Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thanks for the Memories, Matt Kemp!

If you were holding out hope that the Matt Kemp trade was just a dream then you might not want to read on.

Matt Kemp has just sent along his goodbyes to Dodger fans everywhere, via his Instagram.  Although the trade that sends him to San Diego has yet to be confirmed officially, I have to believe it's a certainty now.
It is with a lot of emotion that I say goodbye to the city and the fans who have been there since the beginning of my career. You have given me so much. Your faith and support for the last 9 years through good times and bad, homestands and home runs was showcased through the volume of your cheers and the love for your team. I'm thankful to the Dodgers organization for taking a chance on an Oklahoma kid. I believe we control our paths. The paths we take, control our destiny. I'm excited for the future. God Bless
Thank You, Matt.  May 'Beast Mode' flourish down south.  I will certainly be paying attention to the going-on's in San Diego now that you are there.  Obviously, I'll be rooting for ya; except when you face the Dodgers.

Photo at the very top, via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2013.

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Welcome to the Blue, Chris Hatcher!

I wouldn't be surprised if relief pitcher Chris Hatcher ends up being an important piece to the Dee Gordon trade.  As you know, the Dodgers acquired Hatcher, along with a bunch of other prospects for Gordon, Haren and Rojas.  He is a recently converted catcher, much like Kenley Jansen, and ended up turning some heads last season.  You may follow him on twitter here: @handlebars41.

Per a Dodgers Press Release:
Hatcher appeared in a career-high 52 games for the Marlins last year, posting a 3.38 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 56.0 innings. He opened the season with Triple-A New Orleans, where he went 1-2 with five saves and a 2.01 ERA in 15 appearances.

Hatcher, 29, was originally selected by the club in the fifth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft as a catcher out of University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He made his big league debut as a catcher in 2010, appearing in five games, but converted to pitching in 2011 and made the first of his 81 MLB appearances that year (0-4, 4.82 ERA). As a minor leaguer, he has posted a 9-6 record with 55 saves and a 2.23 ERA in 156 relief appearances, while limiting opposing hitters to a .220 batting average with 193 strikeouts and only 68 walks in 185.1 innings.
He should slot in nicely as a middle reliever, and could very well be a steal for the club.  His acquisition is clearly a reflection of smart Baseball people finding value when others (namely Colletti) would have just gone after over-the-hill has-been closers to fill those roles.  

At midnight last night Dodger egghead Andrew Friedman had this to say about Hatcher:
We like Hatcher quite a bit. We feel like he fits in really well within the constructs of our current bullpen and really lengthens our pen. He’s got really good stuff, misses bats and we feel like has a chance to really help us in 2015 and beyond.
Of note, earlier this year Hatcher beat the crap out of a teammate in AAA.  Per Darrell Williams at The New Orleans Advocate, "Zephyrs’ Chris Hatcher suspended five games after fight."
New Orleans Zephyrs All-Star relief pitcher Chris Hatcher was suspended five games by the Miami Marlins after a fight with reliever Sam Dyson resulted in Dyson’s jaw being broken.

The fight occurred at a Nashville bar on April 29 during the team’s just-completed eight-game road trip, a source in the organization said. Hatcher refused to disclose the reason for the fight.
I guess you don't want to get on his bad side.

In celebration of Hatcher's arrival to the Dodgers I made the above fantasy card for him.  I used a photograph grabbed from a photo from Zimbio (Chris Trotman/Getty Images North America) and the 1971 Topps Baseball card design.

Below are the career stats for Chris Hatcher, via Baseball-Reference:

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Welcome to the Blue, Howie Kendrick!

Just when I was marveling at the Dodger acquisition of Baseball's 2nd best left-handed starting pitching prospect, Andrew Heaney, the Dodgers go ahead and flip him to the Angels for second baseman Howie Kendrick.  And, I couldn't be happier about it.

Howie Kendrick has been an absolute wizard, so having him wear a real Los Angeles uniform just warms my heart.  Per a Dodger press release:
Kendrick, 31, batted .293 in 157 games with the Angels last year and established career-best marks in hits (181), RBI (75, also: 2010), walks (48) and on-base percentage (.347, also: 2007). He ranked ninth in the American League (min. 100 AB) with a .326 batting average with runners in scoring position (56-for-172) and also posted a .385 mark with the bases loaded (5-for-13).

Kendrick has a .292 career batting average with 249 doubles, 78 home runs and 501 RBI in 1,081 games in nine MLB seasons, all with the Angels. The 2011 All-Star has a .986 career fielding percentage, appearing primarily at second base, and has hit well in the clutch during the course of his career, posting a .292 batting average with runners in scoring position and a .295 mark with runners on base. The Florida native was originally selected by the Angels in the 10th round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.
Paired up with soon-to-be shortstop Jimmy Rollins should be a wonder to behold.  This will be one of the better infields the Dodger have had in quite some time.

As for Kendrick's contract, he has just one year remaining at $9.5Mil - a bargain if he comes anywhere close to his numbers from last season.  I might usually bark at the idea of trading a top-flight prospect like Heaney for a one-year rental in Kendrick, but as I'm slowly coming around to understand this deal (like the others) is about roster flexibility.  We get a great bat and solid defensive middle infielder for one season; which allows us to stretch our wings out a bit when next winter rolls around.  Besides, if we are unable to extend him beyond 2015 you can be certain that the Dodger make a Qualifying Offer.  And as you know, that extra draft pick has significant value.

Now, here's an interesting story about how he was scouted, via an excerpt from Sports Illustrated on Wikipedia:
"The Angels found him, if only by chance. On a whim Kotchman went to see Kendrick play in Tampa in early 2002 after hearing about him from Ernie Rossean, the coach at Brevard Community College outside Orlando. After watching a few minutes of BP, Kotchman ran to his car to get his video camera. "My goodness, the kid hit the ball," he recalls. "I couldn't believe there weren't other scouts there. And other JCs cut this guy? What were they thinking?" For the remainder of the season, Kotchman wouldn't even approach Kendrick at games, lest his secret get out. In '02 Anaheim took Kendrick in the 10th round of the draft. As for why he went undiscovered for so long, both Kendrick and Kotchman are somewhat flummoxed, though each ends up blaming geography. "His school was way out in the sticks, and he didn't play summer ball," says Kotchman, whose son, Casey, played alongside Kendrick on the Angels. "Hey, I'm just glad we were the ones that found him."
In celebration of Kendrick's arrival to the Dodgers I made the above fantasy card for him.  I used a photograph grabbed from a photo from Zimbio (Rob Tringali/Getty Images North America) and the 1962 Topps Baseball card design.

Below are the career stats for Howie Kendrick, via Baseball-Reference:

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* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

The 1999 Dodger Fan Appreciation Baseball Card Sheet

At the moment, as a fan, I don't feel much appreciated. 

I know it's sour grapes and that this feeling will eventually subside, still it's frustrating to see Matt Kemp go.  Couldn't we have gotten more?

I know... I know... Stop it already, Ernest!

Anyway, actual Baseball news aside, featured in this post is the Dodgers 1999 Fan Appreciation card sheet.  Over the past several days I've been featuring these cardboard wonders for you to see.  Go here to check out all of my past post on this give-away.

On this sheet are perforated Baseball cards of Eric Karros, Kevin Brown and Adrian Beltre.  I love that they used the vintage design from the 1953 Topps Baseball card set.  Awesome!

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* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

I Woke up to a Nightmare - Kemp is Gone!

This morning I woke up and leaned over to grab the remote.  I turned on the television, which was already tuned to the MLB Network, and rested comfortably as I wondered if there was any more Dodgers news to hear.  Then, before I could stretch out my limbs a feeling of pain and loss ensued.  Suddenly, I didn't want to get out of bed.  The first words I heard out of that tv included the phrase, "Matt Kemp to the Padres," so my heart immediately sank.

Dammit!  These guys are a bunch of uncaring, unfeeling monsters! 

In a span of 24 hours the Dodgers went from being spectators to an hyperactive child.  It's like I was sitting comfortably on my couch enjoying a stout brew only to be interrupted by some unruly neighbors bent on upending my life.

At one point last night, I was happy with the Dodgers' activity during the Winter Meetings.  We had seemingly added Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick and Chris Hatcher for Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, Miguel Rojas - with some prospects, here and there, to even things out.  Furthermore, confirmations were coming in from all corners claiming that the Dodgers had also signed free agent starter Brandon McCarthy.

So last night, as I was putting my head on my pillow, I was having the kind of feeling that conjures up dreams of endless beaches and puffy clouds.  Now, as I wipe the sleep from my eyes, I realize that that was all an illusion.  We are in a cold hard world, and we are just mere spectators to it all.

I get the reasons for the aforementioned deals.  I don't understand the most recent trade with the Padres.

As you all likely know by now, the Dodgers have made a huge trade with San Diego.  Exact details are not in yet, but it appears likely that Matt Kemp and Tim Federowicz will go south for Yasmani Grandal, starting pitcher Joe Wieland and pitching prospect Zach Eflin.  (There are rumblings that Eflin goes to the Phillies to complete the Rollins trade)

Crap!  I had a hard time writing that last paragraph. 

I really believe that the old Matt Kemp is back, and he'll make a glorious return.  So, I certainly feel he'll make us regret that we let him go.  Furthermore, I am not at all impressed with former steroid suspended catcher Yasmani Grandal, and do not believe he is an upgrade over AJ Ellis - offensively or defensively.  Maybe the pitchers we get end up doing well, but overall I gotta call this deal a big loser for the 'Boys in Blue.'

Oy Vie!  What's a fan to do?  

I think I need to turn off my twitter feed.  It's driving me crazy.  Can somebody give me a hug?

I'll have some more about the past day soon; including some fantasy card creations for the new Dodger players.

* Please follow on twitter @ernestreyes *
* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

Blog Kiosk: 12/11/2014 - Dodger Links - Dee Gordon, Don Mattingly and AJ Ellis

Dee Gordon spent yesterday morning with some kids at Union Elementary School in Los Angeles.  Photo above via @LAFund on twitter.  The event gave Gordon an opportunity to discuss fitness and healthy eating with the students.  Via Erin Edwards at Dodger Insider,
Gordon began the class by leading the students in a brief fitness routine along with Dunaway and shared the warm-up exercises he uses before games. While Dunaway led a discussion on the importance of daily exercise and getting your basic food groups in each day, Gordon pulled up a chair and joined the class in eating breakfast.
Sadly, yesterdays public appearances within the community was Dee's last moments as a Dodger.  As reported by Roberto Baly on twitter, Dee received a phone call notifying him of the trade during his appearance and he has a photo to prove it.

Below are some links to check out:
“We value positional versatility too. So guys that aren’t only shortstops can move around the infield and accommodate Seager a year from now or whatever, I think guys like that will be of value to us as well.”
“It’s a situation where we’ve got to continue to get better, continue to get younger,” Mattingly said. “The club was built in a way that was thrown together, which is exactly what the owners said they wanted to do, to put the club together to win now, not wait five years and let the kids develop. The club was built with that in mind. But once you get to that part, you go through the process and you’ve got to move to the next step. We know we have to be able to do it year in and year out, and that’s sustaining it with youth.” 
I’m not sure if this is the worst move of the offseason. If it is, I’m not sure if this will remain the worst move of the offseason. But my later response continues to match my initial response: Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers are making out like bandits, successfully selling Dee Gordon about as high as possible. The Dodgers are losing a probable regression candidate, about to enter his Super-Two seasons. They’re getting probably the Marlins’ best prospect, and then even more to boot. The Dodgers picked up some more long-term assets. The Marlins might not have gotten better at all.
  • Via Carson Cistulli  at InstaGraphs, "Austin Barnes Is the Jewel of This Trade by the Projections."
  • The Cubs appear to be going places.  As you know, they are reported to be the winners in the Jon Lester sweepstakes and now we are reminded of this.  Via Mike Oz at Big League Stew, "Reminder: The Cubs won the 2015 World Series in 'Back to the Future 2'.  NO WAY!  They actually have the pieces to make this really happen.
  • AJ Ellis is sad to hear the news that Dee Gordon has been traded, via his twitter:

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