Categorized | Mark Timmons

9-1 Start Means That TJ Simers Is Speechless.

The biggest benefit of the Dodgers 9-1 start is that we don’t have to read TJ Slimers constant Dodger-bashing drivel!  Free at last, free at last free at last!  If this keeps up, he’ll have to take early retirement.  I write this knowing that I might very well sit next to him next week, but I am pretty certain he can’t whip me, so I feel OK.  ;)

On March 18th, I wrote this:

2011 was an aberration for the Los Angeles Dodgers. For those of you who think the 2012 version of the Dodgers is not a very good team, I say: “I beg to differ. In fact, I will go as far as saying you are crazy if you think this is a bad team.” It’s popular to beat up on McCourt and the Dodgers – after all, most people are, right? I’m going to again say that conventional wisdom is very frequently wrong.

The team has a lot to prove and has an attitude that I can see is very different this year. Of course, there could be injuries and issues we don’t know about, but I doubt that will will see as many problems as the Dodgers had last year, and that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the reason for my optimism!

Now, it would have been me that was crazy if I had predicted that the Dodgers would start with a 9-1 record.  It will be interesting to see where th Dodgers are when the new Power Ranking come out tomorrow.  It’s even crazier to think that the Dodgers are 9-1 and their Ace is winless!  Of course it has helped that Andre Ethier is playing up to his potential and Matt Kemp is doing his Superman imitation.  David Schoenfield of ESPN.com writes this about Kemp and the Dodgers today:

The Dodgers feature Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, who struggled through 5.1 innings in getting a no-decision on Sunday, but it is Kemp who has become the face of the franchise after his near-MVP season of 2011 when many thought he was the baseball’s best all-around player. Kemp may not like the notion, but he’s also symbolic of the type of player baseball must do a better job of attracting: Known for his basketball exploits in high school in Oklahoma, the Dodgers drafted Kemp in the sixth round in 2003 and convinced him to sign. His bonus of $130,000 was in line for that round; Kemp simply decided he wanted to play baseball.

And, man, can he play. He’s insanely hot right now, one of those stretches in which you can’t pitch to him. He went 3-for-4 with a walk on Sunday; he went 3-for-4 with two home runs on Saturday; he homered and drew three walks on Friday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kemp is one of just four players since 1920 hitting .450 with at least six home runs and 16 RBIs through his team’s first 10 games, joining Dante Bichette (1994 Rockies), Lou Brock (1967 Cardinals) and Willie Mays (1964 Giants). The Dodgers play again Tuesday in Milwaukee, and I suspect the Brewers are going to be very careful with him.

At the start of the season, ESPN.com ranked the top 500 players in baseball. Kemp came in 13th; I thought it was a little low, but it was somewhat understandable if you factored in Kemp’s disappointing 2010 when he hit just .249. But after hitting .324 with 39 home runs and 40 steals in 2011, Kemp intimated during spring training that he’d like travel where no major leaguer has before: 50-50. While that goal may be difficult to reach, it also made a statement in my mind: Kemp isn’t content being one of the best players in baseball; he wants to be the best. No questions asked.

As for the Dodgers, everyone is already quick to point out that they’ve beaten up on the Padres and Pirates so far. Fair enough, I suppose, but 9-1 is still 9-1. The Dodgers are just the 11th team since 1990 to start 9-1 (the last team to start 10-0 was the 1987 Brewers). Here’s how the previous 10 fared:

2011 Rangers: 96-66, reached World Series
2009 Marlins: 87-75, missed playoffs
2003 Yankees: 101-61, reached World Series
2003 Giants: 100-61, division champs
2003 Royals: 83-79, missed playoffs
2002 Indians: 74-88, missed playoffs
1996 Orioles: 88-74, won wild card
1994 Braves: 68-46, strike season
1992 Blue Jays: 96-66, World Series champs
1990 Reds: 91-71, World Series champs

But there are some signs that the Dodgers may be a lot more competitive than most envisioned. The bullpen has a chance to be one of the best in the league with Kenley Jansen setting up Javy Guerra and a solid corps of middle men including Matt Guerrier and Josh Lindblom. Chad Billingsley had a rough 2011 (career-worst 4.21 ERA as he walked 84 in 188 innings), but he’s been brilliant through two outings, allowing one run with a 15/1 strikeout/walk ratio. Aaron Harang‘s 13 strikeouts on Saturday may be a fluke but, hey, he’s the team’s fifth starter. Suddenly a rotation of Kershaw, Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano and Harang looks like it could be decent, especially in the NL West, not exactly a division full of mashers.

Hey, it’s too early to make strong declarations, but I’ll leave the first 10 days of the season with this thought: Kemp is on a mission and the Dodgers are looking like baseball’s surprise team.

DODGER NOTES:

  • It was a proud day for Major League to honor Jackie Robinson, but it’s still a shame that young black kids don’t want to play baseball.  ESPN and their highlight dunks have all of their attention.  We need more Matt Kemps!
  • For those of you who don’t know, Minor League Baseball (MILB) has a video package where you can see a substantial number minor league games for $39.99 for the year.  Check it out:  http://www.milb.com/milb/multimedia/milbtv.jsp?ymd=20120415 
  • Don’t look now, but Juan Uribe does look slimmer and his batting average is fatter – all the way up to .267.  That’s huge for him.
  • Josh Lindblom ain’t going anywhere soon!  He’s a key part of the pen.
  • Ron Rivera continue to be a professional hitter.  So far, he’s been a good signing.
  • Jared Massey’s Minor League Report – 4/15/2012
  • I still have a lot of questions about the structure of the new Dodger ownership.  I mean, they paid a half billion more than the next bid, but evidently allowed Frank McCourt to keep half ownership of the land.  Yet, they say he won’t get any of the parking lot revenues.  It appears to be a play on words – he’s half owner.  Then they keep the details of that agreement secret.  I smell something I don’t like and I don’t know exactly what it is.  I’m not obsessed with it, but I’m not just chugging the Kool-Aid either!

About Mark Timmons

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

21 Responses to “9-1 Start Means That TJ Simers Is Speechless.”

  1. RogerDodger says:

    Mark, keep us posted what you find out in your secret circles on Dodger ownership. I could see McCourt saying that I will sell the team to you, but I want some part in the team — because I do not have any place to move to.

    As good as the Dodger start is — the guys really took charge of the weak schedule the schedule makers gave to the Dodgers. Still have that 18 games against the Giants and D-Backs and Rockies, plus the Eastern teams — but taking these first 10 games and winning 9 is the mark of a solid championship team.

    Kemp is being Kemp-like, but after three starts, Kershaw is still 0-0. Should have about 30 to 32 starts left.

  2. Bob says:

    I get it. “Ron” rhymes with Juan.

  3. Ken says:

    More hustle, more film, more practice, and more coaching because to many “You Sucks” still exist, Last week there were 14 and this week there are 9. Can the Dodgers have more than 2 and still win the WS?

    Treanor .000 Should hit at least .200
    Kennedy .125 Should hit at least .225
    Loney .148 Should hit at least .275
    Sellers .167 Should hit at least .225

    Coffey 36.00 Just a Bad signing
    Elbert 7.71 Should have an ERA of no more than 4.50
    Harang 5.91 Should have an ERA of no more than 4.50
    Capuano 5.40 Should have an ERA of no more than 4.50
    Jensen 5.14 Should have an ERA of no more than 3.50

  4. RogerDodger says:

    Interesting take Ken. Must keep those guys to a certain level on the bar . . .

    Looking at others in baseball:

    Byrd – Cubs – .065 – HRs 0 – RBIs 2
    Alex Gordon – KC – .118 – 1 HR – 3 RBIs
    Scott Rolen – Cincy – .121 – 0 HRs -2 RBIs
    Reynolds – Balt – .160 – 0 HRs – 2 RBIs
    Zimmerman – Wash – .179 – 0 HRs – 2 RBIs
    Russell Martin – Yankees – .182 – 0 HRs – 1 RBI
    Jason Bay – Mets – .185 – 1 HR – 3 RBIs
    Ellsbury – Boston – .192 – 0 HRs – 3 RBIs (of course he is out now for a couple of months)
    Granderson – Yankees – .194 – 2 HRs – 5 RBIs

    Just a few more:
    Youkills – Boston – .200
    Holliday – Cards – .200
    Uggla – Braves – .206
    Morneau – Twins – .206
    BAUTISTA – Blue Jays – .206 – i HRs – 2 RBIs
    Cruz – Rangers – .211 – 1 HR – 4 RBIs

    ARod – Yankees – .222 – 1 HR – 2 RBIs

    Come Sept 30th or so, these first 10 games are just about 10 days in the life of the season. What is hopeful about the Dodgers — for the first time in seasons — I believe that THEY believe in themselves. New ownership only about two weeks away. Gordon giving a bit of a spark. Kemp like Lou & Babe in one person. Andre feeling good.

    Hey, Mark Ellis is near to top in runs scored. Only Matt is ahead of him, and Matt is ahead of everyone in baseball.

    Here is an interesting stat: hitters striking out, Dee Gordon leads the Dodgers with 10 — but there are 25 major league hitters with more than him.

    Gordon leads the majors in steals with 7. He was caught only once so far, and that one the umpire missed the call, being out of position.

    Kemp is the only major leaguer with a slugging average over 1.000 –

  5. RogerCraig says:

    Sure, the Dodgers have some players off to a bad start and some off to a good start. Things average out, but I believe what Mark said is true – the team lost focus last year with all of the divorce and bankruptcy stuff. They are focused this year and that is part of the difference. I know they will have hic-ups along the way, but they are more like the team that played well the second half of last year than the team we saw the first half.

  6. DRomo says:

    Knowing we will be players in the trade market this year. Even though it is early I would be curious who is available in our areas of need. 3B, 1B, LF, maybe even another starter?

    I have to think if we can land a LF bat Rivera moves to 1B or a 1B then Loney is shipped out. Heard an interesting theory about Carlos Lee the other day. Houston would love to shed salary. Dodgers may be willing to take some for his bat. I believe he is in the last year of his deal. He plays both LF (poorly) and 1B (below average). But he can still hit. I wonder what he looks like in this lineup? Kemp, Ethier, Lee, Rivera ? Tough, I think?

    I repeat this is just an idea. Not a hope.

    Anyone know another name besides David Wright that might be interesting and realistic?

  7. Bobby says:

    I think u gota look at high payroll teams who aren’t going anywhere (i know, not brain surgery)

    for example, i doubt the Cubs compete. Do we want their LF/3b/1b?
    Baltimore? Toronto? Philly?

  8. DRomo says:

    Bobby,
    I don’t know. That is kind of the problem. But we do know that every year there are players available at the deadline. This year the Dodgers will be able to increase payroll at least some. What makes sense. Before we complain about missing out and Ned this and Ned that… what can he do? Chone Figgins at 3B? Could be part of the new running offense we have?

  9. Mike Dixon says:

    David Wright would cost us Dee Gordon and another young arm or Zach Lee and another prospect or 2, I’ll pass..

  10. Jae says:

    I think it’s premature to speculate. If Uribe can hit over .260, I can see him at 3B all year and if Loney gets untracked, he’s still a viable option. Then there are injuries, so I think we just have to wait and see.

    Lee is too old and too slow. Maybe he’d be fine as a DH, but he can’t play the field.

    As teams drop out of contention, there will be plenty of players available.

  11. Joe says:

    It is too early to judge stats with the small sample size right now. Regardless of stats they figuring out ways to win games. Mark Ellis may not have the sexiest stats but he does everything you want for a #2 hole batter with solid defense at 2nd. Yes they are beating up on the Parades and Pirates as they should. I could just imagine the comments had they lost some of those early series. With the Mets playing well and Wright hot right now I don’t picture them trading him away unless they ownership gets desperate to shed payroll.

    • Reggie says:

      I would be shocked if the Mets can keep up their fast start. They really don’t have the horses. I think they will be sellers, but they would want Zach Lee and someone like Webster and Tolleston.

  12. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    If the Mets decide to trade David Wright (and I believe he’s injured now), they’re not going to get a king’s ransom, especially if it’s a salary dump.

    Uribe had a couple of solid hits yesterday, but for the most part, his hits have been of the seeing eye variety. I don’t see anything changing with him. Juan, Ron, whatever his name, he has to go. Who knows, maybe there’s a team out there that will pick up at least a piece of his contract. But probably not a very big piece.

    Kemp doesn’t surprise me at all. I was laughed at by some of my friends when I told them before and after 2010 that I wouldn’t trade Kemp straight up for Albert Pujols. They’re not laughing anymore. I also told them I wouldn’t trade Kershaw for Lincecum. No more chuckles. In fact, based on what I’ve said about Dee Gordon, one person I know now his him on his fantasy team.

    Kemp could have a monster year if Ethier remains healthy. There is no doubt that Ethier has returned to his 2009 and pre-pinky 2010 form. Steve Lyons is absolutely correct in pointing out that Ethier is now able to hit off of his surgically repaired right leg. He’s become an extra base machine, making it more an more likely that Kemp gets pitched to. And Matt Kemp himself is less likely to swing at bad pitches if he knows that getting a base on balls puts him on base in front of Ethier. And despite his current low average, I’m certain that Dee Gordon will hit. Gordon had worse slumps in the minor leagues, and invariably followed up his slumps by getting white hot. He’ll make mistakes, but over time he’s going to get better and better, both offensively and defensively. And as I believe Mattingly has pointed out, he’s supremely confident in his ability, and nothing will get him down. Seems to be a level headed, and highly motivated kid.

    If ownership is serious about winning this year, and also serious about restocking the farm system, it’s possible they might include a good prospect or two to pick up a valuable piece (not necessarily David Wright), contract and all, with the thought in mind that they would make up for the loss of current prospects with an aggressive approach to signing amateur talent going forward.

    Last I heard, good teams are supposed to make hay against the bad ones. And the Dodgers are doing just that. Besides, because they’re beating weaker teams doesn’t mean they won’t also beat stronger ones. If the Dodgers were 5-5, we would be hearing complaints that they weren’t taking advantage of the current weakness in their schedule. I think Mark would agree, that some people are just not happy if they don’t have something to complain about.

  13. Reggie says:

    Adrian Gonzalez cost THREE top prospects. Davey Wright isn’t that caliber of a player. I believe it would take two top prospects, plus two second tier prospects.

    How about Sands, Webster, DeJesus and Russell?

  14. RogerDodger says:

    I see that Matt Kemp is player of the week in the N.L. for the 2nd week in a row.

  15. el_che says:

    Would they trade Zach Lee even with 5mil bonus ??

  16. DodgerDude says:

    Right now, I think Lee is almost untouchable. He’s the real deal, Dude.

  17. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    Tell me I’m crazy, but there is no way I would include Sands in a deal for Wright. I might be in the minority here, but I still think highly of Sands, and think he’s just hit a bump in the road. As for Wright, he’s probably not the only fish in the sea, and he’s definitely not what he once was. Given how much money the Dodgers would be taking off the Mets’ books, I see no reason to inflate the price with top prospects.

    Actually, speculating on these things is usually fruitless, since we don’t know if a deal is even on the table, and if so, just who it might include. There are generally surprises with these things. Maybe the Dodgers have an interest elsewhere, or maybe they get involved in a three-way deal. The variables are practically infinite. If something happens it will probably be something that none of us has considered. Maybe Wright would be rejuvenated in LA, or simply by getting out of NY. But for me, I’m not so intrigued by the possibility of acquiring Wright, as I am desirous of unloading Ron/Juan.

  18. DRomo says:

    I guess the reason I am asking is…there aren’t many available pieces out there. There aren’t many fish in the sea. So if we are in the thick of things and we want to upgrade at our weakest spots there isn’t much out there really.

    Also next season’s free agent class doesn’t look to promising.

  19. Ken says:

    Ellis is doing a great job as catcher and seems to be much more mature and self confident this year compared to prior years.

    At first I thought the triple play was the wrong call until I read the definition of a foul ball. By definition only a ball that first touches the ground in foul territory past first or third base is a foul. Therefore a bunt may go foul and then fair and be a fair ball.

    SD is a bunch of cry babies, they should have been running instead of yelling “You said it was foul, You said it was foul” (Add voice inflections)

    If the Dodgers just win at a .500 pace from today through Memorial Day, while allowing the underperforming 9 to play more games and hopefully properly coach them and help them to perform up to their normal average abilities then the Dodger team will be better for it and will be ready to win a lot of games during the last 100 games of the season and hopefully reach the playoffs with all cylinders firing.

    • Joe says:

      It was a valid triple play, the problem was the idiot umpire who throw his hands in the air which normally means foul ball and is dead at that point, by the time he signaled fair again it was too late for the runners to do anything. The ump shouldn’t have put his hands up in the air. He needs to wait till the player touches the ball then signal foul or fair based on where the ball is at that point. Still probably would have had a double play third to first if the umpire didn’t confuse everyone with his hand jesters. Ellis was in front of the ump so he most likely didn’t see him so it was smart of him to make a play on it.

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