Daily Distractions: How relationships made a difference for Skip Schumaker, Dan Haren.

Brian Wilson

Skip Schumaker, left, and Nick Punto have fun after tearing the jersey off Brian Wilson after the Dodgers beat the Giants in September. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff photographer)

Skip Schumaker had never been a free agent before this year, and he wasn’t a free agent for long. Less than a month after the World Series ended, Schumaker signed a two-year contract with the Cincinnati Reds.

“I didn’t really want to wait because I felt so good about Cincinnati,” he said on a conference call Tuesday.

The idea of waiting in traffic on the way to Dodger Stadium didn’t appeal to Schumaker, either. His carpool buddy, Nick Punto, had just signed with the Oakland A’s on Nov. 13. That mattered.

“I didn’t know who was coming back,” Schumaker said. “I didn’t know what coaches were coming back, which players. My friends were signing elsewhere – especially Nick Punto – becoming free agents.”

Dan Haren had been a free agent before. This time, the pitcher had help from Zack Greinke, his teammate with the Angels late in the 2012 season.

“I kind of talked to (Greinke) throughout the whole process,” said Haren, who finalized a one-year deal with the Dodgers on Monday. “He said the team is amazing. … It’s nice coming into a situation where there’s a familiar guy.”

This principle is nothing new, but it was interesting to see it work both for and against the Dodgers in the span of two days.

Schumaker’s contract with the Cincinnati Reds was widely reported last week and became official Tuesday. Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reported that Schumaker will make $2 million in 2014, $2.5 million in 2015 and there is a $2.5 million club option for 2016 with a $500,000 buyout.

Apparently the Dodgers weren’t that interested in bringing him back.

“They had so many things going on initially,” Schumaker said, “I felt I was maybe on the back burner.”

Some bullet points for a Thanksgiving/Hanukkah weekend. These will be the last until Monday:
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Clayton Kershaw wins the National League Cy Young Award. How they voted.

Clayton Kershaw won the National League Cy Young Award today. Please click here to read my full story on the inevitable — but not unanimous — honor.

Not included in that story are how the final votes added up, and where they came from. Here’s the final points tally, courtesy of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America:
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Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke collects Silver Slugger award.

Zack GreinkeDodgers pitcher Zack Greinke was chosen as the winner of the Silver Slugger Award at his position Wednesday.

Greinke led qualifying MLB pitchers with a .328 batting average, 19 hits and a .409 on-base percentage, and tied for the MLB lead with two stolen bases. Along with Clayton Kershaw, Greinke was one of two Dodgers pitchers who was used as a pinch-hitter by manager Don Mattingly this season. Greinke walked in his only pinch-hit appearance.

Orel Hershiser in 1993 was the last Dodgers pitcher to win the award, which has been given out every year since 1980. Fernando Valenzuela (1981, 1983) and Tim Leary (1988) are the others.

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis chimed in with his support on Twitter:

Daily Distractions: About the newfangled sabermetric Gold Glove Award component, and which Dodger it helps.

Zack Greinke

Zack Greinke is one of five Dodgers nominated for Gold Glove Awards. (Associated Press photo)

At 320 pages, the most recent edition of The Fielding Bible is shorter than most editions of the more famous Bible, but still rather long for a topic that’s proved difficult to qualify and quantify over the years. There’s no Cliffs Notes version of the Fielding Bible, but I’ll recommend this excerpt that claims Matt Kemp shouldn’t have won a Gold Glove Award in 2011. Whether you agree with the conclusion or not, the thought process behind the conclusion is very insightful.

Today is a big day for fielding. THE big day. The Gold Glove award winners will be revealed at 5 p.m. in a live show on ESPN2, and five Dodgers are among the finalists. Their fates depend in part on a new wrinkle to the voting process: The SDI, short for the SABR Defensive Index.

The SDI counts for approximately 25 percent of the vote, according to SABR’s website, and that 25 percent can be further broken down into a series of acronyms that look like a disorganized jumble of refrigerator magnets: DRS, UZR, RED, DRA and TZ. Managers and coaches still hold a majority of the vote, and each player’s SDI score was included on the ballots distributed to each team’s staff.

What does it all mean, and what does this have to do with The Fielding Bible?

Fielding Bible co-author John Dewan is the co-founder of Stats LLC and the owner of Baseball Info Solutions, whose data feeds into all those nifty acronyms — and this year, the Gold Glove Award. And Dewan’s data believes that Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke should win a Gold Glove Award.

Yesterday, TheFieldingBible.com posted its annual picks for the best fielder at each position in the majors. Greinke is scarcely mentioned, because the two leagues weren’t separated and Toronto Blue Jays right-hander R.A. Dickey was chosen as the best fielding pitcher in baseball. But Greinke was chosen as the second-best fielding pitcher in baseball, and the best in the National League.

Greinke has never won a Gold Glove Award (a tiny shame, since his current contract holds no Gold Glove Award bonuses but his last contract, signed with the Kansas City Royals in 2009, did). Tonight could be his night. If so, he can thank SDI and TMI — too much information.

Some bullet points for a Turkish Republic Day:
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Five Dodgers are among the Rawlings Gold Glove Award finalists.

Mark Ellis

Mark Ellis dives for a ground ball in a June game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. (Associated Press photo)

Third baseman Juan Uribe, catcher A.J. Ellis, second baseman Mark Ellis, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and pitcher Zack Greinke are finalists for Rawlings Gold Glove Awards at their respective positions.

The finalists were announced Friday morning. Winners will be announced on ESPN2 at 5 p.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday.

The Dodgers’ five finalists are second only to the Baltimore Orioles, who have six. The Kansas City Royals also have five Gold Glove Award finalists.

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Some key stats for Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.

Joe Kelly

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly limited the Dodgers to two runs in six innings in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. (Associated Press photo)


Since it caught a few eyes with yesterday’s starting pitcher, I’m going to rip the Joe Kelly-versus-the-Dodgers statistics straight off baseball-reference.com. Check it out:

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How (and when) Ricky Nolasco became the Dodgers’ Game 4 starter.

Ricky Nolasco

Ricky Nolasco will start Game 4 of the National League Division series for the Dodgers. (Associated Press photo)

Ricky Nolasco is starting Game 4 of the National League Championship Series for the Dodgers, just like everyone knew all along.

Yeah, right.

Not even manager Don Mattingly was sold on Nolasco at this time yesterday.

“We met yesterday,” he said. “I wasn’t feeling great about it. I wasn’t feeling 100 percent about it. It was on my mind all day yesterday, all the time here at the ballpark yesterday early on. It was on my mind: ‘What was the right thing to do?’ After we met, it got a chance to keep sinking in. At the beginning it wasn’t feeling great. About the third inning I said to Rick ‘I’m going with Ricky tomorrow.’ That was it.”
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Will Ricky Nolasco or Zack Greinke start Game 4 of NLCS? Check back after Game 3.

Ricky Nolasco

Ricky Nolasco went 0-2 with a 12.75 ERA in his final three regular-season starts. (Associated Press photo)

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly conceded Monday that the outcome of Game 3 tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals will influence his choice of a starting pitcher for Game 4.

Ricky Nolasco, the scheduled starter, said he hasn’t been told that anyone is taking place. But Mattingly’s concession was the first time the manager has publicly acknowledged the possibility of Game 1 starter Zack Greinke pitching on three days’ rest.

“Ricky is ready to go,” Mattingly said. “I’ll probably be able to tell you a lot more after the game. I would say, yes, today’s results may have something to do — but like I said, Ricky is ready to go right now.”
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Dodgers manager Don Mattingly: Hyun-Jin Ryu will start Game 3, Ricky Nolasco Game 4 of NLCS.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Dodgers rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu will start Game 3 of the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday. (Sarah Reingewirtz/Staff photographer)

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly announced that Hyun-Jin Ryu will start Game 3 and Ricky Nolasco Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals in Los Angeles.

That puts perhaps the greatest pressure on Ryu, who must oppose Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright when the Dodgers return home Monday. Wainwright has pitched in 15 postseason games in his career, starting six and recording four saves. In starts, he is 3-0 with a 2.54 ERA. He pitched a complete game and allowed one run Wednesday in the Cardinals’ series-clinching win against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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Dodgers facing plenty of questions for National League Championship Series roster spots.

Dee Gordon

Dee Gordon’s contribution to the Dodgers’ first-round series against the Atlanta Braves was an unsuccessful stolen base attempt in the ninth inning of Game 2. (Sarah Reingewirtz/Staff photographer)

Don’t expect any National League Championship Series roster announcements from the Dodgers this afternoon.

The team has scheduled a simulated game for 5 p.m. this afternoon at Dodger Stadium. Since it’s expected to rain the rest of the afternoon, there is a chance they will work out indoors. There are more television screens inside, so that might not be a bad thing.

That’s because 5 p.m. is also the scheduled start time for Game 5 of the Division Series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals. If the Cardinals win, Game 1 of the NLCS is Friday in St. Louis. If the Pirates win, Game 1 is Friday in Los Angeles.

And until a winner is determined, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly isn’t likely to commit to the 25 men he wants for the next round.
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