Seven Thoughts: Kershaw Improves, Harper's Makeup, Moorad Cashes In
A left-hander who sparked unfair comparisons to the incomparable Sandy Koufax, Kershaw averages a sexy 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings but also a scary 5.7 walks.
The Dodgers say Kershaw is gaining confidence in a tweaked delivery. Which could mean more of Good Clayton.
Recent signs are slim but encouraging. Entering Thursday night's game against the first-place Padres, Kershaw is coming off consecutive outings of seven innings or more. That's a career first.
When Kershaw discarded his leg kick from the stretch, he became more apt to quarantine Bad Clayton.
"He's got it condensed to where he doesn't need the big leg kick," said manager Joe Torre. "He had a pretty good slide step, and he just decided to go with it (with men on base). It's very natural."
Padres manager Bud Black is a pitching expert -- the lefty's a former big leaguer who later was the Angels' pitching coach. Black said Kershaw, 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, "does everything correctly" in his delivery, and is athletic.
Black said a popular notion that chuckers can sharpen accuracy by "taking something off the ball" is actually a myth. "The arm is moving so fast," he said.
Kershaw isn't trying to take something off the ball. From the stretch, he's more compact.
"His stuff doesn't seem to lose anything," Torre said. "In fact, I think it helps him because it keeps him from getting too big and getting too long with trying to throw too hard, or make the breaking ball too good."
• I wonder if scouts' griping about Bryce Harper's makeup has anything to do with Harper's refusal to talk to scouts leading up to the draft.
• Ken Griffey Jr. should retire. Trevor Hoffman is mired in a career-worst slump. Todd Helton? The home run he hit on Tuesday in Chicago ended the longest drought of his career -- 130 at-bats.
• Trey Hillman, fired by the Royals recently, will be able to find work next year as a coach if a managerial job doesn't fit.
Before the Royals hired him, Hillman impressed both the A's and Padres in managerial interviews, and the Yankees as a manager in their farm system.
• Padres executive Jeff Moorad apparently is on the verge of cashing out on an investment worth many millions of dollars.
Even after Moorad became CEO of the Padres last spring and made a down payment on the San Diego ballclub, he retained a minority stake in the rival Diamondbacks from his investment in the Arizona club about five years ago. How much are those shares worth now? Moorad and the Diamondbacks were unable to agree to a price, so the commissioner's office was left to decide. The decision should come soon, a major league official said.
Moorad wrote in an e-mail that the matter is "on [the] path to resolution" and declined further comment. Wonder if some of the money will go into the Adrian Gonzalez Fund.
• Reading FanHouse's report of Dodgers waste in the McCourt Era, West Coast Bias had visions of catcher Carlos Santana and pitcher Kyle Blair in the Dodgers' farm system.
It's one thing for the McCourts to spend their own money extravagantly. It's another when Dodger dollars are being wasted.
Instead of paying nearly $4 million in "consulting services" to an entity that's done virtually nothing for the club, as the report stated, maybe the Dodgers could have used $2 million to keep Santana. Instead of paying salaries of $400,000 and $200,000 per year to the McCourts' two sons for undefined services that couldn't be described by the McCourts, maybe the Dodgers could've used it to sign draftees such as Blair.
The Dodgers tried to sign Blair, a fifth-round pick of theirs in 2007 -- but couldn't close the dollar gap. Blair went to the University of San Diego and likely will be a top-end draft pick next month. In a trade for Casey Blake in 2008, L.A. gave up Santana after refusing to absorb the $2 million due Blake. I believe the Dodgers could've kept Santana and obtained Blake by paying the $2 million and dealing other prospects. Santana is now the Indians' best prospect.
• The happiest people at a recent Padres home game were the some 250 ushers and ballpark staffers who stood on the field beforehand.
As the ushers lined up from home plate to the right field foul pole, Padres players filed by and said thanks. The team's star first-baseman, Gonzalez slapped hands as if he was greeting teammates on Opening Day. Outfielder Kyle Blanks beamed afterward.
"They are very passionate about the Padres," he said. "They're a big part of what we do. It was awesome. Perfect. I liked that they wore name tags and you could see where they were from. Two of them were from New Mexico (Blanks' home state)."