Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Welcome to the Blue, Brandon McCarthy!

Oh Boy!  The Dodgers did another deal.

The Dodgers have signed free agent starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy (UPDATE: Apparently, it's not official yet, via a tweet by Alanna Rizzo).  Via a tweet by Ken Rosenthal:

McCarthy should slot in nicely as the Dodgers #4 or #5 pitcher.  He is a nine year Major League veteran with a career record of 52-65, a 4.09 ERA, 4.00 FIP and WHIP of 1.291.  Not too thrilling, eh?  I assure you though, these numbers are deceiving.  What you really want to pay attention to is what he did for the Yankees once he was traded to them by the Diamondbacks in July of this year.

Brandon McCarthy rebounded mightedly in pinstripes.  He went 7-5 with a 2.89 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 1.151 WHIP.  He also saw his strike out to walk ratio jumped to a career high of 6.31.  If that's not convincing enough, check out what Daniel Brim wrote at Dodgers Digest about him in early November:
The two biggest numerical changes for McCarthy after he was traded, partially due to the different pitch arsenal described above, were regressions in his BABIP and HR/FB. His BABIP with the Diamondbacks was .345, possibly sustainable by the league’s best hitters but generally well beyond what a pitcher will allow with a large sample. His HR/FB ratio also fell significantly, from 20% to 12.8%. The lower HR/FB rate in New York almost precisely matches what the earlier calculation says his ratio should have been, which is extremely encouraging.
Put all of this together, and it means that McCarthy’s 83 FIP- in New York wasn’t entirely luck. His 74 ERA- had a lot to do with an unsustainably high strand rate, but the smart change in repertoire and regression of numbers which are commonly more variable in small samples point to positive things.
In celebration of McCarthy's arrival to the Dodgers I made the above fantasy card for him.  I used a photograph grabbed from a photo from USA Today and the 1970 Topps Baseball card design.

Below are the career stats for Brandon McCarthy, via Baseball-Reference:

UPDATE II (12/16/2014):  It's now official.  Per a Dodger press release:
The Los Angeles Dodgers today announced the signing of free-agent right-handed pitcher Brandon McCarthy to a four-year contract.

McCarthy, 31, established career highs in wins (10), strikeouts (175) and innings pitched (200.0) last season with the Diamondbacks and Yankees, going 10-15 with a 4.05 ERA in 32 starts. He ranked ninth among MLB starters with a 5.30 strikeout-to-walk ratio and averaged only 1.49 walks per 9.0 innings, the eighth-best mark in the Majors. Beginning with his final two starts with the D-backs and through his 14 starts with New York following his July 6 trade, McCarthy was one of the game’s best pitchers, going 9-5 with a 2.80 ERA (32 ER/103.0 IP) from June 27 to the conclusion of the season.

The 6-foot-7, 200-pound McCarthy has a 52-65 career record with a 4.09 ERA in nine seasons with the White Sox (2005-06), Rangers (2007-09), Athletics (2011-12), Diamondbacks (2013-14) and Yankees (2014). Since his first big league season in 2005, McCarthy ranks 16th among MLB starting pitchers by averaging only 2.23 walks per 9.0 innings and has a 2.85 strikeout-to-walk ratio during the course of his career.

The Glendale, CA, native was originally selected by the White Sox in the 17th round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.

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Dee Gordon is a Class Act - Thank You, Dee!

There is nothing more terrible for a fan then to see a favorite player traded.  It's a shock to the system and can often cause emotional turmoil.

As you likely know, Dee Gordon is this kind of player for many Dodger fans (including myself), so to read his response to us fans on twitter can be crushing.  Check out what he just tweeted out moments ago.
(tweeted by Dee Gordon)

Thank you, Dee!  And good luck on your future travels.  I'll be rooting for you.

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WTF! My Head is Spinning! Dodgers Trade for Howie Kendrick?!

I'm still in shock about this afternoon's happenings.  It's like a whirlwind came over 'Dodger Nation' and decided to wreak havoc.  Let's just toss everything around and see if we can jumble the club into a super-powered statistically driven behemoth unseen in the game.

What we are witnessing is what happens when you pair some of the smartest folks in the game with the financial muscle of a Wall Street bank.  We get extremely bold moves. 

As you know, the Dodgers traded Dee Gordon, Dan Haren and Miguel Rojas to the Miami Marlins for Andrew Heaney, Chris Hatcher, Austin Barnes and Kike Hernandez.  Then, just as the dust was starting to settle, the Dodgers have reportedly moved Andrew Heaney to the Angels for Howie Kendrick - straight up.

Wha...?  I just can't keep up.

So as it stands, we have the makings of a creative three-way trade.  The Dodgers get Howie Kendrick, Chris Hatcher, Austin Barnes and Kike Hernandez.  The Miami Marlins get Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, Miguel Rojas and potentially a bunch of cash.  The Angels get Andrew Heaney. 

Whew!  What a crazy day it's been.

Hilariously, Andrew Heaney responded to being a Dodger for all of a few hours on twitter:

BTW, the Dodgers might not be done.  There are reports that they are close to signing free agent starter Brandon McCarthy.

UPDATE:  BTW, I had already made a Dodger fantasy Baseball card for Andrew Heaney and feel compelled to share - just because I don't want to feel like I wasted my time.  Check it out below.

UPDATE II:  Just to let you know what we might be missing when it comes to Andrew Heaney here is a listing of various scouting reports on him:
The talented lefthander doesn’t have a dominant pitch, but he has three above-average offerings and a smooth, repeatable delivery.  Heaney’s stuff plays up because he has some deception and he is effective at locating to both sides of the plate.
The 23-year-old lefty features a fastball that sits at about 91 mph, a changeup that typically clocks in about 10 mph slower, and a slider that registers in the high-70s.
Listed at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, Heaney has physical projection left. Long and lean, the young lefty looks stoic in the windup. With a three-quarters arm slot and easy arm action, his velocity is a product of consistency and power generated from his base. Heaney’s core is in near-perfect symmetry. Everything is laid back and easy.
Born June 5, 1991, Heaney makes dominance look easy, throwing a 90-95 MPH fastball (sometimes as high as 97) with a low-effort delivery. He locates the fastball with precision, made all the more effective due to the contrast with a wicked slider (likely his best overall pitch) and a very good changeup.
“Pitchability-wise, he’s got the plus fastball,” (Wayne) Rosenthal (the Marlins’ minor-league pitching coordinator) said. “He’s got an out-pitch slider, and he’s got a changeup. So you’re looking at three plus pitches.”
UPDATE III:  It is now officeial.  Here is the Dodger official press release.
 The Los Angeles Dodgers today announced the acquisitions of infielder Howie Kendrick from the Angels and prospects infielder/outfielder Kike Hernandez, catcher Austin Barnes and right-handed reliever Chris Hatcher from the Marlins. The acquisitions were made through two separate trades, a seven-player deal with Miami - with Los Angeles acquiring Hernandez, Barnes, Hatcher and left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney in exchange for infielder Dee Gordon, right-handed pitcher Dan Haren, infielder Miguel Rojas and a player to be named later or cash considerations - and a subsequent trade that sent Heaney to the Angels in exchange for Kendrick.
Pic at the very top via Wikimeadia Commons, Shishike.

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Dodgers Make Another Big Trade - Dee Gordon and Dan Haren go to Marlins

Holy moly!  What a day for the Dodgers.

After lulling its audience into believing they would do nothing the Dodgers go ahead and splurge all at once.  Following on the heels of the trade that brings Jimmy Rollins to play shortstop we find out that a blockbuster trade has been completed with the Miami Marlins.  Keep in mind, though, that this deal has yet to be confirmed by the clubs involved, but has received widespread confirmations throughout the peanut gallery.

The Dodgers will send fan favorite Dee Gordon and starting pitcher Dan Haren to Miami for top rated left-handed starting pitching prospect Andrew Heaney, right-handed reliever Chris Hatcher, infield prospect Austin Barnes and infield prospect Kike Hernandez.

Wow!  What a bevy of players.

From what I understand, Andrew Heaney is one of Miami's top starting pitching prospects, so he'll slot in nicely into Haren's spot.  Also, Chris Hatcher had been fairly effective in a relief role this past season in Miami.  As for the remaining two players, they have potential, but are hardly key pieces to the deal.

Something of note, Heaney would likely rank as the Dodgers 2nd or 3rd best prospect in our system, so we got quite a prize for Dee Gordon and Dan Haren.  The Dodgers front office definitely sold high on Dee.

I'll have more details later on; including my own card creations for the new Dodgers, so stay tuned.

UPDATE:  If you can't tell, I'm kinda excited about this trade.  It's the kind of deal I expected to see from our new front office and I'm glad that my expectations are being met.  On the flip side, I really like Dee Gordon... Like, I considered him to be the most 'True-Blue' Dodger on the entire roster kind of like for him.  If I were a younger lad I might be in tears at the thought of him playing elsewhere.

UPDATE II:  This is cold!  Via Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, the Dodgers are paying all of Dan Haren's $10Mil salary for 2015 should he not retire, or they will pay nothing if he does retire (as he has already threatened to do)UPDATE: Reports now indicate that the Marlins can keep the $10Mil even if Haren decides to retire.  Wow!

UPDATE III: It is now being reported that Dodger infielder Miguel Rojas was also a part of the trade.  He goes to the Marlins, via Joe Fisaro at

UPDATE IV:  Here's the official Dodger press release on all the details of this crazy blockbuster trade:
The Los Angeles Dodgers today announced the acquisitions of infielder Howie Kendrick from the Angels and prospects infielder/outfielder Kike Hernandez, catcher Austin Barnes and right-handed reliever Chris Hatcher from the Marlins. The acquisitions were made through two separate trades, a seven-player deal with Miami - with Los Angeles acquiring Hernandez, Barnes, Hatcher and left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney in exchange for infielder Dee Gordon, right-handed pitcher Dan Haren, infielder Miguel Rojas and a player to be named later or cash considerations - and a subsequent trade that sent Heaney to the Angels in exchange for Kendrick.
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Welcome to the Blue, Jimmy Rollins!


How 'bout that!

A rumor thrown against the wall actually turns out to be true.  I guess a broken clock is right at least twice a day, eh?

The big news reported out of the Winter Meetings this afternoon is that the Dodgers have now supposedly secured a veteran to play shortstop.  Confirmed through various sources online, but not yet ackowledged by the respective ballclubs, is that Philadelphia infielder Jimmy Rollins will now wear Blue.

In return, the Phillies are reported to have received two minor league pitching prospects, but at this time those names have yet to surface.  Those details should be coming along soon.

Jimmy Rollins is a gamer, a winner and one of the best defensively at shortstop.  He has won four Gold Gloves, has been an All-Star three times and is a former NL MVP.  Today, at 36-years old, Rollins has started to show his age.  Still, he remains one of the best at his position and retains much of the speed that allowed him to steal 453 bases over the past 15 seasons with the Phillies.

On a side note, Rollins will rejoin former base-stealing coach Davey Lopes in Los Angeles, so we may very well see a more active Rollins on the base paths.  Also, in 2013 he ranked last in WAR, but rebounded nicely the following season with a 3.9 WAR - for 3rd best in the league.

As for how this deal fits for the Dodgers going forward, Rollins' contract provides the kind of stopgap the Dodgers have been searching for as they wait patiently for Corey Seager to be ready.  He has just one year remaining on his contract that pays him $11Mil.

Overall, I gotta say that I like this deal very much.  Rollins can provide the kind of leadership a disjointed clubhouse oftentimes needs, and he still has the skills on the field to be very useful to the club.  Best yet, we aren't tied to him for an expanded period of time.

You can follow Jimmy Rollins on twitter (@JimmyRollins11) and instagram (jrollins11).  He also has a facebook page that you can follow here.

In celebration of Rollins' arrival to the Dodgers I made the above two fantasy card for him; using both the 1971 and 1987 Topps Baseball card designs.  The card on the right is probably my favorite.  It's of a very young Rollins (provided through

Below are the career stats for Jimmy Rollins, via Baseball-Reference:

UPDATE:  Reports are swirling that it's Zach Eflin (from the Padres trade) and Dodger 2nd round pick from the 2013 Draft Tom Windle for Jimmy Rollins.

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The 1998 Dodger Fan Appreciation Baseball Card Sheet

Following up on yesterdays post featuring the 1997 card sheet, I now bring to you the Dodgers 1998 Fan Appreciation Baseball card sheet given away on Fan Appreciation Day.  The featured perforated cards are of Gary Sheffield, Raul Mondesi and Eric Karros.  Go here to check out all of my past post on this give-away.

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Weekend Autograph Opportunities: Dodger Mall Tour on Saturday with Valenzuela and Garciaparra

Here are this weekends autograph opportunities and events throughout the Southland. As always, be sure to check the Blue Heaven Calendar for other events (a link can always be found on the tab at the top of this page, just left of center), and always confirm with the establishment. Everything is subject to change.  Please email me with any tips about upcoming events in Southern California.  As the rest of the week progresses I'll update this post with other events (if there are any) as I become aware of them.  Also, I don't always list every event below, so be sure to check my Calendar.  I always try to favor free signing events over paying events.  Click on any pic to embiggen.


The Dodgers Holiday Mall tour continues this weekend on Saturday, December 13th at the Glendale Galleria.  You can also go here for details at the Dodger website.

Glendale Galleria
100 West Broadway, Suite 700
Glendale, California 91210
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Fernando Valenzuela: 11am-12pm
Nomar Garciaparra: 2pm-4pm

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Remembering Drew Butera's Grand Year

As you know, Dodger backup catcher Drew Butera was DFA's a few days back and subsequently traded to the Angels yesterday.  And with that, the Butera Era as a Dodger is over, for now.  After all, at just 31-years of age you never know if he might make another appearance in Dodger Blue.

Most stories written about his departure focused primarily on his inability to hit and his stints as a relief pitcher.  As you know, Drew got onto the mound for a couple of laugher's and ended up showing off a 90+ fastball to the delight of just about everyone.  Watch both appearances here and here.

Heck, his fame on the mound even reached the shores of Japan.  During his stint as a catcher for the MLB squad during the Japan Series numerous fans came armed with signs in honor of Butera.  Check out the photo on the right to see what I mean.  It was tweeted out by @TheReal2ryoSS.

Notable as these appearances were, I think Butera would agree that they were not his main highlight of this past season.  Instead, I think his work behind the plate on Sunday, May 25th ranks as even better.  On this afternoon, Drew Butera caught his second career no-hitter (Francisco Liriano was his first in 2011); becoming the fifth catcher to do so in both leagues. 

Dodger hurler Josh Beckett was the master on the diamond as Butera guided him to the greatest performance of his career.  Per a story on by Michael Radano:
"I was a nervous wreck from the fourth inning on," said Butera, who worked with Beckett over a 128-pitch afternoon. "He told me he had never gotten a no-hitter into the fourth and I'm like, great, now I'm off my thinking pattern. But he said it every inning. You try not to think too far ahead. One hitter and one pitch at a time. It never gets old."
"I was just as excited for Josh as I was for Liriano. We won the game, we won the series, we won the road trip, now maybe we can get some momentum. These things don't happen every day. They happen once in a lifetime, maybe."
Lightening certainly struck twice for Drew Butera. 
(Butera hugging Beckett after no-hitter, pic via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014)
In honor of Drew Butera's stay in Dodger Blue I decided to Waholize him.  Check that out at the very top.  You can do the same to your favorite picture at BigHugeLabs, here.

BTW, being the class act that he is, Drew Butera thanked us all on twitter yesterday:

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Blog Kiosk: 12/10/2014 - Dodger Links - Butera Traded, Kemp and Puig Raged for his BDay

Check out this veteran Brooklyn Dodger in pinstripes.  Featured above is a vintage 1933 AP press photo of the Dodgers newest first baseman Joe Judge that I ran into on eBay.  Check out the auction here.  The Brooklyn born native spent his first 18 years in the Majors with the Washington Senators, but now he was ready to return to an old home in the National League.  Joe Judge was one of the best fielding first baseman in the game; leading the AL in fielding average five times (a record eventually broken by Don Mattingly decades later).  He could also hit.  In 20 Major League seasons he batted .298/.378/.798 with 2,352 career hits, 1,034 RBI's and an WAR of 46.9 (33rd best all-time for the position).  Below is what was written in the caption:
"HE'S A DODGER NOW.  Joe Judge, veteran first baseman for the Washington Senators, shown in a Dodger uniform covering his old bag at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, N.Y..  Recently given his release by the Senators, Joe was taken up by the Dodgers and will appear with the Brooklyn team this spring.  He signed his contract in New York, Jan. 27.".
You can check out a great biography on him at the SABR biography project here.  The best take-away quote from that piece is from Hall of Fame coach Connie Mack.  This is what he had to say about Joe Judge:
“(He's) one of the smartest first baseman the American League has ever seen. Joe’s the sort of player who hits .300 or close to it year after year and never gets any reputation as a great hitter. To get a true appreciation of Judge’s value to the club you have to go through his record of runs batted in. And you’ll find that Judge annually drives home more than players who hit twenty or thirty points higher than he. Where Joe really shines is in batting in the runs that hurt-the runs that change the tide of battle and swing a ball game to his club.”
Now, check out some links below:
From what we’ve seen, it’s premature to say that given a full year of data and health in a corner, Kemp couldn’t be at least adequate as relates to the offense he provides, because he’s still got that arm and being slower isn’t the same as being slow. But he’ll keep aging, and what might be acceptable for another year or maybe two seems like a huge issue down the road. He’s not a DH yet. Soon, though. Soon.
  • Topps Five Star Baseball set officially comes out today.  Check out some preview pics of the set on Topps facebook page, here.  Above is a photo of the Jackie Robinson 'bat plate' card.
  • Also, Topps is releasing their 2014 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospect set today.  Some preview pics can be seen on their facebook page, here.  To the right is a Jose De Leon card.
  • Via Daniel Brim at Hardball Times, "A First Look at StatCast Baserunning Data."  This should be a fun tool to play with.
  • Via a TMZ report online, "Yasiel Puig Dominates 24th Bday Party... With Huge Hip Hop Stars."
It all went down at Liv ... where Puig and his buddies rubbed elbows with some of the biggest names in hip hop including Diddy, DJ Khaled (also celebrating a birthday), Rick Ross and Miguel.

But despite the competition, our sources tell us Puig outpartied EVERYONE ... slamming Hennessey (dat Hen Dog) with his pals all night long.

As one source put it ... "They shut the club down."

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