Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006
11:52 am - Roster Moves...  
After Sunday's bullpen meltdown, it was clear that a move had to be made out there, so Neddy got right to work. Immediately after the game he shipped Hong-Chih Kuo down to Las Vegas, to be replaced by Joe Beimel. Now Kuo wasn't involved in the meltdown, but he hasn't pitched well, either. He has tremendous stuff, but desperately needs to work on his control (15 walks in 13 innings), something most folks would prefer he do in Vegas. Beimel is a journeyman, and was pretty much a non-entity this spring. Still, he's pitched well for the 51's (1.38 ERA), something that's usually not all that easy to do out there in the thin air of the desert. (Although I have to note that a lot of guys are pitching well down in Vegas this year. More on that later.) Beimel will wear #97 on his jersey, the highest number ever worn by a Dodger. (The previous high number was #77, worn by both Ducky Medwick and Chuck Dressen.)

It was a good move, but not a great move. The real move Ned had to make was to get Lance "the Human Gas Can" Carter out of the pen before he could melt down again. Ned took a lot of grief for the trade that brought Carter and Danys Baez to LA for two potentially decent prospects. Baez, except for Sunday, has been aces. Carter, though, has been just terrible this season (12 hits, 7 walks, 8 earned runs in 9 innings). Fortunately, despite all the time he's spent in the majors, he still had an option for the minors. The question was, would Neddy exercise it? It's hard to admit you've made a mistake. The Mets still keep trotting the wildly inconsistent Victor Zambrano out every fifth day, because if they don't, they will be admitting to the world how badly they blundered in trading Scott Kazmir for Zambrano. There was much worry that Carter would turn into this year's version of Scott Erickson, who DePo kept on the roster for months after it became apparent he was done.

The good news is that Ned seems willing to admit his mistakes, because yesterday Carter, too, was sent down, and replaced by wunderkind Jonathon Broxton. Broxton is the Dodger equivalent to the Sox' Jon Papelbon, a big moose of a hard thrower, although without the mohawk (so far). He had control issues in his brief stint with the big club last season (his season line looked a lot like what Kuo's looks like this year). However, he's been awesome as the closer for the 51's this season, 18 strikeouts in 11 innings, with no earned runs at all. The Dodger faithful expect big things from the young man.

Both Beimel and Broxton got into last night's loss to Arizona, and both pitched well.

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There were two other transactions of note. The first was that Jayson Werth, still suffering from the after effects of the broken wrist he got in the first spring training game last year, got moved to the 60 day DL to make room on the 40 man roster for Beimel. Then in the game, Ricky Ledee pulled a groin muscle during a swing, and was put on the 15 day DL. Andre Ethier, who's been lighting it up in Vegas, was called up to replace him. Ethier was the player LA got from Oakland for Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez.

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The Dodgers are now 12-14, but there are a lot of reasons for optimism here. Much as I hate to admit it, Grady Little seems a much better manager than Jim Tracy was. His lineups mostly make sense, he's not afraid to play young players with potential (Repko, Ethier) over slumping veterans (Cruz), and I think he's handled the pitching as well as can be expected. He's turned the Dodgers back into a speed team, which warms the cockles of my raised-on-Maury-Wills-and-Davey-Lopes heart. Even Navarro and Nomar have stolen bases. Grittle needs the team to run, because the only real power so far has been from JD Drew, who seems to be working on a monster year (with the usual disclaimers about his fragility).

Ned, too, seems not to be as stubborn as DePo was about admitting mistakes, and he's got a farm system that lets him bring up good prospects as injury replacements, something DePo just didn't have last year. I'm still not sure both Ramon Martinez and Oscar Robles belong on the roster, but that's probably the one position that Vegas can't help us out right now. [Update: Oops! forgot about Willy Aybar, whose OPS is currently 1.039.] It'll be interesting to see what'll happen when Izturis is ready to play. They've been talking about making him into a Chone Figgins-like super-sub, but he doesn't want any part of that. He'll most likely be traded.

Apart from the first week or so, the starting pitching has been very good (17 quality starts out of the last 19). Actually, apart from Carter and Kuo, all the pitchers have been very good. The team has the third best ERA in the NL. Last night's loss went to Brad Penny, who had one really awful inning that he managed to pitch out of with far less damage than one would expect, but otherwise he pitched well enough to win. Meanwhile, Chad Billingsley has been all world down in Vegas so far. I suspect it won't be long before he gets his shot with the big club.

On the negative side, both Rafael Furcal and Jeff Kent having batting averages beneath the Mendoza line. They've managed to keep their OBPs up by walking a lot, but neither is slugging a lick. His OBP still makes Furcal marginal in the lead off spot, but Kent has been a black hole of suckitude hitting cleanup between Drew and Nomah. Both are nursing injuries, and really ought to take a few days off, but then both Martinez and Robles would have to play, and they amount to the same production or even worse. One thing Grittle needs to do is drop Kent down in the order, and maybe Furcal, too. [Or bring up Aybar!]

Offensively, the team has been very patient at the plate, and everyone has been running like crazy once they get on. That's very good. But the team slugging percentage is terrible. We really need Kent to get healthy.

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Finally, a COMMable exchange from a Dodger Thoughts game thread, talking about the wonders of Vin Scully:

Poster 1: Agreed, Vin Scully can entertain by reading a phone book.

Poster 2:"It's time for the White Pages! Hello, there everybody and a pleasant good evening to you wherever you may be. Let's get started. AAA, 555-1234 or consult your membership card...

Now let's take a look back at the first aid section ...

Before we hit the Bs, let me tell you about Farmer John ..."

 
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