Friday, January 04, 2013

Dodgers Set to Sign a Lefty- JP Howell


It is being reported that James Phillip Howell, otherwise known as JP Howell, will soon be a Dodger.  Via Buster Olney of ESPN on twitter:
(twitter link)

The exact value of the deal is not yet known, but early indications are that it is somewhere between $2.75Mil to $3Mil for a 1-year contract.

So, what do we know about Howell?  Well, based on a wikipedia entry this is what he throws:
Howell is a soft tosser. He throws his sinker in the mid 80's, topping out at 90 MPH. He also throws a knuckle-curve that has been described by scouts as "heavy" because of its extremely sharp downward break, and some even classify it as a slider. He throws a change-up that breaks away from right-handed hitters. Howell has solid command of all three pitches.
From Eric Stephen at True Blue LA:
Left-handed batters have hit just .209/.295/.304 against Howell in the last two seasons, and in his career the southpaw has held lefty batters to a .241/.323/.351 line in his seven-year career.
Howell missed all of 2010 and the first 44 games of 2011 after left shoulder surgery, and posted a 6.16 ERA in 46 games in 2011 with a career high walk rate of 13.0% of batters faced. He improved to a 3.04 ERA in 2012, with 42 strikeouts and 22 walks in 50⅓ innings.

Check out JP Howell's career stats below, via Baseball Reference:


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Dodgers Announce Winter Development Camp with a Notable Exclusion


Earlier this afternoon, the Dodgers forwarded an official press release regarding their upcoming Winter Development Program.  As I had noted a couple of days ago (here), this mini camp is an exclusive affair meant to allow the team to evaluate the progress of their most Major League ready prospects, while also giving them an opportunity to school them on the ins-n-outs of Major League Baseball Life.  Think of it as a prerequisite course you might take in college.

Anyway, my post from a couple of days ago was based on a report by MLB.com reporter Ken Gurnick (see that here) indicating that 13 Dodger prospects were invited to attend, but as I read the recently released Dodger press release someone was missing.

Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers Cuban sensation, is notably absent from the new list, and it makes me wonder if this is something fans should be concerned with.  After all, the team spent a huge chunk of change for a player who had yet to step on a professional ballfield, and I think it's fair to assume that his path to the Majors was expected to come sooner rather than later. 

What we know is that during his stay in the Arizona Fall League, Puig suffered a staph infection in his right elbow that required surgery and sidelined him from the ballfield for two months.  As a result, he didn't get a desirable amount of play in, and subsequently decided to play in the Puerto Rican Winter League to catch up. 

From a report by Ralph Pagan Archeval of ESPN:
“I am here to improve on my batting, since it had been two months since I had batted due to the elbow surgery I had,” he said.
...
“I now feel ready to work here in Puerto Rico, and that’s why I came,” he said. “I’ve come to improve on everything -- my batting, fielding, discipline -- since my objective is to get to spring training and the major leagues next year.”
Considering his exclusion from the Winter camp his ultimate goal of making the Majors this coming season may have been derailed.

While playing for Mayaguez Indios in the Puerto Rican League he has been less than impressive.  In fact, he has been downright horrible.  In 20 games he is batting a dismal .232, and his OPS is just as bad at .641.  Puig has struck out 19 times, which equates to 25% of his total plate appearances.  All of these numbers are far worse than his pre-surgery play. 

Has the long layoff combined with elbow surgery thrown him off-track to the point that an 2013 appearance is now unlikely?  Or is this an indication that Puig is still and always has been a ways away from making the big club regardless of his desires?   

In either case, it is worrisome that our $42Mil man has seemingly fallen behind.  Hopefully, a full season in the minors will allow him to regain his footing.

It is important to note that his Puerto Rican League team is currently in the playoffs, so maybe this move was done to just allow him a chance to play games rather than practice.  It was noted by Roberto at Vin Scully is My Homeboy on twitter that Puig will stay in Puerto Rico this weekend.  On the other hand, you would think that if he really was close to Major Leage ready then the Dodgers would want to make sure he has a better understanding of the public relations aspects of the game.

BTW, the 12 Dodgers who will be at Camelback Ranch this weekend are:
  • Joc Pederson
  • Chris Withrow
  • Zach Lee
  • Chris Reed
  • Paco Rodriguez
  • Tim Federowicz
  • Steven Ames 
  • Matt Magill
  • Onelki Garcia 
  • Rob Rasmussen  
  • Matt Wallach
  • Jeremy Moore
Also, what do you think of my fantasy Yasiel Puig Baseball card above?  It uses the 1987 Topps design.  I plan on making more fantasy cards of him over the coming weeks.

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* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

Dodgers Blog Kiosk: 1/4/2012


Check out Dodger hurler Shawn Tolleson  mixing some cement while supporting Kershaw's Challenge in Zambia.  Pic via Dodgers Community Relations Blog.


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* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

A Vintage Video of a Complete 1959 Ballgame Between the Dodgers and Cardinals at the Coliseum

So, are you missing Baseball yet? 

I know I am.  That's why when I ran into this vintage video on youtube featuring a COMPLETE GAME from 1959, I had to sit down and watch it.  (It is a little over 50 minutes long- no commercials)  They are playing at the LA Coliseum.  Unfortunately, Vin Scully is not announcing the game.  Instead, Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Brickhouse calls it. 

The game is from Saturday, July 25, 1969, and Dodger pitcher Roger Craig faces off against Larry Jackson.  31,105 fans were in attendance.  The Dodgers were 2.5 games behind the Giants at the time.  I won't tell you the outcome, but if you want to spoil things check out the boxscore via Baseball Reference.

Video Link:


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Collection: A Steve Sax Archives Autographed Baseball Card


My happiest memory of Steve Sax was watching him cheer like a madman as Kirk Gibson rounded third base after his walk-off home run in the 1988 World Series.  He came to home plate with the rest of his teammates, and found himself hoping like a bunny as Gibson approached.  He literally had to restrain himself from hugging the World Series hero before he scored the winning run.  It was hilarious to watch.

As you may already know, Steve Sax has recently returned to Baseball.  It was announced in Mid-December that he would be the Diamondbacks newest 1st base coach.  Via Steve Gilbert at MLB.com:
"I can't even put into words how happy I am," Sax said. "This is like a dream come true. I've been thinking about this for a number of years."

Featured here is a 2003 Topps Archives Archives autographed card of Stave Sax.  It uses the 1983 Topps vintage card design.

Here is a MLB.com video announcing Sax's signing as the Diamondbacks new coach.

Video Link:

Below are his career stats, via Baseball Reference.


Here is another great video featuring Steve Sax.  This time, Vin Scully introduces the fans to the Dodghers newest "Boy Wonder" in 1982.
"Oh, to be 22 and a Dodger!"

Video Link:

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* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *
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