Daily Distractions: ‘Analyzing’ the Dodgers-Diamondbacks ‘rivalry.’

The rivalry between the Dodgers and Giants has coasted for more than a century on a steady undercurrent of organic circumstances. There have been personal grudges (Wilbert Robinson vs. John McGraw), geographical allegiances (Manhattan vs. Brooklyn; San Francisco vs. Los Angeles), beanballs and brushbacks (Juan Marichal vs. John Roseboro). The fan violence is beyond unhealthy but there it is, holding up the ugliest corner of the narrative. It’s raw. It’s real.

And really, what says “raw” and “real” more than this:

The Arizona Diamondbacks have a pool to protect when the big, bad, overpaid Dodgers invade Chase Field for three games starting Friday. You know, when they “renew a rivalry” that has already been renewed three times in spring training and twice in Sydney. To protect the pool, the good people of Phoenix deployed their finest … mermaid, flanked by another woman dressed as the Jolly Green Giant and a dude wearing a Neptune costume. We can only hope that Arizona Sen. John McCain approves.

How seriously can we take a “rivalry” symbolized by a woman wearing a dolphin’s tail?

Seriously enough that MLB.com ran with the headline “Dodgers, D-backs return to ‘pool party’ scene.” The topic will probably get some airtime on Phoenix sports-talk radio. Maybe in Los Angeles too, unless the Lakers decide to “relieve Mike D’Antoni of his coaching duties” (or however someone gets fired these days … do coaches still get fired?).

Here’s a better storyline: Who wants these games more, a 3-8 Diamondbacks team that has been outscored 67-45, or a 6-4 Dodgers team that just split a pair of 10-inning burners against arguably the most talented club in the American League? It’s early April, not an important juncture in the baseball season. Though, for what it’s worth, no team is farther out of first place in any division than Arizona (four games).

Maybe that matters. Maybe it doesn’t. Until someone drops a shark in the pool, let’s not dwell on the pool.

In the meantime, here is the Diamondbacks’ PR director doing some kind of shoulder-shake dance. Or something:

 

Some bullet points for a Siblings Day:
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Daily Distractions: Watch Joc Pederson make a baseball disappear.

Joc Pederson made a baseball disappear Tuesday, with an assist from a Triple-A cameraman.

Pederson hit his third home run of the young season (above) in the Albuquerque Isotopes’ win over the Reno Aces. We know only that the ball cleared the center-field fence in Reno, which is 410 feet from home plate. It’s an understatement to say that Pederson has taken quickly to the Pacific Coast League; he’s 8 for 17 (.471) with three homers, two doubles and two stolen bases in the first five games of the season.

No one needed a reminder of Pederson’s skill. He spent all of spring training with the Dodgers, traveling to Australia for the exhibition game against the Australian National Team. He hit three Cactus League home runs but also struck out 13 times in 38 at-bats. If anything, the PCL is serving as a confidence booster for the 21-year-old prodigy.

Some bullet points for a Name Yourself Day:
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Dodgers acquire Colt Hynes from the Cleveland Indians, designate Mike Baxter for assignment.

Mike Baxter

The Dodgers designated outfielder Mike Baxter for assignment in order to make room for left-handed reliever Colt Hynes on the 40-man roster. (Getty Images)

In a move designed to add depth to their left-handed relief corps, the Dodgers acquired left-hander Colt Hynes from the Cleveland Indians for minor-league pitcher Duke von Schamann on Sunday.

Hynes, 28, was assigned to Triple-A Albuquerque. To make room for Hynes on the 40-man roster, outfielder Mike Baxter was designated for assignment.

Baxter appeared in parts of four games with the Dodgers, going 0-for-7 with a walk, before being optioned to Albuquerque to make room for Matt Kemp on the active roster.
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Dodgers bolster infield depth, claim Carlos Triunfel off waivers.

Carlos Triunfel

The Dodgers claimed Carlos Triunfel off waivers and assigned him to Triple-A Albuquerque. (Tacoma News-Tribune)

The Dodgers claimed infielder Carlos Triunfel on outright waivers from Seattle, added him to the 40-man roster and optioned him to Triple-A Albuquerque.

The 24-year-old Triunfel spent 2013 splitting time between the Mariners and Triple-A Tacoma in Seattle’s organization. An athletic infielder with a strong arm, Triunfel has shown the versatility to play shortstop, second base and third base and has played all three positions in both the Majors and minors.

In his seven minor league seasons, Triunfel has posted a .276 batting average. Last year at Triple-A Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League, he batted .282/.328/.394 with 30 extra-base hits among 108 total.

In 27 major-league games, all with the Mariners, Triunfel has a 11 hits in 66 at-bats (.167). He also batted .167 in eight Cactus League games.

The Dodgers now have 40 players on their 40-man roster.
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Daily Distractions: The National League’s best record is within the Dodgers’ reach.

Brian Wilson

The Dodgers are two games behind the Atlanta Braves for the National League’s best record. (Andy Holzman/Staff Photographer)

While I spent the weekend at a wedding in which two bridesmaids went chasing after a tossed bouquet like a a couple of defensive linemen going after a fumbled football (congrats Darryl and Amanda!), the Dodgers spent the weekend looking ahead to October.

How else to view the Michael Young trade, with the Phillies unloading their primary third baseman to a Dodgers team that might or might not use him extensively off the bench?

Looking ahead in a way the Dodgers won’t publicly, the best record in the National League is within their reach the next three days in Denver. If the Dodgers sweep the Colorado Rockies, and the New York Mets sweep the Braves in Atlanta (stranger things have happened; the Metropolitans are 4-3 in Atlanta this year), the best record in the National League belongs to the Dodgers. Atlanta is currently two games ahead of the Dodgers, 83-53 compared to 81-55.

The National League team with the best record on October 1 will have home-field advantage throughout the postseason until the World Series, thanks to the American League’s All-Star game victory. All those Dodger wins in July and August that had us reaching for the record books, searching for the best 40- and 50-game stretches in baseball history, might actually mean something after all.

So far as we can tell, the last time the Dodgers held the NL’s best record outright as late as Sept. 4 was in 1978.

And so the journey into scarcely charted territory continues.

More bullet points for Labor Day:
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Daily Distractions: Dodgers brace for first meeting with Nate Eovaldi.

Nathan Eovaldi

This is what Nate Eovaldi looked like after his first start for the Dodgers, a win on Aug. 6, 2011 in Arizona. (Getty Images)

It was said a couple days ago on the Dodgers’ broadcast that Nate Eovaldi‘s fastball is up to 100 mph these days. Sure enough, FanGraphs don’t lie.

Before the Dodgers dealt Eovaldi to the Miami Marlins in the Hanley Ramirez trade last year, the right-hander could dial up his fastball to 98-99. This year, batters are hitting .201 off his fastball — which bottoms out around 89 mph, a notable spread — and .269 off his other pitches, a cutter, curve, change, slider and two-seam fastball.

It’s easy to forget that Eovaldi was 22 at the time of his trade and that his arm probably had more in it. Now he’s 23 and coming off a serious bout of inflammation in his right shoulder that left him on the disabled list until June, and throwing harder.

The extra speed didn’t help much five days ago, when Eovaldi (2-3) endured the worst outing of his career. He was shelled for 11 runs by the San Francisco Giants, nine earned, on 12 hits in just three innings. The Marlins lost 14-10 and Eovaldi became the second pitcher to allow 11 or more runs in a game this season.

Eovaldi’s skill is raw but unrefined, which merely means that he fits in with the rest of the Marlins. Certainly the Dodgers have no buyer’s remorse on Ramirez. Still, it will be interesting to see how Eovaldi fares tonight against Zack Greinke — who, by the way, has the best ERA in the majors (min. 40 inning pitched) since July 8:

1. Greinke                             1.45 (9 ER/56.0 IP)
2. Jose Fernandez, MIA     1.53
3. Hiroki Kuroda, NYY        1.54
4. Clayton Kershaw, LAD  1.56 (9 ER/52.0 IP)
5. Jarred Cosart, HOU       1.60
6. Yu Darvish, TEX              1.73

Some bullet points for a hump day:
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Daily Distractions: You’re the best. No, really.

Yasiel Puig fans

Dodgers fans have pushed the team to first in Major League Baseball in attendance. (John McCoy/Staff Photographer)


If you’re a Dodger fan with a sense of entitlement, don’t let anyone knock you off your high horse today.

A recent study shows that Dodgers fans are the best. (OK, it’s actually a two-way tie for first.)

The study, conducted by a pair of marketing researchers at Emory University, contends that the Dodgers are getting as much out of their vast market than any team in baseball. Forbes’ team-by-team valuations are among the criteria, so the recent $2 billion sale of the franchise to Guggenheim Baseball Management certainly played a factor in the Dodgers placing first. Here’s a more detailed description of the research method:

… we use a “Revenue Premium” method. The intuition of this approach is that brand equity adds a premium to team’s revenues that goes beyond what would be expected based only on team quality and market size. To accomplish our analysis, we use a statistical model that predicts team revenues as a function of the team’s winning rates, division finish, market population, payroll, and stadium capacity. We use this model to predict each team’s expected revenue. To measure the quality of the team’s fan or brand equity we compare the forecasted revenue with estimates of actual revenue.

Earlier today, I discussed the two Southern California fan bases — Angels fans ranked 30th, dead last in the study — with local NPR affiliate KPCC (89.3-FM).

The only fanbase that matched the Dodgers? The Boston Red Sox, who coincidentally invade Dodger Stadium this weekend.

Some bullet points for a World Mosquito Day:
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Brian Wilson pitches scoreless seventh inning for Triple-A Albuquerque.

Brian WilsonBrian Wilson made sure his second rehabilitation assignment didn’t last much longer than his first.

Wilson pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning for Triple-A Albquerque on Friday night, using a groundout, a line-drive out to left field, and another groundout to retire the side on seven pitches.

In his first rehab assignment Wednesday, Wilson needed eight pitches to record three outs for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

The right-hander is expected to pitch in a couple more games for Albuquerque before joining the Dodgers next week. Don Mattingly said he already has a setup role in mind for Wilson.

“Kenley (Jansen) is our guy and everybody else is there to get the ball to Kenley,” the manager said.

Daily Distractions: Contemplating Kershaw contracts; Dodgers-Yankees; Yasiel Puig.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw is looking for a lot of money in his contract extension. But we knew that already, right? (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers are talking about a contract extension. One side or both might be getting antsy.

At least, that’s often the case when the terms of a deal are leaked to the media: To achieve something that negotiation cannot.

Kershaw said the leak came from the Dodgers’ camp, not his. Regardless, there’s not a whole lot we can read into the reports on CBSsports.com and FoxSports.com, mainly because the two stories differ on the dollar amounts being discussed and the likelihood of a deal happening in the near future.

If — and this is a fairly big if — Kershaw is seeking “about $225 million,” as CBSsports.com reports, he probably wouldn’t prefer the 10-year or 12-year contract structures mentioned on FoxSports.com, which would almost certainly lock in Kershaw to a longer term than he’s seeking. Those terms were more likely to have been proposed by the Dodgers. Again, this assumes the two reports are both drawing their separate information from reliable sources.

Is it wise to invest 12 years in a 25-year-old pitcher who has already thrown more than 1,000 major-league innings? In any player?

These are legitimate questions here. The Dodgers have probably asked them internally. At some point, we might discover what conclusion they reach. Does Kershaw think he’s worth 12 years and $300 million? Ask him yourself in about an hour.

Some bullet points for an Autistic Pride Day:

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Daily Distractions: Let #Puigapalooza begin.

Yasiel Puig has arrived, literally:

I wrote last night about what it really means for Puig and for the Dodgers; in short, it means that the plan changed. The Dodgers didn’t plan on having Puig in the majors this soon. Maybe Puig isn’t here if Carl Crawford, the Dodgers’ only outfielder who presents a stolen base threat, is healthy. Power-hitting Alex Castellanos is in Triple-A and he’s the only logical alternative — in fact, he’s the only other natural outfielder on the 40-man roster available for recall.

Puig was hitting well in Double-A Chattanooga, but will he still be as rough around the edges as he was in spring training? Should be fun to find out.

Some bullet points for an Opium Suppression Movement day:
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