Daily Distractions: With Hall of Fame ballots due tonight, will Don Mattingly remain eligible?

Don Mattingly

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly batted .307 in 14 major-league seasons and won nine Gold Glove awards at first base. (Getty Images)

Baseball Hall of Fame ballots are due tonight. As we’ve previously noted, former Dodgers Hideo Nomo, Eric Gagne, Jeff Kent, Luis Gonzalez, Greg Maddux and Paul Lo Duca are all on the ballot for the first time. Manager Don Mattingly, hitting coach Mark McGwire and former catcher Mike Piazza are still hanging on.

Many ballots have already been released publicly and the folks at BaseballThinkFactory.org (among others) are keeping tabs on all of them. Remember, a player needs to appear on 75 percent of ballots to be inducted to the Hall, and 5 percent of ballots to remain eligible (for up to 15 years).

While Nomo, Gagne, Lo Duca and Gonzalez have no chance of induction in this or any year, the same can’t be said for the others. Mattingly debuted on the ballot in 2001 and appeared on 28.2 percent of the ballots in his first year. He’s had an interesting journey since, garnering votes from 9.9 percent of the electorate in 2007 then rebounding to 17.8 percent in 2012.

But a 2014 Hall class featuring several statistically qualified candidates (including Maddux, Frank Thomas and holdover Craig Biggio) could count Mattingly among its victims. BaseballThinkFactory.org has Mattingly listed on 4.6 percent of the 87 full ballots to be revealed so far. McGwire (11.5) and Kent (12.6) are teetering toward extinction, while Piazza (73.6) is teetering toward induction.

Maddux has been listed on every ballot so far. No player has been a unanimous selection in the Hall’s history.

Mattingly — and McGwire, for that matter — doesn’t expect to be elected. If he falls off the ballot, it might amount to nothing more than a brief spring-training conversation topic.

Some bullet points for a New Year’s Eve:
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Daily Distractions: The Dodgers are the new Lakers.

A couple weeks ago, I received an official voter’s ballot for a trivial contest. There were 10 slots to fill.

And no, I’m not talking about the Baseball Hall of Fame.

This was the annual Los Angeles News Group Top 10 Sports Stories of the Year ballot. All the stories we considered involved people and teams who hailed from, or competed in, the greater Los Angeles/Orange County/Inland Empire area. The number-one story on my ballot didn’t involve an athlete, let alone anyone connected to baseball. It was about Jerry Buss, whose death in February took up four of five columns on the front page of that day’s Daily News:

I was surprised to see my colleagues disagreed. The Dodgers’ tumultuous “return to glory” captured their hearts. The sample size of our staff writers may be smallish, but what do I know? L.A. likes a winner.

Then we chose Yasiel Puig as the Los Angeles Sports Person of the Year.

Then Ken Gurnick of MLB.com broke down the Dodgers’ season in 874 words and it didn’t seem like enough.

Then Puig was arrested. (Again.)

Then David Vassegh of KLAC (570-AM) tweeted this:

And suddenly, the Dodgers had become the Lakers.

Debate it all you want, but it seems the tides of buzz and drama and relevance have turned in the Dodgers’ favor. If there’s room for two teams in the public consciousness — as Magic Johnson said roughly one year ago — the Lakers aren’t taking advantage of it right now. The Dodgers are.

Some bullet points for a Monday morning:
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Arrest report: ‘Mr. Puig showed willful and a total disregard for the safety of his mother and the other two passengers.’



Yasiel Puig‘s written arrest report was released Monday morning by the Florida Highway Patrol. The arresting officer, Gualberto Morales, scathes the Dodgers’ outfielder for endangering lives on Interstate 75 in Collier County, where he was clocked driving 110 mph in a 70-mph zone (spelling and grammar errors haven’t been altered):

There were three passengers in the vehicle: Mr. Puig’s mother, friend and his cousin. By driving the vehicle in this manner Mr. Puig showed willful and a total disregard for the safety of his mother and the other two passengers and any vehicles on the roadway and placed the life’s of everyone in his vehicle and every vehicle that he was passing on the roadway in danger.

Based on my training and experience as a Florida Highway Patrol Trooper and due to the high speed that he was traveling and the others Vehicles on the roadway. If Mr. Puig would had loss control of his vehicle or would had suffered a tire failure and crash. His mother and the two passengers would not survived as resulted of his action.

That’s the only new bit of information contained in the report. That, and Puig’s weight is listed at 230 pounds. He’s listed at 245 on the Dodgers’ web site.

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Daily Distractions: Apparently the Dodgers’ bullpen really needed an upgrade.

Chris Perez

The Dodgers have reportedly signed pitcher Chris Perez to a one-year contract. (Getty Images)

In all his postseason comments to the media, Ned Colletti never called out the Dodgers’ bullpen as an area of weakness in 2013. With the signing of former Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez, the GM’s actions have spoken louder than his words.

Perez, 28, reportedly signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers Monday, pending a physical. He started the 2013 season 17-for-19 in save opportunities with a 2.52 ERA through his first 35 2/3 innings. Then in an Aug. 5 game against the Detroit Tigers, Perez allowed four earned runs without recording an out. He would go on to allow 16 earned runs over his final 18 1/3 innings as an Indian.

The right-hander finished the season with a 4.33 ERA and five blown saves in 30 opportunities.

Before contract the contract becomes official, the Dodgers have already committed $18.5 million next season to two set-up men — Brian Wilson and Brandon League, both former closers themselves. Between Wilson, League and Perez, the Dodgers have 377 career saves sitting in the bullpen before giving the ball to ninth-inning man Kenley Jansen.

That gives the Dodgers the most experienced (and arguably the deepest) bullpen in the majors heading into 2014. FanGraphs’ Jason Collette threw together this chart comparing Jansen, Wilson, League and Perez.

Left-handers J.P. Howell, Paco Rodriguez and Onelki Garcia, and right-handers Jose Dominguez and Chris Withrow all figure to compete for innings in spring training. Colletti has also said he’s looking to add a long reliever to the mix.

Perez has a connection to Los Angeles. In September, he pleaded no contest in Ohio to a misdemeanor drug abuse charge and was found guilty of receiving a small package of marijuana mailed to his home on June 4. From Cleveland.com:

The six-ounce bag of marijuana was sent from Los Angeles and addressed to Brody Baum, the couple’s dog. Police seized the pot plus two pipes, a bong and several items of drug paraphernalia found in a basement kitchen. Chris Perez said the drugs and items belonged to him.

The package of marijuana was discovered after a postal supervisor smelled the weed and called a postal inspector, who opened the package, resealed it and delivered it to the home. An undercover officer posing as a delivery man approached (the pitcher’s wife) Melanie Perez, who confirmed the packages were for the dog. Baum is her maiden name.

Perez stirred the pot one year ago by criticizing his ownership regime in an interview with FoxSports.com:

“Different owners,” Perez said frankly, in reference to Detroit’s Mike Ilitch and Cleveland’s Lawrence J. Dolan. “It comes down to that. They (the Tigers) are spending money. He (Ilitch) wants to win. Even when the economy was down (in Detroit), he spent money. He’s got a team to show for it. You get what you pay for in baseball. Sometimes you don’t. But most of the time you do.”

Perez should be happy with his new bosses. The Dodgers have committed roughly $200 million to 19 players for next season, including the recently agreed-to contracts for third baseman Juan Uribe and Howell. Last year, the team reportedly spent $237 million on payroll.

Of that, less than 10 percent (somewhere in the $13 to $15 million range) went to full-time relievers. That percentage could increase significantly in 2014.

Statistically speaking, the Dodgers’ bullpen was excellent last year, at least after Jansen replaced League as the closer on June 11. Their 3.49 ERA ranked 13th among 30 teams. Their strikeout rate ranked ninth. They allowed 24 percent of inherited runners to score, third in the majors. And since the Dodgers’ starting rotation pitched relatively deep into games, the bullpen didn’t have to work too hard.

Perez brings a simple fastball/slider repertoire, with roughly 10 mph difference between the two pitches. It’s not the “power arm” profile that teams covet but League, Wilson, Withrow and Dominguez all fall into that category. Perez’s repertoire could be a nice complement.

Here’s a quick look at the bullpen pecking order, comparing the 2013 Opening Day Roster to the potential 2014 Opening Day group:

2013 2014
Brandon League (closer) Jansen (closer)
Kenley Jansen Brian Wilson
Ronald Belisario Chris Perez
Paco Rodriguez Rodriguez
J.P. Howell Howell
Matt Guerrier League
Aaron Harang Chris Withrow

Some bullet points for a Festivus:
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Dodgers announce minor-league coaching staffs; each team has a new manager.

The Dodgers’ minor-league affiliates went 337-357 in 2013. All will have a new manager in 2014.

Damon Berryhill (Triple-A Albuquerque), Razor Shines (Double-A Chattanooga) and P.J. Forbes (Single-A Rancho Cucamonga) were all promoted within the organization. John Shoemaker will manage the Rookie-level Arizona League Dodgers after serving as the team’s Coordinator of Arizona Instruction last season. Bill Haselman (Single-A Great Lakes) and Lee Tinsley (Rookie-advanced Ogden) join the Dodger organization from the Angels and Chicago Cubs, respectively.

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