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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pickoff Moves, Lunchtime Edition

The Wood Who Wasn't There

In the last 48 hours we've had articles from Steve Bisheff and Rob Neyer (really, Bisheff's article with Neyer — a not-so-closeted A's fan — applauding) talking about Brandon Wood's surprising non-presence in the LAAnaheim lineup. One game is not enough to determine whether a player is or should be on a given day's lineup card, but I do have a question that neither of them asked, and that is: considering Jered Weaver is an extreme flyball pitcher (his career G/F factor is 0.53), why wasn't Wood manning short last night? If there were an ideal moment for him to get a shot where his allegedly suspect defense at short — or even third — would be only a minimal factor, this would have been it. I'm not ready to break out the pitchfork and torches, but it does seem odd, doesn't it?

Dodgers Streak Ends At Eight: Astros 8, Dodgers 5

Clayton Kershaw clanked one, giving up six runs over 4.1 very shaky innings, and the Dodgers' magic carpet ride comes to a skidding stop. That included a Carlos Lee homer that positively got Charley Steiner apoplectic with its majesty and distance; I forget where I saw it lately, but the Bull Durham quote ("anything travels that far oughta have a damn stewardess on it") seemed apropos.

If there were doubts that Russ Ortiz might have something left after a fairly brutal three-run first, they were erased when he failed to allow any more runs through four more frames. He's probably going to end his career soon, but it's good to see a guy who's struggled as much as he has recover just a little.

The best part of the game for the Dodgers was probably loading the bases in the ninth; along the way, Jose Valverde got hit in the shin with a batted ball, and this space sincerely hopes for his speedy recovery. That's gotta hurt.

Yahoo boxDodgers recap

Angels Name Matt Palmer Thursday Starter

Good grief, I was wondering whether this was Coach Weathers and Cal State Long Beach. Interesting note on the 30-year-old righty's minor league career: all of a sudden he started striking guys out last year in the Giants organization at AAA Fresno as a starter at about double his career rate (9.0 K/9 in 2008 over 142 IP). Here's a three-year-old scouting report from Baseball America; he was an all-star as a closer in 2003, but then ...
Arm injuries forced him to spend most of last season rehabbing at the club's minor league complex in Arizona, but Palmer still entered this year sporting an impressive career 2.59 ERA. And he opened the eyes of club officials when he got an opportunity to move into the rotation at Double-A Connecticut.

Filling a spot vacated by Jonathan Sanchez, Palmer was 5-3, 1.30 in 15 games, including nine starts, and his ERA led the Eastern League when he was promoted to Triple-A Fresno. He had struck out 51 batters against just 10 walks in 62 innings.

The 28-year-old was a 31st-round selection out of Southwest Missouri State in 2002 and sparkled in his pro debut. He had a 1.84 ERA at short-season Salem-Keizer and then had a 1.20 ERA in 44 games at Hagerstown while chalking up 25 saves.

But he still had plenty to learn.

"He was a hard thrower but he would try to muscle it," farm director Jack Hiatt said. "In muscling, he lost velocity. He was always in deep counts. We really had to keep an eye on his pitch counts.

"As he's gained his experience, he's developed a pretty good breaking ball and a changeup to boot. He is throwing 85-90 percent. It's allowed his fastball to explode."

Overdue: Trevor Reckling Makes Prospect Hot Sheet

Last Friday, clocking in at #8:

Team: high Class A Rancho Cucamonga (Angels)
Age: 19
Why he's here: 1-1, 0.75, 12.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 13 Ks
The Scoop: An eighth-round pick in 2007 out of Newark, N.J., Reckling jumped to BA's No. 4 Angels prospect after winning 10 games in the low Class A Midwest League and showing three pitches that graded better than average. It looks like he's picked up where he left off, only now he's dealing in the hitter friendly high Class A California League and doing so as he works on throwing arm-side away (he loves pitching inside). So far, he's stretched both of his starts to six innings, taking the loss Tuesday despite allowing just one earned run—on Collin Cowgill's first-inning homer for Visalia (Diamondbacks).

Keith Olbermann To Join MLBAM, Donate Salary To Charity

Via BTF, MLBAM has hired Keith Olbermann to write an at-large column; he will donate his at-large salary to three different charities.
At his request, Olbermann’s full salary for his work as an at-large columnist will be split equally among three charitable organizations. They will be: the Baseball Assistance Team, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and the Jayden Braden/Ariana Marzano College Fund, established in support of the late John Marzano’s grandchildren. Marzano, a former Major Leaguer and MLB.com host, died just over one year ago in a home accident in Philadelphia.

MILB To Lease Dodgertown

MILB will lease Dodgertown:
Minor League Baseball was set to announce today that it has reached a memorandum of understanding with Indian River County and the city of Vero Beach to lease and operate the Dodgertown spring training complex, which was left vacant this year for the first time since opening in 1948 after the Dodgers relocated to a new spring home outside Phoenix. MILB plans to take over in May and provide a year-round facility for tournaments, clinics and non-baseball events; attracting Northern teams to Florida for spring break trips is a central part of their business plan.

"This is a great opportunity for Minor League Baseball," MILB president Pat O'Conner said. "This moves the organization to another level. And we're excited about the prospects of working in Vero in such an historic facility.

"In the spring there is a tremendous influx of teams from the Northeast corridor wanting to come to Florida . . . It's an ideal place for colleges to set up shop."

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