Tag Archives: Clayton Kershaw

Anonymous MLB Players are polled to the tune of interesting results

highlight-bryce-harper-ua-spine-3

Over the years – it has became a rarer and rarer occurrence for ESPN to have a feature that really reaches out and grabs you. Today, they posted an item that will be featured in the upcoming issue of ESPN The Magazine that is about as ‘must-read’ as it gets for a baseball fan.

Here’s what we learned (actually, we’ll highlight the graphic above since you know exactly what we learned):

  • 24% of polled MLB players feel Bryce Harper is the most overrated player in the game. He’s followed up closely by Yasiel Puig at 21%. I guess that means we have an affinity for overrated guys.
  • 81% of those polled feel baseball is ready for an openly gay player.
  • Best estimate at the percentage of players still taking PED’s is 9.4%.
  • Mike Trout was voted an overwhelming 56% as the best player in the game. Agree wholeheartedly there.
  • It’s about a split on if the polled players want Alex Rodriguez kicked out of the players union.
  • Clayton Kershaw has mad, league-wide respect.

In all, 143 players were polled. Any time we can get a look inside the mind of what those inside the game feel and believe, it’s worth reading. This would include takes from professional scouts, and it would certainly include players themselves like this poll did.

And as for the most important takeaway take from the whole bit – Bryce Harper has been a bit overrated so far – even if he’s been pretty good. If his career has one feel to it, that’s the word you might use to describe it. It’s not a bad thing because the best is yet to come.

Australian Opener Game one is in the books; Dodgers win 2-1

sydneydodgersdbacks

[Box Score]

I woke up at 2:00 AM and barely hung on through the rain delay at Sydney Cricket Ground early this morning. I stayed up through the entire game – and although I’m exhausted this morning – damn it feels good to have baseball back.

The Dodgers are 1-0, winning the opener on foreign soil 3-1. Scott Van Slyke was the offensive hero, but the real story was probably what a horse effort Clayton Kershaw offered. On 102 pitches, Kershaw struck out seven and walked just one to get the win; the 78th of his young career.

Wade Miley wasn’t bad for the Diamondbacks. He went 5 and 2/3, striking out eight and walking two. Yasiel Puig went 0 for 5 with three bad-looking strike outs.

Game two is tonight at 10:00 PM here in the Midwest. I already can’t wait.

Los Angeles Dodgers 2014 Team Preview

Yasiel Puig is the Dodgers Straw that Stirs the Drink.

Yasiel Puig is the Dodgers Straw that Stirs the Drink.

It was last season in late June and early July, and we were in Las Vegas sitting in a sportsbook at the Belagio when it hit us: why don’t we take some money out of our emergency savings, and plunk it down on the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the whole damn thing? It almost seemed too easy. The Dodgers were just starting to get on a roll but the oddsmakers really weren’t onto them just yet. A lot stood to be made if someone had the gusto to plunk down the bet.

And as a wise gambler once told us; this is exactly why you do not bet. Luckily, we talked ourselves out of it and stayed away from it. But it was maybe only because we had a marriage to worry about if things didn’t work out for the Dodgers in the postseason.

Los Angeles would soon thereafter go on a 46-10 roll. National League pitchers seemed to figure out Yasiel Puig, but not entirely. The Dodgers ran into a buzzsaw of a team in St. Louis whose rotation got hot at just the right time, and looking back that St. Louis team excelled at all the small things that the star-power Dodgers did not. Small execution, great defense, and exceptional pitching helped the Cardinals prevail.

We were happy to see the legendary Dodgers succeed. We would have been fine with them taking the title last year. It’s good for baseball when the Dodgers are good. In our opinion, they play in America’s most enchanting city, in a gem of a stadium in the sunshine, with the grandfather of baseball calling their games late-night in the Midwest all by himself.

They have an eclectic roster and a charismatic ownership group. Their GM looks like a guy who could have you whacked. There are a lot of things to love about this team heading into 2014.

Major Off-season Moves:

  • Signed Clayton Kershaw to a 7-year, $215 million dollar contract.
  • Michael Young retired.
  • Signed  Don Mattingly to an extension through 2016.
  • Signed Jamey Wright.
  • Signed Chris Perez.
  • Re-signed Juan Uribe to a 2-year, $15 million dollar contract.
  • Signed Alexander Guerrero to a 4-year, $28 million dollar contract.

And you’re damn right we’re bullish on the Dodgers. Did 2013 scare us off a little bit with the way they eroded in the NLCS? Absolutely not. We started with this team because we’re picking them to win the whole damn thing in 2014. As we have been so often in life (and sometimes not enough), we were just a year early on the Dodgers. They’re a year better, a year wiser, and they’re going to still come into your town and stomp your team and probably drink all the tequila your city has to offer this season. Click through the jump to learn more about our projected 2014 champions.

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The Baseball Show: Kershaw’s Contract and Other Tidbits

Clayton Kershaw

Last night on The Baseball Show, M.J. Lloyd and I attempted to pass the winter time by talking a little hot stove. Topics covered on the podcast this week were as follows:

-Thoughts on Clayton Kershaw’s 7-year, $215 million dollar contract
-We handicap where Masahiro Tanaka might land.
-A story about Kershaw/Greinke/Tanaka’s Agent Casey Close calling me in college
-Reaction to Alex Rodriguez’s situation
-Thoughts on the Chicago White Sox quietly solid offseason acquisitions
-If you were attending a fantasy camp, what veteran former players or managers would you want running the camp?
-The return of RBI Baseball ’14

As always there are many more gems in between – so use the Friday workday to listen to two guys having a great time talking about the greatest game on earth!

The Dodgers Cowboy Up, Force Game Six in St. Louis

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[Box Score]
[Los Angeles Times]

You have to give the Dodgers some credit. I truly thought they were done, and when Zack Greinke loaded the bases in the first inning of NLCS game five today, I was sure they were done. Then I had a prophetic feeling about things:

Greinke was able to get Yadier Molina to hit into a double play, and the Dodgers seemed to gain momentum from it all. From there they scratched across two runs, with Adrian Gonzalez starting the rally and Yasiel Puig keeping it going. Greinke singled in Puig. But the Cardinals would not go down quietly.

A Carlos Beltran triple and Matt Holliday double evened scoring at 2-2. Then the Dodgers got the lift they needed.

Gonzalez homered deep into the pavilion in right field to give the Dodgers the lead. They wouldn’t trail again in the game. He would add a second home run later in the game, and the Dodgers that had failed to homer for the entire series ended up with four on the day (Carl Crawford and A.J. Ellis got in on the act).

Greinke bridged the gap nicely over to Brian Wilson and Kenley Jansen, and the Dodgers held on for a 6-4 victory. They might lose this series, but they got it to Clayton Kershaw. They might lose this series, but they defended their home field in a noble manner and refused to have their season end on their field.

All the while, Don Mattingly seems to keep things cool in his meetings with the press. After a tough loss last night he said that he knew that they were going to come out and play hard, and that seemed good enough for him to resign to for the evening. After the game today he remarked that the Dodgers have become ‘America’s Team’ because the country wants to see a game seven. At this point, they’re a flashy team playing with house money. That’s somewhat dangerous.

On Friday night – they’ll have Clayton Kershaw going on five day’s rest. And we’ll all get another night of entertainment out of this team. That’s really what it’s all about this time of year if your team is out of it. They’ll get a chance to give Michael Wacha all he can handle and get a little redemption. And although they’ve shown some of their makeup with a win like today, we’ll see just exactly what this Dodger team is made of on Friday night. It would be an incredible feat to force a game seven against this seemingly unstoppable rebel force Cardinal team.

Cardinals Pitching Dominates Dodgers Again in NLCS Game Two

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[Box Score]

[ESPN Los Angeles]

Wacha Wacha!

Alright, so I didn’t see this game – I was playing the best 18 holes of my life – so it’s hard to analyze it too much. The Dodgers find themselves in an 0-2 hole. I saw that Yasiel Puig struck out four more times.

The Dodgers, my playoff horse that I’ve strapped my oxcart to; are now facing a game three in Los Angeles against Adam Wainwright that basically keeps their hopes alive. They counter with Hyun Jin-Ryu. And the thing rigth now is; there’s just not much an opportunity to score runs off anyone. No one in the St. Louis bullpen gives up any runs (9.2 innings of scoreless baseball so far in the NLCS) and it’s not like the St. Louis rotation is going to allow anything substantial. So how the Hell do you score off these guys? How the Hell did the Pirates beat these pesky bastards twice?

The Cardinals aren’t exactly knocking the cover off the ball themselves. Clayton Kershaw was pretty strong today and the game’s lone run was scored on a sacrifice fly and was unearned.

The Dodgers are definitely up against it now. They’re making my bold and brash predictions about them rolling the Cardinals seem foolish and unfounded. It looks like everything is going their way. Hanley Ramirez didn’t play today. Andre Ethier was out of the lineup hurt (though I saw that he struck out to end the game). Yet still, I want to make it clear that I believe this Los Angeles team is made of enough gusto to scrape themselves off the canvas and answer the bell for the next round.

The Dodgers are going to beat Adam Wainwright in game three, and it’s going to swing the series. They’re going to do it at home in that magical, bright ballpark with the palm trees. They’re going to do it because Wainwright – while he’s a horse – that game give against the Pirates took more out of him then anyone realizes. It’s a lot to ask a guy to come back and be that sharp again after that kind of high workload. Wainwright has a lot of miles on his arm and we’ve already seen a decent offensive team in Cincinnati get to him in the not so recent past.

Los Angeles is desperate, and they’ll need something more out of Puig and Adrian Gonzalez among others; but if they win game three, the Cardinals don’t have a set answer for game four as far as a starter. Shelby Miller is going to be phenomenal, but the Dodgers can get to him. If the Dodgers can even this series at two; and I believe they will, there will be no turning back for them. Reaching way down deep within themselves and finding a way to win game three is the biggest domino that needs to fall at this point.

Hopefully now that Puig had a sombrero to wear on his plane ride back to SoCal, the Dodgers have had a chance to clear their minds as a team. Getting back to Los Angeles will help. The Cardinals are all the talk right now for having flawless pitching performances, and if they continue to get them there just isn’t much that can be done. But what are the chances that the Dodgers could actually get another one of these gems from their entire pitching staff? Someone has to slip, and the Dodgers will be waiting in the weeds.

And what the Hell is this with the entire series being on TBS? Is this hockey, Selig? I’ve defended you in the past you dopey, Donald-Duck dweebosaurus; but put the damn national LCS games all on FOX or a network that we all know the channel number on. Get your head out of your ass!

Juan Uribe hits a legendary home run to win the Dodgers an unbelievable game

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[ESPN Los Angeles]

They don’t get much bigger then the two-run shot that Juan Uribe hit in Los Angeles to send the Braves home and send the Dodgers to a 4-3 victory and the NLCS. I’ve seen enough. It’s the Dodgers year.

It wasn’t like they drew it up. Freddie Garcia matched Clayton Kershaw for six innings. The Dodgers gave up the lead in the 7th inning, and trailed by that score until the bottom of the 8th when Yasiel Puig came to face David Carpenter. Carpenter got a couple great pitches by Puig for strikes and in a two-strike count, Puig energized the Dodgers as he’s done time and again this year.

Freddie Freeman was not guarding the foul line in a no-doubles defense, and Puig laced a double down the line that was cut off by Jordan Schafer – and Puig’s incredible speed was evidenced by legging out the double. Uribe failed to get down a couple of bunts and reminded the world that he could be the worst bunter among regulars in the big leagues.

A few seconds later, Uribe caught a letter-high fastball from Carpenter that landed in the Dodgers bullpen. If you’ve been watching baseball for any amount of time, you knew that was a crushing blow. The Braves were broken with that moment.

Kenley Jansen came on in the ninth, blew away Schafer, Heyward, and Justin Upton and the Braves season was over.

There is a magic surrounding the Dodgers. Carl Crawford hit two home runs in this game to put the Dodgers ahead 2-0 early, but the Braves battled back opportunistically when the Dodgers made mistakes in the field, namely by Adrian Gonzalez.

This loss is not an indictment of the Braves honey bear manager, Fredi Gonzalez. He’s definitely horrific, and it’s not surprising that his teams seem to always face this collapsing fate. But the Braves and Gonzalez couldn’t have managed this much differently. Carpenter was throwing gas. Sometimes, Juan Uribe just homers.

The Dodgers await the opponent they will devour, either the Cardinals or the Pirates. Whoever it is will be next to be fed to the monster that is the LA Dodgers.

Uribe-HR

Jay Bruce hits two home runs off Clayton Kershaw on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball

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[Reds 3, Dodgers 2]

That was it last night – that was the game I have been waiting for out of Jay Bruce since his debut back in May of 2008.

There have been three homer games, home runs in the playoffs, and huge walk-off home runs. But last night was the most dominating showcase of Jay Bruce’s career. ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball has been where the entire baseball world pauses and convenes for three hours before starting a new week. There were some folks watching the NFL last night, but the people in the nation who love baseball were watching Jay Bruce hit his 28th and 29th home runs of the season off the closest thing the game has to Sandy Koufax. He did it to seal a sweep for the Reds at home over the Los Angeles Dodgers. When I saw Bruce’s second home run land in the right field moondeck, I knew that Reds season in 2013 had reached it’s zenith.

And there’s this: the home runs that Bruce hit off Kershaw were the first and second homers hit off the left-hander by a left-handed batter all season long.

[Bruce Home Run #28]
[Bruce Home Run #29]

Tell them Jay, tell them that the Reds think they’re the best team in baseball:

The Reds sit a game out of first, Homer Bailey threw pretty close to what I would consider to be a gem, and Bruce had his pair of national TV dingers off Clayton Kershaw. It doesn’t seem real.

And it’s nights like last night I feel bad for ever saying a terse word about Dusty Baker. He isn’t perfect, but we owe some debts of gratitude to Dusty for pulling the Reds out of baseball purgatory and giving the Reds back to back winning seasons for the first time since 1999-2000 (yes, the Reds now have 82 wins and will finish over .500).

10 Bold Predictions for 2013: Clayton Kershaw will be the next member of the $200M club

As part of our preview for the upcoming 2012 season, we’ll be doing a 10 Bold Predictions for 2013 series that will be featured between now and Opening Day. Our eighth prediction: Clayton Kershaw becomes baseball’s next $200 million dollar man.

Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in major league baseball not named Justin Verlander.  He is also five years younger and is currently playing for the new biggest spenders in baseball, the LA Dodgers.  I don’t have to spout off Kershaw’s stats and accomplishments at such a young age.  If you’re reading this blog you probably know that Kershaw is one of the league’s best. But it is truly amazing what he has done before turning 25.  He’s finished 1st and 2nd place in Cy Young voting the past two years, holds a career 2.79 ERA and strikes out more than 9 per 9 innings over his career.

Justing Verlander just landed the biggest pitching contract yet.  7 years, $180M – average of $25M per.  He’ll be 37 at the end of the contract, which is a danger zone for players as they, if they haven’t already, will likely drop off the cliff.  The Dodgers can sign Kershaw to a ridiculous 10 year deal and he’ll still “only” be 35.  The past two 10 year contracts, Albert Pujols and Jpey Votto averaged $21M and $22.5M respectively.  I’m pretty sure Kershaw will eclipse that.  He has some leverage given his age and his pending free agency.  It would be crazy if the Dodger spent so much on Zack Greinke and somehow let Kershaw walk.  The Dodgers will open the purse strings knowing they will have an anchor to their rotation for years to come barring significant injuries.  Now maybe this isn’t such a bold prediction, but there is a decent chance the Yankees will beat the Dodgers to the $200M mark by inking Robinson Cano to a new deal.

Final Prediction:  10 year, $255M.  Season stats: 21-6 2.42 ERA 1.03 WHIP, 235 K

Funny note:  In researching this article I found that Alex Rodriguez, Johan Santana and Vernon Wells are 3 of the 4 highest paid players in baseball for 2013.  O/U on total games played?  120?  Maybe less.

Los Angeles Dodgers 2013 Team Preview

Clayton Kershaw

Flat nasty.

That’s what I think of the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers as things begin. It’s not a bad thing for baseball if these guys are restored to relevancy.

It would be unrealistic to think that all of these former superstars will put together superstar seasons at the same time. However, if just a few of them manage it while the others become solid contributors, the Dodgers are going to be one tough out in the National League.

Major offseason moves:

  • Signed SP Hyun-Jin Ryu
  • Signed SP Zach Greinke to a 6-year, $147 million contract
  • Traded minor leaguer Jake Lemmerman to St. Louis for Skip Schumaker
  • Signed RP JP Howell
  • Signed RP Brandon League to a 3-year, $22 million contract

Of course, let’s not forget all the damn moves they made at the end of last season. They acquired a small army of misfit toys in getting Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett for basically nothing.

After the jump, we’ll take a look at the Dodgers from top to bottom.

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The Reds begin to Unravel against Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp and the Dodgers

[Dodgers 11, Reds 8]

This past weekend, Mrs. Diamond Hoggers and I took off early Saturday morning for Cincinnati to see Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers take on the Reds. This would be the second time I’ve seen Kershaw pitch live, the first time he definitely got the best of the Reds. I figured it to be a long day. But I also was determined to soak it in and enjoy it as much as I possibly could.

We checked into our hotel room and I climbed out onto the steep balcony. It was a 90 degree day in Cincinnati. It felt good. It was the kind of day in which I wanted a sunburn.

We went to the Rock Bottom Brewery after checking in and dropping our bags. We had a great lunch and really soaked in that there was a good crowd in town to take in this one on a beautiful Saturday afternoon with a fair amount of Dodgers fans. They travel well.

After finishing lunch and heading back to the hotel, we drank some Leinenkugel Summer Shandy and Miller Light and waited for our shuttle down to the ballpark. Mrs. Diamond Hoggers and I got a pretty good buzz going as did our friends Megan and Tyler.

You can almost feel the heat coming off the field, can’t you? I am too lazy to check, but I’m almost certain it was over 90 degrees at first pitch. I wanted a sunburn, but after catching a buzz I soon forgot about the fact that I wanted to sit in the sun and settled for some good seats in the shade. I was planning on a long day of Clayton Kershaw dominating the Reds and he began by doing exactly that. He would end up striking out 9 on the day in all, and the Reds didn’t have a hit until there were 2 outs in the bottom of the 4th when Joey Votto lined a single to left field.

The Dodgers held a 1-0 lead and the game continued to fly by until there were two outs in the bottom of the 6th inning. Brandon Phillips blooped a single into right field with a couple of men on to tie the game at 1-1, and it felt like there was some sort of moral victory in just scratching a run across on Kershaw. Lost in this entry is that Johnny Cueto threw a really nice ballgame to match Kershaw.

The next batter after Phillips was Joey Votto, and he hit an absolute seed into the seats in right field to give the Reds a 4-1 lead. It was an MVP moment. There’s not much else you can say except I was drunk by this time, and elated.

Cueto is the Reds best pitcher right now. He went 7 innings, allowing only five hits, two walks, and two runs while striking out three and lowering his ERA to 2.27 on the day.

Also pay attention to the man in the bottom of the pic. I would love to tell you this is no accident, but it was a beautiful accident. That man is none other than Larry F’in Bowa.

Oh, the modern miracles that snapping off a random picture can bring. I truly love that man.

A lot to see in this shot.

You’ll notice Matt Kemp, who was a one-man demolition crew on the Reds pitching staff. Kemp would homer as the first batter in the top of the 7th inning to cut the lead to 4-2. I was still feeling pretty comfortable.

Notice that this game was also nationally televised on FOX Saturday Baseball. Pretty cool, I guess. It would have been cooler if Kemp didn’t come up later in the game with the Reds leading 7-3 and hit a grand slam off Nick Masset to tie the game at 7-7.

Kemp is absolutely unbelievable. And he sent me into a 12-beer buzz fueled rage that had me yelling at Carlos Fisher for not only giving up four runs in the 11th inning, but also walking a pitcher, forgetting to cover 1st base, and making a costly throwing error that might have served as the dagger on the day.

If you want to see the boatload of highlights from this one, head over to MLB.com’s video page and take a look.

Jay Bruce went 1 for 5 with a couple of strikeouts on this day. He lashed a nice single off Clayton Kershaw to center field, I believe it was his first hit off the tough lefty. We caught Jay Bruce on a day when he was at the tail end of the best hot streak of his career, and he failed to deliver the long-ball we all so craved. That said, it was good to see him play and face one of the best lefties in the game.

After the game, we walked over to Montgomery Inn for some Ribs and to take a look at all the sweet memorabilia they house at the Boathouse location. Then we headed back to the Garfield Inn & Suites where our friends passed out and Mrs. Diamond Hoggers puked and passed out, leaving me on the couch to watch a Canadian team win game two of the Stanley Cup Finals and pass out cold in my undies on the hotel room couch.

It was a great trip to Cincy, complete with everything except late-game heroics that would have allowed the Reds to win the game and keep on rolling.

After a month of baseball, your MLB Home Run Leader is…. Alfonso Soriano?

Last night I had the Cubs and Dodgers on my MLB.com gamecast only to see how Clayton Kershaw threw (he’s counting heavily for me right now in a few fantasy baseball leagues) and I realized something upon him getting touched up for a homer in the 1st inning by Alfonso Soriano. What is that ’11′ next to Alfonso Soriano’s name?

No, it couldn’t be. They don’t mean he’s hit 11 home runs already this season. But they would have to mean that wouldn’t they? Is this the same Alfonso Soriano that’s been left for dead by so many including myself?

It’s true. In this bizarro world baseball season, Alfonso Soriano for the time being has found the fountain of youth and at age 35, leads the majors by jumping out to 11 home runs. He’s even money to break down at some point in the season–which could be a factor that keeps him from truly jumping off the page over the course of the long grind that is almost a 200 game season. He’s also only hitting .267 at the time of this post so maybe that’s why I’m not hearing about him as much as you usually would with a guy with those type of power numbers. Plus he’s on the Cubs, and they’re abhorrent.

Oh, as a footnote. Kershaw grabbed his third win of the season and that Andre Ethier guy extended his hitting streak to 28 games in this same ballgame.