Matt Kemp was penciled into the cleanup spot in the Dodgers’ lineup for the first time this season, and it appears his collision into the center-field wall in Colorado will only keep him out of the lineup for two games.
“It’s as good as it’s going to get,” he said of his knee, which was still swollen Thursday and rendered him unavailable for the Dodgers’ 2-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Kemp downplayed the severity of the pain in his left shoulder, but manager Don Mattingly said that the center fielder might still miss the game if the shoulder tightens up after batting practice.
In his career, Kemp is a better hitter out of the three hole, but he has more experience batting fourth (203 games) than third (185). He’s batting .289/.354/.521 as a cleanup hitter and .337/.392/.568 third.
“I batted fourth all last year,” Kemp said. “I know how to do it.”
Mattingly said that he wanted to separate left-handed hitters Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier. Gonzalez is hitting third, Kemp fourth, Hanley Ramirez fifth and Ethier sixth. “Matt didn’t care either way, Adrian didn’t care either way,” Mattingly said.
During his daily pregame press briefing, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was asked for his best James Loney story.
“Oh God,” he sighed. Sounded like there were a few to choose from.
Mattingly picked one from a couple years back, when Larry Bowa was the Dodgers’ third-base coach, and James did “something on the field” that prompted Bowa to pull Loney aside in a tunnel leading into the Dodgers’ clubhouse.
“I know I’ve told you a hundred times…” Bowa said, in Mattingly’s words.
Loney’s response: “Well, I guess one-hundred and one.”
It was an appropriate anecdote for a player whose sense of humor was at times his best asset this season. Like on Friday, when Loney was asked why he was scratched from the lineup, as trade rumors swirled and Adrian Gonzalez was being scratched from the lineup in Boston.
“I don’t have good numbers against (Nate) Eovaldi,” Loney said. “I’m 0-for-0.”
When Adrian Gonzalez hit the second pitch he saw in a Dodger uniform for a three-run home run Saturday, it culminated general manager Ned Colletti’s season-long pursuit of the Boston Red Sox first baseman.
“I talked to [Red Sox general manager] Ben Cherington back in April about Adrian,” Colletti said. “As the talks went on, they were sporadic. We talked about other players. At the [July 31 non-waiver trade] deadline, they weren’t prepared to do anything. The more scouts talk, you get a feel for where the match may be – you get a feel for what players in your system they would like. … You don’t get the crystal clear picture of it, but you get an idea where their interest lies. We just kept turning, kept turning. I stayed in touch with Ben through the month of August. He all of a sudden knew that we were in the market to pick up star players. We were also looking to add as much pitching as we could add.”
Colletti said that Gonzalez was a topic of daily discussion, internally and externally, every day for the last week.
The home run was nice, but the Dodgers will need to get a lot more out of Gonzalez if today’s trade is to pay off. He’s under contract through 2018 for a total of $128 million after this season. Gonzalez turns 36 during the final year of his contract.
Chad Billingsley‘s inflamed right elbow has landed the right-hander on the disabled list for the second time in the past two months.
If he misses the minimum 15 days, Billingsley will miss two starts and face the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sept. 11. Billingsley had won six straight decisions before re-aggravating the injury Friday night against the Miami Marlins. He lasted just 2 1/3 innings before coming out of the game.
It’s not how the Dodgers drew it up, but the move helps make room for newcomer Josh Beckett on the active roster. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that Beckett, who was scheduled to start today for the Red Sox, will make his Dodger debut Monday in Colorado.
The Dodgers also optioned Alex Castellanos to Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday, thereby clearing room for new first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and infielder Nick Punto on the active roster. James Loney was the only player on the active roster who was traded to Boston.
Dodgers chairman Mark Walter blew away the other bidders when his Guggenheim Baseball Management submitted a billion-dollar bid to buy the team out of bankruptcy in March.
From his seat in the owners’ box at Dodger Stadium, where he is among the team’s most vociferous cheerleaders most nights, Walter continues to blow everyone away with cash. The latest strike: The most expensive trade in the history of Major League Baseball, which brought Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Dodgers on Saturday.
As Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com wrote today: “The Dodgers are trying to money-slap the opposition en route to the World Series.”
Asked if there’s a ceiling to how much the Dodgers can spend, Walter replied, smiling: “Somewhere, I suppose.”
“If there’s somebody out there in the next week or so, we’ll take a shot at it, as always,” general manager Ned Colletti told reporters at a press conference announcing today’s trade for Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto.
Perhaps the biggest x-factor is injuries.
Colletti said that he was motivated to acquire Punto after Jerry Hairston Jr. was sidelined for the rest of the season due to a hip labrum injury that will require surgery. Chad Billingsley‘s second bout with elbow inflammation underscored the need to acquire another starting pitcher in Beckett. Dee Gordon, Matt Guerrier and Ted Lilly are all currently out on rehab assignments, but there’s no guarantee that any of them will be back healthy before the end of the season.
I asked Dodgers president Stan Kasten if he could recall making a bigger trade in his 21 years as a baseball executive than the one the Dodgers pulled off today.
He could not. “I’m so old,” he joked.
Seriously, is it the biggest trade ever? Nine players were involved. The Dodgers took on about $261.8 million in payroll. Three of the nine players –Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett –are under contract beyond next season while the other major-leaguers involved, James Loney and Nick Punto, can be accurately classified as “rentals.” Fireballing right-hander Rubby De La Rosa (one of the players to be named later) is a future top-of-the-rotation-type pitcher. All of the prospects going to Boston are 25 or younger.
In 2005, the website HardballTimes.com published an article ranking the largest trades of all time. Here were the top four:
Here’s a snippet of what they’re saying over in Boston about today’s 9-player blockbuster trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers:
Journeyman infielder Nick Punto may have been the least critical part of the most expensive August trade in Major League Baseball history.
But on Saturday morning, he delivered the most valuable bit of news via his Twitter account (@shredderpunto) when he posted the following photo along with the message “#dodgers doing it first class!”
Keeping you up with Dodger news on this Monday off day.
Scott Hairston, who made a crucial out in the tenth inning on Sunday, was traded to the Athletics shortly after the game.
Via Eric Stephen at TrueBlueLA, the intentional pass Jeff Weaver issued to Adrian Gonzalez with the bases empty was only the third four-pitch IBB in a bases-empty situation. The previous walkees? Albert Pujols and Chipper Jones.
This weekend’s Dodger-related pieces: our Jill Painter thinks Manny is still hiding something. The LAT’s Bill Plaschke says the rest of the season started Sunday. And Bill Shaikin and Ben Bolch catch up with former Dodgers fading into different stages of oblivion: Eric Gagne and Joe Beimel.