For Ben and Raymond, they maintain a sentiment of baseball as religion; men of faith putting their trust both in the word of God and Vin Scully. They both believe in the Miracle of the Resurrection and Game 1 of the ‘88 World Series. Both have been unfaithful baseball bigamists; Raymond with the Angels and Ben with the Red Sox. Their faiths have undergone as much change as their favorite team's roster. So they write about it. They write about Baseball and they write about God.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

2010 Dodgers Preview: Third Baseman

By Raymond

Opening Remarks:

-I am holding with the 20.5 and the over for homeruns on James Loney, and that is firm.

-I looked into getting a print of the Willie Davis photo. Limited Edition 16" x 20" print is $1,250, plus $50 shipping.

-Vin is getting up there, and I have come to accept it. I notice the verbal miscues a little more now, and the story of his fall was scary. But I also realize that the man has been the voice of baseball for probably three generations of boys growing up. I have never known another voice, neither has my dad and if I had kids when I was young they would be used to Vinny too. But I accept that all the great must move on. I just hope and pray it happens gracefully.

-I am excited about the game we will attend in June, I already have a special pregame activity planned.

-And now on with the countdown.


 

Los Angeles Dodgers Third Basemen for the 2010 Season


 

The Starter: Casey Blake


 

Uniform Number: #23


 

Former Dodger to Wear #23: Derek Lowe. Let's get a picture of the Derek Lowe face up here for fun. Yea!


 

Bio/Fun Facts: He has always played either first of third base, except for a brief period in 2005 when he was bumped to right field for Aaron Boone. He was a four sport athlete in High School playing baseball, football, basketball and track. Best beard on the Dodgers and perhaps the best in baseball.


 

Strengths: A very good fielding third baseman, he has a little bit of pop so that is you make a mistake he can punish you sometimes. He does put the ball into play when he has to as he had 10 sac flies last year and on balls batted in play he gets on base about 30% of the time.


 

Achilles' Heel: Barbasol, Gillette Mach 3 Razors and sore hamstrings.


 

Best Third Baseman Now: I really have to go with Eva Longoria's brother Evan Longoria. I know a famous actress and a superstar third baseman all in one family…how crazy is that. I wonder if Evan and Tony Parker get real competitive at family get-togethers over their individual sports prowesses. Suffice to say Longoria may not be the ultimate hitting threat of some other third basemen out there, but he is a good hitter none the less (Steroid Free too) and if you really nerd it up, by the numbers he is the best fielding third baseman in the game even more then Adrian Beltre. So I think he is a safe bet for being the best.


 

Best Third Baseman Ever: There have been so many great men to call the hot corner their home that this is a hard subject to remain objective on. If you want to pick the best fielding third baseman you go with Brooks Robinson. If you want the best hitting third baseman you call on Mike Schmidt. But if you want a character. And man who defined toughness and drive and the spirit of how baseball should be played you go with George Brett. 3,154 hits, 665 doubles, and 317 jimmy jacks. Out of 11,624 at bats he struck out only 908 times, that is ungodly, not to mention an a career BA of .305 and career OPS of .857. And he gave us these two quotes: "If a tie is like kissing your sister, losing is like kissing your grandmother with her teeth out." And "I don't think I can play any other way but all out. I enjoy the game so much because I'm putting so much into it."


 

Wild Card: He is getting up there in years and he is going to need a day or two off a week to keep him fresh and healthy. Which is a good reason to have:


 

The Backups: Ronnie Belliard & Jamey Carrol which have already been covered.


 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

He is Risen!

He is Risen Indeed!

Resurrection: Rob Bell from The Work of Rob Bell on Vimeo.

Happy Easter Everybody! -Raymond

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Coming Soon: Third Base, Left Field, and Some Pitching

By Raymond

You will have to forgive me but I have been busy with work, church and other personal matters and I have allowed my dedication to our 2010 Dodgers Preview fall by the wayside.  Fear not though, as I am voraciously finishing and polishing my third baseman, left fielder and bottom half rotation previews and I hope to have them all up by opening day.  Which I know does not leave me much time but I think I can do it. So Ben, if you have any material, now would be a good time to post it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

2010 Dodgers Preview: Shortstop

By Benjamin

Los Angeles Dodgers Shortstops for the 2010 Season

The Starter: Rafael Furcal

Uniform Number: 15

Former Dodger to Wear #15: This is the part of the column where I take the opportunity to describe the Dodgers legendary infield of Cey (10), Garvey (6), Russell (18) and Lopes (15). The infield that my mom still refers to as the “golden years.” Instead, let’s talk Shawn Green. A member of the Orange County Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and having hit more home runs by any Jewish ballplayer not named Hank Greenberg, we thought Shawn Green was “The Chosen One” when he signed a marquee deal with our boys in blue back in 2000. He even set a great example for the kiddies, sitting out a game during a heated pennant race back in 2001 so that he could observe the most holy day on the Jewish Calendar, Yom Kippur. But no amount of atonement would make up for his sins at the plate. Oy! Expectations were too high. He was too close to home. He made far too much money and he never lived up to his million dollar billing. But it sure was fun those few instances when we were lucky enough to see him hit one out in person and we’d rise to our feet ringing out, “Light the menorah and spin the dreidle! It’s a home run!”

Bio/Fun Facts: In 2000, Rafael Furcal jumped from Single-A to the The Show after Braves starting shortstop Walt Weiss went down with an injury. All he did was win the Rookie of the Year Award. The next season, he bunted for a double during a game against the New York
Mets, rolling the infield two-sacker past third baseman Robin Ventura. Two seasons later, he would complete the 12th unassisted triple play in baseball history. With the game tied at 1 and runners at first and second with no outs, Furcal leaped to snare a line drive by Cardinals
pitcher Woody Williams, stepped on second base for the second out, and tagged out a runner for the third. With the count 1 and 1, Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa lifted the bunt sign and let the pitcher swing away. “It’s a bad memory,” LaRussa said, “so I don’t think about it much.” Wonder if that’s his policy on McGwire too. Ironically, it was a brain fart by Furcal that put the runners on in the first place. With a runner at first, the batter attempted to sacrifice, the runner headed to second but looked slow, a chance for a double play was in the mix. But Furcal failed to cover second, no throw was made, everybody safe.

Strengths: As exemplified by the inning in which he completed the unassisted triple play, Furcal is a dynamic defensive infielder with a flair for the dramatic. He is an excellent leadoff man with the ability to set the table and even create his own runs, ala another Dodger shortstop and base stealing guru Maury Wills.

Achilles’ Heel: As exemplified by the inning in which he completed the unassisted triple play, Furcal is known for his occasional mental lapses that cost the club base runners. He’s also been bitten by the injury bug over the past few seasons, missing almost all of the 2008 season after opening like gangbusters. At 32, his body is aging, and his stolen base numbers have dropped considerably since signing with the Dodgers. It makes you think the next two seasons in which he is under contract will likely be the last two we see him in a Dodgers uniform.

Best Shortstop Now: Hanley Ramirez. Dude’s got it all. A real 5-Tool All-Star. Finished 2nd in the NL MVP voting last season, won the Silver Slugger Award by hitting .342, has nearly reached 1.000 OPS each of his last three seasons as a Florida Marlin and is still rising. I know Josh Beckett led the Red Sox to their second world championship in four years after Boston suffered an 86-year long title drought, BUT, Hanley Ramirez is the elephant in the room ‘round New England. No one wants to say it, but 37 opening day shortstops later, you can cut the tension with a knife. In a town well known for revolting, I’m utterly shocked no one has hung Theo Epstein for the trade that brought Beckett but dumped what may turn out to be the greatest offensive shortstop in baseball history.

Best Shortstop Ever: It’s hard to admit, but if Alex Rodriguez was still turning double plays with Robinson Cano, it would be hard to leave him out of this conversation. But he’s a hot corner now and since packing up and moving to The Bronx. So you gotta give the nod to Honus Wagner. Tough old John McGraw once said of Honus, “I think he could have been the number one player at any position he might have selected.” Well known as “The Flying Dutchman” he once appeared in a film, providing batting tips for youngsters. The little boy Honus tutored? Went on to be “Moe” as in “Three Stooges Moe.” Honus was the first ballplayer to sign an endorsement deal with Louisville Slugger and his 1909 American Tobacco Company T206 baseball card is probably the most coveted item in all of sports memorabilia (outside of maybe a Red Sox fan’s desire for the bloody sock).

Wild Card: He and his baby boy were once photographed together with Andruw Jones. This may explain Furcal's dip in batting average over the past few seasons. Furcal's still got the Andruw Stink on 'em. As for the baby Furcal, radiation couldn't have been more damaging.

The Backup: It’s more likely that if Rafael needs to rest a spell that Jamey Carroll or even Ronnie Belliard and Blake DeWitt could fill in at the 6-hole. Back in ’08, when Furcal spent nearly the entire season on the Disabled List, the Dodgers filled the position with a cocktail of Angel Berroa, Nomar Garciaparra and the illustrious Chin-lung Hu. We’ve covered Carroll, Belliard and DeWitt extensively in our preview, so let’s take a peek at the shortstop in waiting, Taiwanese sensation Chin-lung Hu

Uniform Number: 60

Former Dodger to Wear #60: Got me there.

Bio/Fun Facts: Well, for one…he’s Taiwanese. He’s one of six big leaguers and the first infielder to hail from the newly independent nation. Half of those six Taiwanese big leaguers are Dodgers. There’s Hu, Chin-Feng Chen and Hong-Chih Kuo. In fact, in 2007, Hu became the first Taiwanese born position player in big league history to homer. The first Taiwanese player to go yard no matter what the position? His teammate and pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo, who did it earlier the same season. Which probably explains the Dodgers jet setting halfway across the planet to play exhibitions in Taiwan a third of the way through spring training. Just what L.A. needed less than a month before Opening Day… jet lag. After a 15-hour flight from Arizona, the Dodgers lost the first game of a 3-game series with the Taiwanese All-Stars. Hu plated two runs with a single in the 8th but no one in L.A. noticed because it took place at 3:26 in the morning pacific standard time. If a tree falls in the middle of Taiwan but no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Game 2 was cancelled due to rain and Kuo, the Game 3 starter, was scratched due to injury. Was the trip worth all that lost sleep? At least McCourt piled up some miles to use on “business trips” to Europe.

Strengths: Playing after long plane rides.

Achilles’ Heel: The Chinese Government.

Wild Card: Totally dig the Taiwanese phenomenon of hyphenating the kids’ first names. Call me ignorant, but if it’s not their surnames placed first, I say we adopt the custom in the States. In fact, I say we start a game. “How do you determine your Taiwanese name?” It could be kinda like “How do you determine your Pornstar name?” Here’s how the game works. Take the first syllable of your first name and the first syllable of your middle name, then hyphenate it to create your Taiwanese first name. To determine your sur name, simply use the first syllable of your last name.

Por exemplo...

Benjamin Andrew Chamberlin = Ben-An Cham
Raymond Wilson McCormick = Ray-Wi Mc
Jose Alberto Pujols = Jo-Al Pu
Timothy Leroy Lincecum = Tim-Lee Lin
Barack Hussein Obama = Bar-Hu O
Allan Huber “Bud” Selig = Al-Hu Se (which oddly translates as “The Syphilis” in Taiwanese)

Postscript: Make the over/under 19.5 on James Loney Jimmy Jacks and I’m in.

Grand-Postscript: Five days after we previewed the 2010 Dodger centerfielders, the greatest Dodger centerfielder of all time, Willie Davis, died. He was 69. Davis holds franchise records in hits, extra-base hits, at bats, runs, triples and total bases. He had break neck speed. While in the minor leagues, he scored from first on singles a dozen times. Felipe Alou recalled a game at Dodger Stadium when Davis hit a hard single over first base that Alou chased down and threw to second and threw him out. "I saw the umpire call him out and I said, 'I finally got that guy trying to stretch a single into a double.' The next day I saw the newspaper and it said Willie Davis had a double. I said, 'I threw him out.' My teammate said: 'We tagged him out. He had passed second.' He was that fast." He was once arrested for allegedly threatening his parents with a samurai sword and ninja stars. Former Dodgers general manager Buzzie Bavasi once said of Davis: "There was nothing more exciting than to watch Willie run out a triple. ... He could have been a Hall of Famer, but he had million-dollar legs and a 10-cent head." He may have had a 10-cent head and wandered the streets of Los Angeles with a sword, but he was photographed sliding into second base in what may be the greatest picture of The Stadium or any Dodger ever.

Great-Grand-Postscript: By now all Dodger fans in the universe (including Taipei) know that our beloved Vin Scully had a little spill while getting out of bed this week. He spent the night in the hospital, but was back on his feet and at Spring Training a day later, calling Sunday’s game as scheduled. The 82-year-old sportscaster claims that he got up out of bed too quickly, fell and hit his head. My brother, a health care professional with a bachelor's degree in nursing offers another opinion, “I hate to diagnose Vin Scully but I don’t believe that getting up too fast and falling is a reason for hospitalization. I get these exact cases on a daily basis. He is an old man, probably with heart, blood pressure conditions. He may be on a long regiment of beta blockers, diuretics, stool softeners, and BPH meds. He got dehydrated because of a Urinary Tract Infection and then passed out. Now the bump on the head could be as serious as a subdural hematoma. Who knows if he is on blood thinners? That is the real reason for the hospitalization. It’s time for Vinny to either have 24 hour care, which he could afford, or be placed in a skilled nursing facility. Don’t take this lightly. He probably has a mild case of dementia. Damn that divorce.”

Upon reading this, I didn’t know if my tears were from laughter or the sadness that our lifelong hero is fading fast before our eyes.

Monday, March 15, 2010

2010 Dodgers Preview: The Bullpen

By Raymond

1. The Bullpen, because Reid asked and because Ryan can suck it.

2. No, sadly not the actual Dodger shower room, but I still think Doug does that with his medal, probably helps him get chicks too.

3. Lots of people are projecting a big year for Loney. If I am to bet a steak on this, I want to set a bigger number on his home run total. 15 is boring, put your set on the table and lets set it at 20.5 I take the under. What do you say?

4. No pictures this post due to computer issues.

Los Angeles Dodgers Relief Pitching for the 2010 Season

The Closer: Jonathan Broxton

Uniform Number: #51
Former Dodger to Wear #51: Larry Sherry, former relief pitcher for the Dodgers and MVP of the 1959 World Series. Of Jewish persuasion, with his brother Norm Sherry who played with the Dodgers too, formed the first all kosher battery.

Bio/Fun Facts: From Georgia, he is a big boy at six foot four and weighing in at 290 pounds during the season. He has been referred to at times by Charlie Steiner as “The Human Eclipse.” Signed right out of high school and was picked up in the second round of the 2002 draft. Broxton has been the most dominant closer for the Dodgers since the chemically induced demise of the Eric Gagne.

Strengths: Heat! He regularly tosses at 98 to 101 mph. And last year he was known to hit 103 mph at least once. Also… The K!; amongst all regular pitchers in the MLB Jonny B had the highest Strikeout to 9 inning ratio of any pitcher at 13.50; he also an impressive K to walk ratio of 3.93. He was 12th in all of the MLB in saves at 36. And he can also go two innings if needed, pitching 76 innings last year, which is more than just about every other top tier closer. Even his blown saves and ERA are in acceptable limits when compared to other top tier closers.

Achilles’ Heel: Matt Stairs, big game playoff situations.

Best Closer Now: If you had asked me a year ago I would of easily said Francisco Rodriguez. But last season I think reiterated the fact that Mariano Rivera is still perhaps the best closer in baseball. Hardly gives up home runs, has only balked three times ever, throws maybe…maybe… one wild pitch a year. And the man is old and still doing it, he has World Series Rings to show how good he is. And might we add he pretty much does all this with one pitch a cut fastball.

Best Closer Ever: See above.

Wild Card: The Iron Man is not going anywhere anytime soon. He is a fire breathing horse that goes in and gets those final out and he does it by blowing batters away. He stays healthy and maintains his control we will ride back into the playoffs. Real question is can he mentally get over the hump of two previous failures in the playoffs. If he can do that we easily have one of the top 5 closers in baseball to finish out games.

The Setup Man: George Sherrill

Uniform Number: #52

Former Dodger to Wear #52: The recently retired Al Reyes was a relief pitcher for the Dodgers in 2000 and 2001. Fun note, one night Reyes got in a bar fight in Tampa. Got tasered twice by police officers and still pitched in the game the next day and got the win.

Bio/Fun Facts: His middle name is Friederich, and he went to a Christian High School like us. He is one of those guys who banged it out in the independent leagues, he played for 5 years in the independents before he got his break with Seattle. He wears the bill of his cap flat as a statement of independence.

Strengths: Good fastball with movement, a slick slider and a decent curve. He could be a closer for many other teams and we get to have him as our setup guy.

Achilles’ Heel: Perfect Curve Hat Curving Device

Best Setup Man Now: Obscure question, no? But Jeremy Affeldt of the Giants had 33 holds, never blew a save and seemed to be the perfect setup man for Brian Wilson (Whom I wonder if his entrance theme is a Beach Boys song).

Wild Card: His nicknames in the past have included "The Gangsta-Redneck", "The Brim Reaper", "Flat Breezy", and "Duckbill".

The Middle Reliever: Ramon Troncoso

Uniform Number: #38

Former Dodger to Wear #38: Eric Gagne (Hrmmmm…)

Bio/Fun Facts: From the Dominican, good fastball, reliable.

Strengths: He doesn’t suck?

Achilles’ Heel: Sometimes he sucks?

Wild Card: How much can we really know about some of these pitchers?

The Left Specialist: Hong-Chih Kuo

Uniform Number: #56

Former Dodger to Wear: #56: Pedro Astacio

Bio/Fun Facts: From Taiwan, been in the organization since 1999.

Strengths: Quick fastball, good movement. In general he throws hard.

Achilles’ Heel: Fragile Elbow Tendons, Hard R’s and Communism.

Wild Card: His nickname is The Bionic Taiwaniac!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

2010 Dodgers Preview: Second Baseman

By Benjamin

1. Is that really a picture of the Dodgers clubhouse shower?

2. I’ve got a steak bet for you. What’s the over/under on James Loney home runs this year? 13.5? 14.5? Let’s decide, because I’ll take the over. And if nearly 15 years of friendship serves me well, you’ll take the under. Whaddya say?



Los Angeles Dodgers Second Basemen for the 2010 Season


The Starter? Blake DeWitt (Question Mark to be Explained Later)



Uniform Number: #33



Former Dodgers to Wear #33: Jeff Hamilton, Eddie Murray



Bio/Fun Facts: 2B or Not 2B. Poor Blake has been the second baseman in waiting for 2 seasons now. A 24 year-old Missouri high school standout who used to play the hot corner. DeWitt was promoted four spots to become the Dodgers’ Opening Day third baseman in 2008 when Nomar Garciaparra, one of the LaRoche Bros. and Tony Abreu all went down with injuries during spring training. DeWitt thrashed National League pitching during his first few months in the bigs, turning a cup of coffee into a three course meal. But as the season wore on, DeWitt’s numbers came back to earth, the Dodgers signed another Blake to play 3B, Casey Blake, and DeWitt was sent back to Triple-A. But the fast start to DeWitt’s career had many singing his praises and with Jeff Kent off the books, everyone expected DeWitt to be the 2009 starting second baseman. Not so fast! Insert Orlando Hudson. The Dodgers go shopping, pick up O-Dawg and give DeWitt a one-way ticket to Albuquerque. Hudson has a standout year, hits for the cycle on Opening Day, even earns a Gold Glove. But he gets hurt late in the second half and the Dodgers are left with a hole at second base. DeWitt sits by his phone and waits for the call, fully expecting to be back in the majors to fill the role till Hudson heals. Think again! The Dodgers bring in Ronnie Belliard, the roly poly middle infielder. DeWitt can’t believe his eyes, and proceeds to gauge out his corneas with the blunt end of a butter knife. To everyone’s surprise, Belliard tears the cover off the ball. When O-Dawg returns from the disabled list, he’s found that his position has been usurped by the pudgier Belliard. The playoffs begin, and whose starting at the #4 position on the diamond? Our Gold Glove winner? No. Ronnie Friggin’ Belliard. (It turned out to be a stroke of genius, as Belliard singled in the tying run in the bottom of the 9th in Game 2 of the ALDS, as the Dodgers went on to an improbable victory). But with the season over, Hudson out of the picture and Ned Colletti doing his best bear impersonation, basically hibernating all winter; DeWitt MUST have been thinking, “Second base is mine.” Fast forward to the off-season when the Dodgers do the inexplicable and re-sign Belliard and pick up ANOTHER middle-infielder, 36-year-old Jamey Carroll. To be honest, it’s still DeWitt’s job to lose. But are the Dodger signings simply a self-fulfilling prophesy? He’s RUDY at this point. I swear, if someone other than Blake is starting at second base Opening Day, I’m flying out to L.A. to start a chant in the stands, “DEW-ITT! DEW-ITT! DEW-ITT!”



Strengths: Quality left-handed bat, sure handed fielder, young and fleet of foot.



Achilles’ Heel: His own franchise’s lack of faith.



Best Second Baseman Now: I love me some “Pedroia the Destroyah” bumper stickers but Chase Utley is the best second baseman in the bigs today. Dude hits 30 jacks and drives in 100 every year, has finished in the top 8 of the MVP voting three times and does it all from a position not expected to have any offensive output. And what kills me is how could the SoCal kid get looked over by our boys in blue?!?! Dude was born in Pasadena, raised in Long Beach and went to UCLA. Drafted in the first round by the Phils in 2000. Who did WE draft in the first round of 2000? Some dude name BEN DIGGINS. Ever heard of him? Yeah. Me neither.



Best Second Baseman Ever: Lotta possibilities here. A very “arguable” category, much like all three outfield positions. There’s Bobby Doerr, Eddie Collins, Rogers Hornsby, Jackie Robinson, Frankie Frisch, Ryan Sandberg, Nellie Fox, even (*gulp) Jeff Kent. But I’m gonna go with Nap Lajoie here. For two reasons. One, he was baseball’s very first “best player ever.” He became so popular that the Cleveland ballclub he played for changed its name to the Cleveland Naps in his honor. Can you imagine that happening in sports today? The St. Louis Alberts or the Cleveland LeBrons? It’s crazy. But intriguing. I’m willing to call our boys in blue the Kemps for a season if you are. The Pirates can just be renamed the Sinkholes. And two, on the last day of the 1910 season, Nap trailed Ty Cobb (baseball’s second “best player ever”) 4 percentage points for the batting crown. The opposing manager hated Cobb so much that he allowed Nap to reach safely seven times on bunts to win the title. Some would say Nap’s 4th batting title was a farse, but 70 years later, the debate was re-opened when it was discovered that Cobb had illegally re-entered a game that season and gone 2 for 3, granting Nap the batting title even without the 7 bunt singles.



Wild Card: While playing Winter League Ball in the Dominican Republic this year, DeWitt didn’t shack up with an exotic girlfriend like his teammates… he got food poisoning. “I lost quite a bit of weight,” he reported to L.A. Times’ Dylan Hernandez, “I’m not sure what it was. I ate something the first week I was down there and I really couldn’t eat after that.” Who was his manager? JOSE. OFFERMAN.


Conspiracy Theory: Could it be that the former All-Star is trying to get back to The Show by poisoning Dodger prospects then attempting to earn a Spring Training invitation as their replacement?



Wild Card II: Blake DeWitt's doppleganger... Marilyn Monroe




The Backup: Ronnie Belliard



Uniform Number: #3



Former Dodger to Wear #3: Steve Sax was my first love. He came packaged in an 8X10 photograph when I became a member of the Blue Crew. I begged my dad to trade for him in his fantasy league (My dad later swapped Ozzie Smith for my boyhood hero). Years later, I would find myself working for Fox Sports Net, logging baseball games for highlights on the now defunct National Sports Report. One of the analysts on the show? None other than ol’ #3, Steve Sax. Our first close encounter occurred in an elevator. I was taking it down to the first floor, my shift was over. He stepped on at the 3rd floor, he was bound for the studio on the 2nd. He wore a dapper grey suit and smooth black wingtips.



Three thoughts crossed my mind while I savored the few moments Steve and I shared the same air.



1. OMG. OMG. OMG. OMG. OMG. OMG.
2. Wow. He’s short.
3. It’s just one floor, why won’t he take the stairs?



My first close encounter with the highly annoying Fox Sports Anchor Man Van Earl? At a urinal. No thoughts there.



Bio/Fun Facts: So Colletti comes out of his coma just in time to re-sign Belliard. Only there’s a very interesting “catch” in the contract. Ronnie has to weigh in at 209 pounds (his weight during the 2009 playoffs) or he loses the $875,000 he’s signed for and the contract’s reduced to a minor league deal. Maybe the strangest deal ever. If he’s represented by anyone more credible than Gumby, he doesn’t sign that deal. But this is Ronnie Belliard. Ladies and Gentleman, your 2009 Playoff Second Baseman. Ronnie showed up at camp weighing 211 and he’s got three weeks to shed two pounds. His answer? “I’m still eating whatever I want, I’m just trying not to eat too late.” If I’m Blake DeWitt, I’m stuffing Ronnie’s locker with ho-hos and telling him the Dessert Fairy came.



Strengths: Hot Dog Eating Contests.



Achilles’ Heel: Twinkies.



Wild Card: Besides Man-Ram, Ronnie Belliard is the only Dodger with a World Series ring. He was a member of the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals. There’s a lot to be said for having “winners” on your team, especially when your club is in the thick of it at the end. And nothing is more gravitating or more motivating than when a ballplayer shows up to camp with his World Series ring and he struts around the clubhouse, rallying his teammates around him with, “Hey! Get on my back! I know how to win one of these!” But you can bet Ronnie ate his ring.



The Other Backup: Jamey Carroll



Uniform Number: #14



Former Dodger to Wear #14: My dad used to say nobody blocked the plate better than Mike Scoiscia. He steadily wore the tools of ignorance for our boys in blue throughout the ‘80s, teaming up with some of the best hurlers in club history like Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser. He hit an improbable homerun off Doc Gooden in Game 5 of the 1988 World Series. It extended the game and the series, eventually resulting in a victory and our last world championship to date. He was next in line to sit at the helm of Dodger blue, but a band of idiots took over the club and foolishly cast Mike off like a useless piece of garbage. So the former catcher drove himself and his ’88 teammates a few miles south on The 5 to manage the Angels. All he’s done since then is win a World Series, collect countless division titles and, coupled with a billboard owner, turned the Angels into the consummate baseball franchise in Southern California. Yuck.



Bio/Fun Facts: He’s a third stringer, so I won’t spend too much time here. The Dodgers are his 4th club. He was drafted by the Expos. He finally made it to The Show as a 29 year old rookie, 7 seasons ago. He has maybe the most feminine name in baseball. He’s married and is the father of fraternal twins.



Strengths: For a guy who’s been a backup his entire career, his .276 lifetime average ain’t too shabby.



Achilles’ Heel: He’s 36. He can’t play every day. And if DeWitt doesn’t get the starting job, Carroll and Belliard will have to split time at second base.


Wild Card: This doesn’t exactly pertain to Carroll, but I learned something new while researching this “preview.” Did you know that second base is also referred to as “the keystone sack”? Great name for a bar, don't you think? “Hey Ray! Meet me down at the Keystone Sack. First round’s on me!”




Postscript: Got an email from my dad today. It reads, "Andruw Jones reported to the Chicago White Sox camp early, 25 pounds lighter and in great shape. He emphatically stated he was the best center fielder in camp. Joey Cora a bench coach looked up to him and said. You'd better be there are only pitchers and catchers in camp right now."

Friday, March 5, 2010

2010 Dodgers Preview: First Baseman


By Raymond

 Catchers, done; Center Fielders, done.  I feel my next natural position was first base, I did occasionally play left field, but I have the mobility of an arthritic tortoise with a broken leg.  So it is at first base I was placed.  Stand here and don’t move, a good gig if you can get it.  Sadly they normally require some sort of good offensive production to be a starter at this position, hence my always fleeting occupation of said position.  Fortunately for the Los Angeles Dodgers, they do not have such a problem.
 
Los Angeles Dodgers First Basemen for the 2010 Season

The Starter

Name:                                                  James Loney

Uniform Number:                            #7



Former Dodgers to
Wear That Number:                        Jose Vizcaino (By the way I had no idea that Jose stuck around the Bigs for 18 seasons, no idea), nd he is actually working for the Dodgers currently as a spring training coach.  At least he is not still trying to play and manage in the Dominican and knocking out umpires (Like some other former Dodger middle infielders we know).   Another #7, he whose name should not be mentioned: J.D. Drew.  Who is perhaps my least favorite former Dodger of all time.  Even writing about him is making me throw up a little in my mouth, so I better stop.








Bio/Fun Facts:                                   James Anthony Loney from Houston, Texas.  There is not much to say about young James.  He was a high school star hitting over .500 and pitching with a sub 2.00 ERA in his senior year.  He was picked as the Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year for Texas that same year.  In the minors with the exception of one injury plagued year in Double A, he saw similar success and his hitting continued to shine.  He was brought up in 2006 after Nomar hurt himself for the first time.  It was then a matter of waiting for Nomar’s 90 day warranty to elapse and the position of first base was his and probably will be for a long time to come

Strengths:                                           Solid defense and average offense from the right corner of the infield.  He has gotten better defensively each year as a full time starter.  And when you look at his offensive numbers he is better hitter at this age in his career then Wes Parker was at the same age.

Achilles' Heel:                                   Without a beard he looks like he is 12 years old and should be getting balls for the umpire.  Also his power numbers since joining the club, while not bad have been disappointing on the whole.  Many say this could be a breakout season for James, but I think they have been saying that for the past three years.  While it would be nice to see more power from him, I am not sure if it will happen any time soon.

Best Player in MLB at 1B:              Without a doubt Albert Puljos, the best natural hitter in baseball right now.  Phat Albert is one of the few players who is a true threat to win the triple crown every year.  If it weren’t for Matt Holliday and Ryan Ludwik, Puljos would easily be seeing 200+ walks a season.  As long as he isn’t found to be injecting cow growth hormone or some other P.E.D. this is the guy I will be proud to say I saw play first hand when I tell stories to my children.

Best 1B Ever:                                      I was really leaning towards Kevin Maas, but I think you have to give it to the “Iron Horse” Lou Gehrig, or as his team mates called him “Biscuit Pants”!  I feel like there is nothing I can say about him that hasn’t been said, other than to mention that more guys like him are need in baseball today.





Wildcard:                                             James is widely recognized as the funniest guy in the Dodger’s clubhouse.  And when you look at the guy you can kinda see how he could be the funny kid.  Also there is a large internet following of female fans looking to become James’ number one fan.  He does supposedly have a girlfriend but he keeps it under wraps unlike some other Dodger players.


The Backup

Name:                                                  Casey Blake

Uniform Number:                            #23

Former Dodger to Wear
That Number:                                    Don Zimmer, the last former Brooklyn Dodger still serving on a major league field in some capacity.

Bio/Fun Facts:                                   He is really our starting third baseman, and will probably only fill in in case of an injury. So this will be a light analysis at best.

Strengths:                                           Probably the best beard in baseball.

Achilles' Heel:                                    Razor blades.

Wildcard:                                             When asked about his beard, he answers that he grows it simply because he does not like to shave and that the beard also helps camouflage him while participating in one of his favorite hobbies, duck hunting, a man after my own heart.


The Other Backup


Name:                                                  Doug Mientkiewicz

Uniform Number:                            #13

Former Dodger to Wear
That Number:                                    Joe Ferguson, Dodger catcher from the early 70’s.

Bio/Fun Facts:                                   Born in Toledo, Ohio Doug is essentially a washed up first baseman who is playing to try and make the team as a backup first baseman and pinch hitter.  Doug is one of the few players left who does not use batting gloves, and is an oddity as he hits lefty and throws righty.

Strengths:                                           A good line drive hitter and a great defensive first baseman.

Achilles‘ Heel:                                    He has a bad shoulder that could keep him from making the club, while a good defensive first baseman, he will need to hit well if he hopes to make the opening day roster over other spring training invitees.

Wildcard:                                             Doug has a gold medal from the 2000 Olympic Games, I wonder if he ever walks into the Dodger shower room wearing nothing but his shower shoes, his gold medal and a smile?  I know I would.