No reason for Dodgers, fans to be worried about Kenley Jansen

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Kenley Jansen will be OK. Promise. (By: Dustin Nosler)

It seems Kenley Jansen always “struggles” early in the season. In 2011, he gave up four runs in a 10-0 opening day loss against the Giants. He gave up five runs against the Braves in a 10-1 loss on April 19 of that year. He finished the month with a 7.42 ERA.

In 2012, he gave up four runs in his first six innings, including two home runs. Last year was better, as he only surrendered two runs in the month. But in his first 5 2/3 innings in 2014, Jansen has allowed three runs and two home runs, causing some folks to worry about Jansen. I say, back away from the ledge.

The source of Jansen’s problems lie with his cutter, which is also his moneymaker.

Granted, he’s thrown just 20 non-cut fastballs this season (86 of 106, or 81.1 percent), but opposing hitters have yet to get hits off his slider and sinker/2-seamer. He’s allowed a .529 batting average against his cutter, mostly due missing location badly. But that doesn’t mean he’ll start throwing more non-cutters because you never want to get beat on anything than your best pitch.

His showdown with Miguel Cabrera was epic, but he also got lucky in that at-bat. Tim Brown had a great breakdown of the confrontation. But Jansen missed his spots. That could be due to the adrenaline flowing, as Jansen threw cutters as hard as he’s ever thrown them, regularly touching 98 MPH and even registering 99.6 MPH on the gun.

This was a situation that won’t come up often. Every time Jansen pitches, he won’t be facing the best hitter in baseball with the game on the line. However, it underscores the point that his command has been a little off early on.

Jansen’s early season struggles can’t really be attributed to anything, when looking at the advanced data. If anything, he’s been relatively consistent with his release points.

Jansen HRP brooks 4.10.14

Horizontal release point

Jansen VRP brooks 4.10.14

Vertical release point

(Charts courtesy of Brooks Baseball)

As you can see, not a lot of variation in both the horizontal and vertical release points from each month last season and the first two this season. His horizontal release point this month is just a tad higher than it was last September, but he’s still within his release point ranges from last season on both axes.

He has also been quite unlucky, allowing a ridiculous .571 BABIP this season, thanks to a decrease in fly ball rate (blue) and an increase in line drive rate (red) and a generally flat ground ball rate (green). That number will, eventually, regress to the mean (and probably less than it), seeing as his BABIP has never been higher than .273 in a season (2013).

GB/FB/LD rates

Jansen’s GB (green)/FB (blue)/LD (red) rates

(Chart courtesy of FanGraphs)

Something else that is an outlier is his OSwing percentage. Jansen got batters to swing at pitches outside the strike zone 33.3 percent of the time last season. In his previous seasons, that number has never dipped below 24.1 percent. This season, he’s at just 19.1 percent. Either teams are figuring out his cutter (not likely) or he’s not throwing it where he wants to (more likely). But something that kind of goes against that is his swinging strike percentage (SwSt), which is at a career-best 16.5 percent (SSS).

Things will normalize for Jansen. He’ll probably stop throwing as hard as he is right now (95 MPH on average), and that will likely lead to more command from Jansen, who took a big step last season with his command (2.1 BB/9).

The Dodgers aren’t overly concerned with Jansen’s struggles

“‘His stuff is good. I’ve seen a lot of guys, they have trouble one night it’s always two in a row,’ Mattingly said. ‘I’ve seen Mo (Mariano Rivera) do it many times.’”

… which probably means he’s be due for season-ending surgery in a few days, as the Dodgers’ training staff has a less than stellar reputation in the last 6-8 years (more on that in a future post).

I’m inclined to believe Jansen will be just fine. There’s no pitcher I’d want out there — Dodger or otherwise — with the game on the line in the ninth inning.

Here’s What We’ve Learned About the 2014 Dodgers So Far

greinke_2014-02-27

Nothing, really. Not a damn thing. With the exception of some unexpected injuries, we’ve learned very little. The Dodgers have played 10 games, which is 6.1 percent of a 162-game season. But two of those games, even though the Dodgers won them both, barely seem like they counted. They happened half a world away, a week before spring training ended. They feel like glorified exhibitions. I barely even remember what happened, if for no other reason that I barely watched them in the middle of the night. If we set those aside, the Dodgers have played eight games out of a 160-game season. That’s five percent.

Now think about how little five percent represents.

It’s the first 21 seconds of “Hey Jude.” It’s the first six-and-a-quarter minutes of Star Wars. It’s America’s history up through the presidency of John Adams. John Adams died in 1826. It’s Vin Scully’s career before Jackie Robinson even retired. (I’m making that up, obviously, because there’s no way to know for sure how many games he’s done. He’s completed 64 seasons of Dodger baseball since his 1950 debut, but for the first decade of his career the season was only 154 games long, and for decades he’d miss games here and there due to other obligations, and in recent years he’s lost many games to national broadcasts and a reduced travel schedule, so I’m spitballing 64 years times an average of 130 games, five percent of which is 416 games.)

Five percent is a nickel, in terms of a dollar. A dollar is barely anything. A nickel is nothing. Five percent of a season is also nothing, and that fact that this five percent comes in the first week of April, as opposed to the third week of July or the second week of September, doesn’t really change that. Nothing that has happened so far should significantly change your perception of what these players are. Salvador Perez isn’t going to hit .458/.594/.625 all season for Kansas City. Chase Headley is probably not going to hit .125/.152/.125 all year for San Diego.

That means that there’s little reason, good or bad, to think about these Dodgers differently than you did 10 days ago. Luis Cruz once hit .414/.452/.690 over an eight-game stretch. Brandon League once faced 34 batters over eight games and allowed three hits and zero runs. At roughly the same time, Hanley Ramirez was hitting .167/.194/.267 over an eight-game stretch. You may not have noticed any of that happening at the time, but if you did, it didn’t — or shouldn’t, at least — have changed what those players were. It’s eight games. It’s five percent.

Now that doesn’t mean we have to totally ignore what we’re seeing, of course. The games still count. I’m thrilled that Dan Haren has looked so good, and though I don’t imagine he’ll be keeping up that 0.75 ERA, I’m encouraged. I’m very impressed by how dominant Chris Withrow has been; I don’t suddenly think he’s the best reliever in baseball. I like that Matt Kemp seems to be healthy; I like what we’ve seen from Dee Gordon, though it’s going to take a lot more than a week to make me a believer. I can’t ignore that Kenley Jansen has had a tough week; it doesn’t change that he very well might be the best reliever in baseball, or at least very close to it.

Two weeks ago, the Dodgers were the overwhelming favorites in the NL West. They’re on a 97-win pace. That the Giants have gotten off to a good start, and that Clayton Kershaw and A.J. Ellis and Brian Wilson have landed on the disabled list, have changed those odds slightly. Injuries are one thing you really can take away from a small sample, and each start given to Paul Maholm or whomever instead of Kershaw hurts. But I don’t think anyone would argue that the Dodgers aren’t still the favorites.

We have some directional knowledge, now. We have things to look out for, and starts both good and bad to keep an eye on. But what we don’t have is enough information to make real serious value judgements, and yes, I am talking to the guy on Twitter asking me when the Dodgers will dump Jansen to go with Withrow. If you didn’t think that a week ago, you shouldn’t now. If you did think that a week ago, seek help, immediately.

It’s five percent. We should keep that in mind, because small samples can play havoc on rationality. Well, except for the fact that that not-mascot is creepy as hell. You don’t need a larger sample size on that.

Dodgers benefting from Dee Gordon’s improved offense

gordon_2014-03-08Dee Gordon has actually looked like a Major League Baseball player in the first 10 games of the season. Of course, this is the very definition of small sample size, but the early returns are promising on the Dodgers’ starting second baseman.

He’s already been worth half a win in his first nine games played, which puts him on pace to be an 8-win player. I don’t think that’s sustainable (for him), but Gordon has been a positive or better player in all aspects of the game so far.

It looked like Gordon might be a hero on Wednesday night, as he drove in the game-tying run off Joe Nathan in the ninth inning, only to have Kenley Jansen give up a home run to Victor Martinez in the 10th inning (more on that in another post, but here’s a preview: don’t fret).

Gordon is hitting .394/.432/.535 with a .425 wOBA — good for 20th-best in the National League ahead of guys like Giancarlo Stanton, Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Braun. The fact he’s done that at any point in his career is impressive in and of itself.

There’s no way he sustains this production through the rest of the month, let alone the entire season. He will come back to earth, and it’s just a matter of when. When he does, he’ll have to adjust and continue to produce if he wants to be the Dodgers’ second baseman,

With Alex Guerrero recovering from an oblique strain, Gordon’s time to show Don Mattingly and Co., what he can do.

Gordon is hitting the ball on the ground more early on, as he has a 3.20 GB/FB rate. The best he has done in his limited playing time was 2.87 in 2012. His rate was a paltry — especially for a no power/speed guy — 1.63 last season. He’s also seeing more pitches per plate appearance. That rate is 3.81 in 2014, up from 3.67 in 2013 and 3.64 in 2012. A marginal improvement, but an improvement nonetheless.

Gordon GB FB LD 4.10.14In fact, as the graph shows, his ground ball rate has increased while his fly ball and line drive rates have decreased. For a player of Gordon’s skill set, that’s not a bad thing.

But the biggest improvement for Gordon so far has been his plate discipline. Coming into the season, he had never posted an O-Swing% (swing on pitches outside the zone) less than 33.8 percent, which he did last season. This season, he’s at 26.9 percent. This means he’s swinging at fewer pitches in which he has less chance of hitting well. He’s also improved — or decreased — his swinging strike percentage. He’s only swinging and missing at 1.4 percent of the pitches he sees. That sets him up for more success at the plate.

Look, it’s a small sample size. I mean, his .414 BABIP isn’t going to hold up. He is getting lucky, but when he puts pitches in play, his speed puts pressure on the defense. And the fact he’s physically stronger than he was in seasons past plays a role. He’s able to generate more bat speed, allowing him to turn on fastballs on the inner half — at least, that’s what he did against Nathan on Wednesday night. He also took Max Scherzer out to right-center field that was “plenty” deep (it wasn’t a cheapy).

Gordon has been OK on defense, but he’s still getting used to playing second base. But his strong arm is quite the advantage there, as is his agility. He’s able to make the turn better than a guy like Guerrero (as witnessed by yours truly at spring training). He’s also stolen four out of five bases. When everyone is healthy, Gordon should be batting eighth, which could minimize his stolen base ability. But, that’s what happens when there’s a lot of really good hitters in the lineup.

For now, Mattingly will probably keep batting Gordon leadoff — or, at least until Yasiel Puig returns.

Like Chad said in last night’s recap, “I want to believe.” But, I have also been fooled before. If Gordon is still producing well in a few months, perhaps there’s some legitimacy behind his turnaround and not just SSS numbers.

We could pen a post in a month saying we can’t wait for Guerrero to come up and replace Gordon. But for now, let’s just enjoy the positive Major League production Gordon is providing early on. Things are going to change, but maybe Gordon isn’t such a lost cause after all.

Dodgers fall to Tigers 7-6 in extra-inning game that was boring until it wasn’t

BradAusmusConfused

Josh Beckett made his season debut against the Tigers today, starting a game in which the Dodgers fell 7-6 in extra innings, but that doesn’t really begin to tell the story.

Going back to the beginning, Beckett’s start took about four hours and he bores me to tears, so he needs to pitch well to justify fans dying in the stands of old age. Unfortunately, he lasted just four innings and gave up five runs (four earned) on five hits. If you’re looking for the silver lining, he did top out at 94 mph and struck out five while walking one.

Honestly, it was a pretty sloppy game until the ninth, as the Dodgers made three errors and the Tigers made one. It was also a baserunning bonanza with Beckett on the mound for the Dodgers and Victor Martinez behind the plate for the Tigers. The teams combined for six stolen bases and two more were caught stealing, so safe to say the scouting report was out.

Fortunately, Joe Nathan managed to inject excitement back into the bout in the ninth, giving up a lead-off homer to A-God before walking Andre Ethier to put the tying run on base. Matt Kemp had a great at-bat before walking, then Juan Uribe flared a single into the Bermuda Triangle in right center.

That loaded the bases with nobody out for Yasiel Puig, who always seems to find the spotlight. This time he struck out on three pitches, the last of which was a nasty backdoor slider. Scott Van Slyke followed by grounding to third, scoring a run on a fielder’s choice.

So the game was in the hands of Dee Gordon with two down. And yes, Dee Gordon singled to bring in the tying run and send it into extras. Unfortunately, once there, Kenley Jansen continued to struggle a bit, giving up the eventual game-winning bomb to Victor Martinez which broke the deadlock and lead to Emoville, population me.

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-Dee Gordon now has a .978 OPS on the season. Really.


GIF Link

I WANT TO BELIEVE

-Matt Kemp’s OPS is .841 but has struck out eight times in 20 PA. So his power might be back, but he still has to get back into the whole hitting the ball part.

-Tim Federowicz now has five strikeouts in seven plate appearances. This is a remarkable pace.

Tigers @ Dodgers April 9, 2014: Beckett is Back

dodger_stadium_openingday2013As the Dodgers go for the two-game sweep against the Tigers, the biggest story is tonight’s starting pitcher. After a long road back from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery (and temporary setbacks after shutting his thumb in a door and turning his ankle), Josh Beckett returns to action tonight. Even though I’ve written about him multiple times, I honestly have no idea what to expect.

The team has been cautiously optimistic about Beckett’s recovery, but his surgery was a difficult one and players who have had the same surgery have reached the majors only to falter after their returns. Given the research I have done, the things to look for (other than velocity) are Beckett’s release point and his posture during delivery. If Beckett is more upright, that will be a good sign.

Tigers
Dodgers 
7:10pm PT
Los Angeles, CA
LF
Davis
2B
Gordon
2B
Kinsler
LF
Crawford
1B
Cabrera
SS
Ramirez
C
Martinez
1B
Gonzalez
CF
Jackson
RF
Ethier
3B
Castellanos
CF
Kemp
RF
Collins
3B
Uribe
SS
Gonzalez
C
Federowicz
P
Sanchez (R)
P
Beckett (R)

The Detroit rotation is just relentless, so following last year’s Cy Young award winner is Anibal Sanchez, who led the American League in FIP- last season. FIP- is FIP compared to a pitcher’s league average and adjusted for park. A 100 FIP- is league average, and a lower value is better. Last season, Clayton Kershaw‘s FIP- was 66, or 34% better than a league average pitcher. Sanchez’ FIP- was 59. That value was boosted by a potentially lucky 5.8% HR/FB ratio, but even if that is adjusted to league average Sanchez is a difficult pitcher to face.

In Sanchez’ first start of the season, he lasted just four innings, forced out of the game by a rain delay. He struck out three batters, walked three batters, and gave up two runs. He struggled in the first inning, but was much better until the rain started.

In order to make room for Beckett, Jose Dominguez was optioned to Albuquerque. That’s not surprising, given where he is on the depth chart, and since the team was carrying eight relief pitchers. Yasiel Puig is missing from the lineup again, though he is available to pinch hit after taking batting practice before the game. Batting practice went well, but the team hasn’t indicated when Puig will be ready to return full-time. Brian Wilson threw a simulated game at Dodger Stadium tonight, but he’s still at least a week away from returning, if not longer.

Looking ahead to the weekend, the Dodgers announced that Hyun-jin Ryu will start on Friday and Zack Greinke will start on Saturday against the Diamondbacks. Though they haven’t announced Sunday’s starter, it will likely be Dan Haren. Since Paul Maholm is getting skipped this time through the rotation, he is available out of the bullpen tonight.

Reminder: Sliding Head First Is Still The Worst

puig-points_2014-04-01

Somewhat lost in the midst of A.J. Ellisknee surgery, Matt Kemp‘s two homers, Tuesday night’s exciting extra innings victory over Detroit, minor trades for minor leaguers, and the recent uncertainty over whether Josh Beckett would be able to make tonight’s start is the fact that Yasiel Puig has played exactly once since last Wednesday. That’s partially his own doing (his deserved benching for being late), partially due to the schedule (something like 78 days off this month), but mostly because he did this on Saturday:

It’s the Nick Punto special: sliding into head first for any other reason than to avoid the tag. It lessens your chances of being safe, and it increases your chances of being injured. It didn’t look quite as bad as this train wreck from Puig’s first week in the bigs last year…

…but it appears to have had more of an effect, because Puig didn’t appear on Sunday or Tuesday — even as a replacement — and, I would imagine, probably isn’t starting tonight, either. (Detroit has Anibal Sanchez on the mound, a righty, so having lefties Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier around Matt Kemp makes sense.)

We know that he’s wearing a splint, similar to what Hanley Ramirez had last year. But we also know that when Ramirez hurt his thumb last year, he was out for over a month. When Dee Gordon hurt his thumb, also on a head first slide, back in 2012, he was out for over two months. Obviously, every injury is unique — Gordon’s included a dislocation, and I think we’d have heard about anything that serious with Puig by now if it were the case — and so just because his teammates had bad thumb injuries doesn’t mean that he does as well.

Still, after a day off tomorrow (ugh), the team heads off on a six-game road trip to Arizona and San Francisco (with yet another day off, double ugh). If Puig doesn’t show some improvement soon, at least proving he can take batting practice tonight, you wonder how long this can linger before it turns into a disabled list stint. And if it does, you hope that it’s just rest that’s required, nothing more serious. Speculation, of course. For now, that’s all we have.

In the meantime, there’s still no such thing as “too many outfielders” until there are. And remember, kids: never, ever slide head first.

Dodgers 3, Tigers 2: Let This Be The World Series, Please

If there was ever a time for me to do a post that was literally just a GIF and nothing else, it would be this. Dee Gordon hit a homer. In the big leagues. Off Max Scherzer! In a game the Dodgers won by one run. And it wasn’t cheap:


GIF Link

I know. I know! As I said on Twitter, Gordon has more homers than the entire Kansas City Royals. I said that barely an hour ago. It has over 140 combined retweets & favorites. I say that not to inflate my own ego — okay, mostly — but to point out just how insane and wonderful and terrible and fantastic baseball can be.

But let’s pause for just a second. Between Gordon and extra innings, everyone is going to forget about Dan Haren. No one should forget about Dan Haren, especially not when he kept Miguel Cabrera hitless in three at-bats, allowed just one mistake — Austin Jackson‘s solo homer — and in 12 innings this year, has allowed only that one run while striking out 10 and walking one. It’s only two starts, but with Clayton Kershaw hurt, Josh Beckett hurt, and Paul Maholm not great in his one start, it’s been more than we could have hoped for.

After Chris Withrow easily got through the seventh — that’s 14 in a row for him, and Justin Turner‘s sacrifice fly made it 2-1, and Chris Perez got through the eighth, and Vin Scully told stories about crack pipes, it was time for the ninth. Good lord, the ninth.

Kenley Jansen let Ian Kinsler lead off with a double, then got Don Kelly to ground out. That was just table setting for the main event: Jansen. Cabrera. Arguably the best closer in baseball — quiet, Braves fans — against arguably the best hitter in baseball — quiet, Angels fans — and Cabrera got nothing but heat. 98. 99. Again. Whiff. Regardless of what came next, this was the kind of matchup you pay to see. This was the matchup you die to see in October. On April 8, it was a treat.

But of course, striking out Cabrera doesn’t get you two outs, even though it should. (Stupid “rules” of “baseball”.) Victor Martinez came up and dropped a bloop into center, and even though Matt Kemp looked awful fielding it, it didn’t matter. Kinsler was off with two outs, and he scored easily. Tie game. “Blown save,” as though what Jansen had just done to Cabrera didn’t matter.

So after three Dodgers struck out against Joba Chamberlain (!) in the bottom of the ninth, it was off to extra innings, where J.P. Howell easily got through the top of the tenth. In the bottom, Chone Figgins led off — look, I know. You wanted Scott Van Slyke. I  get it. Against a righty, leading off, Don Mattingly was never going to do it. Anyway, Figgins walked, and Dee Gordon bunted (ARRRGHHH) into a pop out. Then Carl Crawford took one to left, and uh, well… let’s thank Chad for the visual aids:


GIF Link

Oh, poor poor Rajai Davis.

It’s a fun game because the Dodgers won, but it’s a fun game because it was a fun game. I would not at all mind seeing a rematch of this one in October. We’ll just need to make due with Josh Beckett and Anibal Sanchez on Wednesday, I suppose.

Tigers @ Dodgers April 8, 2014: Interleague Play Already?

dodger_stadium_openingday2013Tonight is the first interleague game for the Dodgers in 2014. Given how the Dodgers typically perform in interleague play, it’s only natural that they have to start off against the red-hot Tigers, who have won four of their first five games. On top of that, the Dodgers begin the two-game series against reigning American League Cy Young winner (and potential future Dodger) Max Scherzer. This is Scherzer’s second start of the year, and in his first start he showed why he won the award last season. Against the Royals, he threw eight innings, allowed no runs, while striking out seven batters and walking one.

Tigers
Dodgers 
7:10pm PT
Los Angeles, CA
LF
Davis
2B
Gordon
2B
Kinsler
LF
Crawford
RF
Hunter
SS
Ramirez
3B
Cabrera
1B
Gonzalez
1B
Martinez
RF
Ethier
CF
Jackson
CF
Kemp
C
Avila
3B
Uribe
SS
Romine
C
Federowicz
P
Scherzer (R)
P
Haren (R)

Oddly enough, the Dodgers faced the reigning American League Cy Young award winner last season as well. David Price pitched well against the Dodgers last August, throwing seven innings, giving up one un-earned run while striking out four and walking one. That game is better known as the game which ended with Fernando Rodney throwing the ball into center.

The lineup facing Scherzer has a few notable changes. Tim Federowicz, called up from Albuquerque to replace the injured A.J. Ellis, gets the start at catcher. This isn’t unexpected, since the only reason Drew Butera was in the majors instead of Federowicz was to maintain some semblance of catching depth.

Apparently since Ellis is no longer in the lineup, it’s okay to lead off with Dee Gordon (who also led off on Sunday with Butera catching). Gordon has been fine so far this year, but 27 plate appearances doesn’t come anywhere close to convincing me that his problems are solved. Since Miguel Cabrera is starting at third base for the first time this season, maybe Dee will just bunt at him repeatedly. Putting Gordon next to Crawford also allows for a lefty to get two easy outs later in the game. Lineup construction doesn’t matter very much, but simple gaffes like this one are annoying and avoidable.

The other notable thing about the lineup is who isn’t in it. Yasiel Puig is sitting out tonight’s game due to his thumb injury. Given how the Dodgers usually report injuries, seeing “day-to-day” and “getting fitted for a splint” at the same time is a bit worrisome. Since Matt Kemp is 0-for-16 against Scherzer, it might have been a good time to give him the day off (even if match-up stats aren’t very predictive), but it seems that the curse of “too many outfielders” strikes again.

In unrelated news, the Dodgers now have an unofficially official mascot (dubbed a “unique performance character”):

The look on the baby’s face says it all, doesn’t it? If you want to terrify your children at their birthday parties, all proceeds will go to the Dodgers Foundation.

Here’s How A.J. Ellis Got Injured

When we learned yesterday that A.J. Ellis had injured his left knee, requiring surgery today, the question was inevitably: How? Ellis played a full game on Saturday, and taking a seat on Sunday didn’t seem out of the ordinary, since he’d played every inning of the season to that point.

Now, Ellis was involved in a close play at the plate on Saturday, getting called out (and remaining that way after a replay challenge), but there was very little contact made with catcher Buster Posey:

ellis_slides_2014-04-08

Well, know we know, thanks to Dylan Hernandez: Ellis did hurt his knee on that play. Just not on that part of the play. Ellis had been on second, with Scott Van Slyke ahead of him at third and Dee Gordon behind at first, when pinch-hitter Andre Ethier singled to right. Van Slyke scored easily, and Hunter Pence‘ strong throw to the plate nailed Ellis.

But according to Hernandez, the injury came “when he planted his left leg rounding third base.” And unfortunately, neither of the two broadcasts managed to show Ellis rounding third base. So, we can’t see exactly how this happened. But — and sure, maybe I’m looking too hard to see something that isn’t there — does it not look like Ellis limps away from the plate a bit?


GIF Link

Either way, Ellis is expected to be out for four to six weeks at the least, and that puts this team down their starting catcher until well into May, and perhaps June. (As multiple people have joked, that both he and Clayton Kershaw are sidelined may give them more time to do another Between Two Palm Trees.) This is, of course, bad, and while Ellis hasn’t officially been put on the disabled list yet, you can bet that he will be shortly and that Tim Federowicz will be in town for tonight’s game against Detroit.

Again, this is why Drew Butera was kept over Federowicz. It’s not because Butera is a better player, but because the difference between the two isn’t so much that it was worth thinning out depth for, since Butera was out of options. I’d rather have had Federowicz too, but the difference would have given the Dodgers precisely no more wins. And if Butera was gone and something had happened — say, your starting catcher injuring his knee — then you’re looking at Miguel Olivo, or J.C. Boscan, or something else equally unappealing. (You can argue for either of them over Butera, by the way. It still won’t matter.)

And no, there isn’t likely to be a trade. The number of teams with more catching than they know what to do with is about, well, zero. Even if there were, the number of teams willing to give up a starting catcher on April 8 would be less than zero. On the free agent market, the names are Chris Gimenez, Ramon Hernandez, Kelly Shoppach, and Yorvit Torrealba. Maybe one of them will pop up to add Triple-A depth now that Federowicz won’t be there. Maybe not. But the point is, the team has to get by with what they have until Ellis returns.

It’s not a great day. But at least there’s baseball tonight to take our minds off of it, and with the ridiculous amount of early days off, that hasn’t been as much of a given as you’d think it would be.

Down On The Farm Update: Games Of 4/3 – 4/7

(Dustin Nosler)

(Dustin Nosler)

What’s the point of all the pre-season prospect coverage if you aren’t up to date on what they’re actually doing in the games, right?

Well that’s what this regular (semi-regular :o) Down On The Farm update will be for. And right off the bat, we got five days worth of stuff to get to.

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April 3

Hitter Of The Day: Justin Chigbogu (A) is already stuck playing first base, but he showed the pop necessary for the position today, going 2-for-5 with a double and a homer. Dustin has him ranked at #23.

Pitcher Of The Day: Jonathan Martinez (A) went six outstanding innings, striking out 11 while walking none and surrendering no runs. He managed to limit the opposition to just two hits on the day. Martinez was not impressive at all last year, but he’s young enough where a strong performance while repeating the league could raise his prospect status to ‘noteworthy’.

Notables

Darnell Sweeney (AA) went 2-for-5 with a strikeout, walk, and stolen base. The walk and stolen base parts will be a key aspect of his successful development, but so will limiting the swings and misses. Worth noting that he’s playing second base and not shortstop.

Scott Schebler (AA) went 2-for-6 and bombed a homer to get his season off on the right foot. He’ll need to hit in AA to continue his climb up the system.

Pedro Baez (AA) pitched a scoreless inning, striking out one and sitting 92-96 mph with his fastball. Baez’s ascension will likely depend on the progress of his slider.

Corey Seager (A+) had a rough go of it, finishing 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Chris Anderson (A+) couldn’t make it through the first inning, only recording two outs while giving up three hits, two walks, three runs, a wild pitch, and hitting a batter. Not … a great day.

Alex Santana (A) went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. Just one of them days. A bit concerned that he’s playing in the outfield now, as I think that cuts into his value, and it’s not like Paul Hoenecke is a better prospect that’s blocking him from playing the position.

Jesmuel Valentin (A) is already playing second base, but he should be able to play it well given his defensive tools. The question has always been on his bat, and he got off to a solid start, going 2-for-4 with a double.

April 4

Hitter Of The Day: Joc Pederson (AAA) only went 1-for-6 in the doubleheader, but that one hit was a homer. He also walked once and stole two bases.

Pitcher Of The Day: Duke von Schamann (AA) was recently traded, but not before he turned in a scoreless seven-inning start in which he two-hit the opposition.

Notables

Matt Magill (AAA) went four innings, gave up four hits and a run, and stuck out three batters. Yes, he walked two guys, but that actually marks improvement from last year.

Corey Seager (A+) went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Patience … patience.

Josh Beckett (A+) left his rehab start with an ankle injury, but he wasn’t exactly excelling prior to that. In four innings, he gave up five hits, three walks, two homers, and three runs while striking out five.

Julio Urias (A+) pitched in relief to close out the game Beckett started, and he was uncharacteristically wild, walking four in four innings of scoreless, one-hit ball while striking out five. Urias’ stuff certainly wasn’t the issue though, and he flashed his ability to work out of trouble.

Zachary Bird (A) didn’t begin to put the results together to match his stuff, giving up four runs in four innings of work. He allowed six hits and two walks while striking out three. I have my hopes, but he’s going to have to show something this year besides stuff.

Victor Arano (A) finished Bird’s game in impressive fashion, striking out three and allowing just a hit in two scoreless innings.

April 5

Hitter Of The Day: Jesmuel Valentin (A) is supposed to be a glove-first prospect, but he had another multi-hit game, going 2-for-5, this time with a homer.

Pitcher Of The Day: Brian Wilson (A+) went one scoreless inning and struck out one in his rehab start. No update on his beard’s status.

Notables

O’Koyea Dickson (AA) needs a big season against advanced pitching to prove he still has big league potential, and a 3-for-4 showing with two doubles certainly doesn’t hurt.

Chris Reed (AA) went 5.2 innings, giving up three runs (unearned but still) via four hits and four walks. He struck out four, but personally I’m just waiting for him to convert to relief.

Corey Seager (A+) is alive! He went 2-for-4 with a double and didn’t strike out! See, it’s possible.

Jacob Scavuzzo (A) had two hits in five trips to the plate, including a double. Looking forward to big things from him in full-season ball, even if he ends up with a lot of swings and misses.

Joey Curletta (A) smoked three doubles in five at-bats, flashing the pop that everybody’s expecting to see.

April 6

Hitter Of The Day: Carlos Triunfel (AAA) went 2-for-4 with two doubles. He’s a blast from the past, but is somehow still in his age-24 season. If you’re not familiar, Triunfel was twice ranked in the top 100 prospects by Baseball America, but he simply couldn’t hit.

Pitcher Of The Day: Tom Windle (A+) got lost in the Chad Billingsley injury rehab stuff, but he looked great in relief of him. Windle went five innings, striking out six, walking none, and allowing just one run via six hits.

Notables

Joc Pederson (AAA) collected three hits in five trips. Nothing he can do at this point except rake at AAA and be ready.

Zach Lee (AAA) pitched a solid five innings, allowing two hits, two runs, and a walk while striking out three.

Chad Billingsley (A+) went only 1.1 innings, being removed for precautionary reasons after elbow discomfort. He was examined and they said he was fine, so I’m hoping for the best, but this can’t be looked at any other way than as a setback.

Jacob Rhame (A) pitched a scoreless inning, surrendering just a hit. Of course, that’s not noteworthy, but he’s worth following as a relief prospect. He sits 92-93, touches 95, and he could still add a tick or two in the future. A former starter, he has a two usable off-speed pitches in a change and curve.

April 7

Hitter Of The Day: Joc Pederson (AAA) went 2-for-3 with two walks and a homer. His OPS is now 1.387 on the year, and while it’s early, I feel like he’s gonna enjoy Albuquerque.

Pitcher Of The Day: Brian Wilson (A+) pitched a scoreless inning, striking out one and allowing a hit. The results don’t matter as much as his rehab does, and no news is good news at this point.

Notables

Corey Seager (A+) collected three hits in five trips to the plate and is starting to heat up (.300 BA) a bit after a slow start to the week.