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Zack Greinke

The Dodgers are in the playoffs! Time to freak out!

The Dodgers are in the playoffs! I feel nauseous!
For any True Blue fan out there, they each know that October merely brings heartache and anxiety. Nothing more, nothing less. I kind of have to hurl right now!
As always, my man Que-Ese and I were commiserating about the causes for the potential ulcers likely to befall us in the coming days and (hopefully) weeks. But, like a true friends (who will never ever ever leave each other), we’ve tried to serve as the salve to one another’s Dodger blues. Below is an e-mail exchange in which we’ve both finely laid out our biggest reservations, then a rebuttal why it might not be a big deal and finally, our predictions for the series.
KOBEsh: The bullpen. Duh.
Some writers have suggested that the Dodgers only have two reliable pitchers in their bullpen, which is a disconcerting thought all on its own. However, I think that may be outshooting the truth altogether.
Kenley Jansen has been pretty great this season, though I wouldn’t say absolutely dominant. Sure, he’s got 101 strikeouts and allowed just 55 hits in 65 innings pitched, but he also got himself into trouble unnecessarily. With no outs, Jansen allowed a .779 OPS, as opposed to .567 and .466 on the second and third outs. In other words, he’s letting a leadoff man on at an alarming rate and then relying on his dominant stuff to make up for it. Not the type of breathing room you want to give up to a fellow division-winning team.
The only other “reliable” bullpen pitcher has this stat line for September: 7 games, 5.1 innings pitched, 9 hits and 2 homers allowed and a 11.81 ERA. That’s J.P. Howell, who had emerged into the team’s best 8th inning reliever.
Other than that, we’re looking at Brandon League (a nice 2.57 ERA, but an ugly 1.46 WHIP) Brian Wilson (a nice K%, but giving up hits and walks by the boatload), 39 year-old Jamey Wright (72 hits in 70 IP), Chris Perez (who had a nice September, but still walked 4 batters in 7 innings) and rookie Pedro Baez.
Yes, I’m really worried.
Que-Ese: Here’s why you shouldn’t fret about the bullpen:
Jansen is a stud. His premium pitch is a cut fastball. The thing about those, is that sometimes they get put into play. If they hit their spots, he’ll be fine.… Read more...

NLDS Preview: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates & Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves

Should we even mess around with the narrative? The MLB Playoffs officially began on Tuesday with the first of two single elimination Wild Card play-in games, but starting our MAMBINO previews with those contests can be an exercise in futility. We’ve waited until the Elite Eight were set in order to unleash our full swath of previews onto an unsuspecting, undemanding, unrelenting public.
Now that at least the National League picture is settled, let’s take a look, MAMBINO style, on the matchups at hand. If you’ve been delinquent on your baseball watching for the first 162 (or 163) of the season, you’ve come to the right place to catch up. First, the best of five games National League Division Series.
Pittsburgh Pirates (Wild Card) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (Central Division champion)
Why will the Cardinals prevail in 4?
Anything the Pirates do, the Cards can do better. Well, almost.
Starting pitching? Pittsburgh will have a fearsome trio in A.J. Burnett (3.30 ERA, 209 Ks in 191 innings), Gerrit Cole (3.22 ERA, 100 Ks in 117 innings) and Wild Card game winner Francisco Liriano (3.02 ERA, 161 Ks in 163 innings). More than fearsome, maybe. Devastating.
To counter, St. Louis throws out a probable top-3 Cy Young vote getter in Adam Wainwright (2.94 ERA, 219 Ks in 241 innings) and a probable top-5 Rookie of the Year vote getter in Shelby Miller (3.06 ERA, 169 Ks in 173 innings). They’ll be accompanied by Lance Lynn (3.97 ERA, 198 Ks in 201 innings) and probably rookie Michael Wacha (2.78 ERA, 65 Ks in 64 innings), who merely threw a damn near no-hitter in his last outing. … Read more...

Alternate worlds: The ’13 Dodgers as a distortion of the ’12-’13 Lakers

On May 7th, the Los Angeles Dodgers were 13-19, in last place in the NL West and on a 6-game losing streak. Any time you’re talking about early May baseball, league trends are hooked up with more caveats than A-Rod has sinewy blonde women. To draw any conclusions based on games played before the summer solstice is usually a fool’s errand, and shouldn’t be taken seriously, no matter how objective the fan.
Even with all that in mind, there was still cause for alarm. It wasn’t that the Dodgers were losing–it’s how they were losing. It was dispiriting at times, and downright shameful during others. Here’s a snapshot of how this Disciple of Scully was feeling at the time:… Read more...

Dodger Digs: Are these long-term contracts actually hindering rather than helping?

(Hello MAMBINites. Welcome to our newest feature, which we’ve lovingly anointed Dodger Digs. Each and every week, in the vein of Vin’s Bronx Tales, we’ll answer some of the most pertinent questions circling Chavez Ravine and YOUR….Los Angeles Dodgers.)
EL Miz: How worried is John Q. Dodgers Fan about some of the commitments the team has made?  Specifically, with guaranteed money for the next (5?) seasons to Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, will that preclude the Dodgers from either (A) playing good players in their system (PUIG) or (B) upgrading sunk cost (if Crawford is replacement level)?
KOBEsh: As one of two resident John Q. Dodgers fans on MAMBINO, I’m oddly calm when I should be downright concerned. … Read more...

2013 Los Angeles Dodgers Season Preview

Offseason moves
12 months ago, I wrote on this very blog that I hoped for a .500 season from a undermanned Dodgers team. Frank McCourt was either going to own the team for the forseeable future, or there would be a long, protracted ownership transition. Without an expedited sale, his awful stewardship of the Boys in Blue would continue into 2014. I looked at what manager Don Mattingly was working with and decided that with a tight budget, All-Stars that needed extending and a limited prospect pool, LA wouldn’t be shooting for October games. Rather, I thought that contending for a Wild Card spot late into August would be as eventful as the team got.
Instead, the Dodgers were sold for $2 billion dollars in April, and in late August completed the most expensive trade in US professional sports history. This wasn’t just a 180 degree turn—Dodgers fans everywhere got inverted into the 4th dimension, flipped backwards and deposited into China. That’s the type of turn we’re talking about.
Even though the offseason began in November, the LA offseason actually started with that very trade. With half the 2012 Boston Red Sox now in Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers couldn’t gel quick enough to secure a postseason spot, unable to shed that new trade smell and get everyone comfortable enough. Thus, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, OF Carl Crawford and SP Josh Beckett are essentially new additions, playing just their second month in a Dodgers uniforms.
For the Yankees West, this wasn’t quite big enough. After all, the Guggenheim Partners purchased the team for $2 billion. What’s another $200 million? They could spend that in a weekend.
Which they did.…

To see how “a potential juggernaut” can go wrong, the 2013 Dodgers must look to the 2013 Lakers

This offseason was one of the most anticipated in Los Angeles franchise history. The entire industry looked to So Cal as the front office made massive moves that changed the complexion of the league. Though there were minor transactions in the form of tasty appetizers, the main course was yet another superstar player joining the team. Though it seemed for the past year that any person who had paid attention to the sport knew that he was eventually going to end up in the City of Angels, the fanfare was just as pronounced.
The payroll skyrocketed to another dimensions, forgoing any potential consequence of a soon dramatically changing luxury tax, the harshest penalties of which are reserved for those who repeatedly go over the set salary line. Of course, none of this mattered with brand new television contracts guaranteeing the team literally billions of dollars over the next twenty years. The organization spent and spent, with each new acquisition leading to an e-mail or text from my dad saying “And we got that guy too?”. These new offseason personnel additions–not one, not two, but several–aren’t without their questions. Concerns regarding how close or far these players are from the ends of their careers, their game-time potency and most importantly, how well each guy will catalyze with a team full of highly compensated stars are key to a successful season. As much as throwing money on the situation can help, there’s no telling how well these men will play together and how they’ll deal with the massive expectations set in front of them.
As if those weren’t high-profile problems enough, the squad is led by young coach will be tested with the hardest task of his career: having to soothe the egos of players making $10, $15 and $20+ millions of dollars annually, while figuring out a rotation that is certain not to make everyone happy.  Expectations are higher than they’ve ever been in Los Angeles, where an appearance in the championship round is merely a prerequisite, not a goal. The only measure of this team–in how much it cost to assemble the prospects and future considerations it took to do so–is hoisting high that gold trophy at season’s end. In Southern California, it’s not just championship or bust–it’s championship or “who are you?”. There is no alternative.
I was just talking about the Los Angeles Lakers.
I was just talking about the Los Angeles Dodgers.
For a fan base stretching from Lancaster to Long Beach, imaging a season gone horribly wrong shouldn’t be much further away than a drive on the 5 freeway.… Read more...

(Not So) Instant Trade Analysis: The Dodgers’ Big Weekend

Los Angeles Dodgers get: SP Zack Greinke, SP Hyun-Jin Ryu

Zack Greinke gets: 6 years, $147 million

Hyun-Jin Ryu gets: 6 years, $36 million (plus a $25.7 million dollar posting fee going to his Hanwha Eagles team in the Korean league)
On Friday, the back end of the Dodgers’ starting rotation was filled out by the likes of Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano and the remains of Ted Lilly’s ravaged shoulder. Just three days later, Chad Billingsley, Josh Beckett and seven-time Korean League All-Star Ryu round out what’s become perhaps one of the most formidable rotations in the National League. 

Greinke, 29, signed the second biggest deal for a pitcher in MLB history, trailing only CC Sabathia’s 8-year pact for an astonishing $161 million. This isn’t to suggest that Greinke is nearly the player that CC is–after all, the Yankee southpaw has finished in the top five of Cy Young award voting every year but this one since 2006. Rather, the money is just a sign of the changing times in baseball, as the game continues to expand its revenue streams. Whereas the annual price for a free agent ace pitcher might have been $18 to $20 million a few years ago, now we’re looking at an average yearly salary of $23 to $25 million.

Let’s not focus on the payroll implications here–we’ve made the case here on MAMBINO that the Dodgers had transformed themselves into “Yankees West” with their August acquisition of Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. It’s clear that the Dodgers aren’t concerned at all with the mammoth salaries on their payroll, nor with the punitive luxury tax given to “repeat offenders” that regularly rise above the $189 million ceiling. If the news hadn’t sunk in Dodgers fans, then focus on this: the Dodgers just spent more this weekend on free agents than the Tampa Bay Rays have in the past decade. Whoa.

Don’t let the contract fool you; Zack Greinke might not be better than Matt Cain, Cole Hamels or any of the other nine-figure contracts doled out in the past twelve months, but he’s still very, very good. Since his 2009 AL Cy Young award-winning season, Greinke hasn’t struck out less than 7.9 batters per 9 innings, walked more than 2.6, nor pitched less than 171 innings. He’s been overwhelming at times, but not a true dominator in the sense of a Justin Verlander, Adam Wainwright or Sabathia.  Zack Greinke isn’t an ace, let’s be clear. However, if money isn’t an object here, then he doesn’t need to be. The Dodger already have Clayton Kershaw in the fold, and all Greinke has to do is be the best number 2 option in the league. More importantly, he’s moving to a pitcher’s ballpark in the National League, which should benefit his performance overall.

There’s a few different factors that are somewhat worrisome about the contract, however; Greinke does give up a lot of contact for a pitcher that also strikes out so many batters. He’s given up nearly a hit per inning, along with almost 20 home runs per year. Of course, with any pitcher, a multi-year deal is a frightening prospect. There’s no telling what Greinke’s arm will look like in six years in his age 35 season, and at $147 million dollars, that’s a huge gamble to take. More importantly, the Dodgers gave him an out clause after the third year of his contract–if he were to still be at an All-Star level at that point, he’d be able to terminate his contract and negotiate a new one, wit

2013 Free Agency Preview for the Los Angeles Dodgers

Back in April, in my giddiness emanating from the great emancipation from Frank McCourt, I wrote a lengthy article looking forward to this winter and the potential free agents a newly fiscally robust Dodgers team could invest in.

Little did I know that Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson had more immediate plans in mind.

At the beginning of 2012, the Dodgers were without solutions at left field, third base, catcher and the back end of the rotation and an unsure future with the incumbents at first base and shortstop. Few offensive reinforcements were coming up through the minor leagues, so to very professionally summarize, the Boys in Blue were screwed.

Now, after two massive trades and the emergence of two unexpected life-long farm hands, the Dodgers are set at every position player on the diamond. Upgrades could be had at third and catcher, but if the Dodgers were to stay pat, most fans should feel comfortable with the players at hand.

Looking at this offseason, I earmarked pitching as the biggest probable targets for the team, even though the Dodgers had (and still have) such little offensive firepower in their minors. Starting pitchers Cole Hamels and Matt Cain have since been locked up to long-term deals, as well as second baseman Brandon Phillips and third baseman David Wright has had this 2013 option picked up, as the Mets continue to negotiate with him on an extension.

LA fell a couple games short of the Wild Card playoff game, so even as the team will naturally improve with greater continuity of a more settled squad, free agent additions should be made to bolster the team. It still feels foreign that payroll isn’t even something to consider any longer, because in the words of Mark Walter, the payroll ceiling is in the nebulous region of “Somewhere…I suppose”. Luckily for the Dodgers, the team doesn’t have a whole lot of holes, and most of these targets are merely “wish list” items, rather than absolute necessities. GM Ned Colletti did a lot of his winter shopping in season and picked up several high priced items, so for better or worse, the team will be surfing the season with Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez.

An already thin farm system has been cleared out in recent months, so a trade for an elite player is unlikely. Chavez Ravine is awash in cash these days like a giant safe in Duckberg, so simply buying talent is most likely the best avenue for this team to improve.

Looking at the ace free agent listings from, let’s shoot off MAMBINO’s top free agent targets for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2012 offseason:

1. SP Zack Greinke, Anaheim Angels

His Deal: Greinke is the number one pitcher on the market, and arguably the most sought after free agent. This isn’t to disparage Josh Hamilton, but between his shaky health history, contract demands and lack of teams that can satisfy them, many more teams are in play for Greinke rather than the Rangers’ center fielder. He’s going to ask for a five or six year deal (maybe as many as seven years) at around $20 million a year. It’s not going to be cheap.

Why the Dodgers Would Want Him: But he’s a 29 year old pitcher in his prime. Since his AL Cy Young win for the Royals in 2009 during his age 25 season, Greinke has pitched to a 3.37 ERA, averaging nearly a strikeout per inning, and less than a hit per inning. I don’t buy that the right-hander is declining, as almost every metric from last season was on par or slightly better last year while splitting time between Milwauke… Read more...

Instant Trade Analysis: Zack Greinke to the Anaheim Angels

Anaheim Angels get: SP Zack Greinke

Milwaukee Brewers get: SS Jean Segura, SP Ariel Pena, SP Jim Hellweg (all prospects)

Angels GM Jerry DiPoto earned his SoCal front office ninja stripes today, stealthily and suddenly trading for All-Star pitcher Zack Greinke of the Milwaukee Brewers. Much like the Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak and the Dodgers’ Ned Colleti trading for stars Steve Nash and Hanley Ramirez, respectively, without much notification, DiPoto has made a deal that no only ranks as one of the most biggest of the trade deadline, but perhaps one of the most significant in regards to postseason play.

Anaheim had an absolutely brutal start to the season with a 9-15 April, but rebounded to a 54-45 mark, the third-best in the AL. The initially scuffling offense, featuring the stunningly impotent bat of Albert Pujols, the dead weight of Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu and the uninspiring play from the supporting cast members, has given way to the Mike Trout-led Halos destroying all comers. Trout, Mark Trumbo and a resurgent Pujols have essentially reinvented the Angels lineup, which ranks amongst the best in the American League. The bullpen, heavily questioned before the season, has exceeded expectations, thanks in part to San Diego Padres import Ernesto Frieri (who’s given up four earned runs in 29 innings as an Angels reliever). The starting rotation, remarkably in spite of the names on paper, has remained the team’s weak link.

The Angels’ five man corp consists of ace Jered Weaver, along with All-Stars CJ Wilson, Ervin Santana and Dan Haren. Unfortunately for manager Mike Scioscia, only Weaver and Wilson have lived up to their billing, with Haren (has given up at least 5 earned runs in five of his last six stars) and Santana (a 6.00 ERA and 23 homers given up before August) struggling, to say the least. With the calendar turning towards the end of summer, DiPoto had to assume a turnaround to complete form for both men was unlikely. Thus, the clandestine deal for Zack Greinke was finished up tonight.

This is second time Greinke has been traded in the last 20 months, with the Brewers dealing for the starter two offseasons ago from the Kansas City Royals. Milwaukee knew that Zack would be a free agent in just two years time, which perfectly coincided with their “win-now” model they had put together in impending free agent Prince Fielder (now with the Detroit Tigers) and starter Shaun Marcum (another soon-to-be free agent). The Brewers started the day 14 games in back of division-leading Cincinnati, so the thought of losing Greinke for mere draft picks at the end of the season (seeing as he would almost undoubtedly sign with another squad) only added to the pains of dissapointment the Brew Crew felt with such a promising season gone horribly wrong. Before we go any further, Greinke is a world-class pitcher whose numbers (3.67 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) don’t come close to describing how great of a hurler he is. He’s one of the top 10 pitchers in the American League, and an absolute stud. Just to be clear.

As far as what I’ve read, the haul for Greinke was moderate, certainly not a future franchise-changing one. Shortstop Jean Segura was the best prospect in the Angels’ system, whose ceiling comparisons range from Howie Kendrick to Jose Reyes. He’s a bit on the small side, and could be headed for second base, but few doubt that he’ll be a major league player, though of what caliber is up to interpretation. Pena and Hellweg are both 23 year-old prospects with fire baller arms (… Read more...

2013 Free Agency for the newly-bought LA Dodgers

We can’t wipe the smiles off our faces over here at MAMBINO. The reign of Frank McCourt has come to it’s unofficial end, with the paperwork ready to be drawn up and stamped. We will all breathe easier knowing that the autocratic rule of one of the most disgraced owners in professional sports will soon be a but a bad memory. I’ve truly never wanted to move past anything more than this, ex-girlfriends included.

That last sentence obviously was untrue.

For weeks this winter, the chatter on the interweb was that the Dodgers were secretly in the running for first baseman Prince Fielder, a power-hitting whale (of a human), whose massive presence both on the field and in the line-up was the exact addition LA so desperately needed. The offer never turned into anything more than that, sadly, as Fielder and his agent Scott Boras signed a massive 9-year, $214 million dollar deal with the Detroit Tigers, a deal that I don’t necessarily think makes the Tigers into a title contender. Nevertheless, Prince is now a Tiger, and my dreams of a make-good 1-year deal is off the table.

As we stated in our 2012 Dodgers Preview, the team just can’t be considered a contender this year. They face deficits in their starting rotation, every infield position and at least 1 corner outfield spot. Playoffs are simply out of the question for this October. Except for aiming at a .500 record retaining our dignity, the 2012 season will largely be the Dodgers’ front office holding a 162-game audition for the 2013 edition of the boys in blue. GM Ned Colleti and company will see which players would be able to impact a championship-caliber team going forward, and which men should be sold off for prospects and future considerations.

That all being said, let’s look towards winter 2012-2013, when the Dodgers will ride Guggenheim Partners checkbook in landing the big players on the free agent market. Mark Walter, Stan Kasten, and of course, Magic Johnson know they have to make a big national splash, one that says “THE DODGERS ARE BACK”, which will sadly be the next major LA marketing campaign (just envision that Billboard on the 10 Freeway – I’d put even odds on it happening).

Who will the free agents be? Who will be the next Los Angeles Dodger? Here is the list of 2013 free agents so far, courtesy of MAMBINO-approved superblog From it, we’ve cherry-picked the very best free agents that the new and improved Los Angeles Dodgers will most likely be after:

1). Cole Hamels, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
With a bullet. The fastest bullet that’s ever existed. Like, one of those talking bullets from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” One of those.

His deal: Cole Hamels is going to be, without a doubt, the most sought-after free agent on the market. He’s one of the 10 best pitchers in the league (CC-Verlander-Halladay-Felix-Clayton-Cliff Lee-Lincecum-Weaver-Wainwright-Hamels? Challenge!) and everyone is going to be after him. I’d say the likely suitors are the Phillies, Yankees (just because), Boston, Baltimore, Washington, Texas, Chicago Cubs and the Dodgers.

Why the Dodgers want him: Because he’s one of the 10 best pitchers in the league. LA has a rotation of guys that are chock full of 3, 4 and 5 starting pitchers, rather than a potential 1 or 2 type of guy. NL Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw has finally come into the ace we all thought he’d be one day, but behind him are guys like Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly. Cole Hamels would give the Dodgers a 1-2 … Read more...