Yasiel Puig still leading National League outfielders on all-star ballot; Adrian Gonzalez slips to second.

MLB provided an updated all-star ballot tally Sunday, and Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig still leads the pack with 1,942,701 votes. Andrew McCutchen (1,727,534) and Giancarlo Stanton (1,659,430) are second and third, respectively.

Adrian Gonzalez (1,049,222) fell behind Paul Goldschmidt (1,291,052) in voting among National League first basemen. No other Dodgers are among the top three vote-getters at their position.

Juan Uribe dropped out of the top five among National League third basemen. Hanley Ramirez remains fourth among shortstops with 667,162 — well behind Troy Tulowitzki, whose 2.6 million votes lead all National League players. Dee Gordon slipped to third among second baseman with 898,226, possibly past the point of catching leader Chase Utley (1,678,843).

Voting ends at 8:59 pm on July 3, 2014.

Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez continue their strong All-Star bids.

Yasiel Puig Adrian Gonzalez

Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez are attempting to become the first pair of Dodgers teammates to earn fan elections in an All-Star Game since 1980. (Getty Images)

Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez continue to lead all National League outfielders and first basemen, respectively, in updated All-Star balloting announced Monday.

Puig widened his lead over Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, 1,472,717 votes to 1,259,047 for Stanton. As of six days ago, Puig led Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon by about 52,000 votes. Blackmon fell out of the top three, surpassed by Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez. There are no other Dodger outfielders (Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are both on the ballot) among the top 15 vote-getters.

Puig entered play Monday ranked second in the N.L. with a .591 slugging percentage and a .430 on-base percentage, tied for fourth with 23 multi-hit games, fifth with 127 total bases, tied for sixth with 40 RBI and 30 extra-base hits and tied for seventh with 72 hits.

Gonzalez maintains his lead with 888,906 total votes. He is trailed closely by a pair of 2013 N.L. All-Stars – Paul Goldschmidt (784,026) of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Freddie Freeman (710,778) of the Atlanta Braves.

Puig and Gonzalez are attempting to become the first pair of Dodgers teammates to earn fan elections in an All-Star Game since 1980, when first baseman Steve Garvey, second baseman Davey Lopes, shortstop Bill Russell and outfielder Reggie Smith were all elected by the fans.

Three other Dodgers are among the top five vote-getters at their positions: second baseman Dee Gordon (second), shortstop Hanley Ramirez (fourth) and third baseman Juan Uribe (fifth).

The All-Star Game will be played at Target Field in Minnesota on Tuesday, July 15.

All-Star balloting update: Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez have the votes.

Adrian Gonzalez

Adrian Gonzalez made the All-Star team each year from 2008-11, but none since. (Associated Press)


Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez are the leading vote-getters at their respective positions for the National League All-Star Game.

Puig surged from fifth to first at the polls. His total of 935,276 votes leads Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon (883,186) and Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton (863,307).

Gonzalez (647,826) remained in line to start at first base for the second straight week, leading Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau (525,614).

Dee Gordon (530,289) remains second to Chase Utley (974,196) among National League second basemen, while Hanley Ramirez is fourth among shortstops (366,355) and Juan Uribe is fifth among third basemen (436,776).

Puig is the only Dodgers outfielder among the top 15 vote-getters. The game will be played at Minnesota’s Target Field on July 15.

Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe held out of lineup, could be headed for disabled list.

Juan Uribe has a mild right hamstring and will not play Friday night against the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers’ third baseman suffered the injury running out a double-play ball in the seventh inning Thursday night.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly didn’t rule out the possibility that Uribe could wind up on the disabled list.

“Hamstrings are tricky,” Mattingly said. “If you can’t run, you can’t play. We’ll give him a day. We’ll probably find out tomorrow.”

At least in Uribe’s case, the hamstring hasn’t been a nagging issue in recent years. He injured the same hamstring in 2008 as a member of the Chicago White Sox, but that was the last time the injury sent him to the disabled list.

Still, the Dodgers are being cautious with the 35-year-old, who’s played 318 ⅓ of a possible 335 ⅓ possible defensive innings this season.

“He’s walking around, he looks fine like anyone else,” Mattingly said. “Missing a week or two weeks is one thing, but if you’re missing months that’s when your season gets all out of sorts, when you go out on rehabs and you’re trying to get back in the groove, all that kind of stuff. It seems to be mild. We’ll try to keep it at that and not let it turn in to something better and not get too far down the road, as far as letting it screw up his year.”

The manager added that Uribe’s innings are likely to be filled from within the Dodgers’ 25-man roster for now. The right-handed hitting Justin Turner is starting at third base tonight against Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner. Switch-hitter Chone Figgins has appeared in 632 major-league games at third base — more even than Uribe.

Hanley Ramirez was the Miami Marlins’ third baseman when the Dodgers acquired him in July 2012. However, Ramirez told the team immediately after the trade that he would prefer not to move back and forth between positions during the same season, making him an unlikely fill-in for Uribe.

Here are the lineups for both teams:
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Daily Distractions: MLB clarifies its ‘transfer rule,’ but 7.13 is still baffling to Dodgers catcher.

Major League Baseball gave its players roughly one month to adjust to a new, literal interpretation of its “transfer rule.” Catch the ball, transfer the ball from glove to hand, make sure each of these steps is deliberate enough to be discerned on video review, and you’re good. That sounds simple. In practice, the rule demanded that fielders break a lifetime’s worth of hard-worn habits. Hanley Ramirez got burned on the call once this season, when he lost his grip on the ball after recording what looked like a forceout at second base. The umpire on scene ruled Ramirez didn’t make a catch in the first place.

Friday morning, the league officially changed its mind.

Beginning tonight, MLB announced that umpires will enforce the transfer rule according to a new standard — that is, the old standard. According to a league release, a catch or valid forceout/tag has occurred:

…if the fielder had complete control over the ball in his glove, but drops the ball after intentionally opening his glove to make the transfer to his throwing hand. There is no requirement that the fielder successfully remove the ball from his glove in order for it to be ruled a catch. If the fielder drops the ball while attempting to remove it to make a throw, the Umpires should rule that the ball had been caught, provided that the fielder had secured it in his glove before attempting the transfer. The Umpires will continue to use their judgment as to whether the fielder had complete control over the ball before the transfer.

It was too late for Ramirez, but it was nice to see the league act quickly. That said, there’s still at least one rule that the Dodgers would like to see clarified. Ramirez was involved in this one, too.

From my game story last night, in case you missed it, here’s what happened:

With Hanley Ramirez on third base and (Adrian) Gonzalez on first, (Yasiel) Puig hit a ground ball to Phillies third baseman Cody Asche. Asche fielded the ball deep in the third-base hole and threw to home plate, where Ramirez was out by several feet.

Or was he?

Mattingly popped out of the third-base dugout, asking for help. He demonstrated to the home-plate umpire, Mike DiMuro, what he saw from Philadelphia’s Ruiz: A catcher with both feet planted in front of home plate as Ramirez was bearing down.

According to the rule, which was ratified by MLB and the Players’ Association in spring training, “Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher, without possession of the ball, blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe.”

The problem for Mattingly was that Asche delivered a perfect strike to Ruiz in plenty of time to retire Ramirez. Hunter Wendelstedt initiated a crew chief’s review and baseball’s two new rules for 2014 suddenly collided, an instant replay being used to determine whether a catcher illegally blocked home plate.

Three minutes and 18 seconds later, the call stood. Ramirez was out.

Just before the next inning, I saw Dodgers catcher Tim Federowicz in the dugout demonstrating how to block home plate to pitcher Josh Beckett. After the game, Federowicz was still upset and confused by the sequence of events.

“I honestly thought that call was going to be overturned,” he said. “The only thing in their favor is that (Ruiz) got that ball in plenty of time. He probably got it a good 10 feet before the play. That’s what the final decision was probably on. My whole thing is, why have the rule saying you can’t block the plate without the ball, and he blocks the plate without the ball?”

Here’s a still image, taken from the video of the play, that shows where Ruiz was stationed when he caught the ball (unfortunately I couldn’t grab an image just before Ruiz made the catch):

Hanley  Ramirez

Whether Ruiz is illegally blocking Ramirez’s path to home plate represents a judgment call, too. Could Ruiz be more out of the way of the baseline? Of course. But, as noted at the time, Asche made an accurate throw. If Ruiz plants his mitt in the baseline and his body in foul territory to receive the throw, and Ramirez (who left on contact) sprints home at full speed and slides inside the baseline, Ruiz is in jeopardy of not being able to make the tag.

Maybe Wendelstedt factored this into his judgment. Rule 7.13 goes on to state that “it shall not be considered a violation of this rule if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in order to field a throw, and the Umpire determines that the catcher could not have fielded the ball without blocking the pathway of the runner.”

Watching the sequence in real time, Federowicz felt that Ruiz didn’t need to lay his right leg in the basepath in order to make the catch. Therefore, Ramirez should have been ruled safe.

“Hanley has nowhere to slide and he’s still out? I guess Hanley’s allowed to hit him in that situation,” Federowicz said. “But again, they scare all these runners from being able to do that. Nobody really knows the correct rule right now.”

Some bullet points for Arbor Day:
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Daily Distractions: Dodgers don’t make good rangers, among other problems in the field.

Hanley Ramirez

Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez committed one of two Dodger errors in a 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies Tuesday night. (Keith Birmingham/Staff photographer)

Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford wasn’t sure he could get to Carlos Ruiz‘s fly ball in the 10th inning Tuesday. There are two problems with this.

One, Crawford was able to get to the ball. (Check out the clip.) Ultimately he failed to recognize this and call off his shortstop, Hanley Ramirez.

Two, the reason Crawford didn’t know that he could get to the ball is because he has poor range for a left fielder. He basically admitted it afterwards, saying, “I didn’t think it was clearly my ball. That’s a long run for me.”

So if we’re really going to analyze the fielding woes that doomed the Dodgers in their 3-2 loss to Philadelphia last night, it’s not as simple as logging the number of errors (for the record, they have made errors in five straight games, a total of eight in that span). The best defensive metrics are never that simple.

What do the complicated metrics say?

FanGraphs’ Range Runs statistic measures the number of runs above or below average a fielder is, as determined by how the fielder is able to get to balls hit in his vicinity. Range Runs says that the Dodgers have four above-average fielders at their positions (among regulars): Yasiel Puig in right field (+2.3 runs), Juan Uribe at third (+2.2), Andre Ethier in center (+1.4) and even Crawford in left — albeit barely (+0.3).

Ethier has been below average this season when he shifts to right field (-0.5), as is Dee Gordon at second base (-0.2), Adrian Gonzalez at first base (-0.6), Hanley Ramirez at shortstop (-0.8) and Matt Kemp in center, by quite a bit (-2.0).

Translating that 2 into layman’s terms: The average center fielder has enough range to prevent two more runs from scoring than Kemp, and we’re less than a month into the season. That might be fine, except that Ethier and Crawford don’t offer much range in left and right, respectively. With Kemp in center, no wonder Puig acts like the only fielder capable of overcoming the limited range of literally every player around him — he is.

Maybe that’s why Kemp feels compelled to call off Puig on fly balls hit within 10 feet of him, which he did at one point Monday night.

A team’s fielding percentage tends to fluctuate with mistakes, like the occasional poor throw. Even Mark Ellis makes an occasional poor throw. Puig, for what it’s worth, hasn’t been charged with an error this season.

Range, however, is more fixed. So long as the body parts responsible for running are healthy — Crawford, Kemp, Ethier, Ramirez, Gonzalez and Gordon fall in this category — it’s unfair to expect significant improvement in their range. If anything, ordinary wear and tear might restrict their range further as the season goes on.

So it’s fairly safe to say the Dodgers have a range problem. Monday, Crawford complicated things by underestimating even his own range and not calling off Ramirez on a ball that should have been his.

It was a tough play to watch, and there will probably be more of those in the future.

Some bullet points for a Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day:
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Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez, in 1 for 17 slump, insists his left hand is fine, timing is off.

Hanley Ramirez boldly claimed that his left hand is fine after going 0-for-3 with a walk in the Dodgers’ loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday. Then he claimed — equally boldly — that he wouldn’t speak up if anything were wrong with his hand, which was struck by a pitch last Wednesday in San Francisco. Ramirez is 1 for 17 since.

“It is what it is right now,” he said. “But I’m 100 percent.”

Ramirez went on to lament his timing, saying “I’ve got to get back on track.” On Tuesday, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly agreed.

“More than anything, Mac (hitting coach Mark McGwire) sees him every day. I see him every day. We know what’s going on.

“I feel like he’s healthy. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. That part I’m not worried about. I think he’s just a little bit off.”

Today could be a get-well game for Ramirez. He’s 3 for 5 with a home run and a walk in his career against Phillies starter A.J. Burnett.

Daily Distractions: Why Sunday’s sixth inning encouraged Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.

Andre Ethier

Andre Ethier and Adrian Gonzalez made outs in the sixth inning Sunday, but impressed Don Mattingly in the process. (John McCoy/Staff photographer)

The Dodgers hit four home runs Sunday against the San Francisco Giants, but that’s not what had Don Mattingly excited.

Hanley Ramirez can hit home runs. That’s no revelation. Even Matt Kemp, Mattingly said, had his power swing on display from the time he reported to camp, with his high follow-through leaving many pitching machines in Glendale, Arizona with stratospheric ERAs.

No, what had Mattingly excited was the sixth inning.

Ramirez led off with a double into the left-field corner. Adrian Gonzalez was next up, and he hit a ground ball directly into the Giants’ shift. First baseman Brandon Belt fielded the ball and tossed to pitcher Matt Cain covering first base for the out. That didn’t matter to Mattingly, because Ramirez advanced to third base, then scored on a deeply hit sacrifice fly by Andre Ethier.

“That was a big run for us,” Mattingly said. “They cut it to 4-2 with a couple homers there. Hanley starts the inning with a double, Adrian gets him over with the ground ball, Andre gets him in. Sometimes last year we didn’t get that done very well. I was encouraged by that tonight.”

Indeed, the biggest complaint about the Dodgers’ offense for the first six weeks of 2013 was its lack of situational hitting. On June 14, the Dodgers were 10 games below .500 and averaging 3.5 runs per game. From June 15 on, they averaged 4.3 runs per game. The arrivals of Yasiel Puig and Ramirez were integral. They added two dimensions the offense lacked, speed and power. More importantly, they didn’t make as many outs as the men they replaced. By extension, the Dodgers had more runners on base and had more success moving them over. Their situational hitting improved.

The Dodgers might never have another inning like the sixth this season. But if it becomes a trend, that’s one less way a lineup full of superstars can fail to score.

Some bullet points for an International Beaver Day:
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Daily Distractions: Julio Urias gets his Mexican food, and Dodgers fans in Rancho Cucamonga get their prospects.

Julio Urias

Julio Urias struck out Will Venable and Yonder Alonso and got Chris Denorfia to ground out in his only spring training inning. (Associated Press photo)

This is a rough map of all the Mexican restaurants in Rancho Cucamonga.

Julio Urias is waiting.

On March 15, after he pitched a scoreless inning against the San Diego Padres — something Brian Wilson couldn’t do last night — Urias still didn’t know where he would begin the regular season. At least the Dodgers’ prized pitching prospect had no trouble identifying the hardest part of being uprooted to the United States at 16.

“It wasn’t really hard except for the food,” he said in Spanish. “The food was probably the hardest part for me.”

Fortunately for Urias, now 17, there are many options in the neighborhood of the Dodgers’ Single-A affiliate in the California League.

As we reported yesterday, Urias will be assigned to Rancho along with 2013 first-round draft picks Chris Anderson and Tom Windle, along with Corey Seager, the Dodgers’ first-round pick in 2012.

In case you’re counting at home, that’s four of the club’s top 10 prospects (per MLB.com) playing in one spot, about an hour east of Los Angeles.

Urias, Anderson and Windle all finished last season with Class-A Great Lakes, and each saw action in one Cactus League game. The Dodgers drafted Anderson and Windle in the first and second rounds of the 2013 draft, respectively, out of college. Urias was signed as a free agent out of Culiacan, Mexico.

Pitcher Zach Lee and outfielder Joc Pederson will begin the season with Triple-A Albuquerque. So will Matt Magill and possibly Onelki Garcia once he’s healthy.

Some bullet points for a Cesar Chavez Day:
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Spring training ends poorly for Dodgers’ Dan Haren.

Miguel Rojas

Miguel Rojas, who grounded out on this at-bat Saturday, finished spring training with a .387 batting average, second on the Dodgers to Justin Turner’s .389. (Associated Press photo)

ANAHEIM — Dan Haren‘s final spring tuneup was one to forget.

The right-hander allowed all six Angels runs in a 6-2 Dodgers loss before an announced crowd of 43,553 at Angel Stadium on Saturday.

The Dodgers resume regular-season play tomorrow in San Diego. It’s the Padres’ first game of the season. Opening Day for most major-league teams is Monday.

Last weekend, the Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks twice in Sydney, Australia and have a regular-season record of 2-0. They came back and lost two of three to the Angels, officially finishing spring training with a 7-12-5 record.

Haren didn’t go to Australia. Since the Dodgers only needed two starting pitchers (and kept Paul Maholm for insurance), Haren stayed behind and pitched minor-league spring training games in Arizona.

The playing environment changed dramatically Saturday. Haren went from games with no official statistics and no names on the back of players’ jerseys to a sold-out stadium. The change seemed to have caught him by surprise.

The Angels scored two runs in the first inning on back-to-back RBI doubles by Albert Pujols and David Freese. In the second inning, Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun hit back-to-back home runs.

Trout’s home run came on a hanging split-fingered fastball, Haren said, while almost all of the Angels’ other hard hits came off his cut fastball. Haren allowed six hits in two innings.

“It was just kind of getting it a little bit flat,” Haren said of his cutter. “I have to have the mindset of driving it down and away to a righty rather than just leaving it out there.

“I’m going to throw quite a few of them in the bullpen. I need to get that sharpened up. My other pitches were actually OK. I struggled with it last start too in the minor leagues. I threw a bunch in the last inning of that game.”

Haren starts Wednesday in San Diego, the finale of the three-game series with the Padres. His final major-league spring training ERA: 6.00.

“It’s the last one that doesn’t count,” Haren said. “No use thinking about it too much. I got some work in. It’s been a while since I felt like I’ve been on a mound, it seems like, at least in a real game. It didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. I feel OK. Just flush it down and move on to the next one.”

Said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly: “I’m glad it’s tonight and not Wednesday.”

The Dodgers scored both of their runs in the third inning on a two-run double by Chone Figgins. Most of the starters played only two defensive innings.

It was a good day for the Dodgers’ bullpen. Against almost entirely major-league competition, they combined for six scoreless innings: One by Brandon League, three by Matt Magill and two by Red Patterson.

The box score is here.

A few more notes:
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