There probably will be little suspense this spring while the Dodgers build their roster. Most of the positions are spoken for. There will be a few spots up for grabs. Sure maybe the last spot or two in the bullpen or the final place on the bench. Speaking of that final bench spot, what should the Dodgers do with Alex Guerrero? Will he have a place on the club in 2016?
We’ve discussed the importance of good base running and speed in the Dodger’s lineup. Now we’re going to discuss an equally important aspect of a well balanced lineup. That is the art of situational hitting. Some call it timely hitting, and some call it clutch hitting. Whatever you want to call it the skill of hitting with runners in scoring position is extremely paramount to a winning ball club. The whole point of a good offensive approach is to score runners once you get them on base and into scoring position.
Never have so many words been written about Joe Blanton within the last week. The Dodgers recently announced the signing of the 35-year old veteran hurler to a one-year four million dollar contract laden heavily with performance incentives. The deal initially seemed horrifying to many of us who had to suffer through his awful pitching for those two months back in 2012 when he was a Dodger.
We had thought that we would never see him again and breathed a heavy sigh of relief, until this last week of course. I once wrote at Lasorda’s Lair that I thought he was the worst pitcher in baseball and indeed he was at the time. After his awful stint with the Angels he had to reinvent himself in some way or shuffle off to buffalo. I hoped he would shuffle, alas he did not.
Chad Moriyama recently chronicled about his improved slider thanks to an improved grip. That’s how he reinvented himself and settled in as a middle reliever. Indeed it seemed to work as he had solid bodies of work with the Royals and Pirates. However if you look deeper at his numbers you can see that Blanton fared considerably better in Pittsburgh than he did in Kansas City. Perhaps there is a reason for that.
Delving deeper into this we can see that in his 41.3 innings with Kansas City he allowed 43 hits with a 3.89/3.59 ERA/FIP. That accumulated to a 9.3 hits per nine rate. Way too many base runners allowed. In his typical fashion he put up a very nice strikeout to walk line of 40/7 and he allowed six long balls in KC. Once he was acquired by the Pirates his numbers improved drastically.
Once a Pirate he posted a 5-0 record and in 34.1 innings pitched allowed just 26 hits and a 1.57/2.11 ERA/FIP with a 6.8 hits per nine rate. Once again his strikeout to walk line was a very good 39/9 and he allowed just one home run. Overall that came out to a 7-2 record, 2.84/2.92 ERA/FIP with 69 hits allowed in 76 frames. Giving him a very respectable 8.2 hits per nine innings pitched.
So is it possible that pitching in a more pitcher friendly park like PNC could have helped? Or perhaps Pittsburgh backstop Francisco Cervelli’s superior pitch framing played a large part? As you can see Blanton allowed a .783 OPS against at Kaufman Stadium and a .634 OPS against at PNC Park. However if you take a look at these numbers by catcher, you can see that he greatly benefited from Cervelli’s pitch framing abilities.
Pitch framing is all the rage these days with the stat kids. It’s the measurement of how often a catcher fools an umpire into calling a borderline pitch a strike. Pitchers and coaches love it because it obviously means more strikes. More strikes means more outs, and more outs means more wins. Since they have a stat for everything nowadays, they are able to measure pitch framing for each catcher. Each catcher is rated with a number called RAA which stands for runs above average. The better the pitch framer, and higher number of percentage of strikes called the higher the rating they get.
So if we take a look we can see that Cervelli was the number one rated pitch framer in all of baseball with a 26.7 RAA rating. Dodger’s catcher Yasmani Grandal was very good as well, ranking third with a 20.8 rating. Meanwhile Salvador Perez was one of the worst with a -9.1 rating. Cervelli had 201 borderline strike calls and 1.79 estimated calls per game while getting 10.7% of the pitches thrown outside of the strike zone called his way. Perez posted just 6.5% in 2015.
Lo and behold if we look at Blanton’s numbers by catcher we see the difference.
When Perez Caught Blanton – 3.98 ERA 40.2 IP .266 BAA (42 for 158) .753 OPS 38K/6BB
When Cervelli caught Blanton- 1.53 ERA 29.1 IP .206 BAA (22 for 107) .558 OPS 34K/7BB
The difference is large even though it’s all a small sample size as the stat guys would probably claim. Regardless it’s still worth taking a look at. It’s a lot easier to get outs when you have a great catcher behind the plate framing all of your pitches and fooling umpires.
Perhaps the Dodgers are hoping that Yasmani Grandal and his excellent pitch framing abilities will be able to get the same results with Blanton in 2016. Only time will tell if this is the case.
I guess this is all the news we are going to get until spring training camps break in a few weeks. However the Dodgers have announced their 2016 training staff. Neil Rampe will serve as the new head athletic trainer, and there will be two new assistant athletic trainers. Everyone else will be returning from last season. Rampe was with the Dbacks organization until he joined the Dodgers.
I kind of miss Sue Falsone. She was nice and sat on player’s laps in photos. Since I have no knowledge of anything sports medicine related, and I am far too lazy to research any of it anyways I will go ahead and just copy paste in the Dodgers official press release. Perhaps you sports medicine experts will like it. Enjoy!
The Los Angeles Dodgers today announced their training staff for the 2016 season, with the additions of Neil Rampe as head athletic trainer and Nathan Lucero and Thomas Albert as assistant athletic trainers. Brandon McDaniel (strength & conditioning coach, fourth season), Steve Smith (physical therapist, fifth season) and Yosuke “Possum” Nakajima (massage therapist, second season) will return to the club in their same roles as 2015.
Rampe spent the past eight seasons with the Diamondbacks as the manual and performance therapist, holding that role since 2008. The Kalida, Ohio, native graduated from the University of Findlay (Ohio) in 2000 with two Bachelor’s degrees in Athletic Training and Physical Education with an emphasis in Strength and Conditioning. He went on to receive his Master’s degree in Applied Kinesiology with a Sport and Exercise Science emphasis from the University of Minnesota in 2002, while serving as the assistant strength and conditioning coach in the Golden Gophers’ athletic department. He then served as a certified athletic trainer at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine in Boulder, Colorado, from 2002-03 and then spent five years at the University of Arizona from 2003-07 as the associate director of performance enhancement.
Lucero spent 23 seasons with the Astros, the past seven as the head athletic trainer for the Major League club. Prior to his promotion to head trainer in 2009, he served as the assistant strength and conditioning coordinator for the Astros from 2007-08. The Villanueva, New Mexico, native spent 14 years in the Astros’ minor league system before joining the big league club, serving as the club’s minor league strength and conditioning coordinator from 2002-06 and as an athletic trainer with the GCL Astros (1993-94), Quad Cities (1995-97), Kissimmee (1998) Jackson (1999) and Round Rock (2000-01), where he earned Texas League Trainer of the Year honors in 2000. Lucero graduated from New Mexico State University in 1993 with a Bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training.
Albert joins the Dodgers following four seasons in the Indians’ organization as rehab coordinator. Prior to his time in the Cleveland organization, he spent three years at Physiotherapy Associates in Tempe, Arizona, and also worked as an athletic trainer for the Harlem Globetrotters from 2002-08. Albert received his undergraduate degree in Athletic Training from Upper Iowa University, where he played basketball, and earned a doctrate in Physical Therapy from A.T. Still University in Missouri.
We all knew this would eventually happen at some point. It is I Scott Andes everyone’s favorite annoying Dodger blogger, and I have gotten my own blog site. I jest about the annoying part, well maybe just a little. I didn’t get here on my own though I can tell you that much. I had plenty of help from people along the way.
First of all I would like to thank the wonderfully wise and extremely awesome Mark Timmons for allowing me to use this domain. If not for him I would probably be stumbling around the interwebs without a home or anything to do. Mark was kind enough to let me write at his home the venerable ladodgertalk.com (Welcome ladodgertalkians!) for the latter part of the 2015 Dodger season. Mark decided to hang up his computer and retire from Dodger writing and being gracious as he is gave this old domain to me to use. Boy am I eternally grateful to him.
My sister Stacie Wheeler, the more likeable sibling has been supportive as well. She’s still writing and making videos and I would check her out over at dodgerblue.com, the hardballtimes.com, and over at her own youtube channel DishinguptheDodgers.com.
Expect a lot of collaborations during this season between me and my sis and who knows maybe she’ll even pop over here to write a thing or two. So I would go over to her sites and check out her work right now or birds will eat your eyes.
It sure has been a wild and crazy rollercoaster for me. I’m fully strapped in for the ride I tell you that. Sure I cracked under the pressure when I was at Lasorda’s Lair and burned bridges with Fansided, but put yourself in my shoes for a minute. Daily editing for five years for very little to no money, soul-crushing playoff losses, annoying Cardinals and Giants fans waiving their championships in my face, big brother Fansided telling me what to do every two seconds, and annoying people on twitter spewing venom at me for having an opinion on what I think the Dodgers should do. It’s enough to make anyone go a little nuts right? You’d do it to if it wasn’t for you….(points finger at computer screen) Ancient history now.
So what can you expect from me here? Much of the same that you got from on Lasorda’s Lair, and ladodgertalk. Informative and unique posts that will make you think, yet also laugh at the same time. I feel that Dodger fans should have a place to go to that is not only informative but entertaining as well.
I’ll be posting all kinds of articles from analysis, profile, trade rumors, to game recaps. Yes I will be doing my trademark game recaps, but don’t expect them to be as long as they were at Lasorda’s Lair. I’ll do the best that I can. I’ll post lineups, game footage and give you my take on each game. We’ll have some fun and I am hoping you join me on this new journey.
You are probably asking what I can offer that some of the other more established Dodger sites can’t. That’s a tough question. The other Dodger sites are great in their own way.
Ron Cervenka’s thinkbluela.com site is quite good and Ron is one of the nicest guys I have ever met. Vin Scully loves him too by the by. Eric Stephen is incredibly professional and thoughtful over at truebluela, (I don’t follow that guideline well but I am glad somebody does) and the gang over at Dodgersdigest always do a fine job of covering the Dodgers. Although I’m sure they all still hate me over there for whatever reason. I wish they would just let go of their hatred. That twitter thing was like three years ago, let it go guys. All of those sites are awesome in their own way, but I do have one thing that they don’t……..
Spunk. That’s right; I’ve got spunk in spades for all of you. I’m spunkadocious. Is that a word? See what I mean, you won’t find another Dodger site that uses the word spunkadocious. Would you? Probably not. In all seriousness I promise to you that this site will never be boring. I’ll always strive to make this place as entertaining as possible. That’s a huge part of Dodger writing I believe entertainment. It has to be fun or why would we put ourselves through the torture? Oh sure the Dodgers may not win a World Series for another 28 years but we’ll all at least have a good laugh. Come on guys and let’s have some fun, don’t make me beg.
This will be a hugely important year for the Dodgers. It’s Vin Scully’s final season. Clayton Kershaw will be looking to bag another cy young award, and let’s hope wild horse Yasiel Puig can make it a comeback year. Rookie Corey Seager should be coming into his own. Newcomers Kenta Maeda, and Scott Kazmir will look to make an immediate impact. The brain trust is entering their second year of command and the Dodgers are looking to win their fourth consecutive National league West division title. It’s bound to be one heck of a season.
The future is so bright for us we gotta wear shades. Don’t make me quote more 80’s songs. So come on in and join me for the new launch of ladodgerreport.com! All comments and opinions are welcome! Play ball and go blue in 2016!