Dodgers acquire pitcher Mike Bolsinger

November, 22, 2014
Nov 22
6:57
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LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers acquired right-hander Mike Bolsinger from the Arizona Diamondbacks for cash considerations on Saturday.

The acquisition is another incremental move from a new Dodgers front office that has shown little inclination to wade into the big-name free agent pool. In addition to acquiring Bolsinger, who was 1-6 with a 5.50 ERA for Arizona last season, they have already added fringe major-leaguers Ryan Jackson, Kyle Jensen and Adam Liberatore and reliever Joel Peralta, who will be 39 next season.

The Dodgers added Bolsinger to the 40-man roster and removed lefty Jarret Martin, who was designated for assignment.

Bolsinger, 26, was 8-3 with a 3.3 ERA for Triple-A Reno last season.

Random thoughts and notes: NL West

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
1:04
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Los Angeles Dodgers: Andrew Friedman just acquired his old Tampa Bay reliever, Joel Peralta, for hard-throwing righty Juan Dominguez. ... Peralta is coming off a 4.41 ERA as his hit rate increased. He's always been homer-prone as he's an extreme flyball pitcher. Considering he's 39, this looks like a minor upgrade for bullpen depth at best. ... The key to the deal may actually be the second reliever acquired, Triple-A lefty Adam Liberatore, who struck out 86 in 65 innings and allowed just one home run. ... We all saw what happened last October to the Dodgers lefty relievers. ... The Dodgers lost hard-throwing but injury-prone lefty Onelki Garcia on waivers to the White Sox. Garcia made just one appearance in the minors in 2014. ... Still don't see how Andre Ethier gets traded unless the Dodgers eat pretty much the entire contract. He's still owed at least $56 million with a possible $17.5 million vesting option in 2018. ... Catcher? Shortstop? Dodgers have an estimated $222.6 payroll right now according to Baseball-Reference and still have no sure thing at catcher and shortstop behind A.J. Ellis and Justin Turner/Mel Rojas/Erisbel Arruebarrena. ... Which explains why Ned Colletti was fired (err, moved to another position). ... But, hey, at least they have Brian Wilson and Brandon League around for a combined $17 million to provide top-grade relief work. ... Going after Alexei Ramirez makes a lot of sense, as you'd get him for two years at $10 million per. But he's not going to be cheap. ... I wonder if Clayton Kershaw has watched either of those postseason starts. ... Wouldn't shock me if Alex Guerrero ends up seeing more time at second in 2015 than Dee Gordon.

San Francisco Giants: As each day passes, it seems less likely that Pablo Sandoval returns to the Giants, no? ... As good as he's been in October, I just don't see him as a $100 million player. But with the way money is flying around these days like leaves in a Kansas windstorm, I guess it will probably happen. ... The Giants are reportedly one of the teams in on Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, having seen him four times, according to Yahoo's Jeff Passan. ... The Giants' website currently lists Tim Lincecum as a reliever, not a starter on its depth chart. Which may be his 2015 role. ... May have a little Joe Panik blog coming up later today. ... Things I miss in the offseason: Brandon Crawford's defense. ... Justin Masterson is a good buy-low candidate for a team like the Giants. He shouldn't cost much after a terrible season. He's always struggled against left-handers, but that wouldn't hurt him so much at AT&T Park. ... Not sure Torii Hunter would switch leagues but he'd be a nice platoon partner for Gregor Blanco in left field. ... How much money did Madison Bumgarner leave on the table with that contract he signed a few years ago? It's hard for young players to turn down that lifetime security but the teams are definitely benefiting from these long-term extensions.

San Diego Padres: Surprisingly, the Padres are also one of the teams rumored to be hot after Tomas. Certainly makes sense for the Padres to look for some power. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports the Braves and Padres are now the favorites to land Tomas. ... Do Padres fans even remember what a power hitter looks like? ... What will Jedd Gyorko do in 2015? No idea. Steamer projects him at .242/.303/.399, 1.9 WAR. ... If Rene Rivera can come close to hitting .252/.319/.432 again, he's a very valuable player given his terrific pitch-framing behind the plate. ... Tyson Ross allowed two runs or fewer in 19 of his 31 starts. Padres got him a couple years ago for Andy Parrino and Andrew Werner. Memo to Billy Beane: Ouch. ... Pablo Sandoval to the Padres? Outspending the Giants to steal him away would certainly be a coup. Or a big mistake in three years when Sandoval shows up to camp at 270 pounds. ... Fantasy sleeper for 2015: Jesse Hahn. In fact, the Ross-Andrew Cashner-Ian Kennedy-Hahn-Odrisamer Despaigne rotation is pretty decent. ... Rumors are out there that Ross and Cashner could be traded, but I think the Padres have to keep both and figure out how to improve the offense.

Colorado Rockies: It's all about whether new GM Jeff Bridich will be shopping Troy Tulowitzki. ... Look for the Tulo rumors to heat up during the winter meetings, or once Hanley Ramirez signs somewhere. ... Tulo's contract isn't bad, but teams don't like to pay big salaries AND have to give up elite prospects for a player. I think it's going to be difficult to extract a massive return for him. ... The Rockies designated Juan Nicasio for assignment. A little surprising but he hasn't been that effective after suffering a broken neck late in his 2011 rookie season. ... Man, that rotation just looks awful. ... It's not all Coors Field, either. The Rockies had the worst road rotation ERA in the majors (4.97). ... I'd say the Rockies are further from contending than any other team right now. ... Will the Rockies ever learn to properly evaluate their players? Charlie Blackmon had a .269 OBP on the road. Even given the "Rockies hitter struggle when they go on the road because of the Coors Field" effect, that's unacceptable. He's really a fourth outfielder. ... Rockies may have most underrated fan base in the game: Finished fifth in the NL attendance for the second year in a row despite another terrible season. They actually drew more fans than the playoff seasons of 2007 and 2009, so kudos to the Rockies' marketing and ticketing departments.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Just a couple years ago it seemed the Diamondbacks were loaded with young pitchers and pitching prospects. Now they're hoping Jeremy Hellickson can re-discover some of the luck he had his first couple of years in Tampa. ... Wouldn't bank on that happening. ... The good news: The Diamondbacks hired a guy to head their analytics department! ... The weird news: Dr. Ed Lewis is a 66-year-old former veterinarian, not that 66-year-old former veterinarians can't be good at baseball analysis (Lewis was also a stock market analyst). ... Shockingly, he's a longtime friend of Tony La Russa. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic has the story of their longtime friendship. ... Hey, who knows. It's easy to poke fun at the the hire when other teams are hiring computer whiz kids and MIT grads for their analytics departments. It's really about asking the right kinds of questions, which presumably La Russa has the knowledge and experience to ask. ... Or he could be so grounded in what he believes that he won't ask the right question. ... All that said, I'm rooting for Dave Stewart to succeed as a GM. As a minority GM and ex-player, he's one of a kind now that Kenny Williams has moved out of that position for the White Sox.

How to catch the Giants? Change!

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
2:12
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[+] EnlargeDave Stewart
Norm Hall/Getty ImagesDave Stewart should know how to beat the Giants as a general manager. He did it as a pitcher, after all.

Dave Stewart pitched the Oakland Athletics past the San Francisco Giants in the 1989 World Series, and now he's trying to achieve a similar objective as general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. It's a daunting task given San Francisco's three titles in five years and the Giants' smooth-running machine led by GM Brian Sabean and a certain manager with a budding Hall of Fame résumé.

"You know the challenge with beating the Giants? It's Bruce Bochy," Stewart said. "He's the key to that team. We would need him to be kidnapped and taken away someplace for us to have an opportunity. It can be done. But when you have a guy like that leading a baseball team, it makes it difficult."

With all due respect to Bochy, the Giants' recent run of success has been a collaborative effort and a product of some rare continuity that precedes his eight years as manager. Sabean is about to enter his 19th season in the GM role, and he's surrounded by advisers and scouts who have his implicit faith and trust. Every situation the Giants encounter this offseason is one they've been through umpteen times.


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Dodgers lose Onelki Garcia to White Sox

November, 20, 2014
Nov 20
5:25
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LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers lost left-handed pitcher Onelki Garcia through a waiver claim by the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.

Garcia, 25, was one of the Dodgers' top pitching prospects entering last season, but he didn't pitch at the major-league level as he recovered from elbow and knee surgeries the previous winter. The Cuban exile pitched one rocky minor-league rehab game for Class A Rancho Cucamonga in August and didn't pitch again the rest of the season.

Thursday is the deadline to set 40-man rosters to protect players from the Dec. 11 Rule 5 draft. The Dodgers put pitchers Zach Lee and Chris Reed, and outfielder Scott Schebler on the 40-man roster.

Dodgers deal for Rays' Joel Peralta

November, 20, 2014
Nov 20
10:46
PM PT
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LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers acquired veteran reliever Joel Peralta and minor league left-hander Adam Liberatore from the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night in exchange for young right-handers Jose Dominguez and Greg Harris.

The move was the first major league trade under new Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, who spent 10 years in the Rays' front office.

Peralta, 38, pitched 69 games for the Rays last season, going 3-4 with a 4.41 ERA. In 10 seasons with five teams starting with the Los Angeles Angels, Peralta has a 3.92 ERA and 1.18 WHIP.

The Rays recently picked up a $2.5 million option on Peralta for 2015.

"Joel's significance to the Rays transcended his on-field performance," Rays general manager Matt Silverman said in a statement. "He was a clubhouse leader who always sought ways to make the organization better." 

Dominguez, 24, was among the hardest throwers in the Dodgers' organization. He pitched in 14 games over the past two seasons, with a 6.14 ERA.

Harris, 20, was 7-6 with a 4.45 ERA at Class A Great Lakes last season.

Liberatore, 27, was drafted in the 21st round by the Rays in 2010. He went 6-1 with a 1.66 ERA at Triple-A Durham.

The Dodgers invested heavily in their bullpen last winter, but it proved a disappointment in the regular season -- ranking 12th in the National League with a 3.80 ERA -- and a major liability in the playoffs.

The Rays also designated veteran catcher Jose Molina for assignment.


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Would White Sox part with Alexei?

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
4:19
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CHICAGO -- If teams are going to try and pry a core player away from the Chicago White Sox, it’s going to come at a steep price.

As trade rumors begin to swirl regarding White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez, general manager Rick Hahn neither confirmed nor denied those inquiries Tuesday, but did not sound as if he was shopping his All-Star infielder.

A USA Today report via Twitter on Tuesday said that the Los Angeles Dodgers were actively pursuing Ramirez.

“We are certainly open minded on all of our players,” Hahn said Tuesday, declining to talk about Ramirez specifically. “It’s our obligation to listen. At the same time we have what feel are some very valuable commodities in the game right now and we’re certainly not looking to move any of them without feeling very good that we are not only improving our competitiveness for 2015 but for ’16 and beyond as well.”

The Dodgers are in need of an everyday shortstop since they are not expected to re-sign free agent Hanley Ramirez, but if the White Sox move Alexei Ramirez, that would leave them in a similar shortstop bind. The White Sox do not have somebody waiting to take over at shortstop on an everyday basis, and their top prospect at the position, Tim Anderson, is two or three years away from arriving at the major league level.

The White Sox also have a team-friendly contract with their shortstop, who will make $10 million in 2015 and another $10 million in 2016 if a club option is activated. He made $9.5 million this past season.

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Other than LA, retirement for Haren?

November, 19, 2014
Nov 19
1:34
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LOS ANGELES -- Pitcher Dan Haren said Wednesday that he likely would walk away from baseball -- and leave $10 million in pretax income on the table -- if the Los Angeles Dodgers trade him to a team other than one of his former clubs, the Angels.

Haren's 2015 option with the Dodgers kicked in when he reached the 180-innings mark in September.

"My signing with the Dodgers last year and my decision to exercise my player option were based on my desire to play in Southern California near my family," Haren told ESPN in an email. "I had other opportunities, but at this point in my career, I have no interest in playing in a city away from my family."

Haren's name surfaced in trade discussions recently, according to a CBSSports.com report.

Haren made little secret of how difficult it was to be away from his family during the 2013 season, when he pitched for the Washington Nationals. A native of West Covina, California, and a product of Pepperdine, Haren and his family now live in Orange County.

Haren, 34, went 13-11 with a 4.02 ERA and, after a midseason slump, proved to be a reliable No. 4 starter as the Dodgers were sewing up their second straight NL West title, so it's unclear why the Dodgers would look to move him unless, contrary to what they're saying publicly, they simply want to dump salaries. The Dodgers have no obvious replacements who would come from the minor leagues and, if anything, it was assumed they were looking to add a starting pitcher in free agency.


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Dodgers' GM Zaidi uniquely qualified

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
7:00
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LOS ANGELES -- Ten years ago, people would have wondered how someone like Farhan Zaidi could become a general manager of one of baseball's most storied franchises. It might be more relevant now to wonder how baseball could lure someone like Zaidi.

Born in Canada to Pakistani parents and raised in the Philippines, Zaidi admits he came into the game with more to learn about it than the average baseball man. The old model for a general manager was someone who played at the college level or in the low minor leagues and often spent years as a scout, traveling the country and breaking down players.

[+] EnlargeFarhan Zaidi
AP Photo/Damian DovarganesIt's hard for any baseball executive to match the level of analytical tools and intellect that Farhan Zaidi will bring to the Dodgers.
It's probably accurate to say that none can match the combination of analytical tools and intellect that Zaidi will wield as the Los Angeles Dodgers' GM.

He was one semester shy of completing his doctorate in economics at the University of California at Berkeley in 2005 when he answered a job listing at Baseball Prospectus to work for the Oakland A's. The A's had sorted through hundreds of résumé for the job, but words like, "Ph.D." and "Berkeley" have a way of standing out, particularly to a forward-thinking group, one that, a few years earlier -- via the Michael Lewis best-seller "Moneyball" -- helped launch the revolution that has reshaped almost every front office in baseball.

The conversation between Zaidi, general manager Billy Beane and assistant general manager David Forst went so well, the A's decided to hire Zaidi, as much because they enjoyed being around him as well as the way he wowed them with his innovative ideas. It didn't hurt that both Zaidi and Beane have a thing for the band Oasis.

"We have a small group that enjoys being around one another and, without writing it down, that was one prerequisite," Forst said. "Hanging out, it was obvious Farhan was going to be that guy."

It might have been easier for Forst than it was for Zaidi, who had to break the news to his parents, who had paid a lot of money to send him to MIT for his undergraduate studies. He also had to break the news to his doctoral adviser, behavioral economist Matthew Rabin, considered by some to be on the short list for the Nobel Prize in economics. He waited two days before calling his parents.

They knew he loved baseball, because he played first base in high school at an international school in the Philippines and was an avid baseball card collector. Before embarking on the Ph.D. program, he had worked for a fantasy sports company. Still, he imagined, they expected him to finish his studies and emerge as an academic economist or to begin a Wall Street career.

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Dodgers acquire Kyle Jensen from Marlins

November, 17, 2014
Nov 17
8:13
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LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers acquired minor-league utility player Kyle Jensen from the Miami Marlins for a player to be named or cash considerations, the team announced Monday night.

Jensen, 26, spent all of 2014 at Triple-A New Orleans, where he hit .260 with 27 home runs, 92 RBIs and 29 doubles. He was tied for fourth in the Pacific Coast League in home runs. He is a 6-foot-3, 250-pound right-handed hitter who has hit 128 minor-league home runs.

The trade is the first under the Dodgers new front office, led by president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi. Jensen has played both corner outfield spots, first base and designated hitter. The Dodgers' 40-man roster now has 37 players on it.

Is 'Phase Two' all about payroll reduction?

November, 17, 2014
Nov 17
12:06
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LOS ANGELES -- In the words of team president Stan Kasten, the Dodgers have entered the second phase of the ownership group’s plans when it bought the team.

The first phase involved restoring the credibility of the franchise after years of neglect under previous owner Frank McCourt and ramping up excitement for the launch of the team’s TV channel. That phase was amazingly expensive. The Dodgers signed some of the biggest contracts in sports history and pulled the trigger on the priciest trade baseball had ever seen.

If you read between the lines, it certainly looks like this new phase involves some clean-up work. The only major moves the Dodgers have made this offseason so far are to the front office, bringing in perhaps the two smartest people in baseball when it comes to making efficient decisions on players and contracts. They hired Andrew Friedman, who never worked with a payroll as high as $80 million in Tampa Bay, to be president of baseball operations. They brought in Farhan Zaidi -- who also worked for a highly competitive team in a bad stadium, the Oakland A’s, and has a Ph.D. in behavioral economics -- to be the general manager.

They have their work cut out for them, but Zaidi disputes the notion that they are being brought in simply to shed the team of bad contracts and lower the payroll.

“It sounds overly simplistic, but we’re just going to try to make good baseball decisions,” Zaidi said. “Sometimes, those good baseball decisions are going to increase our payroll, sometimes they’re going to decrease our payroll and I think over time it will come down because that’s what the accumulation of smart baseball moves will just do to the roster.

“I think it’s just going to be a gradual evolution as we start thinking in that disciplined way. But I think there will be decisions we make, that we believe in, that are going to increase the payroll. It’s not just going to be a straight line from where we are to where we are in the long run.”

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Lure of Dodgers 'think tank' landed Gabe Kapler

November, 13, 2014
Nov 13
2:06
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LOS ANGELES -- Gabe Kapler seemed to have a pretty good thing going.

He lives in a beautiful Malibu canyon. Over a 12-season major-league career, he made more than $9 million, so the need to drive to an office every day probably wasn’t a pressing one. He stayed in the game by doing studio work for Fox baseball broadcasts. On air, he touted advanced analytics, a taste he had picked up while playing under, and befriending, Andrew Friedman in Tampa Bay.

In his spare time, he ran a blog, kaplifestyle.com, where he offers tips on living the Southern California good life, topics ranging from fitness and nutrition to mixing a martini, James Bond style.

So why would he want to leave all that for a job that would force him to fly to all over the country and babysit young players while tackle the bureaucratic and personnel hassles of re-imagining the Los Angeles Dodgers' entire player development system? When Friedman, the Dodgers' president of baseball operations, reached out to Kapler, he wasn’t quite sure what he’d hear.

“The only question for me was whether it was something he wanted to do,” Friedman said. “Once he said it was, I will bet on him to have a significant impact in our organization.”

Friedman, it’s fair to say, gained an appreciation for Kapler’s abilities while watching him bat .228 in his final two seasons in the majors.

“Gabe has a tremendous mind, a thirst for knowledge and he’s a great leader of people,” Friedman said. “His passionate enthusiasm is something that I think is going to resonate throughout our entire minor-league operations.”

Kapler said the thrill of being part of a new kind of front office, one that features one Doctor of Economics, general manager Farhan Zaidi, a former financial trader, Friedman, and a total of five former or current GMs, was what lured him out of Malibu to take the farm director job for the Dodgers. They envision it as a baseball think tank.

“I’ve always looked for opportunities to be inspired when I come to work,” Kapler said. “I certainly have that at Fox. Now, it seems I’m going to have that with a pretty special group of men and women with the Dodgers.”

Kapler wasn’t big on offering details of his vision for the Dodgers’ minor-league system. He had only been on the job 48 hours, after all, and he said he wanted to be sensitive to the people who are already working under him. But it’s fair to say the Dodgers will undertake studies and look to try new ways of preparing players that could win them an edge when those players, or at least some of them, reach the majors.

Kapler is the only front office member at the executive level who has actually experienced what major leaguers go through, but he downplayed that as his contribution to the group. After the Dodgers hired Zaidi to be GM, former Dodgers utility player Ryan Theriot tweeted that only former players should be allowed to be GMs, a notion Kapler clearly rejects.

“I actually think we bring a lot of similar pluses,” Kapler said. “We’re all devoted to developing better men in addition to better baseball players. I think we all have the philosophy of standing shoulder to shoulder with a similar mission while pushing each other and trying to extract the best possible answer to the tough question.

“I certainly don’t think being a baseball player gave me a leg up as regards my ability to always ask the question, ‘Why?’"

All-Stars get 1st win in Japan

November, 16, 2014
Nov 16
4:25
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[+] EnlargeJustin Morneau
Atsushi Tomura/Getty ImagesJustin Morneau led a rejuvenated MLB offense Sunday as the All-Stars nabbed their first win in Japan.

TOKYO -- Justin Morneau hit a three-run homer and Chris Capuano pitched five strong innings Sunday as the MLB All-Stars beat Japan 6-1 for the first win of their five-game postseason tour.

Morneau, the National League batting champion, drove a pitch from Japan starter Shintaro Fujinami over the wall in right to give his team a 4-1 lead in the third. It was the second homer of the series for Morneau, who also connected for a two-run homer in Game 2.

The win provided welcome relief for an MLB team that was no-hit by four Japanese pitchers in a 4-0 loss on Saturday.

"After getting no-hit yesterday, wanted to come out swinging the bats and we did," Morneau said. "We wanted to come here and represent MLB well. Unfortunately, we didn't do that in the first three games but I think we've gotten better."

Evan Longoria added to the lead with a solo homer off Japan reliever Minoru Iwata in the sixth.


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Kershaw signs on with Subway

November, 14, 2014
Nov 14
1:01
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Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw picked up Cy Young and MVP awards this week, the first National League pitcher to do so in a season since Bob Gibson in 1968.

He also picked up a new endorsement.

On Friday, Kershaw was signed on to be an endorser for Subway, the largest food franchise by number of stores in the United States.

"The key for us is authenticity," Subway chief marketing officer Tony Pace said. "We found out that Clayton would stop by a Subway before going to the ballpark, and that meant a lot to us that he was a fan of the brand."

Kershaw has already appeared in advertising for the sandwich chain -- in an ad in USA Today with American League MVP Mike Trout, who also endorses the brand.

Aside from Subway, Kershaw has deals with Wilson for his glove and Under Armour for his shoes. He also signed a deal with Muscle Milk last April.

"His vision, passion and work ethic, on and off the field, align with our brand and company philosophy," said Nikki Brown, chief marketing officer for CytoSport, parent company of Muscle Milk. "We've utilized him regionally, but he's also become one of our marquee national athletes, as well."

For a pitcher with three Cy Youngs, a league MVP and a no-hitter at the age of 26, and in the second-largest market in the U.S., an argument can be made that Kershaw is still underexposed.

"It's a bit surprising that he has done what he has done in Dodger blue and he's not all over the place," Pace said. "But there tends to be a little bit of a lag effect between success and brand longevity in the marketplace."

As accolades have mounted for Kershaw, so too has national interest.


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Did Kershaw Deserve MVP?

November, 13, 2014
Nov 13
4:58
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Mark Mulder breaks down Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw winning the NL MVP.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Clayton Kershaw
WINS ERA SO IP
21 1.77 239 198
OTHER LEADERS
BAY. Puig .296
HRA. Gonzalez 27
RBIA. Gonzalez 116
RY. Puig 92
OPSY. Puig .863
ERAC. Kershaw 1.77
SOC. Kershaw 239