First baseman Adrian Gonzalez is about as close as it gets to a sure thing here – on the field, in the community, in the clubhouse. Second baseman Mark Ellis is aging but consistent. Then the questions begin. Who will back him up? Can Hanley Ramirez’s glove be trusted at shortstop or at third base? What happens to Dee Gordon? What is Juan Uribe doing here?
Get ready for a higher cable bill.
That was one of many takeaways from yesterday’s news that the Dodgers and Time Warner Cable are on the verge of striking a local-cable rights pact that could be in the neighborhood of $8 billion.
Under the deal, colleague Tom Hoffarth reports, “TWC would be the anchor of this new Dodger channel and provide plenty of cross promotion with its own TWC SportsNet and Deportes channels created specifically for the Lakers. But as TWC found out, there was plenty of pushback from distributors when it launched its two-channel package in October leading up to the start of the Lakers season – mostly because of the high-end $3.95 price tag per subscriber per month. DirecTV, for example, didn’t get on board with it until the middle of November. Dish Network has yet to sign on.”
Even if you don’t care for the Lakers, you probably know someone who does and had to sweat through the TWC SportsNet launch last fall. If that was you, are you ready for the same song-and-dance with the Dodgers next year?
Would you rather see the $8 billion price tag come down? Or are you happy that your owners might turn an approximate $6 billion profit less than one year after buying the team, knowing that might mean more flexibility to add payroll and upgrade Dodger Stadium?
Onto the links:
The Dodgers, once the undisputed major-league leaders in bunting, have fallen to second — 71 to the Milwaukee Brewers’ 73 –in successful sacrifices. Don’t take your eye off this race.
In what appeared to be an attempt to correct this disturbing trend, several Dodgers took part in extra bunting practice before Thursday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Dee Gordon and Shane Victorino were both on the field crouched, bat head out in front of the plate, about four hours before tonight’s game.
But only one of the two is in the lineup today, and Victorino is hitting sixth for only the seventh time this season — the first time as a Dodger. Andre Ethier is batting second for the first time since Aug. 1.
“I’ll bunt,” Ethier said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to help the team.”
Maybe he won’t have to.
“I probably wouldn’t bunt (a baserunner) over with Andre,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Rosters expand Saturday around Major League Baseball to include all players on the 40-man roster. The Dodgers are expected to bring two players up from Triple-A Albuquerque: catcher Tim Federowicz and pitcher Javy Guerra.
Federowicz is hitting .296/.371/.465 with 11 home runs and 76 RBIs in 114 games, which ranks third on the Isotopes. The 25-year-old appeared in the first seven games of his major-league career last season with the Dodgers, going 2-for-13.
Guerra had a pair of scoreless two-inning stints Aug. 22 and 25, then allowed four runs while recording only one out last Wednesday in Oklahoma City. His Triple-A ERA is an unsightly 8.31.
Those are the only two players expected to be added to the active roster Saturday, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that more could be added later on. One possibility is Dee Gordon, who was transferred to the 60-day disabled list on Thursday and therefore can’t come off until next Monday at the earliest.
Gordon is batting just .133 (2-for-15) in Albuquerque as he recovers from surgery on his right thumb, however, and might not be back Monday.
“He really hasn’t swung the bat well yet, so we’re going to let him play as long as we can,” Mattingly said.
The Pacific Coast League regular season ends Monday. The Isotopes are in first place, one game ahead of the Oklahoma City Redhawks, but have yet to clinch a playoff berth. Assuming they clinch, they would advance to a best-of-five first-round series, and Gordon could keep playing there.
Right-hander Matt Guerrier was activated from the 60-day disabled list Thursday, ending a DL stay that began on April 19. He’s eligible to pitch tonight after missing 118 games with tendinitis in his right elbow.
In five rehabilitation outings for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, Guerrier allowed three hits and two runs in five innings. He pitched a scoreless inning Monday for the Quakes. In seven appearances spanning 6 2/3 innings in May, Guerrier allowed two runs.
To make room for Guerrier on the active roster, Josh Wall was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque. The right hander was 1-0 with an 11.57 ERA in three games.
To make room for Guerrier on the 40-man roster, Dee Gordon was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Gordon, who hasn’t played since tearing a ligament in his right thumb July 5, will be eligible to return on Sept. 3.
Chris Reed was pulled from his start for Double-A Chattanooga after just two innings Sunday. Reed pitched well, facing the minimum six batters, so unless there was an injury it’s hard to explain on the surface why he was pulled. I couldn’t find any reports out of Jackson (the Jackson Generals beat the Lookouts, 5-4) so I put in an email to the Lookouts to get the skinny.
Without knowing anything else, it’s tempting to believe that Reed is the next Dodgers prospect headed out in a blockbuster trade. A first-round draft pick (16th overall) out of Stanford last year, Reed was the Dodgers’ representative in the Futures Game this year.
But even if Reed was pulled because he’s involved in trade talks, that doesn’t mean he’s been traded. That was the case when Garrett Gould was scratched from a start in June. He ended up not going anywhere.
Saturday was an interesting day for the Albuquerque Isotopes.
The Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate lost Ivan De Jesus Jr., who had started 49 games at second base, in the blockbuster nine-player trade with the Boston Red Sox. De Jesus is not on the Pawtucket Red Sox’s roster as of yet and there may be room for him in Boston. Could be a good opportunity for De Jesus, the 25-year-old former prospect who batted a respectable .273 in 23 major-league games this season.
Jerry Sands wasn’t packing his bags for Pawtucket, likely because he was claimed on the waiver wire by a rival team and could not be immediately included in the trade. One of two players to be named later (Rubby De La Rosa is the other), Sands hit his 25th home run of the season in the Albuquerque Isotopes’ 4-2 win in Memphis.
“It’s been crazy,” Sands told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “That’s part of the business. It’s exciting that people are interested in me. I’m valuable to some people. I’m here for the time being, so I’m just trying to help this ballclub win some games.”
Ramirez, 28, was the National League Rookie of the Year in 2006, when he hit .292/.353/.480 (BA/OBP/SLG) with 17 homers and 59 RBIs. He hit a career-high 33 home runs in 2008 and won a batting title the next season, hitting a career-high .342.
Between injuries and poor play, however, Ramirez wore out his welcome in Miami. In 2011 Ramirez missed the final two months of the season with a shoulder injury; he also missed two weeks in June with a lower back strain. His stats suffered too: a .243 average, .333 on-base percentage, .379 slugging percentage, 10 home runs and 45 RBIs were all career lows. Ramirez’s stolen bases have also plummeted from 51 in 2006, to 20 in 2011, and 14 this year.
But he gives an immediate boost of power to a Dodgers team that ranks last in the majors in home runs (60). Ramirez’s 14 home runs and 47 RBIs both ranked second on the Marlins; only Matt Kemp has hit as many home runs and only Andre Ethier has more RBIs among the Dodgers. Ramirez is batting .246 this season, mostly out of the second or third spot in the order.
A shortstop in his first six major-league seasons, Ramirez switched to third base this season after the Marlins signed veteran shortstop Jose Reyes last winter. Ramirez’s eight errors are the ninth-fewest among everyday major-league third basemen.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, quoting Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, wrote on his Twitter account: “It’s no secret I love the kid. He needs to have a fresh beginning, a new beginning. This is a very painful moment for me. But we had to do something.”
Earlier Tuesday, USA Today reported that both the owner and Miami manager Ozzie Guillen wanted Ramirez traded.
Choate, 36, joins his fifth team in a 12-year major league career. He is tied for 19th in the National League in appearances (44) and has held left-handed hitters to a .150 batting average this season while not allowing a home run.
It’s been true for some time that the Dodgers are in the market for a starting pitcher, a left-handed reliever, and a corner infielder. Scratch Carlos Lee’s name off the list of available players, though general manager Ned Colletti doesn’t necessarily believe that Lee’s trade to the Miami Marlins last week is a sure sign the market is heating up.
“For the sellers, there’s never a sense of urgency until you get to the 31st,” Colletti said, referring to the August 31 trade deadline. “The seller’s risk is injury. They can wait it out right until the bell.”
Injuries? The Dodgers have plenty of those.
The Dodgers (14-12-4) overcame a rare bad outing by Clayton Kershaw, scoring six runs off the Arizona bullpen to break open a 3-3 game before an announced crowd of 12,799 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. [box score]
Matt Angle went 1-for-2 with his first Cactus League home run, a two-run shot in the eighth inning off Keith Hessler. Justin Sellers went 1-for-2 with a two-RBI single in the sixth. Dee Gordon went 2-for-3 and 10 other Dodgers collected one hit each.
Gordon stole his 11th base of the spring in the first inning; he was caught for the fourth time an inning later. Relievers Josh Lindblom, Ronald Belisario, Scott Rice, Stephen Ames and Wil Ledezma did not allow a run over the final 5 1/3 innings.
Kershaw allowed six hits and three earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. More on him in tomorrow’s editions. A few more notes: