Ethier sits, Jones plays … and an interesting read

This is from si.com’s Jon Heyman, and if you believe it, it paints a bleak picture of the way this organization is being run from the top down.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/jon_heyman/07/24/scoop.dodgers/index.html

Anyway, as the headline says, Ethier becomes the first odd-man out. But Torre emphasized that he hasn’t yet made up his mind how this four-outfielders-for-three-spots scenario is going to shake out — although he expects to make it up fairly quickly.
“We’re at a point in the season where we can’t take a month to make up our minds for anything,” he said.
Torre did say he recognizes the dramatic improvement on the part of Ethier over the course of the season. From what I can deduce, the mentality on the part of club officials seems to be that Andruw Jones was signed to give the Dodgers the one thing they were missing last year, so without him in the lineup, they’re still missing it. Which is true to a point. But if having Jones in there actually makes the club WORSE, then you’re not really giving yourself the best shot of winning, are you?

Here’s the lineup

LF Pierre
RF Kemp
C Martin
2B Kent
SS Garciaparra
1B Loney
CF Jones
3B LaRoche
RH Billingsley

Rockies 5, Dodgers 3

Well, six games into the second half, the offense has officially returned to its first-half form. Proving once again that you can never hide a player when he is struggling, the game found Andruw Jones in the eighth inning, when the Dodgers had the tying runs on second and third and one out. If you didn’t see it, I’ll give you one guess as to what the result was. Put it this way, it was the same result that Andruw has now gotten 29 times in 51 at-bats this season with runners in scoring position — and it wasn’t a hit, because that has only happened four times in those 51 ABs. Meanwhile, the Dodgers are still waiting for one of their starting pitchers to give them a quality start, something that didn’t happen once on this trip. Kuroda became the first one to go six, but he gave up five earned runs on nine hits. … Dodgers fall to 49-52. Snakes play later, but does it really even matter anymore?

Pentland to stay a while

Joe Torre said this morning that Jeff Pentland, who was hired as a “roving minor-league hitting instructor,” is going to stick around with the big club for a while, and Torre didn’t rule out him staying for the rest of the year. A big part of his job is helping Don Mattingly get acclimated to the full-time hitting coach’s role and providing an additional set of eyes and an additional perspective. There is a limit on how many coaches you can have in the dugout in uniform, so Pentland stays in the clubhouse during games.
“He is basically doing what Donnie was doing when Donnie would visit while Mike (Easler, former hitting coach) was on the bench,” Torre said. “He will be watching on TV. If a player goes up (to the clubhouse) to look at an at-bat, Jeff will be there for tha player to talk to about it.”
Torre said special instructor Manny Mota also will continue to travel with the team as an extra hitting coach, although Mota isn’t on this trip for personal reasons.

Here’s today’s lineup
RF Kemp
LF Ethier
SS Garciaparra
2B Kent
1B Loney
CF Jones
3B LaRoche
C Ardoin
RH Kuroda

Rockies 10, Dodgers 1

The fact Ubaldo Jimenez was so pitch-efficient — he threw 114 in a complete game and got through the first seven innings on just 75 — would seem to suggest that the Dodgers have fallen back into their old habits. And as you know, I am the first one to jump on the boys when they make it too easy on an opposing pitcher. But in this case, that doesn’t appear to be what happened. Jimenez threw an inordinate (especially for him) number of strikes, and the Dodgers had little choice but to swing at them. When you’re a beat writer, you try to write every story from the perspective of the team you cover, and when that team gets taken to school by a pitcher, you try to figure out why. This time, there wasn’t a why — other than the fact Jimenez was just GOOD. I mean, really, really good. If he had pitched like this last October, the Rockies might have won a game in that World Series. … Dodgers fall to 49-51 and one game behind the Snakes. The boys are now 0-3 this month, having been outscored 24-8, in games in which they had a chance to reach .500 for the first time since May 30.

Pierre’s impending return … and what it means for Andruw

Torre says if Pierre’s rehab goes well, he will rejoin the big club either Saturday or Sunday. Joe was very non-committal on how the outfield will shake out at that point. What was interesting was that while Joe did say on the one hand that he isn’t ready to sit Andruw Jones —

“It’s still (too) early for me. Both Donnie (Mattingly) and (Jeff) Pentland are here working on specific things with him. It’s one thing to practice, but it’s a second thing to go out there and play games and try to put that into practice. I don’t think he has had enough time for that yet.”

— on the other hand, Torre didn’t rule out the possibility that Andruw could find himself sitting if this keeps up much longer.

“I have seen Andre (Ethier) and Matty (Kemp) make great strides, Andre with the consistency of his at-bats and Matt seems to be getting a better feel for it right now. The thing that is great about this game is that you reserve the right to change your mind.”

Joe also was non-committal on who his fifth starter will be now that Stults has been sent out. Dodgers won’t need one until Tuesday. Could be Jason Johnson. Could be a trade between now and then. But he said it won’t be Park because he likes Chan Ho in the pen., and he also said Penny won’t be ready by then.

Here’s tonight’s lineup

RF Kemp
LF Ethier
C Martin
2B Kent
1B Loney
SS Garciaparra
CF Jones
3B LaRoche
LH Kershaw

Dodgers 16, Rockies 10

You hate to go negative after the boys scored a season-high 16 runs and banged out a season-high 18 hits. But when you stake a starting pitcher to an 11-run lead, he HAS to throw strikes and give you innings, and Eric Stults did neither. Torre lifted him with one out in the fourth, leaving him four outs shy of qualifying for the win.
“He wasn’t aggressive,” Torre said. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have gone to get him. It looked like he was trying to protect the lead as opposed to going out and pitching.”
Stults agreed for the most part,
“I was trying to be aggressive, but I wasn’t as sharp throughout as I would have liked to have been,” he said. “It was just one of those days. Not pitching for a while (since July 11) could have something to do with it, but that’s not really an excuse. You just have to go out there and execute pitches.”
But Stults was far from the only one who didn’t do that. He combined with relievers Brian Falkenborg (who got the win by scorer’s decision), Cory Wade, Joe Beimel and Hong-Chih Kuo to give up 10 runs on 20 hits (how do you get out-hit when you win by six runs?) They also combined to walk six batters, four of them after the Dodgers built a 12-1 lead.
Anyway, the Dodgers improved to 49-50 and stayed tied with the Snakes, pushing the Rockies seven back. There were more offensive heroes to mention, but the biggest was James Loney, who went 3 for 6 with a triple and drove in five runs. He has now driven in 24 runs in 14 career games at Coors, including nine, six and five in three games.

LaRoche possibly being showcased in advance of trading deadline

Torre said before the game that Andy LaRoche is going to start all three games. Here is the quote:
“I had planned on giving him a couple of games. It has really been unfair to him. Knowing that the end of July is looming, you have to find out as much as you can about your players. If you’re looking to help your ballclub, you want to make sure you have an idea of the people you have. He’ll probably play this series, especially (facing) the left-hander (Glendon Rusch) Wednesday.”
Sounds pretty cut and dried to me. A lot of us — and a lot of YOU, judging by some of the comments you have been posting — have long suspected the Dodgers are looking to move this guy. But that shouldn’t obscure the fact that he has had three really good plate appearances tonight, and we’re only in the fourth inning. He walked each of his first two times, the first time after falling behind 1-2, and he just blooped a 3-2 pitch into right field for a single to score Andruw Jones — who actually got a hit to lead off the inning — and give the Dodgers a 12-1 lead.

Kershaw pitches tomorrow

Clayton Kershaw is on his way to Denver. He will be officially recalled from Double-A Jacksonville tomorrow, with a corresponding move to come at that time. Jason Johnson was supposed to pitch tomorrow night, and the fact he wasn’t even on the 40-man roster until his contract was purchased from Vegas on Friday would at least SEEM to suggest he might be the odd man out. But let me stress that I am NOT hearing that from any little birdies or anything like that. I’m just guessing. And don’t forget that Johnson basically saved the Dodgers’ bacon with his three innings out of the pen on Friday night.

Here’s tonight’s lineup. Nomar is sitting, despite the fact he has 14 hits in his past 42 at-bats since coming off the DL on July 4. Dylan Hernandez and I tried to talk to him about sitting tonight and the fact he seems so comfortable back at SS, but he wasn’t in much of a mood to talk. Probably has something to do with sitting in the middle of a hot streak, but we asked him that point blank and he didn’t bite, so again, I’m just speculating.

RF Kemp
LF Ethier
C Martin
2B Kent
1B Loney
CF Jones
3B LaRoche
SS Berroa
LH Stults