Tag Archives: Don Mattingly

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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Yasiel Puig might be the Dodgers leadoff hitter in 2014

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If Don Mattingly’s comments are to be taken seriously, the Dodgers might find themselves with the strongest leadoff hitter in all of baseball in 2014. We don’t mean that the Dodgers will have the league’s best leadoff hitter when we say ‘strong’, we mean literally, the most yoaked leadoff guy in the game.

And we would hate to see Puig’s fantasy baseball potential in any way dimmed due to this move, as silly as that sounds. The perfect world move would be if the Dodgers entered the year hitting Puig third in the lineup, a move that seems unlikely at this point.

If Puig begins the season as a leadoff hitter in Los Angeles, look for it to go one of two ways. Puig ends up phenomenal and the Dodgers end up moving him to the middle of the order around midseason once the offense hits a lull like all lineups do; or Puig struggles a bit in his sophomore season and the team moves him down to the 6 or 7 spot in the order. We don’t look for him to stick all season long as a leadoff hitter. It just doesn’t match his skill set well enough.

Dodgers sign Cuban Infielder Alexander Guerrero to 4-year Deal

The Dodgers keep reaching their long, rich arm all the way to Cuba to strike gold. Yasiel Puig saved Donnie Baseball’s job and led the Dodgers to an NLCS run. Today, they signed Alexander Guerrero to a four-year contract worth $28 million.

Here’s a snippet of the scouting report done by our good friend Mike Rosenbaum of B/R’s Prospect Pipeline. You’ll want to click that link to see videos and more in-depth reporting on Guerrero.

Offense: Physically strong, right-handed hitter at 5’10”, 205 pounds; employs a crouched stance with a wide base and starts with hands at eye level; toe-tap load allows him to utilize strong lower half; quiet stride; hits off a firm front side; above-average-to-plus bat speed thanks to strong wrists and forearms; easy, raw pop, especially to the pull side; gets the barrel to the ball and generates impressive extension after contact; tendency to wrap his bat and dip on the backside at times; has quick feet and moves well but won’t be a base stealer.

Defense: Average athleticism; still moves well despite thicker lower half; may lose a step as he ages; versatile and instinctual defender with quick hands and flashy glove; fast transfer and release; decent body control; actions are too stiff for clean projection at shortstop; average range and arm strength suggests a future at second base.

Sounds like an upgrade over the aging Mark Ellis when the time comes. Remember, take these scouting reports with a grain of salt until the guy steps onto Major League soil, you just never know. I think the kid will end up a pretty good offensive player for a middle infielder. The lead scout on Guerrero (Bob Engel) says he can play at the MLB level close to right away.

And on the same day, some interesting comments make their way out about the Dodgers handling of Yasiel Puig. Don Mattingly sure has been outspoken (and cranky) lately.

“Leave it to me, it’d be one way, but that’s not necessarily the way the organization wants things to go,” Mattingly said.

Hmm. I asked Mattingly how he would have handled Puig if it were strictly his call and, without going into much detail, he made it sound as if he would have left him in the minor leagues until he had a better understanding of the game. Puig played in just 63 minor-league games, never touching Triple-A, before he was called up on June 3.

“I’m not going to answer that, I just think there has to be a development system that we adhere to with Yasiel, along with all the other guys,” Mattingly said.

The Dodgers are clearly going for it all in this near-term window. Things are shaky in Dodgerland. It’s going to be one of the most interesting storylines as the 2014 season opens.

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.

Yasiel Puig is Rolling again, and the Dodgers are on Fire

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The Dodgers were down to their final out tonight when Andre Ethier hit a sinking liner to center fielder Colby Rasmus. The ball skipped off the Toronto turf and rolled a ways, allowing Yasiel Puig to scamper home and tie the game at 3-3 off Blue Jays closer Casey Jannsen.

The Dodgers would score five more runs in the top of the 10th inning to win the game 8-3. The crowning moment in the game was when Puig got his on one to left field, his 9th of the season. Puig had three hits in the game and has his average back at a cool .376 for the year.

And this game is a microcosm of what’s been building for the Dodgers for quite a while now. Things are bouncing their way. It’s very easy to see that they’re going to stay hot and roll the entire second half and find a way into the playoffs – likely by winning the National League West. Remember when Don Mattingly was going to be fired? He doesn’t.

This team is for real, and they’re firing on all cylinders. When you have that, and you’re getting that certain degree of weird baseball luck in your favor; observers like me just start to get the feeling that it’s going to end up a special and dramatic year for a team. The Dodgers are going to be one of those teams.

The Dodgers have now won six games in a row to run their record to 53-47, holding a one game lead in the division.

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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