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J.A. Happ – Reason To Believe

J.A. Happ – Reason To Believe

At the age of 24 J.A. Happ of the Phillies was in AAA where he complied a 4-6 record with a 5.02 ERA.  At the age of 25, also in AAA, he improved to 8-7 with a 3.60 ERA, and also had a “cup of coffee” with the Phillies where he went 1-0 with a 3.69 ERA in 31 innings.   However at age 26, he had his “breakout year” and went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA while pitching more innings that he ever had (166).  

I point this out because 2009 was Happ’s 6th season in the Phillie system.   2010 will be Scott Elbert’s 7th season,  Eric Stults’ 9th, James McDonald’s 6th (as a pitcher), Charlie Haeger’s 9th professional season, and Carlos Monasterios’ 5th pro season.  It’s not foolish or wishful thinking to believe that one, maybe two of these guys could step up and fill a rotation spot.  I’m sure that the Dodgers would rather not COUNT on this, but the fact of the matter is that one of those pitchers could easily step up and make it happen. 

I would guess that Charlie Haeger would be the top candidate for the 5th spot, but who can deny James McDonald’s outstanding stuff?  It could be his time to” go J.A. Happ!”  This is what makes baseball so much fun – just when you think you have it figured out, YOU DON’T!  These kids just have a way of stepping up when you least expect it.

I am going to go one step further and say that I still believe there could be a three or four-way trade involving Russ Martin, Jon Broxton, George Sherrill and prospects, which would net us a Top Starter.  If his market stays suppressed, the Dodgers could then sign Molina to a two-year deal.

Around the League:

  • The Giants got the LH power bat they were seeking by signing Aubrey Huff (be still my heart).  He is capable of having a very good year now and again, but he’s a journeyman…
  • The Reds allegedly have signed Aroldis Chapman.  Hummmmm…

About Mark Timmons

When you see the invisible, you can do the impossible!

32 Responses to “J.A. Happ – Reason To Believe”

  1. Blue Haze says:

    just when I thought we would be “happ-less”, I guess I may be wrong.

  2. DRomo says:

    The Reds signing of Chapman is a good sign for baseball. For once the large market team didn’t nab the talented free agent pitcher.

    Funny though the contract was quite affordable, even the Dodgers could have afforded that. HAHA

    Mark I agree that our young guys should be able to step up the question is will they. Also it would be nice to have a veteran pressence that takes the pressure off them and can lead by example. A front of the rotation guy not a back end/ re-tread.

  3. Ty says:

    I’d be fine with trading Martin and Sherrill for another pitcher. Bengie Molina would be fine unless he eats his way out of the league.

  4. Ty says:

    I don’t think McDonald will get a fair shot at winning a spot in the rotation. I think the coaches believe that he’s a better reliever.

    I think Elbert is the one that may step up a bit to help. Haeger is a knuckleballer and let’s get real: knuckleballers don’t do well in the majors. Name another knuckleballer that has done well in the league in the past decade outside of Wakefield? There’s a reason why there’s only a handful that come along every so often.

    I have no clue about Monastarios. I just hope he can be 2010′s Bellisario.

  5. Ken says:

    Elbert – May have learned how to pitch during the last week of the 2009 season. Hopefully that is true.

    Stults – Should be a starting pitcher on opening, even if he just pitches until Torre’s boy Wang is ready. He has had too many break out weeks that never lasted a month.

    McDonald – Does not have the intestinal fortitude to be a starter.

    Heager – Highest probability for success out of the group.

    Monasterios – He may have a great spring but will be a long reliever.

    The Dodgers should sign Repko to a long term contract for $500,000 per year and make him learn how to play the infield so that the Dodgers will not have to look for a 6 position utility player every year and we will not have to watch any more Berroa type players ever.

    Happ – Maybe pitch selection makes a difference!!
    Fastballs 68.4%
    Cutters 14.8%
    Curveballs 4.0%
    Change Ups 12.9%
    Other 2.9%

  6. Mark Timmons says:


    Repko started out in the Dodger organization as a SS, and after three years where he averaged an error every 9 chances, they moved him to the OF.

    A keystone combination of him and Delwyn Young would have been interesting… ;)

    • Ken says:

      Since there are not 6 infield positions for position players maybe I am talking about an outfielder who can also play the infield in a pinch.

  7. Rory says:

    Anything is possible. But I think guys like Happ are the exception rather than the rule.

    I like McDonald’s arm. I just wonder about his head. That doesn’t mean I know anything, I just wonder. The guys stuff is electric, it is time for him. I like Haeger as a change of pace. Nobody seems to be able to hit him, and as a #5 inning eater, he looks like a perfect choice to me. 3 starts 19 IP 1.05 WHIP – it doesn’t get much better than that. Elbert? Another great arm. Monasterios? Don’t know, but the Dodgers are high on him.

    As for that big trade……. I have my doubts. I see the Dodgers doing nothing. But, if Mark’s instincts are right (again, anything is possible) I see Torrealba is still out there and he isn’t asking all that. He and Ausmus sharing duty would work for me.

    • Ken says:

      Torre Alba is where Torre should go to coach.

      Torrealba and his son were the real inspiration for the Rockies last year but he is asking for too much money this year. But isn’t he asking for less than Martin?? If so then trade Martin along with Sherril and a prospect for a pitcher and sign TorreAlba as a back up until the trade is done.

  8. Rory says:

    Oh, one more thing…. anyone impressed with the Giants adding Huff?

    And, this may be a repeat, but, did you guys see these projections:

  9. Mark Timmons says:

    Huff is horrid at 3B and below average at 1B.

    Sandoval is below average at 3B and who knows at 1B

    Their best 3B (DeRosa) is slated for LF.

    The Giants have major defensive issues…

    Watch their staff ERA climb.

  10. lawdog says:

    You guys see my post last night on the old Dodger Board about Repko? Seems like you might have since it’s right on the same subject:

    lawdog – Jan 10, 2010 10:54 pm (#199 of 201)

    “Repko might be able to replace that geezer Blake at third. He started out as a shortstop when the Dogs drafted him. He has the arm for the 3rd base job–if he can learn how to throw to first without putting the ball in the second deck down the first base line.

    He made something like 22 errors in 20 games at the A level of minor league ball while playing shortstop–all on throwing errors. That’s why I suggest 3rd base. It’s a longer throw a lot of the time, but he can plant his feet and let it fly a little more like an outfielder, where his arm has shined.” :shock:

    Actually, I wrote a column for a baseball Dodger blog that “is no more” on Repko right after we drafted him with our first pick at the time (which was a second rounder if I remember correctly.) In preparing the article I talked at length with his coach in Idaho about him about 20 games into his first season. His problem with throwing had to do with making plays on the fly and throwing the ball without planting his feet, something he wouldn’t have to do at 3rd base. He was a slugger who hit for a high average right out of the gate. He had a strong arm so they moved him to the outfield.

    He hasn’t hit as well lately, but that might have something to do with the frustration of being stuck in AAA for so many years.

    Mover, you’ve got the inside track with Dodger management. Maybe you should suggest they try him at third where he could give the geezing Blake his much needed snooze time if he’s going to hit above the Mendoza line for the season, as well as sub in the outfield for defensive purposes and pinch hit? ;)

  11. lawdog says:

    That’s making plays ON the fly, not “making plays of the fly”. Sheesh! Where’s my morning coffee?

  12. Rory says:

    Sure wish Repko would have become a better hitter. In high school he hit .581 with 18 home runs and 14 stolen bases. He also clocked a 94 MPH fastball from the mound – all of which added up to being a first round pick. Whahappin?

  13. Rory says:

    But ldog, you did say “on the fly”. I just read it.

  14. lawdog says:

    Ty, you obviously haven’t been following Haeger like some of us have. I had no choice while I was doing the Minor League Report here during last season. It seemed like every time he pitched in the minors last season he was going the distance and shutting down the opposition, allowing very few runs on very few hits, walking practically nobody and striking out tons of hitters. Very unusual for a knuckleball pitcher.

    The problem with the knuckleball is control. When you let it go nobody knows where it will end up. If you are one of the lucky few, when you throw it, it ends up a strike, or spends enough time looking like a strike that the batter has to commit. Knuckleball pitchers with low walk ratios have a dandy! The other factor that tends to make pitchers who feature the dancer “fail” has to do with the difficulty in throwing it every time with absolutely no rotation. I tried as a youth to throw one and actually impressed my coach when I could get it to “go right” better than 75% of the time. The problem was the other 25% of the time it ended up turning around and traveling 450 feet to the outfield so I had to give it up.

    Haeger can throw it almost every time with no rotation. When he first came up last year he was doing just that until the pressure got to him a little. The only time they hit his dancer was when it rolled. That wasn’t often, but when it rolled they hit it out of the park. Good knuckleball get better the more they throw it. That’s why most knuckleball pitchers don’t really master it until they are 30.

    Charlie Hough, a good knuckle baller himself worked with Haeger and said he has the best dancer he’s ever seen (which was even more unbelievable considering his tender age when he was working with him.)

    No matter what you think or what others say, the knuckleball is the hardest pitch in the game to hit. Haeger has a chance to be one of the best starters in the game if he is ever given a chance to show his stuff. And he’ll just get better the more he throws it and the more confidence he gets.

    The Dogs are in a position where they might not have any choice but to let him be the 5th starter this year. That might be the best news to come out of this horrible off season.

    • Ty says:

      If he was so good then why didn’t the Sox keep him? I agree that the knuckleball is one of the toughest pitches to hit but it is also the toughest pitch to throw.

      You can say that Haeger has been good in the minors but name one knuckleball pitcher outside of Wakefield that has had a good amount of success in the majors in the past decade?

      I’m still waiting…

  15. chucky says:

    Dodgers just signed another SS, Nick Green, who the red sox gave up on because he did not have enough range and they wanted to improve their defense. this was due to his great offensive line of .236/.303/.366 in 309 plate appearances. What does this mean for Hu? Maybe they are setting up a TRADE?? Great backups Green and Berroa….

  16. lawdog says:

    AAAGH!!! And I can’t even blame a hangover! I’ll need more coffee… And I might as well stop correcting typos if I’m going to start correcting those that don’t exist.

    Like Bette Davis said: “Old age ain’t for sissies”. :shock:

  17. lawdog says:

    Beeroa proved he can hit over the Mendoza line last time he was here. Sounds like Green should start at 3rd base with great offensive numbers like that, don’t you think? ;)

  18. lawdog says:

    Beeroa… Every time he starts a game I feel like I need a beer…

  19. lawdog says:

    Tony Jackson on “Chuck” Haeger. (For Ty):

    Charlie Haeger, right-hander, 26
    He throws the knuckleball primarily, but not exclusively. In the second of his three starts last season, he pitched seven shutout innings in a nationally televised game against the Chicago Cubs. But it was his first start, when he gave up three runs over seven innings against St. Louis on Aug. 17, which got Honeycutt’s attention.

    Charlie Haeger
    #37 SP
    Los Angeles Dodgers
    2009 STATS
    “He only went to one three-ball count and didn’t walk anybody,” Honeycutt said of that game. “The main thing about [the knuckleball] is that he is able to throw strikes with it and is consistently around the plate. He pitched ahead in the count, and you couldn’t have asked for anything more from the first two outings he gave us at a time when we really needed it.”

    Alas, his third outing was lackluster, and in the unforgiving world of big league baseball, that was enough to earn him a one-way ticket to the bullpen. Once there, he retired eight of 11 batters over three scoreless appearances, good enough that re-signing him this winter was a no-brainer for the club.

  20. DRomo says:

    Nick Green?, interesting I have to think Hu is getting sent packing soon. It’s just a hunch.

    Repko is a damn good outfielder with as good an arm as anyone in our outfield now. I would argue his arm is better than Kemp’s! But he is a decent hitter too. Sure he had a rough start a few years ago when we needed him to play everyday. But I wouldn’t put too much weight on that. Jason Repko is going to be a great 4th outfielder. I bet he becomes a fan favorite when we all remember how hard he plays and hustles. The same way we all fell in love with Pierre’s game last season. Just keep him away from Furcal!

  21. DRomo says:



  22. Ty says:

    Repko has range in the OF, some pop for a CF’er, an absolute cannon for an arm and good speed. He started hitting well before his rash of injuries in the majors (about 3 or 4 years ago) but it seems like he has regressed offensively. He just doesn’t make enough contact. This year is probably a make or break year for Repko. He better stay healthy and produce or else he may spend the rest of his career in the minors.

  23. lawdog says:

    I’m afraid the break through year for Repko has already passed him by. Pushing 30 years of age and not hitting well at AAA have put him in position to compete for the utility outfielder job this year. Not much future for him that isn’t bleak no matter how well he performs this season–unless one of our regular outfielders goes down and he steps up ala Pierre. But Pierre was a lifetime .300 hitter. Repko can’t say the same.

    It is very likely that Blake will be geezing long before August. He’s just getting too old. Hence, my suggestion to try Repko at third come spring training.

  24. Mark Timmons says:

    Kind of like that rotten Jason Werth, who didn’t do much until he was about 30.

  25. Miguel says:

    Can everyone just stop being unhappy with Blake at third? I would argue that his D is pretty darn good. He had the most double plays last year. And he had his best year yet at the plate. Of course he’s not Beltre or Ramirez but he’s pretty fly for a white guy!

    In Beard We Trust!

  26. Badger says:

    Yeah, good point Miguel. Here’s an idea – pick him up for your fantasy team, I think he is ranked about 30th right now.

    There are 4 NL West third baseman currently in the top 15 and Casey Blake ain’t one of them. He faded out completely last year and he isn’t any younger. I sure hope he stays on the field, because we have nobody to replace him. But, I wouldn’t count on .280 with 79 rbi again. Not on this team.

  27. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    I’m not a huge Blake fan, but until he shows me that he can’t play anymore I give him the benefit of the doubt. Blake doesn’t have to play 140 games again either. No reason he can’t stay fresh playing 120-130 games. DeWitt can fill in at third on occasion, with Carroll, Hu, etc. at second. If Loney, Furcal, Martin, Manny, Kemp and Ethier hit, we’ll be just fine. Blake turns 37 in August. Players his age can be very productive, espcially if they’re spotted some rest on occasion. Besides, if Blake is a geezer, what is Manny?

    The Yankees won a championship last year with Damon (same age as Blake), Jeter (year younger), Matsui (year younger), Posada (2 years older), Rivera (4 years older), Pettite (2 years older). Blake may not be the same caliber player, but if age wasn’t a factor for them, it doesn’t have to be for Blake.

    Third base is a position at which it won’t be long before the Dodgers require a replacement. It might be this year, maybe not.

    Expecting Repko to return to the infield is probably not very feasible. And yes, defense does count. A few botched plays at 3B is all that it would take to open some eyes. Besides, Repko’s bat is not big enough to carry his glove.

    And while Repko has a marvelous outfield arm, so does the X-man. And it may well be that Paul has the better bat. Unless the Dodgers carry 5 outfielders (unlikely with a 12-man pitching staff), one of them will likely not break camp with them. I’m betting that Paul stays.

    I still see signs that Martin could return to his old form. He hasn’t lost his ability to hit as much as he just needs to go back to what he used to do (and still does on occasion), which is take a balanced approach at the plate, and hit the ball where it’s pitched instead of trying to pull everything out of the park. And quite frankly, anyone who wants Molina needs to have their head examined. Yes, he’ll pop one out every once in a while, but will probably not approach the 20 HR he hit last year. And I don’t think we want his .285 OBP, which was only 20 points higher than his average. 68 strikeouts and 13 walks is not what we need. And Molina defines the word SLOW. Finally, his arm ain’t what it used to be, and it will probably get worse. He might even challenge Blake for team geezer.


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