Think Blue

Obsessing over the Dodgers' minor league system so you don't have to.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In case you were wondering

I haven't been posting here because I've joined a new website: I post game recaps everyday and have started doing a weekly article on Dodger prospects. Come check it out!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Chattanooga, Great Lakes rosters out

Happy holidays, folks! Great Lakes and Chattanooga have released their rosters and there are some surprises.

Chattanooga Lookouts

-The big surprise for me here is SS Dee Gordon jumping past High A Inland Empire and heading straight to Double A. Given how raw he still is, this is a controversial move that could pay big dividends or have LA officials kicking themselves. I really hope Flash Jr succeeds.

-The rotation is headlined by RHPs Chris Withrow and Tim Sexton. Withrow, who resurrected his career in 2009, made 6 starts with the Lookouts after a late season promotion. After getting pounded in his debut, Chris allowed just 6 earned runs in his last 5 appearances. Sexton's season went the other way. He dominated the Cal league most of the year but suffered down the stretch. While Sexton attempts to regain last season's early dominance, Withrow hopes to continue striding toward the major leagues.

-A few familiar faces return to the bullpen in RHPs Javy Guerra and Matthew Sartor. After moving to the pen, Guerra was extremely successful in High A last year, posting a 1.54 ERA with 55 strikeouts in 41 innings. After a promotion to Chattanooga, Javy struggled a bit but continued striking out batters at an impressive clip. Sartor's season wasn't as successful, though he posted solid peripherals and was named a mid-season All Star. They give the Lookouts two solid options to close out games this season.

-While Gordon spearheads the offense, the outfield is chock full of prospects. LF Andrew Lambo is joined by CF Trayvon Robinson and RF Scott Van Slyke. This will be the third year in which Lambo appears in Double A. He came up briefly in 2008 and had some success, though 2009 wasn't as beneficial. Still just 21, Andrew looks to improve on last season and make a case for a spot on the big club in 2011. Robinson and Van Slyke both broke out in the Inland Empire last year. With only 12 home runs in his pro career that began in 2005, Tray clubbed 17 longballs in 2009 and added 47 stolen bases to establish himself as one of the minors' most exciting prospects. Van Slyke, son of Andy, crushed 23 home runs and added 42 doubles with the 66ers. The trio will give Lookouts and Dodgers fans alike much to cheer about this season.

Great Lakes

-While the Loons don't have the same star power as they had in 2009, there's plenty of prospects to watch. My two favorite players on the squad are OF/1B Jerry Sands and RHP Allen Webster. Both were late round picks in 2008 who had big 2009 campaigns. Sands, a 25th round pick out of Catawba College, started the year with the Loons but went 2 for 17 with 7 K's and was demoted to rookie ball. When in Ogden, Sands exploded, hitting .350 with 14 HR in 41 games. After being recalled to Great Lakes, Jerry hit 5 HR and raised his Low A OPS to an impressive .870. If he keeps showing that type of patience and power, he'll fly thru the minors. Webster, a converted shortstop, was understandably raw in his debut, walking 17 batters in 18.1 innings. In 2009, after working on his mechanics, Allen dominated in two of the most hitter friendly leagues in the minors. Overall, he posted a 2.36 ERA with 77 strikeouts against just 18 walks in 68.2 innings. Webster has the potential for 3 plus pitches, but he still has some developing to do. He's another guy who, despite his rawness, could move pretty quickly.

-A number of 2009 draft picks will make their full season debuts with Great Lakes. OF Brian Cavazos-Galvez is coming off of an MVP performance in Ogden, while OF Blake Smith struggled in his debut. RHP Brett Wallach, son of former player and current Albuquerque manager Tim, struggled with command but struck out more than a batter an inning with the Raptors. C JT Wise hit .338 with 8 HR in 39 games with Ogden.

More notes coming once the other two rosters are posted.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Season Preview - Russell Martin

Since Spring Training is about to begin, I thought I might look ahead to what Dodger fans can expect out of the 2010 season. I figured I'd start with the backstop, since his career hasn't shaped up to what fans have expected.


Russell Martin has seen his production at the plate dwindle over the past 3 seasons. In 2007, Martin was an all star, a gold glover and a silver slugger. He collected 19 home runs, stole 21 bases (a single season record for a Dodger catcher), and posted an .843 OPS. It seemed like Russ had a very bright career ahead of him, having achieved such accolades at the ripe old age of 24.

Unfortunately, it hasn't been all beer and skittles for number 55. His HR totals have dropped each of the past 2 years, and his OPS has plummeted, dipping below .700 in 2009.

Looking at his batted ball data, Russell has continually posted heavy groundball ratios. Nearly half his balls in play are on the ground. And his HR/FB (home runs per flyball) have dropped from 12.2% in 2007 to just 5.4% in 2009. Now, luck has something to do with his decline, as his BABIP has dropped each of the past 3 years, but I think the main area of concern is his decline in production on fastballs. Bear with me, as the following delves into the sabermetric study of converting batted balls into runs.

In 2007, per every 100 fastballs Martin saw, he produced 1.69 runs above average, placing him 27th in the league (of qualified batters). In 2009, his number was -0.07, which was 135th. More simply, Russell has gone from a very good fastball hitter to a very bad fastball hitter.

What to Expect

It's not all doom and gloom for Martin, who did suffer from some bad luck in 2009. His BABIP was just .284, in spite of a 20.5% line drive rate and heavy groundball tendencies. According to Hit F/X, he was one of the unluckiest batters in the month of April. So his performance should pick up simply by regressing, or in his case progressing, to the mean.

Still, I think his approach to these offensive downfalls is backwards. Instead of relying on his strengths (getting on base and spraying line drives), he's gained 20 pounds since last season and, presumably, believes he'll be a better power hitter this year. The sooner he realizes he's a natural #2 hitter and not a #4 hitter, the better.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Check out this sports discussion forum

Lots of topics, active users, loaded with information.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Compounding the Carroll mistake

It's been a while but I'm back. Sad to say that I've become somewhat disillusioned by the whole divorce drama and payroll debate. However, the Dodgers made a move today that proves my thesis on Colletti's inability to properly evaluate talent.

Belliard back for a second stint

No, you're not reading that wrong. The Dodgers have re-signed Ronnie Belliard to a 1 year, $825,000 (plus incentives) contract. This, coming weeks after the Dodgers spent half the money the saved sending Juan Pierre to Chicago on soon-to-be 36 year old Jamey Carroll. So the question is: why was Belliard re-signed? Was it the hair? His relationship with other players? Or does Colletti think that having a backup shortstop on the roster isn't really that important?

Belliard has played a grand total of 10 games at short in his major league career. The aforementioned Carroll has played 89, though he hasn't spent an inning there since 2007. The rest of the bench seems to be set with Ausmus and Mientktewicz also returning and either Jason Repko or Xavier Paul replacing Pierre as the 4th outfielder. Unless the Dodgers send Blake DeWitt back to the minors, there's no room for a backup shortstop.

And what's the difference between Belliard and Carroll? Well, their style of play is different. Carroll is defense-oriented and Belliard is a better hitter, but overall their production has been very similar over the past few years. They've each provided their teams with 3.0 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) since 2008. They're about the same age. They play the same positions. But, while Ronnie is signed for one year and around a million dollars, Jamey is signed for twice as long and twice as much per season.

I guess the real question is: will Carroll be twice as good?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dodgers sign Jamey Carroll

The Dodgers have signed utilityman Jamey Carroll to a 2 year deal worth $4 million, according to ESPN. Carroll, who will be 36 in February, batted .276 in 93 games for the Indians last season.

I don't really understand this signing from a financial standpoint. If Carroll is replacing Mark Loretta, then why pay him twice as much to do the same thing? Why not give an NRI a shot or let a minor leaguer like Chin Lung Hu take the utility infielder role for a fraction of the cost?

Only a day after the Dodgers save millions by shipping Pierre's contract to the White Sox, they throw $4 million away on a bench player.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Arbitration deadline passes, Dodgers offer to none

Team Spokeman Josh Rawitch tells Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times that the team will offer none of its departing free agents salary arbitration.

The Dodgers have 7 free agents who were ranked by Elias as either Type A or Type B. They would have received compensation for any of them who were offered arbitration, declined and signed with another team. Randy Wolf and Orlando Hudson would have yielded a 1st/2nd rounder and a Supplemental 1st rounder under that scenario.

This is just unbelievable. I don't recall a team ever having so many free agents and offering none arbitration. An act of this nature indicates a complete unwillingness by management to even consider adding payroll, regardless of how unlikely it would be that any would actually come back. Wolf is primed to get a multi-year deal, something the Dodgers seem disinterested in pursuing. Hudson, who was benched last year for Ronnie Belliard, looked like he didn't even want to return. But it seems that saving money at any cost trumps pragmatism and actually improving the organization.

I can understand not offering the Type B free agents arbitration, since they likely would have accepted and commanded at least 80% of their previous year's salary. However, not taking a chance on either Wolf or Hudson signing with another team demonstrates a lack of interest in improving the organization without complete assurance that payroll obligations will not be incurred. This is no way to run a professional sports franchise.