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Tag Archives: Russell Martin

Sort of live-blogging (watching the Dodgers-Giants on DVR delay):

– What a ridiculous, unnecessarily aggressive slide by Eugenio Velez. Matt Kemp’s throw was high, and Velez clearly saw Russell Martin had his back to him. There was no chance of a play at the plate, so to knock down Martin — while he was airborne, no less — was stupidly aggresive.

– Pablo Sandoval needs to SHUT UP. A little irritated that y0u get pitched inside mere moments after your teammate pulls a bonehead move? Get over it, and get off the cheeseburger diet.

– Edgar Renteria … seriously? You, of all people, getting in anyone’s face? Get back on the bench where you belong.

– Kudos to Long Beach’s finest James McDonald for protecting his catcher, and to Brad Ausmus for saving Renteria from a dose of “O, Canada!”

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Found these bad boys at the local Toys R Us

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It’s no Manny bobblehead, but they’ll do until I can finagle my way into getting the real thing!

The Good: Matt Kemp, James Loney, and Andre Ethier all had a great series against the Padres. Eric Stults getting another chance to start.

The Bad: Russell Martin, Manny Ramirez, Rafael Furcal, and Orlando Hudson didn’t. Hiroki Kuroda getting injured.

The Ugly: Good grief! I know young pitchers struggle with their control, but to see Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, and James McDonald do what they did three games in a row was excruciating. Granted, I figure Billingsley will get it going sooner or later. But as for Kershaw and McDonald? Not the greatest way to start the season.

At some point, both of these guys simply need to trust their ability to pitch and not worry so much. McDonald’s body language belied that of a confident pitcher. He was fidgety, and his mechanics appeared off after he loaded the bases the first time. At some point, you wish Brad Ausmus would’ve gone out there to tell him to slow down, go back to a windup, and just pitch. After all, isn’t his handling of pitchers the reason the Dodgers went with him and not Danny Ardoin as a backup catcher?

It was nice to be able to actually see all of this week’s games, less the the two we missed while on the road. I love it when DirecTV offers a free preview of MLB Extra Innings, and I love it even more when they don’t block you from recording any of the preview games, as they did last year.

Things to look forward to — or should I say, eventual eBay purchases?

How about a Russell Martin MacFarlane figure, and a Manny Ramirez bobblehead.

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mannyEven though Manny’s been here less than a year, and probably won’t be here longer than a year and a half, clearly he would get his own bobblehead — not just from the Dodgers but from the Albuquerque Isotopes as well. But Casey Blake? Really, the Dodgers marketing department thought better of giving Blake a bobblehead before, I don’t know, Billingsley, Kemp, Ethier, or Broxton?

Finally, thoughts and prayers to the Adenhart family and the Anaheim Angels. What made that particular tragedy strike particularly close to home was the fact that I had traveled that particular intersection (where Adenhart’s vehicle was struck) many, many times at that same hour, and I still have family in the area that do as well.

Hundreds, if not thousands (sadly) of people die yearly at the hands of such wildly irresponsible drivers such as Andrew Gallo, and we never hear about it. It’s sad and unfortunate that it takes a (semi) celebrity to die for us to even consider talking about the senselessness of not only drunk driving, but a legal system powerless to do anything more than slap a repeat offender on the wrist — which ultimately, what license suspension amounts to.

How ought we fix it? I don’t know, but I wish it didn’t require innocent people dying for the issue to come to the forefront.

After breaking three hobby boxes of 09 Heritage, this is what I ended up with:

Base set: 337 of 425 (79%)
Short print set: 24 of 75 (32%)

Insert sets:
New Age Performers: 4 of 15 (27%)
News Flashbacks: 4 of 10 (40%)
Baseball Flashbacks: 6 of 10 (60%)
Then and Now: 5 of 10 (50%)

Base duplicates: 200
Non-base duplicates: 1

Duplicates (box 1): 0
Duplicates (box 2): 49
Duplicates (box 3): 152

The increasing number of duplicates by box three is no surprise, although you still wish that three boxes would produce a base set at least. Alas, this is Heritage, and collectors will get no such thing. Thankfully, I again purchased these boxes at MSRP ($65) rather than the bloated prices they’re going for at DACW, Blowout, and Charm City.

It’ll take some effort and postage, but 200 doubles should be enough (I hope!) to round out the base set, and hopefully make headway towards the SP set.

As we all know, Heritage isn’t about the “hits,” but I will say these two are far better than the Kevin Millwood GU that came out of the first box.

wieand

samford

And I can never complain about extra cards for the Dodger binder. Especially when they’re SHINY cards!

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I was reminded again this weekend why it’s a good idea to always check the markdown bins. In there, I found a mini-box of 2005 Bowman Sterling for 9. 99 — these carry a typical retail price of $40-something. In there, I found these three cards (along with the two base cards).

Humberto Sanchez FY AU

David Ortiz GU bat

And the bonus for me, Scott Elbert FY AU/”Player-worn” jersey

There’s just something totally amusing about reading Topps’ disclaimer of “the relic contained within is not from any specific game, event, or season.” That’s about as non-specific as it gets! Given this card is from Elbert’s first professional season, it’s not likely that the jersey piece is from a Dodger uniform. And the non-specific language could very well mean this is a jersey swatch from something he wore on draft day, for that matter. Oh well. It’s still a nice card.

Also, what is with Topps’ UV-coated cards (Chrome, BDPP, Sterling, etc.) curling up like they do? That’s really annoying!

Now on to the others.

TriStar Prospects Plus had a great-looking design in 2006, but I found that their production lacked quality control — so many of their cards were badly miscut. In 2007, the design was once again simple and aesthetically pleasing, and this time the quality issues appeared resolved. I also liked the one-per-pack autograph seeding, not to mention the players themselves. In a draft class with standouts such as David Price and Matt LaPorta, it was a nice thing to be able to pick up their rookie cards for far less than their Bowman Draft counterparts cost.

But in 2008, I feel TriStar took a step back, for several reasons. One was totally out of their control — Razor snatched up a large chunk of the marquee draftees in this class and signed them to exclusive contracts, leaving both TriStar and Bowman’s checklists lacking. Two, while the production quality again appears to be fine, this is just an awful card design.

matusz

I don’t get the little rectangular border extensions into the photo. The card would’ve been fine — albeit boring, but fine — without the border funkiness. I also don’t care for five-card hobby packs for $5, a far cry from last year’s 1o-card packs + one auto for $10. Given the checklist issues, the design, and the price point, I seriously doubt I’ll be pursuing this set.

And then there’s UD Documentary. Before I even mention my critique, take  a close look at these cards.

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In the above card, Russell Martin readies himself for a play at the plate … at Coors Field. Notice the score is from a game against the Cubs … that they lost. The “youngsters continue to lead the charge offensively,” to the tune of just one lone run — which was driven in by Andre Ethier, not Russell Martin.

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In this card, Aaron Rowand is swinging away at Dodger Stadium. The game mentioned on card? Tim Lincecum fired a gem … against the Rockies.

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And finally, former Padres CLOSER Trevor Hoffman graces this card, which mentions multi-hit games coming to the aid of a veteran starter … Greg Maddux. But notice the score … evidently those multi-hit games weren’t quite enough since the Dodgers pounded the Padres.

I realize it’d probably be a monumental task to secure a photo that was actually from each individual game mentioned. But UD could’ve easily accounted for things such as making sure the right player was pictured, or that their write-ups made sense when juxtaposed with the box scores and photos.

I didn’t even bother taking a closer look at the rest of the cards, but I imagine the same lack of oversight ruined them as well. In a year that’s been chock-full of lackluster, pointless releases from Upper Deck, they f inish the year with arguably the worst one of all. If you’re going to to try to do a documentarian set, then try a little harder. This set is weak, and is filled with so many non-intentional errors it’s aggravating. Then again, given UD’s predilection to not even bother with fact-checking, it’s no surprise really.

Hobby Pack (4.99) x5

Pack 1:
6 Vladimir Guererro
41 Lance Berkman
17 Carlos Beltran
AA40 Justin Morneau
Sign of the Times dual AU: Joe Nathan/Billy Wagner #11/75

Pack 2:
28 Jimmy Rollins
40 Carlos Lee
3 Albert Pujols
1 Ken Griffey Jr
AA3 Randy Johnson

Pack 3:
22 Justin Upton
97 Hideki Matsui
8 Eric Chavez
80 Rick Ankiel
AA22 Hanley Ramirez

Pack 4:
69 Justin Morneau
98 Jeff Francoeur
99 Alfonso Soriano
42 Hunter Pence
AA49 Miguel Cabrera

Pack 5:
58 Ben Sheets
66 Erik Bedard
94 Jason Bay
48 Justin Verlander
5 Daisuke Matsuzaka
14 Frank Thomas
AA39 Lance Berkman
138 Rookie Jersey Autograph Johnny Cueto 914/999

Impressions: What a boring-looking card! The players are chopped out of their natural backgrounds and plastered onto an all-white background. I was pretty happy with landing two “hits” in just five packs, although whoever else pulls from this box is going to be pretty disappointed paying approximately $1 per card and getting not much else.

At least it’s a mercifully smaller base set of just 100 cards. An additional 50 rookie jersey autographs make up the rest of the checklist.

And I must quibble with UD once AGAIN choosing Andruw Jones as a Dodger representative (Russell Martin was the other in the base set, with Clayton Kershaw part of the rookie set). Really Upper Deck, there was no one else worth depicting? I don’t know, maybe Derek Lowe or Hiroki Kuroda? Andre Ethier?

7 + 1 “bonus pack,” four cards per pack.

Base set completion: 27 of 90 (30%)
Base set completion, to date (2 blasters + 2 hobby packs): 62 of 90 (69%)
Short print set completion: 1 of 30 (3%)
Short print set completion, to date: 2 of 30 (6%)
Total set completion: 28 of 120 (23%)
Total set completion, to date: 70 of 120 (58%)

“Hits” and interesting cards:

Captured on Canvas CC-JB Josh Beckett (Marlins jersey with pinstripe)
Brown framed Joba Chamberlain #’d 67/100
79 Russell Martin — what a beautiful card!
95 Warren Spahn SP
YSL 3840 Roy White
YSL 3865 Thurman Munson

I’m a little closer to finishing the base set now, and now I have some base doubles to trade. The Beckett GU was a nice pull too. Still, the collation leaves a little to be desired — I pulled two of the Ichiro base card among these eight packs.

Assuming the same collation rates, it’ll take me another two blasters to finish the base set, and I’ll still be nowhere near the short print set. I can’t say enough how much I loathe Upper Deck and their awful seeding rate for short prints in the retail boxes. Two blasters and just a measly two SPs.

I can’t say that I’ve ever thought highly of Derek Lowe, his brilliant signing notwithstanding. As dependable as he’s been the four years he’s been here, there’s just something about the guy that I just don’t like. Nonetheless, he’s been arguably the Dodgers’ best free-agent signing of recent note. He signed a four-year, $32 million deal after being unceremoniously jettisoned by the 2004 WS Champion Red Sox — this after pitching well in the clinching games of the ALDS, ALCS, and World Series.

Former GM Paul DePodesta was 100% right about Lowe — this groundball specialist would thrive at Dodger Stadium, and even signed him to a very modest contract to boot.

Lots to love about Lowe, statistically speaking. Outside the lines, he’s been a grade-A scumbag. He divorced the mother of his children, whom he left behind on the east coast, so that he could continue his affair with former FSN West reporter Carolyn Hughes, and bemoaned (along with Jeff Kent and Luis Gonzalez) management’s choice to hold on to the “kids” in 2007 in lieu of trading them away for a trade-deadline rental.

Haven’t heard much of Lowe this year, which incidentally, is a contract year for him. Either he’s happy that so many of his 2004 Red Sox teammates are now Dodgers (Nomar, Manny, advisor to the GM Bill Mueller), or he knows he needs to keep his trap shut and avoid controversy considering he’s old (2009 will be his 36-year-old season) and probably still wants another multi-year deal.

That said, given the Dodgers’ offensive malaise — whole lot of change Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake did for the team — it’s surprising that he was so forgiving of the their inability to score recently. After yesterday’s loss to the 39 games under .500 Nationals, Lowe had this to say:

“I think, in this game, trying harder normally doesn’t get you anywhere, and I think that’s such a hard thing to fight,” he said. “You can’t give 110 percent. I think that’s where we are. There’s no lack of preparation, there’s no such thing as guys not trying. I think, as a collective group, sometimes you’ve got to try less to get more.

Knowing how quick everyone involved with the Dodgers has been willing to betray and blame Ethier/Kemp/Loney/Martin … I mean, their teammates for everything under the sun, it’s a little refreshing to hear Lowe not blame anyone.

In the end though, blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Ned Colletti. There’s a reason why the Dodgers are a singles-hitting team that relies heavily on a high BABIP, and will be in for epic failure when their BABIP falls as it has recently. That reason is Ned Colletti. Ned spent $57 million on Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre, Nomar, Jason Schmidt, and Rafael Furcal. The only one of that bunch that’s doing anything remotely productive is Andruw, and that’s solely because he’s been banished to Triple-A and not wasting a roster spot. (Okay, neither are Furcal and Schmidt).

Pierre and Nomar (not to mention Mark Sweeney, Pablo Ozuna, and Angel Berroa) continue to soak up valuable playing time, thus further delaying the advancement of players such as Delwyn Young, Chin-Lung Hu, and Ivan DeJesus — players who may actual be useful for the Dodgers.

Rather than use the money (or their minor leaguers) to acquire useful players such as Manny, or Adam Dunn, whom the Reds essentially gave away, the Dodgers waste their “stock” on retreads such as Casey Blake and Greg Maddux.

And then they cobble together a roster that has no punch aside from Kemp, Ethier, and Manny. So is it any surprise that a singles-hitting team can’t do anything other than hit singles?

This was posted by Tom Meagher over at Dodger Thoughts. Essentially, Penny’s fastball has been hard hit so far this year. Something interesting to keep in mind — though I haven’t in the past, I wonder a lot more this year about Russell Martin’s game-calling. Does Martin have access to data of this sort? And with Kuroda getting hammered today (Martin caught him), shouldn’t it be even more of an issue? Given that Kuroda has had limited success so far with Danny Ardoin catching him, is it fair to say Ardoin is making use of data such as this with Kuroda? Do the Dodgers even provide this sort of data to their pitchers and catchers?

I remember there was a discussion on Penny’s pitches in a recent DT thread, and Josh Kalk has just released the 2008 version of his pitch f/x tool (http://tinyurl.com/4ul6sr). So I checked Penny’s numbers. The average NL pitcher this season has 3.79 pitches per batter faced, with 18.7% of pitches batted, 43.4% of pitches strikes (non-batted), and 37.9% of pitches balls. Penny overall has had 1453 pitches, 1293 of which were tracked. Penny’s pitches have been 19.1% batted, 43.3% strikes, and 37.6% balls.On batted balls, the league has a .347 wOBA against with .207 singles per batted ball and a .187 ISO; Penny’s batted balls have had a .351 wOBA, .255 singles/batted ball, and a .137 ISO.

Of the charted pitches, Penny has 67% fastballs, 17% curves, and 16% change-ups.
FB: 37.6% balls, 19.1% batted, .376 battedballwOBA, .259 1b/batted, .162 ISO
CV: 40.6% balls, 16.6% batted, .344 battedballwOBA, .306 1b/batted, .056 ISO
CH: 37.5% balls, 22.6% batted, .267 battedballwOBA, .191 1b/batted, .106 ISO

So the fastball has been hit hard when put into play and the changeup has been pretty effective in generating outs. The Enders hypothesis seems to hold – hitters are either sitting on the fastball or getting very lucky on it (actually, some combination thereof).

Here are the uncharted pitches (11% of his total):
33.8% balls, 18.1% batted, .358 battedballwOBA, .276 1b/batted, .138 ISO

While the fastball has been hit hard, Penny has still been only one run below average on batted balls. What is really concerning is that he’s thrown basically a league average split of balls/strikes/batted balls, but has a szERA (strike zone ERA, an ERA estimator using only K, BB, and BFP, although Tango seems to have renamed it kwERA (for K and Walks)) of 4.97 against the league’s 4.39. Maybe he just hasn’t had the right sequencing, or maybe he just doesn’t have the right stuff to put hitters away.