Ahhh 2 of the best words in all of sports Opening Day. After almost 2 months of practice and spring training the Dodgers face off against their arch rivals from the North. Yesterday Lasorda’s Lair and Frisco Fastball brought you part 1 of our opening series preview. Today we give you part 2, a 6 pack of questions about the Dodgers asked by Ezekiel Escobar at Frisco Fastball and answered by me, our picks to click for the series, and an injury report, enjoy.
Oh and in case you missed it last night, our favorite Dodgers prospect Rubby De La Rosa was absolutely dominant against the Mariners, allowing only 2 hits and striking out 6 in 5 and two thirds innings pitched. Rubby faced Ichiro twice, striking him out both times, and in his first at bat on 3 straight pitches, including making Ichiro look foolish on an 0-2 change-up, rarely do you see Ichiro look like that in an at bat. Rubby consistently hit 97 to 98 on his fastball, even in the 6th inning. The Dodgers also finalized their 25 man roster, and as we predicted AJ Ellis stayed on the roster as the 25th man. The games start for real in a matter of hours!!!
1. What is your reaction to the Juan Uribe signing? And what are you expecting out of him for the Dodgers? Most Dodger fans I have talked to have mixed feelings about signing Uribe. On the one hand, they overpaid for a guy who’s a career .255 hitter with a .299 OBP and has only been a full-time starter in 4 of his 11 seasons.(Due to the Dodgers front office issues they backload contracts, they are paying Jason Schmidt 1.5 million dollars this year and will pay Uribe a million dollars in 2014) On the other hand, he was clutch last year in the playoffs, NLCS game 6, 8th inning anyone? I do like the fact that he can play multiple positions as the Dodgers will need that from him. He’s been healthy for most of his career and at 32 years old there’s a decent chance they will get 3 more average Uribe years out of him. Considering what they got from Casey Blake (3B) and Blake DeWitt/Ryan Theriot (2B) last year, Uribe certianly looks like an upgrade. I’ll take the .250 BA if he hits another 20+ HR’s and drives in 80+ runs.
2. Do you feel the ongoing divorce proceedings/financial woes will effect the Dodgers this year, on the field? Why do you have to do this to me:) Financially yes it will impact them on the field cause they don’t have the resources they should have. The money they could have spent for a quality left fielder was spent on matching $19 million dollar Malibu beach houses. The $ for a potential ace ie Halladay or Cliff Lee was spent on 6 other houses throughout the globe. In case you can’t tell I don’t approve of the McCurts reckless personal spending. Up until the last 2 drafts they invested very little $ in their minor league player development, thankfully they have reversed that trend. Given the constraints he has had to work under former Giant Ned Colletti has done an admirable job with rounding out the roster with veterans (Ted Lilly, Jon Garland, Uribe, Matt Guerrier & resigning Hiroki Kuroda) As far as the divorce on the field I can only hope the players are pros and show up to do their job every day. It’s really sad but there is actually a really good blog called Dodger Divorce.com that covers the sordid details of the divorce. When you get into it, it’s disgusting to see the debt (Over $450 million) that the McCourts have racked up since 2004, with most of it going to their own personal use. As a Giant fan I would hope for the divorce to linger for years. As a Dodgers fan I can only hope it ends soon. However, it’s clear that both McCourts are broke and have no business running this once proud franchise. Due to their huge amount of debt, and the value of the franchise ($800 milllion) they will obviously fight tooth and nail for the team as it’s probably their only asset and the only way they can cover their lawyer fees, not to mention the $459 million in debt they’ve racked up. I just pray McCourt doesn’t demolish Dodger Stadium to make way for an NFL team. But clearly Dodger fans and all of MLB deserves better than owners who use the team as their personal luxury spending account.
3. Who is the one player you feel will make the biggest impact on the Dodgers this season? Matt Kemp. He has had a great spring and showed up to camp 15 pounds lighter and is also playing for his next contract. He has a lot to prove from his rough season last year and I think he has a bounce back season. On the mound it’s Clayton Kershaw there is no reason he shouldn’t throw his name in the hat with Lincecum, Ubaldo, etc…for the NL Cy Young award.
4. What minor league player can we expect to see have an impact with the Blue this year? To start the season it will be Ivan De Jesus Jr. He was on the fast track to the majors before he broke his leg in a gruesome slide at home plate and missed all of the 2009 season. He was a surprise to make the squad out of camp and is supposed to get most of the playing time at second base until Casey Blake returns from the DL. If he gets off to a hot start he may be able to stay with the big league squad all year. Also look out for a pitcher named Rubby De La Rosa, Giant fans may remember him from when he threw 4 no-hit innings against them earlier this spring. If the Dodgers suffer serious injuries to their starting pitching he could get the call. His stuff is electric, a high 90′s fastball and a nasty changeup. He came out of nowhere last year to be the organization’s pitcher of the year and may take another step forward this year and end up in the bigs.
5. Do you feel the managerial change will be for the better or for the worse? Without a doubt better by one thousand percent. Joe Torre was an American League manager, he rarely bunted, or hit and ran, and the Dodgers were one of the worst base running teams in all of MLB. Donnie Baseball has been very hands on this spring and has emphasized the fundamentals and word out of camp is the players love playing for him.The Dodgers need to play small ball to win. Also one of the Dodgers biggest signings was 1st base coach Davey Lopes. After 29 years he is back in Dodger Blue. As first base coach of the Phillies the past 4 years they led the majors in stolen base %. Mattingly has given him complete control over the running game, Matt Kemp showed up to camp early to work with him, so don’t be surprised if the Dodgers are dramatically better on the basepaths, it’s not like they could be worse.
6. Where do you think the Dodgers will fall in the final 2011 NL West standings? So much of it depends on injuries and players bouncing back from poor 2010 seasons. Jonathan Broxton was awful the 2nd half of last year, same with James Loney, Matt Kemp struggled basically from the end of April until the last 5 games of the year, and Andre Ethier played with a hurt pinkie all year. It doesn’t sound like much but he hits with his pinkie below the knob of the bat and it was his lower hand, he was never the same after he hurt it last year. It’s also essential that Rafael Furcal stays healthy, he has a huge contract option to do so (Guaranteed $13 million in 2012 if he gets 600 plate appearances). For an offense that struggles to score runs that’s a lot of “If’s” that they need to have happen. Their starting rotation is better and so is their bullpen and the Giants showed the blueprint that quality pitching, solid defense and timely hitting can do wonders. If the Dodgers stay healthy and they have guys play up to their potential there’s no reason they won’t battle with Colorado and the Giants for the division title. I really admire what you guys have put together up North, I like that Colletti hasn’t traded the team’s top prospects, except for Carlos Santana in the Casey Blake deal, and the farm system is close to producing. I think the Giants will find 2011 a challenge being the team with the target on their backs, so I’ll go with the Dodgers to win the West and the Giants to win the wildcard.
Picks To Click:
- Really, this series is going to be all about pitching, pitching, and more pitching. Both staffs are solid and deep from top to bottom. The problem both clubs could run into is who will close games. With Wilson on the DL for the Giants and the Dodgers not knowing which Jonathan Broxton will show up we could be in for some late inning surprises. Last year the Giants had a big advantage over the Dodgers in the bullpen. But with a healthy Hong-Chih Kuo, a full season of Kenley Jansen, and the additions of Matt Guerrier and Blake Hawksworth the Dodgers on paper appear to have closed the gap. The Dodgers gave Guerrier, who led all MLB relievers in appearances the past 3 years a hefty 3 year contract, but he struggled mightily during the spring. Both starting pitching rotations should keep the other offense at bay, which means this series could turn into the battle of the bullpens, and we might see some late inning fireworks, from both sides. So look for the bullpens to play an integral role in the series.
Injury Updates: Giants
Brian Wilson – Wilson will begin the season on the DL and Sergio Romo and Jeremy Affeldt should share the closer duties to begin the season.
Cody Ross – Ross’ leg strain is thought to be of the more mild variety, so that’s the good news. The bad news is that the Phillies felt the same way about Jimmy Rollins last season who had the same injury, and it clearly hampered him for the entire year. Hopefully Ross heals a lot better…*crosses fingers*
Injury Updates: Dodgers
Jon Garland (Oblique), Vicente Padilla (Forearm surgery), Dioner Navarro (Oblique), Jay Gibbons (Contact Lenses), and Casey Blake (Oblique, Back, just being old) will all begin the season on the DL. The Dodgers don’t plan on using a 5th starter until April 10 but the club has said they will not rush Garland back to make that start, he threw 55 pitches yesterday in a bullpen session. Blake could be back by April 8. Navarro and Padilla could be out until early May. As far as Gibbons is concerned I hope he is ok but I’m not sure if anyone really cares when/if he comes back he should be in AAA.
Tune in tonight at 5pm PT as Don Mattingly makes his Dodgers debut as manager, along with Xavier Paul, AJ Ellis, Ivan De Jesus, Kenley Jansen and Hector Gimenez who all made the opening day roster for the first time in their careers.
Topics: A.J. Ellis, Andre Ethier, Blake Hawksworth, Carlos Santana, Casey Blake, Clayton Kershaw, Davey Lopes, Dioner Navarro, Don Mattingly, Frank McCourt, Hector Gimenez, Hiroki Kuroda, Hong-Chih Kuo, Ivan De Jesus Jr, James Loney, Jay Gibbons, Joe Torre, Jon Garland, Jonathan Broxton, Juan Uribe, Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Guerrier, Matt Kemp, Ned Colletti, NL West, Rafael Furcal, Rubby De La Rosa, San Francisco Giants, Ted Lilly, Vicente Padilla, Xavier Paul