Chief among Dodgers news in the last few days was that longtime Dodger and baseball lifer Davey Lopes has retired, ending his five decades in the game.
Drafted by the Dodgers in 1968, Lopes was a player in the organization for 14 years, including 10 as a major leaguer. He played 1,150 games at second base for the Dodgers, part of The Infield quartet for 8½ seasons with Steve Garvey, Ron Cey and Bill Russell.
Lopes retired as a player in 1987 and began his coaching career right after. He was the Dodgers’ first base coach from 2011-15 before spending the last two years in the same position with the Nationals. Of his 50 years in baseball, 19 came with the Dodgers.
Lopes spoke with Bill Ladson of MLB.com about his retirement:
“I’m not doing much. I’m retired, taking it easy,” said Lopes, who last worked for the Nationals as a first-base coach in 2017. “It was not a difficult decision to make, but one I was kind of hesitant to make. But it all works out. I got the opportunity to play, manage or coach for a long, long time. I’m extremely thankful. I was one of the lucky ones in the big leagues for 45 straight years. That’s a long time. I have no complaints.”
Lopes was a four-time All-Star and is second in Dodgers franchise history with 418 stolen bases, including leading the National League in 1975 (77 steals) and 1976 (63). He was remarkably efficient on the bases, stealing those bags at an 83% clip.
With a career-best 28 home runs and 44 steals in 1979, Lopes had one of only two 20-40 season in Dodgers history. Matt Kemp has the other, in 2011.
Happy birthday, Jackie
Baseball legend Jackie Robinson would have been 99 on Wednesday, sharing a January 31 birthday with fellow Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Nolan Ryan. SABR shared a photo of Robinson and Banks earlier today:
Ernie Banks & Jackie Robinson, former Negro League stars and Hall of Famers, were both born on January 31. You can read the @sabr bios of the #Cubs & #Dodgers icons here https://t.co/krppzbbWCS #MLB pic.twitter.com/ri3mIIjZRk— SABR BioProject (@SABRbioproject) January 31, 2018
On what would have been his 99th birthday, we remember the unforgettable. Thank you, Jackie. pic.twitter.com/pd0sJfvtI8— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) January 31, 2018
Shane Tourtellotte at The Hardball Times undertook a project trying to find a modern player comparable to Robinson, who was quite unique on the field:
We’re used to hearing that Robinson’s greatness was centered around his speed and basepath daring. While he was certainly formidable there, at least relative to his era, the numbers above give a broader perspective. For my money, the greatness of Robinson as a baseball player comes from having, in effect, zero weaknesses. There was no aspect of the game at which he was not at least a shade above average.
The answer to the question might surprise you.
Odds & ends
The Dodgers have reportedly hired Jeff McAvoy for their scouting department, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. McAvoy was director of pro scouting the last four years for the Marlins before getting let go in the new ownership purge in Miami. McAvoy was a special assignment scout with the Rays under Andrew Friedman from 2010-13. It is unknown exactly what McAvoy’s role will be with the Dodgers, who have not announced the hire.
In possibly related (or unrelated) news, general manager Farhan Zaidi on Saturday wasn’t yet prepared to announce the hiring of their assistant director of player development to work with Brandon Gomes. Gomes replace Gabe Kapler this winter, and former assistant farm director Jeremy Zoll left for a job with the Twins.