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Dodger Baseball

Big Newk

Long before Nuke LaLoosh came along, the Dodgers had a Newk of their own. Don Newcombe. Newcombe would be the third Black player to pitch in the major leagues, following Don Bankhead and Satchel Paige. He would be infinitely more successful than either at the major league level.

“What I have done after my baseball career, being able to help people with their lives-means more to me than all the things I did in baseball- Don Newcombe.

One of my favorite quotes from any ballplayer. Don was born on June 14, 1926, to Roland and Sadie Newcombe in Madison, New Jersey. Newk and I share birthdays, 22 years apart! His dad was a chauffeur for a wealthy family. He had three brothers, Harold, Norman and Roland Jr. His sister, Dolly, died when she was 8.

His father was also adept at making beer. Don and his brothers shared this beer around the time Don was 8 years old. Don witnessed several arguments between his parents and by the time he was 13 he was leaving the house, getting his own beer and hanging out with his friends.

During the 30’s, his dad would often take the boys to Newark where they would pay 25 cents to sit in the bleachers and watch either the Newark Eagles, of the Negro National League, or the Newark Bears, the Yankees AAA team. Both teams shared Ruppert Stadium.

His favorite player at the time was Bears outfielder Don Seeds, a well-traveled veteran who played for five teams in 9 years in the majors. Four in the AL, Yanks, Indians, Red Sox and White Sox and three seasons with the Giants.

But one player stood out, and everybody knew him, Satchel Paige. Satchel was a legend.

Eventually the Newcombes’ moved to Elizabeth, New Jersey. Don excelled at age 14 for the Lafayette Junior High School. His coach was hesitant to let him pitch due to lack of talent.

Later on when Don entered Jefferson High School in Elizabeth, he began playing semi-pro baseball for the Roselle Stars because his high school did not have a baseball team.

Johnny Grier, Don’s next door neighbor, had a tremendous influence on Don. He was maybe 12 years older. He taught Newcombe his windmill windup and high leg kick he would use in his career. He also kept Don out of a lot of trouble.

By the age of 15, Newcombe was 6 feet tall and 200 pounds. He was sitting in a barroom having a beer when he heard about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Already grown up, but underage, he falsified his date of birth to enlist in the U.S. Army in 1942. When military personnel realized he was underage, they called his father to come pick him up.

Because of the segregation that existed in MLB, Roland envisioned Don as being the next Joe Louis, not the next Dizzy Dean. But Don told his father he did not want to fight because he did not want to get punched in the face.

In December, of 1943, Don was playing checkers at Pryor’s Barbershop when he met Buddy Holler, and acquaintance of Abe Manley, who owned the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League.

Two months later, Holler drove Newcombe to the Manley residence, where he was introduced to Effa Manley, the owner’s wife, co-owner of the team, and the team’s business manager. Impressed by his size alone, Abe took him with him the next morning to the team’s training facility in Richmond Virginia.

Newcombe dropped out of high school his junior year to pursue baseball as a full time job. He was making 170 dollars a month. His pro debut came on May 14, 1944, at Ruppert Stadium in relief.

In one game, facing the Baltimore Elite Giants, Roy Campanella came to the plate. Don’s manager, Mule Settles, ordered Newcombe to knock him down.

” I threw the ball high, but I didn’t get it high enough and Campy hit it out of the park.”

It was a dubious beginning to a lifelong friendship.

They would meet again in October of 1945 when an exhibition series was played at Ebbets Field that featured white major leaguers against Negro League players. They impressed Rickey enough to be considered for his second wave of integration. Actually both had already been scouted extensively.

Campy was considered MLB ready, but Newcombe was far from the best pitcher in the Negro Leagues. His talent was very raw. Rickey signed him anyway because he was young, big and had the natural ability to get himself to the majors.

His signing embittered Effa Manley. She never got compensation for the young pitcher.

“The Dodgers don’t deserve to win for what they did to Negro baseball”, she would say years later.

With the 1946 season looming, the Dodgers had to find a team willing to take both Campy and Newk. They had been scheduled to report to Danville, of the Three-I-League, but the league president, Tom Fairweather, reportedly said, “I would rather close the league down than integrate it.”

Desperate, Rickey contacted Buzzie Bavasi, GM of the Nashua Dodgers of the New England League.

“If they can play ball better than what we have, I don’t care what color they are.”

Rickey had not prepared Campanella and Newcombe for what they would face as he had Robinson. So they met with Robinson in New York in secret and he explained to them what they would be facing.

During the season, they kept in contact with Robbie.

” We’re being depended upon by black people all over the world, we cannot afford to fail.”, Newcombe would remember Robinson saying.

Newcombe got married in late 1945 and he and his wife, Freddie, joined Campy and his wife in Nashua New Hampshire. They were reportedly the only black people in town. Rickey did not advise the manager of Nashua, Walter Alston, that they were coming. Alston took it in stride.

” I didn’t think much about it, after I had seen them play a few games, I was glad they were on our team.”

Campy, a 9 year Negro League veteran, had a calming effect on the young, temperamental and somewhat insecure Newcombe. He pitched a shutout in his Nashua debut and won his first four starts.

Besides pitching and driving the bus, Newcombe showed enough ability with the bat that some thought he would switch positions eventually. Swinging from the left side, he became Alston’s most reliable pinch hitter.

Nashua started slow. By mid-June they were 13 games behind the league leading Lyn Red Sox. By early August, Newk was 8-3 with an impressive, .349 batting average. With Campy and Newk leading the way down the stretch, they made the playoffs.

Newk threw a shutout in game three to lead a sweep of Pawtucket. They went on to beat Lynn in six games to win the league championship. Newcombe won game five.

Rickey moved the Dodgers spring training to Havana, to avoid the Jim Crow laws in Florida in preparation for Robinson breaking into the league in 47.

Financially, it was a disaster. Travel costs, hotel accommodations, and flying MLB teams from Florida. Those were just the monetary problems. He booked the Dodgers into the luxurious Hotel National, and the Montreal Royals were housed at the new Havana Military Academy.

But to avoid racial tension, he segregated Newcombe, Robinson, Campy and Roy Parlow, to a musty, third rate hotel. Robinson was furious. To make matters worse, the players were given meal tickets to use in Havana’s less than sanitary restaurants.

Newcombe recalled eating a bowl of soup in a restaurant next to the hotel. As he stirred the soup, a cockroach crawled out of it. Newcombe threw up everything all over himself and the counter. Weakened by the deplorable conditions, he lost 35 pounds, he was sent back to Nashua to work on his control. Robbie went to Brooklyn, and Campanella was promoted to Montreal.

In 1948, Campy was promoted to Brooklyn, and Newk went to Montreal. He improved greatly at AAA with a 17-3 record. He also threw his only professional no-hitter. Montreal manager Clay Hopper referred to him as the next Dizzy Dean.

He eked out a win in game one of the playoffs. Staked to a 4-0 lead, with 2 outs in the top of the 9th, he gave up a three-run triple to Rocky Bridges before he got the last out.

In game four, he took the loss, 1-0. The only run scored on a fielder’s choice by first baseman Chuck Connors. Yep, the Rifleman. Newcombe continued his dominance in the round in game 7. Locked in a 0-0 pitcher’s duel, Montreal got a 3-run homer from league MVP, Jimmy Bloodworth to advance them to the Governor’s Cup against the Syracuse Chiefs.

The Royals won the series in five games and Newk notched a win in game three. When St. Paul defeated Columbus, it set up a Junior World Series featuring both of the Dodgers AAA teams. St. Paul and Montreal.

St. Paul’s manager, Alston, knew all about Newcombe, having managed him the prior two seasons. He and Hopper were vying for the Dodgers manager job since during the 48 season, Durocher had been let out of his Dodger contract so he could manage the Giants. Burt Shotton had managed the team in 47 and finished up for Durocher in 48.

Both Rickey and co-owner Walter O’Malley were in attendance. The Royals would go on to win the series in five games. But neither Hopper nor Alston got the manager’s job. Shotton was brought back for the 1949 season.

Newk was certain he would be heading north with the Dodgers in 49, but saying he was not mature enough, the Dodgers sent him back to Montreal. Instead he went home and had to be convinced by his wife to return to the Royals. Shotton said he was a fire-eater who couldn’t keep his mouth shut.

But the Dodgers were floundering by May, and Shotton had no choice but to accept Newcombe’s promotion.

He struck out the first hitter he faced in his debut on May 20th against the Cardinals. But then he got knocked around a little. He made his first start on the 22nd and shut out the Reds. He was selected to play in the only All-Star game played in Brooklyn. He ended up with 17 wins, led the league in shutouts, 5 and almost led the league in strikeouts, finishing two behind the leader, Warren Spahn, who pitched 58 more innings. He was named the NL ROY, the second Dodger to do so. Robinson was the first.

During his rookie season, Don received a lot of encouragement from Robinson and Campanella.

” Jackie knew rattling Don’s cage a little made him better, Campy was the calming factor.” Carl Erskine later said.

The Dodgers were locked in a tight pennant race with the Cardinals. Newcombe went 8-5 over the last two months. Four of his wins were shutouts. Finally, on the last day of the season, they needed to beat the Phillies the final game of the season to win the pennant. They turned to Newcombe.

Staked to a 5-0 lead, in the 4th he gave up a three-run homer to Puddin Head Jones. A double and a single later, he was removed in favor of Russ Meyer. The Phillies would tie the game, but the Dodgers won 9-7 in 10 innings. When the Yankees clinched the AL pennant beating the Red Sox 5-3 that afternoon, it marked the first time that the pennant had been clinched on the last day in both leagues.

Newcombe pitched the opener on two-days rest. He lost the game, 1-0 on a homer by Tommy Henrich in the ninth. It was later discovered that he pitched the game with an ingrown toenail. He pitched in game four, but was ineffective. The Dodgers lost the series in 5 games. The only win was a 1-0 gem by Preacher Roe.

Don took his $4,272.74 World Series share and made a down payment on a house in Colonia, New Jersey. He also joined the volunteer fire department and refereed wrestling matches during the off-season.

Newcombe was a heavy lifter for Brooklyn in 1950. He started 40 games and would complete 20 of them. Five of those came as the Dodgers battled the Phillies down the stretch. The Phils had a 9 game lead with two weeks left. The Dodgers had whittled that to two when the Phils came to Ebbets on the 30th. If they won the final two games, they would force a playoff.

They won the first one, 7-3. The Phils started Ace, Robin Roberts, and the Dodgers countered with Newcombe. Both had 19 wins and were trying to win 20 for the first time. Brooklyn had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the 9th. Abrams walked, then Reese hit a single. Snider then hit a sharp single to center, and the slow footed Abrams was out at the plate. With one out both Hodges and Furillo failed to get the runner home. Newcombe gave up a three-run homer to Dick Sisler, yep, Hall of Famer Georges boy, and the Phils won the pennant.

There were some big changes in Brooklyn after the 1950 season. O’Malley refused to extend Rickey’s contract and bought him out. He also questioned Shotton’s use of Newcombe in the last game of the year. He took over the team and named Charlie Dressen as manager. Dressen, who had been a coach under Durocher, badly wanted to beat his former boss.

Newk won his 20 games in 1951. He went 20-9 with a 3.28 ERA. He led the league in strikeouts. He also made the All-Star team for the third straight year. His biggest start came in the last game of the 51 playoffs at the Polo Grounds. He left the game leading 4-2 with 2 runners on in the 9th. Branca came in, and we all know what happened next.

I used to think that after reading about this game that Newcombe just could not win the big ones. But then when I did the research, I found out that Newcombe, when he came off of the mound in the 7th inning told Dressen his arm was dead. But he still went back out for the 8th inning and got the Giants out.

At that point with Newcombe due to bat in the 9th, Dressen should have had someone up in the pen and he should have hit for Newcombe. But he allowed him to hit and then sent him back out for the wolves to feast on in the 9th.

That was his last game for the next two seasons. He was inducted into the Army in February and would not return until the 1954 season.

When he did return, he had a new manager, Walter Alston had replaced Dressen. Don showed some rust in 54 finishing with a 9-8 record. The Dodgers finished 30 games over .500, but were still 5 games behind the Giants.

As the 1955 season started, Alston was relying on Podres, Erskine, Meyer and Loes. Newcombe was not as dominant as Alston had remembered, so he was used sparingly.

Frustrated, he walked into Alston’s office and said play me or trade me. Alston pointed to the calendar and said he would pitch May 6th against the Phillies.

But the day before the game, he was told to pitch batting practice by Joe Becker. Infuriated, he went into Alston’s office again. He was told to take off his uniform and go home if he did not like it, and that is exactly what he did.

When he got home, he received a telegram from GM Buzzie Bavasi telling him he was suspended and fined. He called Bavasi and they finally agreed the suspension would be lifted, but he paid a 350.00 fine for leaving the team.

He did not start the game on the 6th, but pitched two innings of relief to get his 3rd win. All was forgiven after his next start on the 10th at Wrigley. He faced the minimum 27 batters and threw a one-hit shutout at the Cubs. That kick started his season.

Newk went on to post a 20-5, 3.20 ERA season. The Dodgers won the pennant going away, and went to meet the Yankees for the third time in four years in the World Series.

Newk would start the first game of the series against Yankee Ace, Whitey Ford. He took the loss, 6-5. He gave up all five runs in 5.2 innings. It would be his only appearance in the series.

Newk had contracted a virus in September that limited him to two innings of work over the next two weeks. Unknown to many, Newk said he did something to his arm when he came back at the end of September.

His wife had to put hot compresses on his arm the night before the first game. Alston knew it and that is why he did not pitch him after the first game.

Brooklyn lost the first two at Yankee Stadium, swept three in Ebbets Field and lost game six at Yankee Stadium. Podres beat the Yanks 2-0 in game seven and the Dodgers had their first ever Championship.

Newk and his wife adopted two children after the World Series. Newk would have a career year in 56. He won 27 games, lost 7 and won the inaugural Cy Young Award. He was also named the league MVP. But funny, he did not make the All-Star team.

The Dodgers were locked in a tight race with Milwaukee, so sometimes he was pitching on two-days’ rest. When Sandy Amoros dropped a fly ball that led to a three-run inning, Newcombe exploded when he came back to the dugout and yelled at Alston to get someone out there who could catch the damn ball. Carl Furillo took exception and stood up for the diminutive outfielder.

The next day, Robinson corralled Newcombe into apologizing. The Dodgers won the pennant on the final day when Newcombe pitched 7.1 innings against the Pirates, but Amoros’ two homers made the difference.

Back in the series against the Yankees, Newcombe started game two and it wasn’t good as Yogi Berra’s grand slam drove him from the game in the second inning. He left the park before the game was over and assaulted Michael Brown, a parking lot attendant at Ebbets Field. The Dodgers came back to win the game and go up, 2-0.

The Yankees flipped the script from 55 and won the next three at Yankee Stadium. A brilliant 1-0 win by Clem Labine in game six set up the showdown at Ebbets with Newcombe facing Kucks. Newk lasted three innings. He gave up two two-run homers to Berra and a solo shot to Elston Howard. He left the park before the game was over, and the Yanks cruised 9-0.

After the series, the Dodgers went on a 19-game barnstorming tour to Japan. When they returned, Newk was named the MVP and the Cy Young winner. That winter, Jackie Robinson was traded, but then retired and joined Chock full O Nuts.

The 1957 season was bad for all concerned. The news was out that the Dodgers were considering leaving Brooklyn. Attendance plummeted. Newcombe was making more news off the field than on. After pitching a five hit shutout over the Reds on August 21, he was driving his father home to Colonia when he hit 4-year old John Chase with his car.

Then in November, he and two of his brothers were accused of assaulting Ulysses Ross, a former East Orange policeman at Newcombe’s Newark tavern.

Coming off of an 11-12 season, the Dodgers patience with their former Ace was wearing off. The team made the move official and became the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 1958 season. O’Malley had convinced Horace Stoneham, who owned the Giants, to move west with him. The Giants were now the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants would play at Seals Stadium which used to be the home of the Seals PCL AAA team. LA would play their games in a converted football stadium, the LA coliseum.

The other really bad news at the end of the year was the car accident that left Roy Campanella paralyzed. Newcombe’s marriage was crumbling with all of the legal problems. He left his wife and two adopted children.

Without Robbie and Campy there to guide him, Newcombe started the 58 season, 0-6. He also started dating Billie Roberts, a well-educated, UCLA woman.

With the team now in Los Angeles, air travel became standard for trips back east. This presented another problem for Newcombe who had developed a fear of flying after witnessing a plane crash in Elizabeth. He eventually conquered his fear through hypnotherapy enough to get a pilot’s license. But rumor had it he relied more on whiskey and vodka.

The Dodgers had had enough of the big righthander and traded him to the Reds on the 15th of June for Johnny Klippstein and Steve Bilko. Newk went 7-7 for the Reds.

He had a resurgence in 1959, going 13-8 record for the 5th place Reds. He led the team in most pitching stats. During spring training in 1960, the Newcombe’s were granted a divorce in Juarez, Mexico. His wife got custody of their two children.  A week later he married Billie.

About this time, Newk, who weighed around 240, pulled a muscle in his right thigh. Manager Fred Hutchinson told him to stay off his feet for a couple of days. While he was recovering, he began taking diet pills to get some of the weight off his leg.

He was well enough to pinch hit on opening day, but it was pretty obvious he was not the same pitcher as the year before. He won four games in 15 starts. He also had his wrist injured when he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Bill Virdon.

On the 29th of July, he was sold to the Cleveland Indians and was used only out of the bullpen. His last MLB game was October 1st, 1960.

After his release, Bavasi signed him to play for the Dodgers AAA affiliate in Spokane. He played with Larry Doby and the Chunichi Dragons in 1962, mainly as a first baseman. .262 with 12 homers.

His final line as a major leaguer was 153-96 with a 3.57 ERA. He hit .268 as a big leaguer with 15 homers. Including 7 in one season. A mark later tied by Don Drysdale.

123 of his wins came as a Dodger. 4 were in the Negro Leagues. Throughout his career, Don was known to have taken some drinks, but it wasn’t until after his career that the full story of his alcoholism was revealed.

Some teammates were surprised by his admission, but those who had known him well took the brunt of it. He confessed that for many years he had been a wife abusing, child frightening falling down drunk. It helps explain the lack of prudence he showed.

In 1965 it came to a head. He was so desperate for money for his drinking that he pawned his 55 ring and an expensive watch. Both were later bought and returned to him by Peter O’Malley, who by then was the Dodgers vice president.

It was not until his second wife threatened to leave him and take their son Don Jr., that he finally quit drinking. The couple would have two more children.

In 1976, he formed Don Newcombe enterprises, a personal-services company and became a staunch advocate for recognizing alcohol abuse.

In 1970, he became the Director of Community Services by the Dodgers and was still at that post in 2017. As a recovering alcoholic, he started the Dodgers Drug and Alcoholic Awareness Program.

He became a consultant for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. After 30 years of marriage, Billie and Don divorced. He appeared onscreen in 1990 in the production of Pastime. A depiction of life in the minors. It was of note for the ever so brief cameos of Newk, Duke Snider, Ernie Banks, Bill Mazeroski, Harmon Killebrew and Bob Feller.

All of those guys are in the Hall except Don. He reflected later on what might have been.

” Alcohol took its toll, I was only 34 but my body was shot. I think I could have pitched six or seven more years. I would have liked to have made the Hall where I think I belong.”

Newk passed away at the age of 92 on February 19th, 2019.

Over the last several years of his life, Newk was a familiar figure to the fans and the players alike at Dodger Stadium. He had a great relationship with the new owners and the players. He has been greatly missed.

 

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Duke Not Snider

Newk was one of those guys who might have been a two-day player. A shame that he wasted his talent like that, burning bright and then gone.

Oldbear48

I also think his managers overused him early in his career. Having had an alcoholic parent, I know the toll that can take on a person. Some of that behavior has to be placed on his father for allowing his boys to drink at such a young age.

Badger

I had a friend that was smoking pot with his 12 year old daughter. He was a great guy, tremendous softball player, made the Shasta College Hall of Fame as a baseball player, but his parenting skills were non-existent. There is no license required to become a parent.

Newk had a long and productive life. He might have lived to 93 if he hadn’t drank so much.

Make mine Blue

So Margot was acquired in Dec and dismissed (traded) in February, I guess his official name in Dodgers’ stats should be listed “Marforgot”. Good move, I’ll take Kike any day over Marforgot.

I believe Outman is going to make some very good strides this season. He can now be placed down in the order (like 8th spot) and have less pressure , I think he is gifted enough and has shown the ability to learn quickly at whatever tasks have been placed before him. Last year he was a a rookie with loads of pressure put on him, this year he can work on his game. He will show he is not a 4th or 5th outfielder, as at least one person has repeatedly and fervently posted, funny shit.

Last edited 1 month ago by Make mine Blue
Bumsrap

The Dodgers will be better if Outman hits fifth or higher because that means he will be a stud.

Jeff

His 3 SO’s in today’s game says differently.

Oldbear48

Reports say the Yankees are still engaged in talks with Snell. Giants checking on several free agents. Looking forward to seeing Yamamoto on the mound today.

Jeff

Yamamoto seems just fine.

Oldbear48

On this day in 1966, Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale began their holdout. They asked for 1,000,000 dollars over three years to be divided equally between them. Question: How much money do you think they would get paid in todays’ market?
😍

Last edited 1 month ago by Oldbear48
Bluto

I didn’t know there was a mutual holdout!

What is the story there, Bear?

RHYME!

Solidarity!

Oldbear48

Koufax and Drysdale both felt they were not getting what they deserved. Koufax was the leader of the holdout. It started on February 28th and lasted until March 30th. Koufax had had some problems negotiating with the team, Bavasi was known to use players against each other. When he found out that Bavasi was doing the same thing with Big D, they got together and told the team they would only negotiate through Koufax’s business manager, J. William Hayes. The Dodgers then started a smear campaign against the players, painting them as greedy and selfish. The agent told them to not talk to the press. He was also getting ready to challenge the reserve clause under a California case law. That unnerved the front office fearing a lawsuit, and they softened their stance. Eventually both got bigger than normal raises, Koufax going from 100,000 to 125,000. Drysdale got 110,000. Koufax’s relationship with the Dodgers had soured during his negotiations for his 1964 contract. After his Cy Young and NL MVP season in 63, he asked for 75,000. He had made 35,000 in 63. Koufax also sought an attendance clause since he was the Dodgers biggest draw. Bavasi retorted with the fact that Sandy had not led the league in innings pitched. Koufax went ballistic since he had lead the league in almost all pitching stats while throwing the third most innings in the league. For the record, he led the league in wins, 25, shutouts, 11, pitched 311 innings and had a 1.88 ERA and 306 K’s. He eventually settled for 70,000. And oh yeah, he did all that with a sore arm.

Last edited 1 month ago by Oldbear48
Oldbear48

Steve Garvey’s daughter joins KNBC as the weekend sports anchor.

Watford Dodger

Jeff – I read what you wrote about the reason for Barnes battling 4th in ST, and you are spot on because he is hitting 4th again today.

I hadn’t thought of your rationale and it now makes perfect sense!
However, I do feel that we might regret not having a better back up catcher at some point during this season. I don’t buy the talk of all the Pitchers being happy to have him back there when the running game has become such a big part of today’s game again, and he is the worst of the bunch when it comes tho throwing runners out.
Its not as if he makes up for it with his bat.

Head scratcher for me, especially as we seem to be in Win Now mode, and have thrown a few dollars at winning the WS in 24. From what I have seen, none of the AAA guys are near to being ready. I know he’s well liked etc, but it seemed like a good time to move on, especially given that CK might not throw a pitch this season, and pitches just as well to Will.
Let’s hope Will stays fit.

Last edited 1 month ago by Watford Dodger
Jeff Dominique

Base stealers will tell you they steal off the pitcher. That does not mean that it would not help to have a better arm behind the dish. Not every team has a Gabriel Moreno. I acknolwedge that Barnes does not have even a decent arm. Just like strikeouts upset fans more than the Dodgers, IMO, that is the same as with SB. They would prefer to get the out of course, but they believe their pitchers will get them out of the inning. Last year they were 26th in SB/game against, and yet somehow they won 100 games. Smith has a better arm and pop time than Austin, and yet he has only thrown out 21.99% in his career (291 attempts), while Barnes has thrown out 19.61% in his career (255 attempts). BTW, Keibert Ruiz has thrown out only 19.11% (225 attempts).

The latest pitcher to applaud Barnes was Glasnow. He was smiling ear to ear when he said Barnesy was great. It is like we were one. I am certain he will say the same with Smith, but I think fans underestimate how important the catcher is for the pitcher. I know it is not 2020 anymore, but I continue to go back to Game 6 in the NLCS with Atlanta. After Buehler allowed 3 straight hits to load the basis in the 2nd inning, it was Barnes who went out and basically told him…don’t think, throw what I tell you and where I tell you. After the game, Buehler had said he put everything onto Barnes, and we know what happened.

“That’s where faith in his catcher comes into play. Buehler made the pitches he needed to get out of the bases-loaded jam in Game 6, but he said it was possible because of Austin Barnes”. “The way he was able to guide me through that inning was about as good as I’ve ever seen it,” Buehler said.

Outside of Victor Caratini, what backup catcher did the Dodgers miss out on this winter? The Dodgers were not going to guarantee a backup catcher $12MM for 2 years. Maybe it will be Okey.

Keith

I didn’t realize there was such a small difference between Barnes and Smith’s throwing out runners %. Less than two and a half percent is not really much to worry about. For me it’s hard to not root for the guy, and if Kershaw loves him, that’s good enough for me.

Phil Jones

Good stuff Bear. I was always so impressed by what a snappy dresser Newk was.
I got to see in person yesterday what everybody came to see, Ohtani’s first Dodger Home Run. Very cool moment and the fans were wild. He’s got some serious bat speed. He hit it oppo and didn’t get it all. It didn’t have that distinct “click” sound as it missed the barrel.It still went out. Nice to have the power to miss the barrel and still hit it out the other way. 
Ohtani is the ultimate rotational hitter. Like Bonds. No stride, stays back with a huge hip load to generate torque with explosive separation. He has “The anti Bellinger head move”.
Nice to see so many regulars in the lineup. 
After about 5 spring at bats vs LHP Heyward finally saw a RHP and got a knock. He’s hit the ball hard off lefties, to his credit.
Nice to see Treinen back after his issues. If he can find that slider. I could live with a back end with Treinen, Graterol and Phillips.
Bobby Miller sat at 96-97, all day. He got better as he went along. He’s maybe the best 3 guy in any rotation I can think of. Maddox, Glavin, Smoltz. Palmer, McNally, Dobson, Cuellar? 
Neither Stone nor especially Grove, looked very good yet. Grove needs work at OKC and doesn’t look confident to me.
I’m really starting to like the Jose Ramos kid. He’s having a very nice spring with his 1.636 OPS. At age 23, he may be he’s coming into his own. We’ll see if he starts in AA or gets a crack at OKC. I like his body and his game. Someone I plan to keep an eye on.
We are getting good looks at the group of Owings, Gauthier, Avon, Ward, Radio and Sweeney. Evans and Okey led the nice comeback win yesterday. Owings made an unnoticed fabulous play at third, knocking down poor decision back-pick throw from Okey. If that gets by him it’s a run and the game.
The Dodger’s organizational depth is outstanding and it shows up after the regulars leave. Tulsa and OKC should be well stocked.

Last edited 1 month ago by Phil Jones
Bumsrap

Do you have any thoughts about how Rojas’ smoothness would compare to Seager’s or Hernandez’?

Oldbear48

Thanks Phil, I love doing these. Working on one about Preacher Roe.

RC Dodger

I visited Camelback Ranch on Tuesday and had hoped to see Walker Buehler pitch against live hitters, but they did not allow public access. I was lucky enough to run into Rick Honeycutt later and asked him how Buehler threw. He said he threw well and was able to throw all his pitches and his fastball was 94-96. Rick was very positive about Walker and the entire pitching staff. Honeycutt is a very nice man with a ton of baseball knowledge. I am still confident that Buehler can be a great pitcher again. He has the competitive streak to excel in the postseason. I would not be surprised if he is the best pitcher on the team by the end of the year. 
Camelback Ranch is a treat for Dodger fans. In addition to talking to Honeycutt, I was watching live at bats right next to Honeycutt, Andrew Friedman and Brandon Gomes. They were watching prospects including a young lefty named Justin Wrobleski. He looked great to me, but most players look impressive in person to me. 
We were able to get a closeup view of infield and outfield practice. Kike even participated less than 24 hours after signing. Miguel Rojas is so smooth at SS with great hands and feet. Lux looked good as well, but not nearly as slick as Rojas. Max Muncy looked trim, and Vargas showed a good arm in LF.
The hype and attention for Ohtani is very evident at spring training. When he did baserunning drills 75% of the fans flocked to his field to get pictures. Players like Mookie, Freddie, Max, and Glasnow go almost unnoticed compared to Ohtani. While hundreds of people tried to get pictures of Ohtani, Glasnow was throwing a bullpen with about 5 people watching. And amazingly, Ohtani lived up to the hype by hitting a HR in his first game.
Camelback Ranch is a great place to visit for baseball fans.

Philjones

Glad you had a great day at the Ranch, RC. Nice you got to chat with Honeycutt re Walker.
i have pleasant dreams anticipating Walkers return to form, joining Yamamoto, Glasgow, Bobby Miller, Dustin May at some point and Kershaw. That will be some group.

Bobby

Good grief Yamamoto has filthy stuff!!

What a debut.

Keith

I was working so I missed his debut, but after reading your comment Bobby, I waited for the 9:00pm spectrum replay. It was only 19 pitches but I’m glad I watched it. Man that splitter was a nasty pitch.

Oldbear48

Yamamoto was impressive. I wonder if the Dodgers will address the issue that Monday brought up on the broadcast about being able to see his grip on the ball from the centerfield camera. Pages hit an absolute bomb.

Badger

And Lux with an error on the first play he gets. We know a certain somebody who will be all over that one. It was an easy play and he threw it away.

Philjones

It’s early, Badger. Relax

Cassidy

Tough day for Outman, Vargas and Lux. It’s early, it’s early, it’s early.

Oldbear48

It gets late early. Vargas’s at bats have not been impressive at all since he got two hits in his first game. Outman looked like he reverted to the way he was swinging last May.

Keith

That’s too bad I was hoping for a good spring for him.

Dionysus

Haha

Jeff Dominique

Orioles sign Kolten Wong to MiLB deal.

Dionysus

He and Rosario equalled a half platoon.

Oldbear48

Jamaii Jones claimed by the Yankees. Sam Hilliard back to the Rockies on a waiver claim. He has good numbers against the Dodgers. Cody Bellinger re-introduced to Cubs fans at press conference today. Lux made a throwing error on his only chance at SS today.

Dionysus

Pages is a lock to be in our starting OF opening day 2025.

Duke Not Snider

Belated kudos to Bear for the great read on “Big Newk.” Learned a lot with that one….
Well, Lux certainly did nothing to inspire confidence with his first play at SS. Ugh. Not an easy play, but not that hard either. He rushed the throw off his wrong foot. To quote John Wooden: “Be quick. Don’t hurry.”
Too early for concern, I suppose.. but does anybody out there know how Willy Adames is doing?
Yamamoto met expectations. No surprise there, since it appears that at least three teams were willing to commit $300m+ to him.
To me the best news today was Andy Pages’ exceptional play, with an HR, triple and web gem.
A few weeks back it was reported that Pages probably wouldn’t reach the majors in ’24. Now it seems that he is just an injury away.
Don’t want anybody to get hurt–well, maybe Barnes could pull a hamstring–but it would be good if the Dodgers had at least one rookie position player in the lineup.
Right now, I’d say Pages has clearly moved ahead of Vargas as an OF option, and maybe Jose Ramos is ahead of Vargas too. The return of Kike should also limit Vargas’s opportunities.
I don’t think anything is imminent, but Vargas is looking less like the left fielder of the future and more like a trade chip.
From the Department of Over-Reaction:
Lux + Vargas + Knack + ??? for Devin Williams and Adames.

Dionysus

Agree with all your Vargas takes except the trade. Ramos could easily be the better OF play than Vargas. Moving off the dirt means his offensive numbers need to tick up. They still might get there but he could be caught in between. I say let him get his bearings in AAA and we can decide at the break whither Miggy.

Singing the Blue

The less that Vargas looks like the left fielder of the future, the LESS of a trade chip he becomes.

Oldbear48

Thanks Duke. Adames is 2-8 with 2 k’s one RBI and no homers. Lux is 3-11 with an RBI and one K. Adames sucks except for his defense. Too many K’s. Lux has made 7 errors in 68 games as a SS. You average that out to 162 games, which he won’t play, it comes to 19 errors, which is one more than Corey Seager made in his worst season as a SS. Lux is a better contact hitter than Adames, and they do not really need power from the guy, but if he is healthy, he can probably get 10-15 long balls. Of more concern to me is Muncy getting hit in his hand. He was having X-Rays after the game and is day to day. Pages has impressed. Ryan Ward leads the team with 6 RBIs, Okey and Pages have 5. Cody Hoese has 4. You trade Lux and the team is righty heavy. Right now, they have 7 RH hitters and 6 lefties. I am not trading Lux for a one-year rental in Adames. By the way, Adames made 14 errors at SS last year, so I do not see where he is that big of an improvement, and I am not going to let one error on your first play influence my feelings about Lux. I am sure the Dodgers will keep working with him. He also has good speed, Adames does not.

Last edited 1 month ago by Oldbear48

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