Dodgers bringing six broadcasters on seven-game road trip.

The Dodgers announced that Nomar Garciaparra will join Orel Hershiser, Charley Steiner and Alanna Rizzo in the SportsNet LA television booth during a seven-game road trip beginning today in Denver.

Kevin Kennedy will call the game alongside Rick Monday on KLAC (570-AM). The Dodgers first used these television/radio pairings during the recent homestand, when Vin Scully missed two games due to a chest cold.

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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Daily Distractions: Alexander Guerrero’s short practice window opens now.

Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero said he already feels comfortable playing second base. (Associated Press photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Different players have told me on different occasions that only pitchers and catchers need a good four weeks-plus of spring training. Hitters don’t need nearly as much time to prepare for a season — maybe a week or two, as a general rule, if they’re in shape.

There are exceptions to the rule. Alex Guerrero is one.

Guerrero only played 12 games in the Dominican Winter League because of a nagging hamstring injury. That’s simply not enough games to expect the 27-year-old to transform into the Dodgers’ Opening Day second baseman after playing shortstop his entire career. Even Superman doesn’t change capes that fast.

Guerrero will take the field today as the Dodgers’ starting second baseman against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the first Cactus League game for both clubs. (Most other clubs begin playing games no sooner than Friday, since most clubs don’t start the season in the Southern Hemisphere.) Second base is the only Opening Day position remotely up for grabs — unless you count the starting pitcher — so it will be a primary focus on the field, starting today.

In an intrasquad game Sunday, Guerrero flawlessly charged a ground ball, picked it up on the run, and threw across his body to retire the runner at first base. He looked like a second baseman. If Guerrero looks that smooth in today’s game, it will be in large part because of the four lonely weeks he spent fielding ground balls at Camelback Ranch before pitchers and catchers reported to spring training.

“I’ve practiced enough that it comes naturally to me,” Guerrero said through an interpreter. “Training’s always going to be different than the game, but I feel comfortable.”

The Dodgers have 19 days’ worth of games — 21 in all — before leaving for Australia. Guerrero said it will be “very important” for him to see game action over the next three weeks at second base. But it’s not as if he’s picking up where he left off Dec. 12, his final Dominican Winter League game.

After receiving his United States work visa and entering the country on Jan. 13, Guerrero came to Camelback Ranch and got to work.

“I feel so much more comfortable at second now … than I did in the Dominican,” he said. “I feel like it’s natural to me now.”

Some bullet points for a National Pistachio Day:
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SportsNet LA releases details about its initial night of programming.

Vin Scully

Vin Scully will work the first Dodgers spring training telecast on SportsNet LA. (Associated Press photo)

The Dodgers announced the programming lineup for launch night of SportsNet LA, the team-owned network set to debut next Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The evening will begin with “Access SportsNet: Dodgers,” followed by the inaugural episode of “Backstage: Dodgers,” back-to-back “Connected With…” interview shows featuring Clayton Kershaw and Don Mattingly and a one-hour retrospective special about last year’s season.

Among the other “prominent Dodger personalities” that will be featured that night are co-owner Earvin “Magic” Johnson, broadcaster Vin Scully, and special advisor Tommy Lasorda.

SportsNet LA is still attempting to find carriers in addition to Time Warner. As of right now, only Time Warner subscribers will be able to tune in when the network goes live. A spokesperson for the network said that the channel number still hasn’t been announced.

Here are some more details, provided by the team, about SportsNet LA’s debut-night programs:

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Vin Scully will call first game on SportsNet LA, which will televise spring training games every day.

Vin Scully

Vin Scully will work the first Dodgers spring training telecast on SportsNet LA. (Associated Press photo)

The Dodgers’ new network will have games every day of spring training, beginning with its inaugural telecast of the Cactus League opener between the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Vin Scully will be behind the mic for the first game televised on SportsNet LA, scheduled for noon Pacific Time on Feb. 26.

“It is an incredible honor to have the remarkable opportunity to call the very first game on the Dodger network,” Scully said in a statement released by the team. “The Dodgers’ new ownership group has done a wonderful job assembling a team to make SportsNet LA what every Dodger fan deserves, a television network just for them. I’m humbled to be a part of it.”
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Vin Scully honored at Southern California Sports Broadcasters awards luncheon.

Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully was named the Chick Hearn Radio Play-By-Play award winner for the 16th time at the Southern California Sports Broadcasters awards luncheon Monday.

Scully also won the SCSB Best Television Play-By-Play Announcer award for the 12th time. The 86-year-old has been part of the Dodgers’ broadcast team since 1950. Scully will broadcast all Dodgers games in California and Arizona in 2014.

The 2013 Special Achievement Award was bestowed upon Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw. In November, Kershaw won the Branch Rickey Award from the Rotary Club of Denver for his off-field humanitarian work, and the National League Cy Young award for his pitching exploits.

Earlier this month, Kershaw signed  a seven-year, $215 million contract, the largest ever given a pitcher.

Daily Distractions: Don Mattingly, Dodgers are reportedly close on a contract extension, and the timing makes sense.

Don Mattingly

Don Mattingly and Ned Colletti might have a more pleasant news conference in the near future than their last one. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff photographer)


If the Dodgers and Don Mattingly reach agreement on a contract extension this week, the timing actually makes sense.

According to multiple reports Monday morning, the two sides are finally close to a contract that would keep Mattingly on the bench beyond this year. (His contract is set to expire at the season’s end.) It just so happens that Mattingly is in town for the Dodgers’ annual prospect camp. When he isn’t in town, Mattingly is more likely to be found on a farm in Indiana, or a college basketball game.

He mentioned all the way back in November that the Dodgers had begun talks on an extension, and that there was “no rush” to complete the deal. Two months later, with Mattingly and general manager Ned Colletti talking to the prospects, this seems like a logical time for the two to wrap up their own discussions.

As we mentioned last week, Mattingly’s status was going to be a burning question unless an extension was completed before spring training. That it’s taken this long to complete could simply be a reflection of Mattingly’s preference as he went about his usual off-season routine. It could also be a reflection of the complicated nature of manager’s contracts, which are not as uniform as player contracts.

Either way, this appears to be one storyline we can put to bed soon.

Lots of bullet points today:

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Daily Distractions: Devising the Dodgers’ resolutions for 2014.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw is set to become a free agent at the end of the 2014 season. (Associated Press photo)

While others lose weight and read more books and call their parents, we tried to go beyond the obvious here — i.e., “Win a World Series” — to come up with a checklist of some New Year’s resolutions more specific to the Dodgers.

In no particular order, here we go:

1. Don’t let Clayton Kershaw reach free agency. Jan. 17 is when teams and players exchange salary arbitration figures, and Kershaw is in his final year of arbitration eligibility. There’s an element of curiosity here: How much could the game’s best pitcher make in arbitration? The Dodgers, and their fans, would rather not know. The other important date to circle here is sometime in late October, the date when eligible free agents hit the market once the World Series ends. If Kershaw doesn’t have a contract by then, what will it take for the Dodgers to re-sign him? Would a championship and the largest contract in baseball history — the Dodgers might be able to offer both — be enough? The longer the left-hander goes without a multiyear extension, the more tempting it is to speculate why he’s determined to test the market. Until he re-signs, that speculation will linger.

2. Stay healthy. OK, this one applies to every team, and the Dodgers have enviable depth in their outfield, starting rotation, and bullpen to withstand the inevitable DL trips of 2014. That said, it’s not a stretch to say that the October injuries to Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp and (to an extent) Andre Ethier are what separated the Dodgers from the 2013 World Series. Dodger players spent more days on the disabled list in 2013 than all but six MLB teams. Luck always plays a significant role in injury statistics, but Stan Conte will try to create some better luck in 2014. He’ll absorb the duties of head athletic trainer Sue Falsone, who left to pursue other opportunities.

3. Re-sign Ramirez. Ramirez is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, too. Thanks to a lot of bad injury luck, he played only 86 games in 2013, but he was the Dodgers’ most productive offensive player when healthy. A full season of a 191 wRC+ is probably unsustainable. Anything close to that will result in a lucrative payday.

4. Manage the farm intelligently. A concern for any team in any year, but consider recent history. Relatively speaking, there wasn’t much to manage in the Dodgers’ system until mid-2012. Because of that, they aren’t in great position to package any prospects in an off-season trade — say, for David Price — or sign a free agent who would cost a first-round draft pick. Now, the Dodgers at least have some intriguing prospects at Double-A (Joc Pederson, Ross Stripling, Zach Lee), High-A (Corey Seager) and Low-A (Chris Anderson, Julio Urias). If they aren’t traded, they need to produce. If they are traded, the return needs to be huge.

5. Make a decision on Don Mattingly. At the end of the season, this is what I wrote: “If [Mattingly's] contract isn’t extended by the time the 2014 season begins, questions about his standing within the organization remain legitimate. The challenge of commanding a clubhouse as a ‘lame duck’ manager will linger. If Mattingly does get his extension between now and spring training, then we’re all left to wonder what took so long.” These questions haven’t been answered yet.

Some bullet points for a Berchtold’s Day:
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