Daily Distractions: Is Brandon League’s ‘whipping boy’ status deserved?

Brandon League

Brandon League has not allowed a run in five of seven appearances this season, including his last three straight. (Associated Press photo)

When Brandon League‘s name was announced over the Dodger Stadium public-address system in the sixth inning Monday, the reaction was best described as a mixture of boos and cheers and indifference.

When League’s name was brought up in Don Mattingly‘s postgame press conference, the reaction was different: “We feel like he’s been pretty good.”

It’s time to call BS on someone here.

A quick look at League’s 2014 resume:

That’s not terribly difficult to defend as “pretty good.” By comparison, this poor chap faced nine more batters and got two more outs, and doesn’t get booed by his fans:

The second gamelog belongs to Jamey Wright, in case you were wondering. We’re dealing with small sample sizes, but here goes: Wright has the superior ERA (3.38 compared to League’s 3.60). League has the better FIP (2.84 compared to 4.35), but FIP doesn’t show up on the Dodger Stadium display boards. Maybe that explains the boos?

Here’s Mattingly, continued: “I know he got the loss in that game in San Francisco. He’s been throwing the ball pretty good. It’s been negative since last year because he has a little bit of a rough spring. It’s been negative but he’s thrown the ball well. We want to stay realistic. He’s thrown the ball good. He’s given us some good innings. He’s kept games where they should be, given us chances, so he’s doing his job.”

What Mattingly didn’t mention is that League’s $22.5 million, three-year contract makes League the Dodgers’ best-paid relief pitcher. That’s closer money for a sixth-inning reliever. League is certainly paid better than Wright’s $1.8 million deal, which is why Wright (or a young pitcher with contract options like Chris Withrow, Jose Dominguez or Paco Rodriguez) will hardly ever get booed. Their contracts are more readily expendable. League’s contract, a seagull bordering on an albatross, is not. For fans, that comes with certain expectations.

Ever since League lost the closer’s job and finished the 2013 season with a 5.30 ERA, it seems like there’s been no turning back. He is the whipping boy. Juan Uribe was in a similar position in 2011 and 2012, but was able to turn it around.

Maybe League can turn his reputation around too. Apparently it’ll take more than seven “pretty good” appearances.

Speaking of which, Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area had a pretty good take on the Giants’ “whipping boys.” Does race have something to do with it?

Some bullet points for an Earth Day:

• I’ve accidentally stumbled upon the Scott Ave. Gate to Dodger Stadium in the past, hoping it would be open. Funny. Now that it is, no one uses it.

• Here’s something you might not know about Uribe:

Erisbel Arruebarrena debuted at Double-A.

• Daniel Carbonell, the latest Cuban defector, has reportedly been declared a free agent by MLB. Described by Rotowire.com as a “speedy center fielder,” video of one of his recent workouts is already online. Carbonell drew early interest from the Yankees and Blue Jays. Here are his stats in Cuba.

• At least 20 percent of all major-league pitchers (as of last year) have had Tommy John surgery. Mike Reinold offers five reasons why the rate is rising.

• The aging curve for pitchers, charted by SportsOnEarth.com. According to that piece, the Dodgers’ velocity as a staff is the second-lowest in baseball.

• Throwing strikes works for Cliff Lee, but to each his own: Peter Gammons analyzed the effectively wild work of Aaron Harang, National League ERA leader.

MLB.com analyzed the emerging talent of the 2009 and 2010 draft classes.

• Happy birthday to Dee Gordon (26). Happy belated birthday to Joc Pederson, who turned 22 yesterday.

• Devo covered “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and I went nearly my entire life without hearing it: