Dodgers Dugout: Can LeBron James pitch in relief too?

Ross Stripling
Ross Stripling
(John McCoy / Getty Images)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and I wonder how long it will be until LeBron James throws out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium.

Let’s recap

I had a lot of thoughts and some things I noticed while I was off the last couple of weeks celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary (coincidentally, it was my wife’s 20th wedding anniversary too, so we decided to spend it together).

--I want to talk about a Dodgers game I went to. My wife and I were sitting about six rows behind the Dodgers’ dugout and there was a wonderful fan services employee there. His name was Richard, he was from Downey and he made us, and everyone around us, feel like we were special. He was exactly what you want from an employee who deals with the public.


--They stopped serving Stella Artois at Dodger Stadium. This makes my wife very unhappy. That’s not a good thing.

--After the game, it was 42 minutes from the time we made it to our car to the time we made it off of Dodger Stadium property. That’s ridiculous. There were two exits to our parking lot, but the staff had only one open. After everyone in the lot sat there for 15 minutes not moving, the attendants decided that perhaps they should open the other exit.

--I love Dodger Stadium, but it’s time to build a new Dodger Stadium, preferably downtown. Blasphemy, I know. But guess what? The memories you have of all the good times there don’t disappear if they build a new facility. You actually can take the memories with you. (Side note: This also goes to all the people complaining about moving from The Times building downtown).

--I notice Logan Forsythe still can’t hit. They may as well start him with an 0-2 count when he starts his at-bat, because everyone knows he’s going to take two strikes and then swing feebly at the next pitch.

--Lots of people are hoping the Dodgers get Manny Machado. But what the Dodgers really need are some relievers. They have really missed Brandon Morrow this season, and though I understand why it was going to be virtually impossible to re-sign him (he wanted to be a closer and got closer money from the Cubs), the guys brought in to replace him, Scott Alexander and Tom Koehler, have not been up to the task. Well, we really don’t know if Koehler would be up to the task or not, considering he hasn’t pitched. One of these seasons, the front office’s constant gamble of going cheap on the bullpen was going to bite them, and this looks to be the season.

--For those of you asking, Max Muncy is not eligible to win rookie of the year this season. He played too much with Oakland and is not considered a rookie.

--The Dodgers have used 25 pitchers this season. Nineteen of those pitchers have at least one win.

--Amazingly, there are four teams within six games of the lead in the NL West. The remaining 79 games in the season are going to be very interesting.

--If the playoffs started today, your matchups would be: Philadelphia at Chicago in the wild-card game. The winner of the that game would play Atlanta. The other NLDS would be Arizona at Milwaukee. The Dodgers are 1 1/2 games behind the Phillies for the second wild-card spot.

In the AL, it would be Seattle at Boston in the wild-card game, with the winner playing New York. Cleveland at Houston would be the other ALDS matchup.

Of course, the odds of that remaining the same at the end of the season are pretty long.

--After the games of May 16, the Dodgers were 16-26 and the season was spiraling out of control. Since then, the five best teams in the NL have been:

Dodgers, 28-13

Cubs, 25-17

Brewers, 22-17

Giants, 23-18

Braves, 22-18

--OK. That’s it for now. Because I am in a good mood coming off vacation, I don’t want to go negative, despite the many email pleas from some of you. We’ll assess the team more closely in the next newsletter.

Adrian Gonzalez

The day I left on vacation, the Mets released Adrian Gonzalez. No other team has picked him up, so his career could very well be over.

Despite the messy way he left the Dodgers, he was an important part of the team for many seasons and deserves some kind words.

The Dodgers acquired Gonzalez on Aug. 25, 2012, along with Josh Beckett, Nick Punto and Carl Crawford for James Loney, Ivan DeJesus Jr., Allen Webster, Jerry Sands and Rubby De La Rosa.

Gonzalez made an immediate impact, hitting a three-run homer in his first at-bat with the team. He quickly became the focal point of the offense, hitting .293 with 22 homers and 100 RBIs in 2013, and leading all of baseball in 2014 with 116 RBIs. He never really seemed to have a bad at-bat, won the Gold Glove and finished seventh in NL MVP voting.

In 2015, he made the All-Star team and knocked in 90 runs, following it with another 90-RBI campaign in 2016.

The wheels came off in 2017 however, as a bad elbow and a bad back caused him to lose the first base job to Cody Bellinger. Gonzalez played in only 71 games and hit only .242/.287/.355. After an acrimonious postseason that seemed to cause dissension between him and the team, he was traded to Atlanta along with Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir and Charlie Culberson for Matt Kemp. The Braves released him virtually the moment they acquired him, and Gonzalez signed with the Mets. He hit .237/.299/.373 with them until they let him go.

In the pantheon of Dodgers first basemen, I would rank him around fourth, behind Gil Hodges, Steve Garvey and Dolph Camilli, in a group with Jake Daubert, Jack Fournier and Wes Parker. And being in that group is good company to be in. He was a valuable member of the team for a long time, and there are still plenty of Gonzalez jerseys worn to games.

His Hall of Fame numbers aren’t quite there but he was a very good player and got paid a little over $167 million in his career, so he should be OK if he never plays again, so hold off on those Go Fund Me pages.

These names seem familiar

What recently departed Dodgers are doing around the league (through Saturday):

Charlie Culberson, Braves, .268/.322/.435, 106 OPS+. Culberson recently hit a walk-off homer for Atlanta. He has eight career homers, and half of them have been walk-off homers. You can watch them here.

Brandon McCarthy, Braves, 6-3, 4.92 ERA, 80 ERA+

Yu Darvish, Cubs, 1-3, 4.95 ERA, 84 ERA+ (currently on 10-day DL with an elbow injury)

Curtis Granderson, Blue Jays, .251/.361/.465, 126 OPS+

Brandon Morrow, Cubs, 0-0, 17 saves, 1.54 ERA

Tony Watson, Giants, 2-2, 1.69 ERA

Chris Hatcher, A’s, 3-2, 3.58 ERA

Luis Avilan, White Sox, 2-0, 4.44 ERA

Trayce Thompson, White Sox, .117/.162/.211 (removed from 40-man roster and sent to minors).

Wilmer Font, Rays, 2-0, 4.28 ERA (on 10-day DL with a lat strain)

Up next

Monday, 7 p.m.: Pittsburgh (Nick Kingham, 2-3, 3.82 ERA) at Dodgers (Alex Wood, 4-5, 4.00 ERA)

Tuesday, 7 p.m.: Pittsburgh (Ivan Nova, 4-5, 4.02 ERA) at Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 1-4, 2.84 ERA)

Wednesday, 5 p.m.: Pittsburgh (Joe Musgrove, 3-3, 3.79 ERA) at Dodgers (TBD)

And finally

Dodgers send Walker Buehler to the minors after plan backfires. Read all about it here.

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston.