That is not a typo. According to Yahoo! Sports, which quotes a report from ESPN’s Mark Saxson, the powers that be at MLB contacted Crawford’s agent about the cleats he wore in Monday’s loss to the Padres.
As you can see in the picture, Crawford (who, like many players on the team, received one pair each of blue and white cleats emblazoned with “42”) chose to wear one shoe of each color on Jackie Robinson Day. At the time it didn’t seem like a big deal. Actually, it seemed really freakin’ cool to everyone not wearing suits at MLB headquarters.
According to Saxson’s report, Crawford said he was trying to have a little fun with it after seeing Jimmy Rollins change cleats mid-game earlier in the day. Then he added: “But I guess the league doesn’t want us to have any fun.”
For those of you who watch the NFL regularly, this stinks of a Roger Goodell influence. As a master conspiracy theorist, I will presume that Goodell got bored in the offseason, noticed Crawford’s cleats on TV, called Bud Selig, and threatened to put a bounty on him if he didn’t do something immediate, drastic, and douche-y about it.
The more likely scenario, though, is that MLB struggled with a decision of whether to uphold their wardrobe policies, or ignore it as an exception for a special day. The fact that they gave Crawford a warning instead of immediately doling out the fine makes me think that a fine is less likely to come.
We’ll see if Crawford is taking out his checkbook in the next few days, so stay tuned. But for now, we’ll add this latest nonsense to the long list of mishaps the Dodgers have accumulated as a clear target of MLB, the Diamondbacks, and Carlos Quentin’s. My team just can’t catch a break. If we could, we’d be 14-0!
Shoot, there’s that conspiracy theorist in me again. Carry on.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
We’ve got columnists writing columns about his “slump”; we’ve got Tweeters a-Twittering over the lack of #Beastmode; we’ve got reporters reporting and annoying Don Mattingly to no end with inane questions about Kemp’s sudden “inability” to hit.
Let me first remind you that Kemp is a very good hitter in April, historically. Let me then remind you that over his last 1,000 at-bats or so as a Dodger, Kemp is hitting .315 with over 60 home runs and just under 200 RBI. Let me also remind you that he had major shoulder surgery in the off-season and couldn’t even swing a bat until about a month ago.
And then let me tell you why Kemp’s 0-for-everything start is not a big deal:
1. He’s swinging it well
Yes, he’s taken a couple bad third strikes and rolled over on a couple of very fat pitches (you think he doesn’t realize this?). Also, he’s been basically worthless with runners in scoring position, failing to accumulate a single RBI despite four opportunities with men on base in last night’s game against the Giants. But what is lost amid the flurry of anarchy is that he stroked a deep fly ball right to Angel Pagan in his first at-bat against Tim Lincecum, and then hit a hard line drive right to Pagan again in his second at-bat. Similarly, he put a couple good swings on the ball against Madison Bumgarner the night before that went right at someone. You can stare at the .000 batting average as long as you want, but it won’t tell you the whole story.
2. He’s Matt Kemp
Aside from his rough 2010 season (he still accumulated nearly 30 homers and 90 RBI), in which he hit a paltry .249, Kemp has been stellar and consistent throughout his tenure as a Dodger. He’s never hit below .290 or had an on-base percentage below .340 in any other season in the big leagues. The man is a good hitter, who like all other good hitters, will have his streaks and his slumps. But Dodgers fans know better than anyone that an 0-for-10 quickly turns into a 10-30, which quickly balloons to a 20-50. The hits will fall, people. Please have patience.
3. He’s not alone
I can’t believe I have to resort to this, but it seems only fair given the general psychosis surrounding Kemp’s slow start. Just to appease the masses, I’ve compiled a quick list of other notable sluggers who have struggled in their first three or four games of the year (you know, out of only 50 times that many over the course of the season…). Note: Chris Davis will NOT be appearing on this list.
In no particular order: Paul Konerko (1-for-12), Jason Kipnis (0-for-9), Albert Pujols (1-for-11), Josh Reddick (2-for-13), Jose Reyes (1-for-8), Alfonso Soriano (1-for-12), Joey Votto (1-for-10), Giancarlo Stanton (1-for-9), Allen Craig/Matt Holliday combination (6-for-31), Jayson Werth/Adam LaRoche/Danny Espinosa combination (2-for-32)
Do you feel better now? Do you really think any of the men listed above are going to fall into a spinning whirlpool of doom? Please return to your normally scheduled lives now, and find a real topic to complain about. Writers, maybe you can jump on Carl Crawford’s fast start or Michael Morse’s 162-homer pace instead? Not news? Okay.
Don’t forget to vote in this poll below, which I had absolutely no influence over…
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
It’s official. The Dodgers and Red Sox have completed a ridiculous nine-player swap that sends first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and a whole bunch of crappy contracts to Los Angeles, in exchange for James Loney and some prospects to Boston.
Holy cow. Let me get this out of the way as a Dodger fan: WOOOOOHOOOOOO!
Okay, thanks. That being said, let me explain how this trade affects both teams, and then I’ll leave it up to you to vote which team got the better deal.
Here’s how it breaks down:
1B James Loney
SP Rubby De La Rosa (AAA)
SP Allen Webster (AA)
OF Jerry Sands (AAA)
IF Ivan De Jesus (AAA)
Los Angeles receives:
1B Adrian Gonzalez
SP Josh Beckett
OF Carl Crawford
UTIL Nick Punto
If you’re a casual baseball fan, you might think Wow, the Dodgers just scored 3 All-Stars!
Little do you know, Beckett and Crawford are owed big money for little production and spotty health over the last year or more. Punto is simply a utility player but a great clubhouse guy who can contribute to a winning team (just ask the 2011 Cardinals). Besides, it’s a huge upgrade over Juan Uribe and Adam Kennedy.
If Crawford comes back healthy from Tommy John surgery in 2014, he could be worth the money. Before being signed by Boston, Crawford was annually one of the better all-around players in baseball. Who knows – maybe a change of scenery does him well, but I don’t expect anything out of him.
Beckett has a chance to shine in L.A., but that’s based on a bunch of big “if’s” as well. IF Beckett stays healthy. IF he keeps the ball down. Worst case scenario, the Dodgers have a seasoned veteran with tons of postseason experience to help guide guys like Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang through a potential playoff berth. But, with Chad Billingsley’s possible elbow injury, adding a usually mediocre, formerly incredible starting pitcher is something sorely needed right now.
And do I really have to explain why Gonzalez was a great pick up? He hit .338 last year in Boston and has also been a perennial All-Star throughout his career. He can hit 30 homers, drive in 100 runs and bat .300 as his career numbers will attest to. Plus, he’s won multiple gold gloves at first base. So you’re telling me the Dodgers swapped a .250-hitting, powerless, smooth-fielding James Loney for a .300-hitting, powerful, smooth-fielding Gonzalez? I’ll take it.
Before I move on to analyzing what the Red Sox obtained in this deal, let me remind everyone of two things. If the Twitter world is the collective opinion of baseball fans, I’m seriously worried for the sanity of the sport’s fan base. So, here goes:
1) Money doesn’t matter. The new ownership of the Dodgers paid $2 billion to buy the team, and will be securing a $4 billion TV deal soon. They will over pay, and they openly admit it. Money is NOT an issue. They can take on all those big contracts and blow their noses with the $100 bills.
2) Telling me the Dodgers don’t have the pitching to win the division is not backed up by statistics. As of today, the Dodgers still have the second-best ERA in the National League as a team, two spots ahead of the pitching-heavy San Francisco Giants (also leading them in batting average against, strikeouts and quality starts). Until that changes, please don’t tell me the Dodgers have no pitching, because five months into the season those numbers are no longer “flukes.”
Back to business. Some of the prospects the Red Sox received might be no-names to the casual baseball fan. But let me tell you, Boston received a pretty good haul. In addition to ridding themselves of about $78.5 gazillion in salary, they picked up two high-ceiling starting pitchers and two hitters who have a shot at developing into legitimate every day players.
James Loney could also benefit from a change of scenery. Once considered an elite prospect, he looked well on his way to becoming a star about five years ago with the Dodgers. Then came a dip in power. Then a dip in average. A dip in RBI. Now, he’s one of the most average offensive bats you’ll find. Except he’s not even going to reach 10 home runs this season.
I love James Loney. He’s been one of my favorite players on the Dodgers for a number of years (I even have his jersey – oh, what to do with it now?!) and I hold a high value on defensive prowess, which he possesses a lot of.
I truly hope Loney does well in Boston. But with free agency looming in 2013, chances are he won’t be around for them anyway. Guys that will hang around are these three AAA and one AA players they acquired.
The one with the highest ceiling in my opinion is Allen Webster, the AA starter. He was an 18th-round draft choice in 2008 that many thought might have a better career down the road than Dodgers’ top prospect Zach Lee after both started to develop in the minors.
MLB.com ranks Webster their 65th best prospect in baseball right now, mostly due to a mid-90’s sinker, plus-curveball and plus-change. He really does have a great chance to be a future star in Boston.
De La Rosa is in the same boat – he just made his first appearance back with the Dodgers after a lengthy recovery from Tommy John. But before, during and after the surgery reviews about him were rave. He throws very hard: about an average of 95, just a bit higher than Justin Verlander’s average, and he has topped out at 99.
De La Rosa needs to work on his willingness to work the inside part of the plate, and gain confidence in his secondary pitches so hitters can’t sit on the heater. As he matures, these issues should be sorted out and De La Rosa could become a poor man’s Pedro Martinez if he doesn’t stray from the path mentally or physically.
Jerry Sands can play outfield or first base and has shown tons of promising power in the minors. That being said, the Pacific Coast League is notorious for inflating young players’ numbers because it’s such an offense-friendly league. In a few stints in the Majors with Los Angeles, Sands showed very infrequent flashes of potential. Most of his time was spent trolling around the Mendoza line with little power and plate discipline to show for it.
The same can be said for De Jesus. I believe he has more potential than Sands overall, but is a smaller-name player so goes unnoticed. De Jesus had some big appearances for the Dodgers in 2012 and could become a spark player for the Red Sox down the road if developed properly.
It’s hard to tell in a trade like this who “wins” per se. Loney for Gonzalez is an obvious win for the Dodgers. And for right NOW, I have to say L.A. won the trade. They are going for a World Series title, no matter the cost. But the fact that they got a huge left-handed bat, a potential number two starter and an improvement on the bench AND were able to keep Dee Gordon and Zach Lee, speaks for itself.
But, if Boston develops the four young players they received in the deal properly, we’re talking about one or two potential impact bats and the possibility of two middle of the rotation starters. Down the road, the Red Sox may be reloading for another big run.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
Spring training is in full swing. Here are some quick hits of stories coming out of camps and if fans of those teams should be relaxing or freaking out before Opening Day.
Wright announced this week that he has a tear in his rib cage, but he expects to be ready for Opening Day. Wright said that “It wasn’t so much a sharp pain. It’s just more of an uncomfortable cramp.” Wright more than likely would’ve played through the injury in the regular season.
Wright says he’ll be ready, but that could just be player speak. A similar injury led to surgery for Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman last season, costing him 60 games. Not a good thing to have a nagging injury over the 162-game grind.
The Nationals ace got roughed up by the Braves last night and his spring ERA stands at an unsettling 7.45. Atlanta torched him for 4 runs over 4 innings, with two home runs.
Strasburg explained after the game that he has lost his composure and was trying to throw the ball rather than pitch. He’ll still need more time to work on things, but that’s what Spring Training is for. He’ll be good-to-go for the regular season. Plus, he had a delicious burger named after him this week.
Last we saw Carpenter, he was taking to the mound in Game 7 of the World Series and bringing the Cardinals their 11th title. This spring, we haven’t seen anything out of Carpenter as he’s been sidelined with neck soreness.
Verdict: Somewhat concerned
The Cardinals are treating Carpenter with kid gloves. Which is smart based on their ace’s workload last season and his age (turns 37 at the end of April). He should be ready for the near start of the season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Jaime Garcia or Adam Wainwright get the start on Opening Day.
Stanton was hit by a pitch on the wrist in a game on Sunday, that manager Ozzie Gullien thought immediately had broken his slugger’s wrist. Luckily, x-rays were negative and Stanton is day-to-day.
Verdict: Extremely Calm
Stanton will be ready to go for the season and is an odds-on favorite to become an All-Star in his 2nd full season in the majors.
New Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine hopes that Crawford will be able to swing the bat in the next couple of days. Crawford had offseason surgery on his left wrist and has been dealing with inflammation during spring training.
Crawford had a disastrous start last year to his Red Sox tenure. He wasn’t what Boston fans expected when signed to a big contract last offseason. Not being ready for opening day, won’t help endear him to Red Sox Nation for the start of 2012.