Unlike a lot of Southern California kids, Davidson wasn’t a Dodger or Angel fan growing up, though he did attend a handful of games at each park.
The Dodgers haven’t completed any trades this morning, and don’t appear to be close on any either. They have had some interest in making trades within their division, but that’s a difficult proposition. Especially when you’re in first place, the rest of the division trying to knock you off your perch.
That didn’t stop the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres from pulling off a rare intradivision swap Wednesday morning. The Padres receive starting pitcher Ian Kennedy, while the Diamondbacks receive relief pitcher Joe Thatcher, minor-leaguer Matt Stites and a draft pick.
The trade unites Kennedy and outfielder Carlos Quentin in San Diego, the two players responsible for inciting benches-clearing brawls with the Dodgers this season.
The “second half” of the season will consist of 68 games for the Dodgers. Here’s what to watch for:
1. For lack of an obvious turning point in the Dodgers’ schedule over the next month, check out the Diamondbacks’ road trip from July 30 to August 4: Two in Tampa, one in Texas (a makeup game), followed by three in Boston. The Dodgers play the Cubs four times in that stretch, making it a good time to make up ground in the division.
2. The fourth and fifth spots in the rotation. They belong to Ricky Nolasco and Stephen Fife, once healthy, until further notice. The Dodgers are expected to announce a decision on Ted Lilly today — one that doesn’t involve him going back into the rotation — and move Chris Capuano to the bullpen once Fife returns from the disabled list.
3. The bullpen. As I indicated in my midseason report card, the Dodgers need more than three reliable pitchers out of the bullpen. With two open spots on the 40-man roster, count on one going to a relief pitcher over the next six weeks. Maybe it’s Carlos Marmol. Maybe it’s someone outside the organization who can provide a better right-handed complement to Kenley Jansen than deposed closer Brandon League.
4. Matt Kemp‘s shoulder. How much will a week’s worth of rest and a few rehab games do for Kemp’s swing? His power was almost nonexistent in the first half, as reflected in a devilish .666 OPS. Kemp could easily find himself batting fifth or lower when he returns next week from his latest stint on the disabled list.
5. Outfield playing time. Only left fielder Carl Crawford seems assured of an everyday place in the lineup. For all their talent, the others each have something to prove: Kemp that he doesn’t need occasional rest to be a productive hitter; Yasiel Puig that he’s not a strikeout machine; Andre Ethier that he’s not a platoon player (his batting average against left-handers is down to .245 and at home it’s .226).
Some bullet points to tide you through the weekend:
A list of the most popular jersey sales on MLB.com/shop was released today:
1. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
2. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
3. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
4. David Wright, New York Mets
5. Matt Harvey, New York Mets
6. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
7. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
8. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
9. Mike Trout, LA Angels of Anaheim
10. Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers
11. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers
12. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
13. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
14. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
15. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
More on Puig in a bit. Let’s not overlook that Ryu jersey sales rank 11th, only Puig separating Ryu from the buzz-worthy title of “Dodgers rookie sensation.” And that four Dodgers (with the cross-cultural appeal that comes with representing four different ethnic groups) rank among the top 15.
Onto the bullet points:
The Dodgers’ 6-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday drew a 4.1 rating on Fox Sports Prime Ticket in the Los Angeles market, according to Sports Media Watch. That’s a season high and the network’s best Dodgers rating since 2009. The Dodgers’ season average has improved by 6 percent since mid-June.
The hype surrounding rookie right fielder Yasiel Puig is certainly a factor in the Dodgers’ improved ratings. Monday also held the intrigue of a rematch between two teams who brawled in their last series, and are currently first and second in their division.
Any fines and suspensions that Major League Baseball plans to levy on the participants in Tuesday’s brawl between the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks will have to wait until tomorrow.
That doesn’t mean that players and coaches on both sides weren’t anticipating it Wednesday.
The Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks confirmed Wednesday that they will begin the 2014 season with a pair of games in Sydney, Australia. The news was first reported last October by the Sydney Morning Herald.
The games will be played Saturday, March 22 and 23, 2014 at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Dodgers president Stan Kasten said that his team will play a spring training game in Arizona on Sunday, March 16 and fly from Phoenix to Sydney that night. After a day off Tuesday, the Dodgers will work out Wednesday, then play an exhibition game against an Australian team on Thursday. There may be a second exhibition game Friday — Kasten said “I don’t think we need it” — and leave for Los Angeles at the conclusion of Sunday’s game.
“It’ll be a long trip but we hope well worth it,” Kasten said.
So will Major League Baseball.
A spokesperson for the league said that Joe Garagiola Jr., MLB’s senior vice president of standards and on-field operations, will review video of the incident to determine if fines or suspensions are warranted. Even though six participants — Kirk Gibson, Ian Kennedy, Turner Ward, Mark McGwire, Yasiel Puig and Ronald Belisario — were ejected, others could face supplemental discipline.
The crew chief, first-base umpire Brian Gorman, told pool reporter Ken Rosenthal that Puig and McGwire were ejected for being instigators, while Belisario was “out of control.”
Gibson and Kennedy were automatically ejected and precedent holds that both could be suspended. Then-Dodgers manager Joe Torre and pitcher Clayton Kershaw were suspended in July 2010 for throwing at Aaron Rowand of the San Francisco Giants. Torre was suspended one game, Kershaw five.
Some of the 15 Dodgers players on the disabled list went on the field, including Chris Capuano and Josh Beckett. That hasn’t historically resulted in suspensions, though Garagiola may choose to fine the two pitchers.
Coincidentally, Garagiola was the Diamondbacks’ first general manager, from 1997-2005.
Some more bullet points that didn’t make my game story last night:
If you haven’t seen the brawl between the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks, the most thorough video is up on MLB.com.
As you can see, a number of Dodgers players and coaches look upset. Angry, even. Enraged, boiling mad, fuming …
A few hours after the game the adrenaline had died down but the sentiment had not. What were the Dodgers so upset about?
All quotes courtesy of the Associated Press …