Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Mattingly Quits

This from the AP:

Don Mattingly stepped aside as the Dodgers' hitting coach on Tuesday and was replaced by Mike Easler. Mattingly followed Joe Torre from New York to Los Angeles and was supposed to eventually replace Torre as the Dodgers' manager. However, he said he needed to go home for family reasons. He will remain in the organization as a special advisor and coach. "I'm very grateful that the Dodgers have allowed me to take care of these family matters and I hope that everyone can respect our privacy during this time," Mattingly said in press release. "I truly appreciate the support of all Dodger fans since joining the organization and I look forward to helping the team win in 2008 and beyond."

I assume he left to mourn the death of Heath Ledger...but that's just speculation.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Listed below are the players who have filed for arbitration and have yet to sign with their teams. Arbitration hearings will be held from Feb. 1-20, at which time a panel will rule in the player's favor or the club's favor, choosing one figure or the other. Players and teams are free to continue negotiating and reach a contract agreement until a ruling is made.

Club No.
Player No.
Atkins, GarrettCOL 4,125,000 4,650,000
Bard, JoshSD 1,850,000 2,500,000
Bedard, ErikBAL 6,000,000 8,000,000
Beimel, JoeLA 1,700,000 2,150,000
Belisle, MattCIN 1,000,000 1,650,000
Betancourt, RafaelCLE 1,750,000 2,500,000
Blake, CaseyCLE 5,400,000 6,900,000
Borkowski, DaveHOU 750,000 1,100,000
Bruney, BrianNYY 640,000 845,000
Bruntlett, EricPHI 550,000 800,000
Bush, DavidMIL 2,250,000 3,000,000
Cabrera, DanielBAL 2,600,000 3,300,000
Cano, RobinsonNYY 3,200,000 4,550,000
Chavez, EndyNY 1,725,000 2,075,000
Chulk, VinnieSF 725,000 975,000
Church, RyanNY 1,750,000 2,450,000
Correia, KevinSF 850,000 1,300,000
Cuddyer, MichaelMIN 4,700,000 6,200,000
Feliciano, PedroNY 880,000 1,200,000
Fuentes, BrianCOL 5,050,000 6,500,000
Gaudin, ChadOAK 1,500,000 2,050,000
German, EstebanKC 837,500 1,200,000
Greene, KhalilSD 4,000,000 4,900,000
Greinke, ZackKC 1,150,000 1,800,000
Guerrier, MatthewMIN 750,000 1,150,000
Hardy, J.J.MIL 2,400,000 3,050,000
Hawpe, BradleyCOL 3,575,000 4,350,000
Howard, RyanPHI 7,000,000 10,000,000
Lopez, FelipeWSH 4,900,000 5,200,000
Loretta, MarkHOU 2,750,000 4,900,000
Molina, YadierSTL 1,850,000 2,750,000
Perez, OliverNY 4,725,000 6,500,000
Phillips, BrandonCIN 2,700,000 4,200,000
Proctor, ScottLA 930,000 1,300,000
Rauch, JonWSH 1,100,000 1,400,000
Rios, AlexisTOR 4,535,000 5,650,000
Rodriguez, FranciscoLAA 10,000,000 12,500,000
Sanchez, FreddyPIT 4,100,000 4,900,000
Snyder, KyleBOS 725,000 1,025,000
Soriano, RafaelATL 2,400,000 3,400,000
Sosa, JorgeNY 1,700,000 2,750,000
Teahen, MarkKC 1,900,000 2,900,000
Valverde, JoseHOU 4,700,000 6,200,000
Wang, Chien-MingNYY 4,000,000 4,600,000
Wellemeyer, ToddSTL 875,000 1,325,000
Wuertz, MichaelCHI 750,000 975,000
Youkilis, KevinBOS 2,525,000 3,700,000

Friday, January 18, 2008

Weekly Roundup

  • Jason Repko came to terms on a one year contract avoiding arbitration. The contract is worth $487,500.
  • Free agent Reggie Sanders, who is scheduled to audition for a "Baseball Tonight" gig next week, said he'll decide on his future in baseball by the end of the month. Sanders said his agent, Mike Powers, has talked to the Padres and Dodgers about a reserve job. The 40-year-old Sanders is expected to play on the West Coast if he chooses to continue his career.
  • Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said Andy LaRoche and Nomar Garciaparra would begin spring training on even terms in a competition for the starting job at third base.
    "I think Andy and Nomar are two good options at third base," Colletti said. "We're going to let them figure it out. I think it's unfair to either player to have a preconceived notion as to how it's going to turn out. I think it's a situation that ought to be debated on the field."
  • Jason Schmidt has been throwing off flat ground several times per week and has a chance to be ready to begin the season in the rotation. Schmidt is returning from surgery to repair a torn labrum. "If he continues to progress, there's a great chance he'll be ready to go," GM Ned Colletti said. "We've had nothing to discourage us. He's been throwing for a while now. He'll continue to build his arm strength." Schmidt will be the Dodgers' fifth starter if healthy, relegating Esteban Loaiza to the bullpen or the scrap heap.
  • Dodgers signed RHP Yhency Brazoban to a one-year, $540,000 contract.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Johnny Podres Passes

From L.A. Times writer Dylan Hernandez:

Buzzie Bavasi said that he had two great competitors in his time as the Dodgers' general manager.

One was Jackie Robinson. The other was Johnny Podres.

Podres, the left-hander who pitched the Brooklyn Dodgers to their first World Series championship in 1955, died Sunday at a hospital in Glens Falls, N.Y., of complications from a leg infection. The 75-year-old had also had heart and kidney problems in recent years.

"I had a lot of great pitchers with the Dodgers -- Don Drysdale, Don Sutton, and one of the best in the business, Sandy Koufax," Bavasi said. "But when we needed to win a ballgame, who do you think we went to? Johnny Podres."

That was the case in the seventh and deciding game of the 1955 World Series. Standing in the way of the Dodgers' first championship were the New York Yankees, who had beaten them in the Fall Classic in 1941, '47, '49, '52 and '53.

Pitcher Don Newcombe said that in a pre-game meeting in the Dodgers clubhouse before Game 7 of the 1955 Series, shortstop Pee Wee Reese asked the team, "Can we beat the Yankees?"

Newcombe recalled the then-23-year-old Podres standing up and saying, "Guys, get me one run and I guarantee we'll be champions."

Podres threw an eight-hitter in a 2-0 Dodgers victory and was named the first-ever World Series most valuable player. The championship was the only one the Dodgers would win in Brooklyn.

"I was never superstitious, but that game was so tense until the end that I didn't want to move on the bench, I didn't want to breathe," pitcher Carl Erskine recalled. But Podres, Erskine said, wasn't scared.

Podres moved with the Dodgers to Los Angeles in 1958 and was part of their World Series championship teams in 1959 and '63. He was traded to the Detroit Tigers in 1966 and retired at the end of the 1969 season, which he spent with the San Diego Padres.

He retired a three-time All-Star with a career record of 148-116 and an earned-run average of 3.68. His reputation as a big-game pitcher was well-deserved -- teammate and close friend Don Zimmer said that Reese used to call him "Mr. Clutch" -- as he was 4-1 with a 2.11 ERA in six World Series games.

Podres' biggest weapon was a straight change-up that was taught to him and Erskine by former Dodgers executive Branch Rickey. Newcombe and Maury Wills, another Dodgers teammate, said the change-up was the best they'd ever seen.

"No Dodger pitcher has ever used that particular kind of grip since," Erskine said. "You let the ball recess back so that you use your middle knuckles like the ends of your fingers. The wrist had to collapse behind the ball. It had the same rotation as a four-seam fastball, so it was difficult to pick up. But it was also difficult to get over the plate."

Not for Podres and Erskine. Podres used the pitch to get Elston Howard to ground out to Reese for the final out of the 1955 World Series.

Later, as a coach with the Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Minnesota Twins, Podres tried to teach the pitch to a new generation of hurlers.

Zimmer was the manager of the Red Sox in 1980 when Podres was the pitching coach.

Zimmer recalled seeing Podres teaching a young pitcher how to throw a change-up. When the pupil threw one correctly, Zimmer said, Podres jumped and exclaimed, "That's it! Now you've got it!"

"I got excited watching him be excited," Zimmer said.

Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, whom Podres worked with in Philadelphia, posted a message on his blog Monday that read: "Outside of the Lord, my wife and my father there was no person who impacted my life more than Johnny Podres. . . . We spoke often about 'big games' and he instilled this belief in me, even before I had a chance to pitch in a truly big game, that when the time came I'd answer the bell. The postseason success I've been blessed to enjoy I've always known to be a direct result of who and what he was."

Said Zimmer: "I never heard of anybody in a baseball uniform who didn't like Johnny Podres."

Which is partly why the service for Podres on Wednesday will be open to the public. It will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. at Singleton Healy Funeral Home in Queensbury, N.Y.

"It's the way he would've wanted it," said his son, John Jr. "He liked people."

In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 41 years, Joan, and another son, Joseph.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Congress vs. Baseball

For those of you who live in a bubble or in Salt Lake City, Congress has decided to postpone their Jan. 16 hearing on Steroids & Performance Enhancing Drugs to Feb. 13 (Thank God it wasn't on Valentine's Day, then all the papers would run with the headline --- St. Valentine's Day Massacre). The most common thing I hear coming from people's mouths is: doesn't Congress have better things to do? There's a war. The economy sucks. Gas prices are high.
This is all true. I don't dispute the fact that we are in a time of crisis in this country where the ups and downs of society is decidedly on the down side, but indulge me while I speak of why Congress MUST intercede in this cheating that has enveloped this great sport of ours.

Walt Whitman once wrote,
I see great things in baseball. It's our game - the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.
The AMERICAN game. Baseball is more than the National Pastime, it is part of our enduring legacy as a country. It has created legends of men who can hit that little sphere with a success rate of merely 30%. Baseball, like life, is about failure. In life more often than not you are going to not succeed or get what you want. It is just the law of averages & baseball is as clear a metaphor of this than any other sport or game out there. As Paul Gallico said,"No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined."

Baseball is not just a game it's not just a sport, it is us. Baseball is an everyman game. Who hasn't gone out during the summer and hit the ball with their friends? Hell, I used to go the park down the street and pretend I was Steve Garvey or Ted Williams or Babe Ruth. Who hasn't gone outside and just played catch with their father? My father and I had an acrimonious relationship, at best, but when we threw that ball 60 feet 6 inches we were nothing but best friends. Best friends who carried on the tradition that has endured between fathers and sons since before the Civil War.

Now, people have a problem with Congress trying to stop cheaters? Baseball is a game who's records are most cherished, most hallowed. When someone says 714, what pops into your head? Babe Ruth. 755? Hank Aaron. 56 game hit streak? DiMaggio (which is in my spell check, proving my point). 61 homers in a season? Roger Maris. These are records that in the pantheon of baseball lore have taken on mythic status. Now, players, who get paid ungodly sums of money to play something you or I would undoubtedly do for nothing, have treated those records as if they were worthless.

Congress works as a conduit for the American people. They were elected by the people for the people to serve our interests. When we, as Americans, pay our hard earned money to go to a baseball game (something that costs upwards of $100 now) we want to be assured that the players are doing their best to keep the legacy of the game pure. The casual fan may not care who uses what in their bodies, but nor will that fan care about any of the traditions and sanctity of the game. They will not recognize the sheer beauty in a 6-4-3 double play. They won't see the excitement in a 1-0 game where both pitchers go the distance. Real fans, the ones who have stuck by baseball through Collusion, strikes & now steroids know that it has to stop.

Congress is doing the right thing in preserving this great game, pastime, enduring legacy of ours. If we can't count on the hierarchy of baseball to police it's own employees then we must trust that the people we elect to carry out what we, as mere bystanders, can not carry out, do what's best for the country. Those who mock Congress for taking this step think of the image that a young boy has of players like Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Sosa as cheaters & realizing that the only way he can make it to the big leagues is if he cheats as well. I leave you with my favorite quote from one of my favorite movies, Field of Dreams (which if baseball wasn't so beautiful why does this movie still make me cry?):

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and could be again.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Weekly Roundup

There hasn't been much baseball news this week. I'm working on getting those lineups to you by Sunday, but here are a few tidbits.
  • Jeff Kent wants blood testing in baseball, including the playoffs & his mustache.
  • Luis Gonzales is close to signing with the Marlins. A guy that rips young players all season is gonna go to a team with the largest triple A payroll in baseball? Way to end a career.
  • The Brewers want Eric Gagne to make a statement about using 'Roids.
  • Dodgers signed LHP Matt Riley, RHP Alfredo Simon and OF George Lombard to minor league contracts and invited them to spring training.
  • First mini camp was held yesterday & quite a few players showed up.
  • And it's one month and 3 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in Florida. Valentine's Day!!! Love will be in the air with pitchers and catchers (insert joke here).

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Goose gets in!!!

Congratulations to Goose Gossage for being the lone candidate to get into the Hall of Fame. One of the best relievers of all time Gossage is finally in. A few surprises as well:

  • Jim Rice just missed again & I get the feeling that he will never get in. Much like his career he just isn't good enough to get in.
  • Andre Dawson, who many thought would get in, didn't. I'm glad he didn't get in. I have never been a fan of the Hawk & never really thought he belonged in the Hall of Fame.
  • Tim Raines only got 23% and isn't looking good for the future.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Paul Depodesta

There is a rather boring interview with former Dodger GM Paul Depodesta here. If you're interested you could give it a read. The most interesting thing, actually, is the comments section at the bottom. A reader asks about Depo's time with the Dodgers & the interviewer gives a cryptic response saying that the Question was scrapped because Depo can't speak of his time with the Dodgers. What? It's not like Frank McCourt gave P.D. the secret code to the missile silo underneath the Parking lot (future football stadium & grave site for the girls who turn Drew McCourt's advances down). The only thing I can think of is tampering.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Next Week

Next Week I will have the lineups from every team in the NL & a preview of what the Dodgers are in store for. We're chasing an interview or two but I don't want to jinx anything so tune in next week for the new year of Pedro For Delino.