hander Javy Guerra pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 21st save in 22 opportunities.

Jerry Sands singed in the eighth, extending his hitting streak to 14 games.

MORE:

Dodgers-Diamondbacks box score

--Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp is congratulated by teammates Jerry Sands and Dee Gordon after hitting a three-run home run in the first inning Monday night at Arizona. Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand / US Presswire

Jerry Sands and Dee Gordon, meanwhile, finishing on high note

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Lost amid Matt Kemp’s pursuit of the hitting triple crown and Clayton Kershaw’s pitching triple crown, is a nice finishing surge by a pair of rookies.

Jerry Sands has a 12-game hitting streak, and Dee Gordon is only one behind him. And they’re reaching some noteworthy company.

Longest hitting streaks, L.A. Dodgers rookies:

1. 20 - Tommy Davis                          July 30-Aug. 20, 1960

2. 18 - Bill Sudakis                             July 31-Aug. 19, 1969

T-3. 16 - Andre Ethier                        July 26-Aug. 12, 2006

T-3. 16 - Steve Sax                            June 11-27, 1982

T-5. 14 - Raul Mondesi                       May 8-22, 1994

T-5. 14 - Raul Mondesi                       May 25-June 10, 1994

T-5. 14 - Mike Marshall                      July 22-Aug. 4, 1983             

8. 13 - Willy Aybar                             May 26-June 7, 2006

T-9. 12 - Mike Piazza                         Sept. 21-Oct. 3, 1993

T-9. 12 - Bob Lillis                             Sept. 12-26, 1958

T-9. 12 - Jerry Sands                         Sept. 12, 2011-current

The Dodgers have only four games left to their season, so even if Sands continues gets a hit in every game, the best he can finish on the list is tied for third.

Still, Sands is 12 for 46 (.435) in his streak, raising a batting average that was at .187 before it began to its current .330.

Gordon is 18 for 45 (.400) during his 11-game streak, raising his average to .298.

MORE:

Dodgers' minor league report

Why spend a Princely sum when a pauper will do?

Matt Kemp takes his show on the road in Dodgers' 2-0 win

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon puts the ball in play during a game against the Giants last week at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / US Presswire

Clayton Kershaw earns 20th win; outduels Tim Lincecum again, 2-1

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The four pitching duels between Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum have been everything advertised this season – everything, aside from being one-sided.

Kershaw did it again Tuesday, winning his fourth close game in as many starts against Lincecum this season and edging the Giants, 2-1, to end San Francisco’s eight-game winning streak and become the Dodgers’ first 20-game winner in 21 years.

Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young Award winner, once again pitched extremely well against the Dodgers. In his four starts against the Dodgers this season, he has a 1.83 earned-run average. Also, he’s 0-3.

As good as Lincecum was, however, Kershaw was once again just a tad better.

Kershaw pitched 7 1/3 innings, holding the Giants to one run, six hits and two walks. He struck out six to increase his National League-leading total to 242.

Kershaw became the first Dodger to win 20 games since Ramon Martinez did it in 1990.

Continue reading »

Dodgers Web musings: Mulling Clayton Kershaw's young greatness

Clayton3 These Clayton Kershaw-Tim Lincecum matchups are turning into some of the best games of the season.

They’ll go at it for a fourth time Tuesday night, Kershaw having won each previous encounter by one run (2-1, 1-0, 2-1).

The Times’ Dylan Hernandez takes a look at the Cy Young chances of Kershaw and how those once-ludicrous comparisons to Sandy Koufax aren’t looking quite so ludicrous these days.

All  on the Web:

-- The Daily News' Curtis Zupke also looks at Kershaw and his growing will to win.

-- ESPN/LA’s Jon Weisman writes that the great finish by Cliff Lee has only tightened a superb four-way Cy Young race.

-- Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson, no surprise, thinks Ian Kennedy is deserving of the award.

-- Dodgers.com's Ken Gurnick writes that Matt Kemp and other Dodgers are on board with signing Prince Fielder, and that James Loney would be willing to move to right field it it happened.

-- Chad Moriyama takes a long and detailed look at Loney, and conflicted as he may be, comes away with what for him is a fairly shocking conclusion.

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Dodgers get offensive in 15-1 rout of Pirates

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Really, those were your 2011 Los Angeles Dodgers. A regular offensive juggernaut. A barely containable force of human explosiveness.

The Dodgers scored early and often Sunday. They scored via home runs, singles, doubles and botched defensive plays. Scored by walking with the bases loaded, by collecting six singles in an inning.

By the time it was over, they had 23 hits and had rolled over the Pirates, 15-1, before an announced crowd of 37,802 and returned to the .500 mark at 76-76.

Every starter had at least one hit, and James Loney continued his hot streak by collecting a career-high five.

There were gaudy numbers for the Dodgers everywhere. In addition to Loney, Juan Rivera went three for four, scored three runs and drove in four; Jerry Sands went four for six and drove in four runs; and Matt Kemp went three for four with three runs, two RBIs and left the game to chants of "MVP!"

And then there was Dee Gordon collecting three hits and scoring three times.

Kemp hit his 34th home run and Sands his third.

There was so much magical hitting in the air, you almost thought Eugenio Velez might actually get into the action. Alas, he flied out, leaving him an amazing 0 for 33 this season.

The Dodgers tied their season high for runs, matching their output in a 15-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins on June 27.

The winning pitcher that day was Chad Billingsley, and he was again Sunday. He will not be suing for lack of support.

Continue reading »

Do you believe in Jerry Sands?

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Not 100% certain yet? Guess what, you’ve got 10 games left to make up your mind. Just like the Dodgers.

The Dodgers need to go into the off-season either feeling good about giving a regular spot in the lineup to Jerry Sands next year or determining he needs more time at triple-A. One way or another, they have to make up their minds.

It’s not much time to make a fairly significant decision. And though it’s hardly binding, they have to have a plan. They’re not going to learn any more about his readiness in the winter.

Sands was their organizational minor league player of the year last season, one of their few prospects with power. But he struggled in his first stint up this season, batting .200 with just two homers and 17 RBI in 125 at-bats and was returned to triple-A to work on a new hitting stance.

Then when he first returned in September, he started 1 for 14.

Since then, however, Sands has turned it around. In the first six games of the Dodgers’ current homestand he is 11 for 21.

"He looks like he’s getting more comfortable," said Manager Don Mattingly. "I was just talking to him today and he feels like he’s settling down, and everything is slowing down a little bit. Hopefully we just kind of watch the rest of the season and the Jerry we feel like is there, we’re going to see a lot more of it."

Knowing the Dodgers have to make a decision on him, Mattingly has been playing Sands every day since he joined the team Sept. 8.

"I’m getting comfortable in the box, and the hits definitely bring confidence," Sands said.

Sands will turn 24 on Sept. 28, so it’s not like it’s now or never for him. But in terms of making plans for next season, the clock is ticking.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Rookies Justin Sellers and Jerry Sands high-five after a 6-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Dodger Stadium last week. Credit: Jeff Gross / Getty Images

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