Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, wondering where they got this Puig guy from. He’s been a real boost to the offense.
Manager of the year
As the season winds down, the Dodgers have two people who are top candidates for end-of-season awards. Corey Seager is a lock for rookie of the year, and will get consideration for MVP. We’ll talk more about that later. But let’s talk about Dave Roberts and his candidacy for manager of the year.
Imagine the day before the 2016 season started you were told the following:
--Clayton Kershaw would spend over two months on the disabled list.
--Every member of your projected starting rotation, except Kenta Maeda, would spend time on the disabled list.
--So many players would be hurt that you would use 54 players during the season.
--Your main left-handed reliever, J.P. Howell would have a 9.00 ERA in April.
--Yasiel Puig would be sent to the minors because of attitude problems.
--Kiké Hernandez would hit below .200 all season.
--Adrian Gonzalez would barely be slugging .400 at the All-Star break.
--Andre Ethier would be out all season because of a broken leg.
--One of your big trade-deadline acquisitions would spend a couple of weeks on the DL because of blisters, and the other would hit well below .200 in his first month with the team.
--You would be relying mainly on rookies to make key starts down the stretch.
And that’s not all of it. If you knew all that, how many games would you predict the Dodgers would win? 70? 75?
Instead, the Dodgers are 79-60, have a five-game lead in the NL West and are on pace to win 92 games. And Dave Roberts is largely responsible for that.
I’m not in the clubhouse before and after games; all I can go by is what I see on TV and the reports I get from those who are closer to the situation than I am. But Roberts has definitely changed the feel and attitude of this team. They seem to be having more fun, they seem to be pulling for each other to do well. Gonzalez is dropping bunts down the third-base line to beat the shift. Players are having more productive at bats (especially in the second half). Roberts is making better in-game decisions, and has juggled his bullpen quite well down the stretch. The team seems more relaxed.
It’s difficult to imagine another manager getting more out of this team than Roberts. Sometimes he makes decisions that seem strange, but those decisions seem to work out an awful lot. And if you are one of those who believe that a manager’s main job nowadays is to be a clubhouse psychologist, then Roberts should be an easy choice for the award.
Since the low point of the season, May 21, when the Dodgers were 21-23, the team has gone 58-37, a pace to win 99 games.
They were 41-36 when Kershaw got hurt. They have gone 38-24 since then, a pace to win 99 games.
If the season ended today, I would vote for Roberts. The other candidates, Joe Maddon of the Cubs, Dusty Baker of the Nationals and Don Mattingly of the Marlins, would not be bad choices, but my vote goes to Roberts. The final 23 games of the season will go a long way to determining who the top candidate really is.
By the way, Dylan Hernandez wrote a great column on how Mattingly leaving and Roberts arriving worked out well for everyone involved. And Joe Fox takes a pitch-by-pitch look at Kershaw’s season so far.
Have you noticed?
Since returning from the minors, Yasiel Puig is hitting .444 with two homers and five RBIs.
Ethier is still on a rehab assignment in Rancho Cucamonga, which is in the Cal League playoffs right now. As Roberts told Times Dodgers reporter Andy McCullough recently: “When he’s ready to come back, and he feels like he can contribute, he’ll be activated.”
In other words, do not expect a lot of contributions from Ethier this season, and don’t expect to see him on the playoff roster.
Vin’s last six games on TV
So, KTLA will televise Vin Scully’s final six regular-season games. As I mentioned in the last newsletter, that’s great news for most of us. But not if you live in Santa Barbara, whose main cable carrier doesn’t show KTLA. And not if you live in Las Vegas, where they also don’t show KTLA and which blacks out Dodgers games.
So, if you are a Dodgers fan in those areas, you are out of luck. Which is unacceptable. Here’s what the Dodgers should do: Make a deal to allow Sept. 23, Vin Scully Appreciation Day, to be streamed live on their website, both the pre-game ceremony and the game.
Of course, the best thing would be for everyone to get together to work out a deal with Santa Barbara and Vegas so those cities, and any other city in the Dodgers area that doesn’t carry KTLA, can see all six games.
Are you a Rams fan?
If you aren’t, skip to the next item, but if you are, I want to alert you to a great event coming up on Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Wiltern Theater. The Times is holding a “Welcome Back to L.A.” event about the Rams. Times columnist Bill Plaschke will moderate a conversation with Rams legends Eric Dickerson, Tom Mack, Jackie Slater and Jack Youngblood. Times NFL reporter Sam Farmer will talk to Rams Executive Vice President Kevin Demoff on the journey to Los Angeles and the new Inglewood stadium, and there will be a silent auction of rare Rams memorabilia to benefit the Rams Foundation. Click here for tickets and more information.
The rest of the schedule
HOME (7 games): Sept. 19-21 vs. San Francisco, Sept. 22-25 vs. Colorado
ROAD (16 games): Sept. 9-11 at Miami, Sept. 12-14 at New York Yankees, Sept. 15-18 at Arizona, Sept. 27-29 at San Diego, Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at San Francisco.
How the players acquired at the trade deadline are doing:
Josh Reddick: .212 (21 for 99), two doubles, one homer, three RBIs. Note: Reddick is hitting .379 and slugging .517 in his last nine games.
Rich Hill: 2-0, 0.00 ERA
Jesse Chavez: 1-0, 3.54 ERA in 17 games
Josh Fields: 1-0, 3.86 ERA in 13 games
And just after the deadline:
Carlos Ruiz: .200 (2 for 10)
Note: A.J. Ellis is hitting .167 for the Phillies (3 for 18).
Ask Ross Porter
Former Dodgers announcer Ross Porter will be answering select reader questions for the rest of the season. Email me a question for Ross, and I will pass it on. His latest response:
Kevin Sparkuhl asks: I’m a big fan of your Dodger broadcasting past, Ross. One criticism which seemed to be levied your way pertained to the use of statistics during your broadcasts. I very much enjoyed the information you provided. In my opinion, you were a pioneer in what eventually became the statistical analysis of baseball. Now today, one can’t watch a game without being blown away by the statistical happenings of baseball.
Do you feel reasonably vindicated by the course of which the sport took in implementing the statistical intricacies of the modern game of baseball?
Ross: Thanks for your comments. Someone once said or wrote, "Statistics are the soul of baseball.” (I can’t find who that was so if anyone knows, let me hear from you.) I’ve always been numbers-conscious, fascinated by statistics in baseball, and I believed they would be an interesting part of my broadcast.
Kevin, I cannot tell you how many fans over the years have mentioned to me in public, on radio talk shows, or in mail and e-mails how much they enjoyed and appreciated the statistics I gave. It has been a huge number.
Not only have announcers increased their use of statistics on the air, but more and more front offices in baseball are relying on them when they make personnel decisions.
Vindicated? No. I like the word “pioneer” you mentioned.
What Vin Scully means to me
I asked you to tell me your best Vin Scully memory, and I got a lot of responses. I will publish selected ones in each newsletter. And keep emailing them to me.
Mike Cargile: I moved to Redondo Beach from the San Francisco area in June of 1977 to start a new job. Not being a baseball fan, I refused several invitations to Dodger Stadium from Dodgers fans. Of course they insisted Dodger Stadium was a “magical place” and once you go there you’re hooked. I continued to decline invites in June, July, and the first part of August that year.
As I was driving the L.A. freeways one warm day in the middle of Aug. 1977, I saw a billboard advertising an AM radio station broadcasting the Dodger game. I knew how boring baseball was, however, I tuned in to the station anyway, ironically vs. the Giants. I became instantly obsessed with the Dodgers. I accepted every opportunity from then on to visit a very magical place, the home of Vin Scully, Dodger Stadium, Sony transistor radio with an earphone in hand, ready to hear Mr. Scully tell me about the Dodgers.
It has been many years since I lived in L.A. and I’ve gone to extreme circumstances just to tune in and hear Vin Scully’s voice, not to mention the two or three trips a year to attend a game. I’ve been ridiculed by many Giants fans for being a Dodger fan here in “Giant Territory.” Although the Giants announcers are far from boring, Giants fans can’t ever dispute the fact Vin Scully is the greatest announcer in the world. I thought it was hard when Tommy retired. Vin Scully retiring is by far the most difficult thing to think of. My beautiful wife Lori, my son, Clint, and I will be at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 23 for Vin Scully Appreciation Day, hoping to get a far-away glimpse of the legend Vin Scully. My 13-year-old son Clint gave me a picture of Vin on Father’s Day. Maybe Vin will autograph it! As the saying goes, words can’t express how Vin Scully has touched our lives since tuning in to the Dodger broadcast in Aug. 1977. All Dodger fans know how emotional it is not to hear, “Vin Scully will broadcast the 2017 season of Dodger Baseball."Mr. Scully, we will miss you, and I promise, not a day will go by you are not thought of, “wherever you may be." Thank you.
The TV situation
If you would like to complain about the Dodgers’ TV situation, you have three options: The Dodgers, Time Warner Cable d whatever local cable or satellite provider you have that doesn’t carry the Dodgers. Here’s who to contact:
For the Dodgers, click here or call (866) DODGERS ( 363-4377). (I hope you like form letters.)
For Time Warner, click here.
For your local cable or satellite provider, consult your bill for the customer service number and for the website.
What others are saying
Vin Scully has a conversation with another great broadcaster who is retiring, Dick Enberg. Watch and listen here.