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Category: Scott Elbert

Dodgers Web musings: 2012 team is not wowing followers

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It seems Ned Colletti’s off-season maneuverings aren’t exactly converting the skeptics. Guess a $90-million payroll just doesn’t buy what it once did.

So the team that returns the National League Cy Young Award winner and MVP runner-up is not exactly getting a lot of off-season media love. Of course, they did have Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp last season and all it netted them was an 82-79 record.

Know those power rankings that are still the rage in professional sports? In the early results, the Dodgers are not faring well. Not even as good as last year’s squad.

Sports Illustrated’s Joe Lemire ranks the Dodgers’ baseball’s 18th-best team. That’s actually down four spots from where he had them finish last year. Arizona is listed at No. 11 and San Francisco at No. 15.

Earlier, Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown ranked the Dodgers 19th.

I don’t put much stake in these rankings, particularly at this time of the year, but it does indicate how the Dodgers are being perceived nationally.

Also on the Web:

--Bloomberg Businessweek’s Roben Farzad has a lengthy overview of the Dodgers’ sale.

“It’s a sports-business circus here,” said David Carter, executive director of the Sports Business Institute at USC.

Farzad claims the three current favorites in the bidding are the Rick Caruso-Joe Torre group, the Magic Johnson-Stan Kasten group and Steven Cohen.

--Hall of Fame baseball writer Ross Newhan doesn’t think South Korean conglomerate E-Land's financial backing of Peter O’Malley should negatively affect his bid.

Wrote Newhan: “No one has the ability to put the organization back together faster than the former owner.”

--Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall said he was staying with the team despite overtures from potential owners wanting him to run the Dodgers should their bids succeed. But, really, what else is he going to say?

--Dodgers.com’s Ken Gurnick said the Dodgers were thrilled with the results of their "young guns" mini-camp in Arizona. Also joining the prospects were Chris Capuano, Javy Guerra, Kenley Jansen and Scott Elbert.

--The Dodgers and White Sox have scheduled a spring game March 23 in Tucson to benefit the Christina-Taylor Green Foundation.

--Jamey Carroll tells MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger he’s ready to be the Twins’ everyday shortstop.

--The Red Sox are hoping right-hander Vicente Padilla arrives to camp on time after a report in Nicaragua he may not be able to leave that country over a failure to pay child support.

--The Dodgers have released a copy of the Dodger Stadium 50th anniversary logo, sponsored by State Farm. The Times’ Dylan Hernandez wonders if it includes a discount on fire insurance.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw and slugging center fielder Matt Kemp celebrate after Kershaw's shutout against the Detroit Tigers last summer at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images / June 20, 2011

Really, it's OK: Dodgers re-sign reliever Mike MacDougal

Mike-macdougal_300The Dodgers have re-signed reliever Mike MacDougal to a one-year deal for $650,000 with an option for 2013, and don’t go and get your I-just-sucked-a-lemon face on.

MacDougal proved a very useful, mostly reliable setup man in 2011. And that rare Dodgers veteran who remained healthy all season.

The popular refrain about MacDougal from last season is how horribly deceptive his 2.04 ERA was because he was truly so abysmal in preventing inherited runners from scoring. Which isn’t completely true, at least in terms of inherited runners.

Which is not to say it was sterling, but neither was it as horrific as memory tries to serve. MacDougal allowed 33.3% of his inherited runners to score, slightly above the 30.0% league average.

Few relievers, however, inherited more runners – 51, sixth highest in the National League – so when 17 came home, it still seemed like a lot. On the season with runners in scoring position, batters hit just .157 against MacDougal.

And since the Dodgers’ bullpen is loaded with youth – Kenley Jansen, Javy Guerra, Scott Elbert, Josh Lindblom – they could use another veteran along with Matt Guerrier and Blake Hawksworth.

MacDougal was a non-roster invitee last season, so anything positive the team received from him was something of a bonus. He came relatively cheaply at $500,000.

Having somewhat rebuilt his career, he no doubt was looking for a bump. The club opiton for next season is $2.35 million with a $350,000 buyout, meaning his one-year deal will really earn him $1 million next season, which sadly seems the norm these days. It at least beats the two-year deals being thrown around this winter. And right now it's hard to believe the Dodgers would pick up the option at that price.

MacDougal is mostly a middle-innings eater, who despite that glossy ERA still had a fairly fat 1.46 WHIP. He’ll turn 35 in two months and his best days clearly are behind him, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a role for him in 2012. Sure beats Ramon Troncosco.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers reliever Mike MacDougal is congratulated by catcher Dioner Navarro after a victory over the White Sox in an interleague game last season. Credit: Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press

Dodgers take minor-league flier on John Grabow

As the winter turns chilly and the Dodgers nestle in with an already remarkably set roster for the final two months before the season starts, I'm afraid this qualifies as news.

On Monday, they signed veteran left-handed reliever John Grabow to a minor-league contract with an invite to their major-league camp.

And the excitement just keeps on coming.

Grabow, 33, is from San Gabriel High School and spent his past 2½ seasons in the Cubs' bullpen, where he was less than impressive. He is, of course, left-handed, and left-handed relievers almost need stakes to the heart to end their careers.

Last season, the light-throwing Grabow appeared in 58 games for the Cubs, going 2-1 with a 4.76 ERA and a fat 1.52 WHIP, which was actually remarkable improvement over his 2010 WHIP of 1.87.

Did I mention he was left-handed? And the Dodgers currently have only one real lefty in their bullpen, Scott Elbert --  unless they bring back Hong-Chih Kuo -– so it's not like it's some horrible move. Just, hopefully, a very minor one.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Daily Dodger in review: The real Scott Elbert arrives

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SCOTT ELBERT, 26, reliever.

Final 2011 stats: 0-1, 2.43 ERA, two saves, 1.23 WHIP, 9.2 strikeouts and 3.8 walks per nine innings in 47 games.

Contract status: Under team control.

The good: From the great unknown, to pretty decent, to very good, it was an interesting ride in 2011 for Elbert. Which considering where he was coming from, made for an excellent season.

Elbert came up for one game in 2010, pitched poorly, was immediately sent back to triple-A Albuquerque and then soon disappeared. He was given permission to leave the club for personal reasons, never fully explained, though he later alluded to the pressure of being a No.1 draft pick and young husband and father of two.

He started last season in the minors but was called up May 11, ironically, when Hong-Chih Kuo was put on the disabled list because of an anxiety disorder. He never returned to the minors. Elbert had a couple of rough moments in the first half, but found his footing and turned in a terrific second half (0.84 ERA). Overall, he held left-handers to a .191 batting average and .250 slugging percentage.

The bad: On July 4, his ERA was 5.73, though most of the damage had come in three outings. He gave up an earned run in only twice more in his next 28 games.

What’s next: He is out of options, so he is assured of a place on next year’s roster.

The take: You have to feel happy for Elbert, who was able to put rough call-ups the previous three seasons (6.84 ERA) behind him and finally stick.

He did it as a reliever, which wasn’t the original plan, but now seems to suit him. I’m sure he’d hope his rise from a 2004 No.1 draft pick to the major leagues would have been more along the meteoric Clayton Kershaw path, but he is in the big leagues now and seems to have put past wildness and troubles behind him.

The Dodgers best hope so, because with Kuo’s status uncertain, Elbert could be the only left-hander in the bullpen.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Scott Elbert. Credit: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images.

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

For Dodgers, the kids were a lot better than all right

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There’s youth served and youth force fed.

Sometimes the play of a kid is just so exciting it demands that he be called up. And sometimes, bodies are just falling everywhere and a team has little choice but to reach into its system, give ’em a push and let go of the bicycle.

Outside of the play of their big two –- Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp -– the most encouraging aspect to the Dodgers’ improved performance over the final two months was the play of their kids. Lots and lots of kids, and almost every one responded. And most at a level the team had little right to anticipate.

None were really in their plans for 2011. Position players Jerry Sands and Dee Gordon and right-hander Rubby De La Rosa were scheduled to be September call-ups. The rest were still deep in the development stage.

Then injuries hit the Dodgers unusually hard, though it wasn’t exactly totally unexpected given the age of their roster. Down went Casey Blake, Jon Garland, Jay Gibbons, Dioner Navarro, Vicente Padilla (all before opening day), Hector Jimenez (remember him?), Rafael Furcal, Hong-Chih Kuo, Marcus Thames, Jonathan Broxton, Blake Hawksworth, Kenley Jansen, Rod Barajas, Juan Uribe and Andre Ethier. Some made repeat visits to the disabled list. Some never came back.

All of which created opportunity. At least the Dodgers were willing to give the kids a chance, rather than signing or trading for some tired journeyman. They get points for that. And the Dodgers were delighted with how most responded:

-- Jerry Sands: The lone power prospect, he struggled during his first call up in (.200 average, .622 on-base plus slugging percentage) but was a different hitter in September (.342, .908). He hit in 15 of his last 16 games (.407, 1.063). Could start next season back in triple-A or in the starting lineup.

-- Dee Gordon: There are still real concerns about his defense, but he figures to be their starting shortstop next season. The final month of the season, he hit in 21 of 26 games (.372) and stole 12 bases. There will be growing pains, but an exciting talent.

-- Justin Sellers: Struggled at the plate (.203), but can play three infield positions and is a heady player. If Jamey Carroll doesn’t return, option as a utility infielder.

-- Javy Guerra: The surprise of the season. Guerra only figured to be up a couple weeks while Hawksworth was on the DL, but he was pitching so well he stuck and by early July had become the Dodgers’ unexpected closer. Saved 21 games in 23 opportunities.

-- Kenley Jansen: You’d pay to see him pitch. After he came back from a sore shoulder, he was almost unhittable. In his last 31 games, had a 0.55 ERA. Set an MLB record of 16.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

-- Josh Lindblom: The former second-round draft pick seems to have found himself as a reliever. Had a 2.73 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 27 games.

-- Rubby De La Rosa: The hard-throwing right-hander was looking like a rotation find for years to come, before injuring his elbow and undergoing Tommy John surgery. He could return next summer, though initially as a reliever.

-- Scott Elbert: Not a rookie, but after a frustrating few seasons finally appeared comfortable as the left-handed reliever (2.43 ERA, 1.23 WHIP).

-- Nathan Eovaldi: Another called up largely out of desperation, but in six starts had a 3.09 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. Penciled in as a starter.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dee Gordon, next year's starting shortstop, has been a pleasant surprise. Credit: Christian Peterson/Getty.

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.

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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

Dodgers tab Scott Van Slyke, Shawn Tolleson minor players of year

Scott-van-slyke_325 It might be minor, but the results can often prove major.

The Dodgers selected infielder/outfielder Scott Van Slyke (pictured at right) their minor league players of the year and Shawn Tolleson their minor league pitcher of the year on Thursday.

The Dodgers dipped into double-A Chattanooga to tap Van Slyke and Tolleson, who also split his season with a pair of Class-A teams.

That might seem as if the Dodgers are going deep into the system to find their Branch Rickey award winners, but the Dodgers haven’t been shy about tabbing young players in the past.

Last year’s winners were Jerry Sands and Rubby De La Rosa, who had split time between Class A and double A that season, and both made it to the Dodgers this year.

Van Slyke, son of former major leaguer Andy Van Slyke, spent all season at Chattanooga, winning the Southern League batting title with a .348 average. He had 20 home runs, 92 RBIs and 159 hits in 457 at-bats.

The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Van Slyke, 25, completed his seventh season in the Dodgers organization, but Tolleson was appearing in only his second.

A right-handed reliever, Tolleson went a combined 7-2 with 25 saves and a 1.17 earned-run average. He averaged 13.7 strikeouts per nine innings. He started the season at Class-A Great Lakes, was briefly assigned to high Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, before being promoted to Chattanooga.

Tolleson, 23, was a 30th-round selection in the 2010 draft; Van Slyke was taken in the 14th round in 2005.

Previous player-of-the-year winners include Dee Gordon, James Loney, Paul Konerko, Mike Piazza and Eric Karros, and previous pitcher-of-the-year winners include Scott Elbert, Chad Billingsley, Eric Gagne and Pedro Martinez.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Dodgers burn out against Diamondbacks, fall 7-2

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Hot met hotter, which for the Dodgers, was bad news.

There is only one team that has been on more of a tear recently than the Dodgers, if slightly, and that is the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Diamondbacks have been baseball’s surprise team this year, and they gave the Dodgers a first-hand look at why Monday night in their 7-2 victory before an announced crowd of 30,616 at Dodger Stadium.

The Diamondbacks used a five-run sixth inning to overcome the early dominance of Ted Lilly and maintain their 8½-game lead over the Giants in the National League West.

The Dodgers entered the three-game series having won 15 of their last 19 games. All while losing a game in the standings to Kirk Gibson’s Diamondbacks, who had won 16 of 19.

And it started promisingly enough Monday for the Dodgers when Matt Kemp hit a solo homer off Joe Saunders in the first inning and then Lilly held the Diamondbacks without a hit through four innings. The home run was No.33 for Kemp this season.

But the Dodgers never could get anything else going against Saunders (11-12), whom they had already beaten three times this season. Saunders retired 13 consecutive Dodgers at one point.

Meanwhile, Lilly was cruising along with his 1-0 lead until seeming to hit a wall in the sixth inning. Willie Bloomquist blooped a single and scored on an Aaron Hill double that was bobbled by left fielder Jerry Sands. After an intentional walk to Justin Upton, Miguel Montero fouled out.

Hill stole third, and with a 1-1 count on Paul Goldschmidt, Manager Don Mattingly had apparently seen enough, removed Lilly (9-14) and called on reliever Matt Guerrier. Lilly had thrown 101 pitches.

Goldschmidt lined Guerrier’s first pitch for a single to score Hill. A walk to Chris Young loaded the bases and a Ryan Roberts hit scored one more and brought the call to left-hander Scott Elbert, who was greeted by a two-run single from Gerardo Parra.

The Diamondbacks were up, 5-1, which was all the lead they were going to need.

The Dodgers got one back in the seventh inning on a walk to Aaron Miles, a wild pitch and a Sands single, but Arizona scored two more in the eighth inning on a double by Para.

The Diamondbacks’ record went to a stunning 86-62 with the victory, the Dodgers falling to 72-74 with the loss.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp watches his 33rd home run of the season during the first inning of a game against the Diamondbacks on Monday night at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Chris Carlson / Associated Press

Dodgers cool off in 8-1 loss to Giants

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What, you thought the good-feel times were going to last forever?

The Dodgers reverted to more familiar form Sunday afternoon, falling, 8-1, to the Giants to snap their four-game winning streak.

Still, they return home off a most successful 10-game trip, going 7-3. Of course, they were hoping for 8-2 and a sweep of the Giants, but that never really appeared likely Sunday.

Hiroki Kuroda started, and if he hardly struggled as he had in his four-homer game in his last start, he definitely did struggle.

Kuroda went 4 1/3 innings, giving up three runs, eight hits and a walk. In his last four starts, Kuroda (11-16) has a 5.70 ERA.

The game got out of hand when the Giants scored five times in the sixth, the Dodgers aiding the cause with five walks (two intentional).

The Dodgers bullpen, which has been lights-out of late, buckled and the frustrated Giants were more than happy to finally take advantage.

Hong-Chih Kuo walked the first two batters in the sixth, and Andres Torres sacrificed the runners up. That sent the call to Josh Lindblom, who intentionally walked Cody Ross.

That backfired when Jeff Keppinger doubled in two runs. The Dodgers then turned to left-hander Scott Elbert, who, after striking out Carlos Beltran, intentionally walked Pablo Sandoval to load the bases.

Which, in keeping with the inning’s theme, also backfired when Elbert walked Aubrey Huff to force in Ross. Mark DeRosa singled to score two more, and it was a rout.

The struggling Giants managed 11 hits, six of which were doubles (three by Sandoval).

The Dodgers dropped back under .500 (72-73). They had won 15 of 18 before Sunday.

At least the Dodgers had this highlight defensive play from Juan Rivera.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, shown in his last outing. Credit: Greg Fiume / Getty Images

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