Monday Morning Coffee

June 26, 2017

The Lakers have announced their plan.  That plan sounds a lot like the old plan, but with a few key differences.  Mostly that it’s being executed by Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka.  Generally, trading away a productive young player like D’Angelo Russell just to get rid of a bad contract isn’t good business.  However, Magic and Pelinka didn’t join the Lakers to wait five years to win.  They can afford to take risks.  The Lakers plan on coming to the free agent bargaining table with room for two max free agent next summer.  That’s something the previous regime did only once in the last four summers, and it was last summer when they were coming off their worst year.  Magic and Pelinka also know how to play the back room game with free agents, interacting with player agents year round.  Ultimately, the success of the plan will depend on whether or not Lebron, Paul George, or Russell Westbrook will sign here in 2018.  In any case, the Lakers’ real championship aspirations will depend on whether or not Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram can become superstars.  Lonzo can’t go wrong when he looks like……

The big story surrounding the Clippers is the fact that they were shopping DeAndre Jordan.  Everyone seems to be under the impression that this was done because they might be looking to rebuild, or blow up the core.  What all those nerdy salary cap experts realize is that they were doing this to see how they might be able to gain more financial flexibility to sign Lebron James in 2018.  That’s probably why Chris Paul will re-sign, along with 205 million other reasons.  In the meantime though, Paul is going to act like that girl who just became single for the first time in a few years, flirting with every guy at every bar and restaurant, acting like she’s got serious game.  Only when the fun of the flirtation is over, she’ll end up back with her ex-boyfriend.

As for other NBA news that broke last week, Dwight Howard has changed teams again! This guy is getting passed around the NBA more than a Kardashian.  At this rate he’s going to be finishing his career in the WNBA.  Hawks’ General Manager Travis Schlenk said they had other offers for Dwight but that was the best offer.  The best offer? You had to acquire one of the worst contracts in the NBA to get rid of Dwight.  What were the other offers? To be physically abused? The incompetence of some NBA organizations is amazing.  The Cavs have made the finals for three straight years, then they decided to fire their General Manager and try to replace him with somebody that doesn’t have experience. Then there’s Phil Jackson who has found a way to make the Knicks an even bigger joke than they were.  You have to wonder if he’s actually drinking on the job, or smoking weed.  We know he’s sleeping on the job according to a top 15 prospect who worked out in front of him.  Check out the latest update to his Wiki page…..

The Dodgers are on fire right now.  It’s starting to feel like not even Andrew Friedman’s mistakes can stop them these days.  However, they did get some horrible news last week.  Julio Urias, the organization’s most promising young pitcher, ruptured the anterior capsule in his left shoulder.  He will undergo surgery and miss not only the rest of 2017, but most of 2018 as well.  This is much worse than Tommy John surgery folks.  The sample of pitchers who have undergone this surgery is very small, and those who have had it have been finished with baseball career shortly after.  Sadly, the Dodgers will have to assume that he will not be a part of their future plans unless a pleasant surprise occurs.  Urias had the potential to be the frontline starter the Dodgers needed behind Clayton Kershaw come October.  As great as Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy look now, come playoff time, I wouldn’t trust them to tell me what they wanted on their pizza.  Unfortunately, the Dodgers will have no choice but to trust them if they have World Series aspirations.

As for the Angels, the fact they are still in the Wild Card Race is impressive.  They haven’t had Mike Trout for weeks, and they haven’t had a pitching staff all season.  Somehow they have the 6th best ERA in the American League, mostly due to an overachieving bullpen.  Apparently when Mike Trout signed his last contract in 2014, he sought a lifetime contract from the Halos.  At that point Arte Moreno declined, but one has to wonder if Moreno would re-consider at this point.  That depends how Moreno wants to run his franchise.  If the Angels aren’t ready to win by 2020, when Trout is a free agent, then they would be wise to reboot the franchise with a boat load of prospects, rather than commit to Trout until he is 40 years old.  However, if Moreno is primarily interested in just filling the seats and getting 3 million people coming to the ballpark every year, which it seems is his only goal, then sign him up to the lifetime deal.  As great as Mike Trout is, one player in baseball only takes you so far.

Many fans of Breaking Bad have been invested in Better Call Saul for the last three years.  Spoiler alert if you plan on watching it so read no further if that is the case.  If you loved Breaking Bad and haven’t taken the plunge into Better Call Saul, then you need to immediately.  The show just finished its third season last week, and is all about the little nuances that are connected to Breaking Bad, which gives you an even greater appreciation for both shows.  However, the one storyline that keeps us coming back for more is why did Jimmy end being the shady character that he turned out to be? Most of us have a feeling that is has to do with his brother’s death, Chuck, who we think just died in the last episode.  The suspense of what happened to Kim Wexler is also killing everyone.  Since there is no Kim Wexler in Breaking Bad, one of two things had to have happened: either she died, or Jimmy’s behavior destroyed her career so she moved away.  Since this show is so dramatic, and since she started to display reckless behavior in season 3, I think we’re headed for a very sad death to end the show.

Finally, the Bachelorette was back last week, and get ready for another two episodes this week.  It was only a matter of time before the producers brought race into this drama.  Sure enough, Lee is clearly a racist, confronting Eric and now Kenny, trying to rat them out and get them kicked off the show.  Of course leave it to Dean to call out Lee for his racism in the most classy way possible.  Knowing Rachel though, she’ll probably cut Kenny for his inability to spell “champagne”, and Eric for his inability to spell “facade”.  Dean and Peter seem like locks for the final four.  How the hell is Iggy still on the show? That guy never talks to Rachel, other than to snitch on some other guys in the house.  I guess Rachel likes white guys and guys that look like Shaka Zulu.  Josiah is definitely growing on me.  He’s got a chance after his spelling bee win.

 

 

 

Dodgers Rally To Sweep Rockies

June 25, 2017

The Dodgers rallied for three runs in the 7th inning and Cody Bellinger hit two more homers, as LA beat the Rockies 12-6 on Sunday afternoon.  The win gave the Dodgers a three-game sweep of their weekend series at Chavez Ravine.

Kenley Jansen recorded his 2nd career five-out save, as well as an RBI double in the 8th inning to put the cap on another big offensive day for LA.

The Boys in Blue have now won 10 in a row and 16 of their last 17 games.  They also continue to hit the ball out of the park, connecting on at least one home run in each their last 17 games.

Trailing 6-4, the Dodgers rallied against Rockies’ reliever Jake McGee in the 7th.  Justin Turner singled with one out and Logan Forsythe doubled with two outs.   Adam Ottavino came in to pitch for the Rockies from there.  After an Austin Barnes walk loaded the bases, Ottavino threw a pair of wild pitches that scored three Dodger runs to give them the lead.  The first wild pitch allowed Justin Turner to come home, while the second scored both Forsythe and Barnes.

The Dodgers exploded for four more runs in the 8th.  Two of them came off of two more wild pitches by Ottavino (1-2), who took the loss.  Bellinger added a 2-run homer for his NL leading 24th of the season, and 2nd of the game.  Bellinger now has 6 multi-home run games on the season, which is a Dodger rookie record.  Jansen’s run-scoring double was the final blow in the 8th.  A total of four of the Dodger runs coming courtesy of wild pitches.

The Rockies built a 5-0 lead against Dodgers’ starter Brandon McCarthy by the 3rd inning.  McCarthy issued a leadoff walk to Mark Reynolds.  After a pair of wild pitches to Raimel Tapia, Reynolds advanced to 3rd.  Tapia walked and Reynolds would score on a third wild pitch.  Ian Desmond reached on an infield single, allowing Tapia to get to 3rd.  Then an errant throw by Yasmani Grandal trying to catch Demond stealing allowed Tapia to score.  An RBI single from Tony Wolters later in the inning made it 3-0.  The Rockies would get two more in the 3rd on an RBI single from Reynolds, and an RBI fielder’s choice from Tapia.

That was all for McCarthy.  He lasted just 3 innings, giving up five runs (four of them earned) on four hits.  He struck out two and walked two, but was victimized by the three wild pitches and a pair of fielding errors.

The Dodgers got four runs back in the bottom half of the third.  After a Chris Taylor leadoff double, Kike Hernandez connected on his 8th homer of the season.  That’s a career-high for Hernandez.  Then a Justin Turner double set the stage for Bellinger, who ripped his 23rd homer of the season, and first of the game.

Rockies’ starter Tyler Anderson didn’t last long either.  He went 2 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on five hits.  He departed after just 55 pitches, leaving with a knee injury after an extensive discussion with the training staff.

The Dodgers loaded the bases in the 5th inning after a single from Joc Pederson and a pair of walks to Enrique Hernandez and Justin Turner.  With two outs, Cody Bellinger had a chance to give the Dodgers the lead, but flied out deep to left field to end the threat.

The Rockies would add another run to make it 6-4 in the 5th.  Desmond produced an RBI single to center against Ross Stripling, which scored Nolan Arenado.

Pedro Baez (2-0) got credit for the win after pitching a scoreless 7th.  The only bad news for the Dodgers was that Kenley Jansen gave up his first walk of the season after 32 innings.  The game was the longest nine-inning game in Dodger Stadium history, lasting 4 hours and 19 minutes.

The Dodgers will now open a four-game series with the Angels beginning Monday night at the Ravine.  The first two games of the series will be at Dodger Stadium while the next two will be at the Big A.  Rich Hill (4-3, 4.73 ERA) gets the ball in game 1 for the Boys in Blue.  The Halos will counter with Ricky Nolasco (2-9, 5.23 ERA).

Halos Take 2 of 3 From Sox

 

June 25, 2017

Parker Bridwell pitched a strong 6 2/3 innings and the Angels scored three big runs after an overturned call to beat the Red Sox 4-2 on Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park.

In the 2nd inning, the Angels challenged the ruling on Danny Espinosa’s 3-6-3 double play.  The call was overturned, and Espinosa was safe and credited with an RBI fielder’s choice, giving the Angels a 1-0 lead.

Kaleb Cowart followed with an RBI double, which was followed by a run scoring single from Juan Graterol.  That gave the Angels a 3-0 lead.  Cowart was recalled before the game, while reliever Eduardo Paredes was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake.

Mitch Moreland put the Red Sox on the board in the bottom half of the inning with his 11th homer of the season.  Jackie Bradley added another solo shot in the 5th inning to make it 3-2.

Bridwell gave up just the two homers among seven hits.  He struck out four and did not walk a batter while making 75 pitches.

The Halos would add an insurance run in the 9th inning when Cowart delivered an RBI single.  Yusmeiro Petit pitched the final two innings to earn his first save of the season.

Doug Fister got his first start of the year for the Red Sox.  He was released by the Angels earlier in the week.  Fister (0-1) took the loss but pitched reasonably well.  He went six innings, giving up three runs on seven hits.  He struck out six and walked three.

The win moved the Angels one game over .500 with a record of 40-39.  It also kept them in the thick of the AL Wild Card race.

The Angels now begin a four-game series with the Dodgers beginning Monday night at the Ravine.  The first two games will be in LA, while the next two will shift down the freeway to the Big A.  Game 1 will be Ricky Nolasco (2-9, 5.23 ERA) on the hill for the Halos.  He’s lost his last seven decisions.  He’ll be opposed by Rich Hill (4-3, 4.73 ERA).

 

Ramirez Leads Angels Past Sox

June 24, 2017

JC Ramirez pitched six strong innings for the Halos on Saturday night at Fenway Park, as the Angels knocked off the Red Sox 6-3.

Ramirez allowed one run and four hits with five strikeouts.  He improved his record to 7-5 on the season.

Martin Malonado gave the Angels a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the 1st, but Mitch Moreland tied the game at 1-1 with a solo homer in the bottom half of the inning.

Eric Young Jr. delivered an RBI double in the 4th to give the Angels the lead again.  Luis Valbuena contributed a sac fly in the 6th, then Cameron Maybin doubled in Cliff Pennington in the 7th.  Maybin would score on Fernando Abad’s balk.

Red Sox manager John Farrell was ejected by third-base umpire and crew chief Bill Miller for arguing Abad’s walk.

The Red Sox would get a pair of runs in the 9th off of Cam Bedrosian, but it wasn’t enough.  Blake Parker came in to record the final out of the game for his 1st save of the season.

David Price (2-2) started for the Sox.  He gave up three runs (two of them earned) on six hits.  He struck out five and walked one while taking the loss.

The rubber game of the three-game set will be on Sunday afternoon at Fenway.  Parker Bridwell (1-0, 3.07 ERA) gets the start for the Halos.  Doug Fister makes his first start of the season for the Sox after getting waived by the Angels.

 

Dodgers Make it Nine In A Row

June 24, 2017

Clayton Kershaw pitched six strong innings and Joc Pederson hit another home run as the Dodgers shutout the Rockies 4-0 on Saturday night at Chavez Ravine.

Kershaw improved his record to 11-2 on the season, giving up just four hits, striking out eight, and walking one.  He lowered his ERA to 2.47.

Brandon Morrow, Pedro Baez, and Sergio Romo combined for three shutout innings out of the Dodger pen to finish things off.  They gave up just one hit over that stretch.

All the Dodger offense came in the 2nd and 3rd inning.  Kike Hernandez start things off with an RBI single in the 2nd.  Pederson’s homer made it 2-0.  Grandal delivered an RBI single that scored Justin Turner from 1st base after an error from right fielder Raimel Tapia.  The Dodgers would load the bases later in the inning, and Kershaw drew a walk to force in a run.

Tyler Chatwood (6-8) got the start for the Rockies and took the loss.  He went 3 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on three hits.  He walked eight and struck out three.

The Dodgers have won nine in a row and 15 of their last 16 games.  They are the first team in the NL to reach the 50-win mark this season.

Pederson’s solo blast made it 16 games in a row that the Dodgers have hit a home run.  It’s the first time the Dodgers have reach that mark since 1960.

Corey Seager sat this one out for the Dodgers after injuring his hamstring on Friday night.  LA is hoping to avoid putting him on the DL, but he is expected to miss 3-4 starts.

The Dodgers will go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon.  Brandon McCarthy (6-3, 2.87 ERA) is on the hill for The Boys In Blue.  Tyler Anderson (3-5, 5.75 ERA) gets the start for the Rockies.

Kings Draft Vilardi & Ducks Re-Sign Eaves

June 23, 2017

The Kings took steps toward helping their offensive woes on Friday by drafting Gabe Vilardi with the #11 pick in the NHL Draft.

Vilardi is a 6’3, 203 LB center from Kingston, Canada.  Last season he scored 29 goals and 61 points in 49 games for the Windsor Spitfires in the Ontario Hockey League.

The 17-year-old was rated as high as the fourth best player in the draft according to some publications, but fell out of the top 10 due to some of his perceived skating deficiencies.  However, the Kings were impressed with Vilardi’s big game abilities.  He impressed them with seven assists in Windsor’s four-game victory over Erie in the Memorial Cup final.

“We found that on the biggest stage, he took it to another level,” Kings assistant general manager Michael Futa said of Vilardi. “We were looking to upgrade our skill, and it’s a package of a big kid with just incredible skill set and he’s a winner.”

Vilardi will attend the Kings development came in El Segundo next week.  Although he will likely not be a part of the Kings roster this upcoming season, some are projecting him to be a part of the Kings team by the 2018-2019 season.

Meanwhile, the Ducks did not have a 1st round pick in Friday’s 1st round.  However, they re-signed winger Patrick Eaves, who they acquired from the Dallas Stars for what turned into this year’s first round pick after advancing to the Western Conference Finals.

Eaves signed a 3-year $9.45 million contract with Anaheim.  He scored 11 goals in 20 regular season games following the trade to Anaheim.  He also added two goals in seven playoff games.  However, he suffered an ankle injury during the 2nd round against Edmonton, knocking him out of the remainder of playoff action.

His contract includes a no-movement clause as well.  Eaves would have been an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, but liked what he saw in Anaheim.

“Being in that locker room is something special. I noticed that on day one,” said Eaves.   “I’ve played with great players, great people …There was something different.”

Rounds 2 through 7 of the NHL draft will commence on Saturday at the United Center in Chicago.

Red Sox Rough Up Angels

June 23, 2017

Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon each hit two-run homers, as the Red Sox crushed the Angels 9-4 on Friday night at Fenway Park.  The Red Sox honored legend David Ortiz before the game, retiring Big Papi’s number 34.

It was a rough night for Angel starter Alex Meyer (3-4), who took the loss.  Meyer lasted just 3 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on five hits.

The Angel bullpen didn’t fare much better.  Eduardo Paredes gave up two runs in a little more than two innings of work.  Jose Alvarez also gave up two runs.

Boston jumped in front 3-0 in the 1st inning, highlighted by a Xander Bogaerts RBI double,  Meyer uncorked a pair of wild pitches after that, allowing the Sox two add two more runs.

After Ramirez two-run blast in the 4th inning, the Red Sox had built a 5-1 lead.  Meyer was critical of his own performance afterward.

“It’s unacceptable,” he said.  “You can’t go out there and put two guys on basically before the game starts.”

After Leon made it 7-1, the Angels got three runs back in the 7th.  Martin Maldonado sparked the rally with an RBI triple, followed by RBI doubles from Cliff Pennington and Kole Calhoun.  That’s all the Halos would though.

Leon capped the scoring for the Sox with an RBI double in the 8th inning.  That was all Red Sox starter Rick Porcello needed.

Porcello (4-9) got the win and pitched 6 1/3 innings.  His final line was four runs on eight hits, while striking out eight.

The Angels and Red Sox will be back at it on Saturday night at Fenway.  JC Ramirez (6-5, 4.59 ERA) goes for the Halos.  David Price (2-1, 5.14 ERA) will be on the mound for Boston.

Dodgers Handle Rockies

June 23, 2017

Alex Wood pitched another six solid innings to improve to 8-0 on the season, as the Dodgers beat up the Rockies 6-1 on Friday night at the Ravine.

Wood allowed just one run on three hits, while striking out seven batters.  He walked just two in his 98-pitch outing.

“We’re really rolling right now,” Wood said.  “It’s going to be tough for anyone to come in here right now.”

Wood did not allow a hit after the 2nd inning.  He retired the last ten batters he faced while lowering his ERA to 1.86.

Yasiel Puig his a solo homer off of Rockies’ starter Kyle Freeland in the 4th inning.  That gave LA home runs in 15 consecutive games, which is the fourth-longest streak in club history.  Their record is 24 from the 1977 season.

The Dodgers did most of their damage during the first two innings.  Cody Bellinger’s sacrifice fly and Corey Seager’s RBI single gave the Dodgers their first two runs.  Justin Turner delivered a run-scoring single, and Bellinger added an RBI double in the 2nd, and it was 4-1 LA.

The only bad news for LA was that Seager left the game after scoring in the second inning with a right hamstring injury.  The Dodgers are hoping it was just a cramp, however, skipper Dave Roberts said Seager was unlikely to play on Saturday.

The Rockies only run of the game came on an RBI double from Tom Murphy in the 1st inning.  Left-fielder Franklin Gutierrez reacted slowly trying to cut off Murphy’s hit, allowing the ball to roll by him for the double, which scored Raimel Tapia from first base.

Freeland (8-5) took the loss after giving up 5 runs on 10 hits on the night.  He pitched six innings and made 110 pitches.

The Dodgers have won 14 of their last 15 games, and have opened up a 2.5 game lead on the Rockies and D’Backs in the NL West.

The Dodgers and Rockies will do it again on Saturday night at the Ravine.  Clayton Kershaw (10-2, 2.61 ERA) is on the mound for LA. The Rockies counter with Tyler Chatwood (6-7, 4.08 ERA).

Lakers Ready To Ball

June 22, 2017

The Lakers drafted UCLA and former Chino Hills High School point guard Lonzo Ball on Thursday night with the 2nd pick in the NBA draft.

Since the Lakers are run by the greatest point guard of all-time, Ball gave respect to the Laker legend after being selected.

“He’s one of the best to ever do it, and I can’t — there’s never going to be another Magic Johnson,” Ball said. “So I’m trying to be myself, but if I can come halfway short of him, you know it’s going to be good.”

Ball, 19, was one of three UCLA players drafted on Thursday night.  The others were TJ Leaf, who was selected 18th overall by Indiana.  Ike Anigbogu also went to the Pacers with the 47th pick.

Ball is known for his unselfishness and playmaking ability.  Those intangibles are what coach Luke Walton really liked.

“When he’s on the floor, all four guys out there with him become better instantly,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “That’s a quality trait that not many people have. The great ones all have it. I hope by the way he plays, everyone else on our team becomes better.’’

The Lakers also selected I selected Utah forward Kyle Kuzma with the 27th pick, which they received  earlier in the week from Brooklyn.

LA then traded the 28th pick, which they originally received from Houston, to Utah.  In exchange, the Lakers received the 30th and 42nd pick.  They took Villanova guard Josh Hart with the 30th pick and Indiana center Thomas Bryant with the 42nd pick.

And so the Ball era begins in LA…….

 

Dodgers Sweep Mets

June 22, 2017

The Dodgers hit three more home runs on Thursday night, defeating the Mets 6-3 at Chavez Ravine.  The win completed a four-game sweep over New York.

Justin Turner, Kike Hernandez, and Joc Pederson all hit homers.  Pederson’s homer was the go-ahead blow in the 7th inning.

The Dodgers hit a club-record 15 homers in the series.   It was also the most the Mets have allowed in a four-game series.

Curtis Granderson and Travis d’Arnaud homered for the Mets, who have lost seven of their last eight games.

The Dodgers have won seven consecutive games and 13 of their last 14. Kenley Jansen pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and got the final four outs for his 16th save. It was his sixth four-out save of the season.

Pedro Baez (1-0) got credit for the win.  He had just his third career plate appearance, and drew a bases-loaded walk that gave LA a 5-3 lead.

LA improved to 48-26 on the season, the best record in the NL, and 1.5 games ahead of Arizona and Colorado in the NL West.

The Dodgers will now host the Rockies for a big 3-game series at the Ravine beginning Friday night. Alex Wood (7-0, 1.90 ERA) will be on the mound for LA.  Kyle Freeland (8-4, 3.42 ERA) is scheduled to go for Colorado.