One of the fun things about going to a major league baseball game in person is getting there early to watch batting practice. Guys are in the box getting swing after swing, and hit after hit, all over the field. You were spared the expense of a ticket and beating the traffic to see that on Sunday. All you had to do was watch Jim Johnson pitch against the Pirates.
Johnson was one of a gaggle of players acquired by the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-way, 13 player deal with the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins. L.A. also got starting pitchers Mat Latos and Alex Wood, and reliever Luis Avilan along with Johnson, and 21 year-old infielder Jose Peraza, who made his major league debut tonight after Howie Kendrick went down with a hamstring injury yesterday. The Dodgers gave up 30 year-old Cuban phenom Hector Olivera, who has yet to make his major league debut, and lefty and shaky reliever Paco Rodriguez.
This, on paper, looks like a steal for the Dodgers, with the exception of Johnson, who you had to wonder what the LA ownership was thinking when he was part of the mix. Did Atlanta demand that the Dodgers take him, or did the Los Angeles brain trust really want the guy.
If you are right handed, stand up with your hands near your shoulders. Then jerk your head back quickly and look behind you. Do that about eight times, and you'll know what it feels like to be Jim Johnson. He was charged with 8 runs on 6 hits in two-thirds of an inning Sunday, and turned what was a Dodger lead and a close ball game into a Pirate blowout. Of course Dodger manager Don Mattingly left him in there. Maybe the skipper didn't get to watch batting practice before the game either.
It wasn't just one bad outing on Sunday. Since coming over from Atlanta, Johnson has been in four games, and has given up at least one run each time. He was charged with the loss both Saturday and Sunday in Pittsburgh, managed to get credit with a hold despite giving up 2 runs in Philadelphia, and had a no-decision allowing one run in one inning in his Dodger debut against the Angels.
It's hard to believe this is the same guy who had back-to-back 50 save seasons with Baltimore in 2012 and 2013. Since then, he has pitched for Detroit, Oakland, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. His earned run average was under seven with the Tigers, 7.14 with the Athletics, a respectable 2.25 as a Brave, but a whopping 29.45 in Dodger blue. So much for saving the bullpen.
As far as the rest of the Dodger newbies go, Wood is 0-1 with a 5.56 ERA in two starts, Latos 0-1, 6.30 in two starts, Avilan one run on two hits in three innings, and Peraza tripled and walked in his big league debut tonight. The Dodgers were much more grandiose in their deal-making than predicted here (Joakim Soria went to Pittsburgh and Yovani Gallardo stayed put in Texas), but the megadeal has yet to pay dividends. At least the Giants are having their own problems, and the Dodgers still have a 2½-game lead. For now.
We're not talking pastry: Add another Gold Sox opponent that has made it to the major leagues. Kyle Barraclough (pronounced BEAR-uh-claw) pitched a scoreless eighth inning with a strikeout Friday for Miami in a 6-3 loss to Atlanta. The six-foot-three, 225 pound right hander out of St. Mary's became the first player in the five year history of the Neptune Beach Pearl to make it to the bigs, and is one of about a dozen Gold Sox opponents (Joc Pederson, C.J. Cron, Matt Garza, and Doug Fister to name a few) that got to the show. Barraclough beat the Gold Sox in 2011, allowing two unearned runs in six innings, and struck out seven.
Cody hits DL: After Gold Sox alumnus Cody Anderson's fantastic debut with the Cleveland Indians, he has struggled of late and found himself on the disabled list. After going 2-1 with a 0.89 ERA in his first four starts, Anderson was knocked around by Kansas City, Oakland, and Minnesota. While you can't be put on the DL with an inflamed ERA, they are calling it an oblique strain.
F in Journalism: ESPN's Buster Olney is as knowledgeable as they come, but it was just plain irresponsible of him Sunday to suggest the Dodgers would be interested in Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. Olney admitted he was speculating during the Sunday night Dodgers-Pirates game, but the report came just seconds after Howie Kendrick left the game with an apparent hamstring injury. With absolutely no idea if Kendrick would go on the DL (he did today) or how long he would be out, Olney started a trade rumor that had absolutely no basis. That's what Twitter is for, not television.