Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A couple of minor league signings

The Dodgers have signed a couple of veterans to minor league deals.

The first is SS Juan Castro
. He originally began his career with the Dodgers by signing in 1991. He spent last season with the Reds and Orioles, combining for a blistering .193 AVG with 2 HR and 16 RBI. Damn, now those are some big numbers!

The other is P Tanyon Sturtz, a Joe Torre favorite. He was with the Dodgers last year in August, giving up 1 hit and no runs in 2.1 IP. His reward? Designated for assignment after 3 appearances. Ouch.

I've got to be honest here. There's just nothing to talk about lately, so this is the best I can do. Manny is still staying put, and Jon Garland ended up with the Diamondbacks. Hopefully soon I can write about something a little (ok, a lot) more exciting than this.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Torre's new book creating an early buzz

Looks like the end of Joe Torre's Yankee years were much more interesting than we all thought.

In a new book set to be released on February 3, Torre has plenty of shots to take against his former organization that let him go after the 2007 season. The main focus seems to be on GM Brian Cashman's lack of support and the jealousy of Alex Rodriguez (called "A-Fraud by teammates!) of Derek Jeter's popularity.

The book is written by Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci, a very respected baseball analyst, so you know it's going to be good. Torre has given the indication ever since he left that Cashman was on his side, but now that tune seems to have changed.

There's not much else to say about the book now, but it looks like this story is just getting good. It looks like there's a bunch of frustration on Torre's part, and he's ready to let loose.

As I type this, ESPN's Buster Olney says that Cashman has no comment. I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this soon.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kent calls it a career after 17 great seasons

I'll bet not many people thought they'd ever see a picture of Jeff Kent doing that.

After spending 17 seasons in Major League Baseball, Kent has decided to hang up his cleats for good. The decision was not a big surprise, as last season appeared to be all his body could finally handle.

First, let's discuss the Hall of Fame debate that keeps being brought up. In mind mind, it's a no brainer - the guy belongs in. He finished with 351 home runs as a 2nd baseman, which is 74 more than the 2nd place finisher, Ryne Sandberg, who's in the Hall.

For his career, he finishes with a .290 AVG, 560 2B, 377 HR, 1522 RBI. He also won the 2000 NL MVP, has been an All Star 5 times, and won 4 Silver Slugger awards.

Oh ya, and he didn't need steroids, HGH, or any of that other garbage to get the job done.

I know I might be a little biased, but come on now. He absolutely should be in the Hall! I know his personality was brash and hard to deal with for most of his career, but he played his butt of everyday he was in the lineup. He didn't have the greatest range for a 2nd baseman, but he'd dive after balls all over and make great plays despite his limitations. Don't let his personality overshadow his results.

As for his career with the Dodgers, he was often the lone power threat in the lineup. His best year was his first in 2005, where he hit .289 with 29 HR and 105 RBI. Last season was a bit of a letdown for him, as injuries were taking their toll. By the time the playoffs rolled around, he was relegated to backup duty to Blake DeWitt. As a pinch-hitter, he was 0-9 with 4 K's, including a K in what turned out to be his last at-bat of his career.

I must say that he made the right decision with this. As much as I liked him, it was obvious that he was just worn out by the end of last year. I think Joe Torre added him to the postseason roster more out of an appreciation for his career, and not because he was healthy enough to do so. He deserves a proper press conference and send off, and he got it.

What I'll miss about Kent is his ability to leave it all on the field and to not take any crap from players dogging it and underachieving. I don't care if the media didn't like him, he was a winner and showed up each day to prove that. And for that, I should be making the hour-and-a-half trip to Cooperstown a few years from now to pay my respects to his great career.

Dodgers sign Ausmus to back up Martin

The Dodgers continued on their quest to find a suitable backup to Russell Martin, as they have signed veteran Brad Ausmus to a 1-year, $1 million deal. Ausmus chose the Dodgers over the San Diego Padres after spending last season with the Houston Astros.

This signing is not a whole lot different than last year when Gary Bennett was brought along. Bennett was a defensive specialist, as is Ausmus. Too bad Bennett never really got a chance to get going, as he was lost early in the year to injury and never returned.

Ausmus will not be a late-game, pinch-hitting threat. He only hit .218 in 81 games last season. But, he has won 3 Gold Gloves in his career, and has even spot started in the infield on occasion. It looks like he'll be a decent afternoon starter after a night game.

I can only hope he comes in and plays well, because Martin desperately needs to rest his body more. He gets worn out too easily by logging too many innings, which you can't blame him for considering he's a gamer and refuses to sit at all. For his long-term health, he needs to get more rest. Let's hope Ausmus is a solution.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Broxton and Martin ink richer deals

Jonathan Broxton and Russell Martin avoided arbitration today by resigning with the Dodgers for 1-year deals. Broxton will earn $1.825 million and Martin $3.9 million. That leaves only Andre Either as the lone arbitration eligible player left.

It's good to have these deals taken care of, as these 2 are huge pieces of the puzzle. In case you're wondering why Martin's deal is worth so much more, he does have 2 All-Star berths under his wing. He also has a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove from 2007.

Broxton will have his first crack at being the main man in the 9th inning in 2009. He's been in LA since 2005, and has excelled in the setup role. He took over for the injured Takashi Saito towards the end of last season and performed very well, picking up 14 saves.

Now it'll be time to focus on Either. He's asked for $3.75 million, and the Dodgers have countered with $2.65 million. If it reaches to the point of having a meeting, it won't be until February.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Repko back for another year

Jason Repko avoided arbitration by agreeing to a 1-year/$500,000 deal. It'll pay him another $90,000 for plate appearance incentives. So in other words, he won't earn a penny over $500,000.

Repko has never been able to put it all together with the big club, but the Dodgers seem determined to make it happen. In only 22 games last year, he hit a paltry .167. I remember he made his debut on June 30 in Houston and hit leadoff, then promptly went 0-5 with 4 K's in one of the worst hitting performances I've ever seen (save for every game that Andruw Jones played in). He didn't even get his first hit until September 2.

Even with last season being terrible, he's still very fast and can be a threat on the bases if he were to ever figure out a way to stay healthy and take advantage of that speed. If Manny Ramirez signs and Juan Pierre is kept aboard, then playing time could be real scarce. If 1 of the 2 are gone, then he's got a better chance.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The 5th starter could be... Troncoso?

Here's a name that I don't think anyone would have guessed for a starting rotation spot - Ramon Troncoso. That's the talk as the Dodgers still haven't signed another starting pitcher to fill that spot.

Other than the fact that the Dodgers haven't acquired anyone yet, the main reason for the change would be the club's desire to keep James McDonald in relief. McDonald's relief stint during the postseason was so good, they figure they won't mess with it. He's an exciting young pitcher, so his time as a starter may one day come anyway.

As for Troncoso, he pretty much came out of nowhere last year to make the team's roster out of Spring Training. In 2 Major League stints, he posted a 4.26 ERA with 38 K's in 38 IP. As a rookie, I thought he was pretty good. Definitely can improve, but he will be only 26 once the season starts.

This could all be just talk, so who knows what will happen. But they are making him start in winter ball, as he's done so 4 times, going as long as 5 innings. Seems like they are preparing themselves for it to happen.

It's hard to say what to expect from this, so stay tuned.

Jones is sent packing

After trying to find some chump team that would trade for Andruw Jones, the Dodgers did the only logical thing left to do in releasing him. So ends one of the worst seasons by any player in Dodgers history.

I've talked in about a million previous posts about how pathetic he is, so there's no need to rehash it. The bottom line is that he's gone! It doesn't matter where he goes or how long it takes to pay off the remainder of his contract, there was just no way on Earth he could have thrived in LA.

So far, the only team I've heard being somewhat interested in him is his old one, the Braves. It makes sense since there's a comfort zone with him there, so they may roll the dice and kick in the $400,000 it would take to sign him.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mota adds to bullpen depth

The Dodgers made their first move of adding a short reliever today, signing righty Guillermo Mota to a 1-year, $2.35 million deal. He returns to LA after being traded away in the Brad Penny-Paul Lo Duca deal with Florida in 2004.

Mota was one of the names mentioned about a week ago as possibilities of being added to the 'pen, along with Dennys Reyes and Juan Cruz. Mota looks to be the worst of the 3, but he's had bright spots in his career that suggest he can be effective.

That bright spot was when he was setting up Eric Gagne in 2003 and 2004, where they formed practically an unhittable combination in the 8th and 9th innings. When he was traded, he never regained his groove. His time with the Marlins, Indians, and Mets all ended miserably. Last year with the Brewers was better, however, gathering a 4.11 ERA and giving up 52 hits in 57 IP.

He also was busted for flunking the MLB drug policy and slapped with a 50-game suspension.

The upside is that he's still a hard thrower and can get K's, and that his best success was with LA, so maybe he's back in his comfort zone. I don't think he'll be asked to pitch late in games yet, as the guys to get to Jonathan Broxton should be Hong-Chih Kuo and Cory Wade for now.

Getting Mota was a decent addition, but now they need to focus on the starting rotation. Guys like Oliver Perez, Randy Wolf, Braden Looper, and Jon Garland are still out there to be had. They're not superstars, but better than relying on Jason Schmidt to pitch big innings. Signing one of those guys is a must.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Chipper Jones is fuming... which could benefit the Dodgers

Interesting little article I found in the LA Times talking about the Chipper Jones situation in Atlanta. For a quick review, he's pretty pissed about the Braves not resigning John Smoltz, his longtime teammate. He's also not sure what direction the team is going considering they've missed out on other big names like Jake Peavy and Rafael Furcal.

He made this comment about the upcoming season:

"This is my last year under contract with Atlanta. And this last 24 hours certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed by me. I haven’t been offered an extension. If we’re 15 games out in July or August, I doubt they’re just going to let me become a free agent and get nothing in return."

So there you have it. Keep in mind that this is just all talk, and once some time passes by and other thing happen, he could totally change his tune. But at 37-years-old, the Braves might try to continue the youth movement by moving him and getting some value while they can. And the Dodgers could always use his bat.

I'm just thinking out loud here, but I'm not sure where they'd put him. I mean, when he's healthy (a huge IF these days), he can flat out hit. There's always a spot for those guys. He plays 3rd base, but the Dodgers just signed Casey Blake to a 3-year deal, so it's hard to imagine benching him. Another option is 1st base where James Loney is now, but he's their future and is only getting better.

It's all just pure speculation at this point, so don't read too much into it. This is one of those rumors you can store away for a few months then revisit at some point.

Berroa joins the Evil Empire

Add Angel Berroa to the list of names that have moved elsewhere, as he agreed to a Minor League deal with the New York Yankees. He'll look to make the big club as a backup infielder, because I'm guessing he won't displace that Jeter guy at short...

I'm a little surprised the Dodgers didn't try to resign him. Well, maybe they did, I guess I have no idea. I can't blame them for not picking up his $5.5 million option for this year to basically be a backup. That's way too much money. But, I thought with a glove like his and some experience, they may look to retain him. Guess not.

With the signing of Mark Loretta earlier this winter, that probably meant that Berroa was never seriously considered to be brought back.

Saito joins Penny in Boston

Takashi Saito is now officially an ex-Dodger, agreeing to a 1-year deal with the Boston Red Sox. He'll earn anywhere between $1.5 and $2.5 million this upcoming year with an option for 2010.

So ends one of the best runs as a closer the Dodgers have ever had. In 2006 and 2007, he collected 63 saves in 142.2 IP, 1.77 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 185 K. Those are just dominating numbers for anyone, much less a guy that came out of nowhere to do it, ala Eric Gagne before him (though he had some help we later learned...).

The problem is that a sprained ligament in his pitching elbow derailed last season for him, which in effect ended his LA career. I can't blame the Dodgers for not offering him arbitration and risk overpaying him. Maybe he'll be good again, but after watching him in the playoffs in sole appearance against the Cubs, there's plenty of doubt about that.

Now he can settle in with the Red Sox and look to set up Jonathan Papelbon.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hoffman goes with the Brewers

In the race between the Dodgers and Brewers for the services of Trevor Hoffman, it was Milwaukee that came away winners.

Hoffman agreed to a 1-year deal worth $6 million with incentives worth up to $1.5 million. He technically has to pass his physical first before the signing is official, but I would guess that's just a formality.

As I originally said a few days ago, the Brewers looked to be the favorites from the start. Hoffman was refusing to do anything but close, and that's what the Brew Crew desperately need. In LA, he could have been the closer with Jonathan Broxton the setup man, but maybe he wasn't convinced that he'd be the full time closer with Broxton around. And for that, I can't blame him.

So now the Dodgers have Hong Chih-Kuo, Cory Wade, and Broxton at the back end of their bullpen, and that looks pretty good. They still can sign a guy like Dennys Reyes or Juan Cruz to get even better.

By the way, if you're feeling down about missing out on Hoffman, here's a funny blog post written by ESPN's Eric Karabell talking about how lousy he might be in Milwaukee.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

More bullpen depth could be added

In addition to trying to lure in Trevor Hoffman, the Dodgers are looking at making over their bullpen even more. Not a bad idea considering that Chan Ho Park, Scott Proctor, Joe Beimel, and Takashi Saito are either gone or will be gone.

Jayson Stark of ESPN reports that they've offered a deal to righty Dennys Reyes, recently of the Minnesota Twins. He's a former Dodger from 1997-1998, his first 2 seasons in the Bigs. Last season with the Twins, he posted great numbers of a 2.33 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Seems like a great addition to me.

Another man in consideration is another ex-Dodger, righty Guillermo Mota. He once had a very promising career, but it seems to have taken a downhill turn ever since the Dodgers traded him in 2003 as part of the Brad Penny-Paul Lo Duca deal. Last season with the Brewers, he posted mediocre numbers of 4.11 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. Maybe a return to LA would get him in a comfort zone again, I guess.

The last man rumored is righty Juan Cruz. He's done very well the last couple of years in Arizona, highlighted last season with a 2.61 ERA and 1.26 WHIP last season. He knows how to get a strikeout, with 71 in 57.2 IP. Seems like a solid addition to me.

So that leads me to ask one question, which is what about getting a lefty? Right now, they only have Hong-Chih Kuo, who's dominating, but can't pitch everyday because of arm problems in the past. With Beimel looking to be gone, they need someone to come in and pitch an inning each night. Maybe Scott Elbert or Greg Miller could do it, but they're young and unproven. But, maybe the Dodgers have confidence in them to get it done.

Looking at the candidates, it looks like either Reyes or Cruz would make great additions. Mota would be my last choice. Getting Hoffman and Reyes or Cruz would be fantastic. A Reyes/Cruz-Broxton-Hoffman trio to pitch the 7-9 innings would be great.

Hoffman offered 1-year deal

*** UPDATE ***

The Brewers have also offered a 1-year deal today to Hoffman. I should also mention that both clubs have included an option for 2010. So the ball is totally in his court now.


The Dodgers have officially offered free agent closer Trevor Hoffman a 1-year deal to be their closer. The dollar amount wasn't announced, but it's said to be worth more than the $4 million offer the Padres had back in November.

After I speculated between the Brewers and Dodgers yesterday, it seemed to me that the Brewers were in the lead because they needed a closer and I wasn't so sure if the Dodgers wanted him to close. But, that looks to have changed, as Jonathan Broxton will be kept in the 8th inning role should Hoffman be brought in.

The other factor that could play a major role for the Dodgers is his California ties. Since he lives in San Diego, that would allow him to be closer to home and his 2 young boys. At 41 and close to the end of his career, playing close to home could be very important to him.

Now that the offer is on the table, we'll see what the Brewers do from here. The decision should come soon on where he'll end up.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Manny too rich for Giants

All of the talk about Manny Ramirez landing in San Francisco may indeed be just that: talk. Several sources on the inside of baseball are claiming that no matter what agent Scott Boras claims, the Giants simply cannot afford Manny, and are therefore out of the running.

What those baseball executives point to is this: their payroll is currently at $85 million, which is more than the $77 million they had last year. Signing Manny would push them north of $100 million, which is far more than they can afford. Keep in mind, they still owe deferred money to Barry Bonds. No matter how you slice it, he's just too expensive.

It sounds as if whatever Boras is trying to sell, nobody's buying it. So that means that yet again, the Dodgers are the favorite.

And that's the dilemma. Manny is still looking for a 4 or 5-year deal worth $25 million a year. As we've been told hundreds of times, he's only getting 2-3 year offers. Peter Gammons talks about how he told his teammates on the Red Sox last season that he'll get his long-term deal, and was not at all happy about a 2-year deal with the Sox. Will he be happy with a short-term deal with the Dodgers? Based on recent history, that could be a problem.

One last note is that if the Dodgers don't want to sign Manny, they'll look to add to their bullpen from a list of the following relievers: Trevor Hoffman, Juan Cruz, Dennys Reyes, and Guillermo Mota.

Hoffman could go to Dodgers or Brewers

The race to sign Trevor Hoffman appears to have become much clearer. It all comes down to the Dodgers or Brewers as finalists. Both teams need bullpen help, and will absolutely be eager to sign him.

The Dodgers have lost a bunch of people from their 'pen, namely Chan Ho Park, Joe Beimel, and Takashi Saito, and are looking to reload. Currently, Jonathan Broxton is the closer, as he assumed that role at the end of last season. But, is the final solution? That's the unknown right now. Pursuing Hoffman makes me think that the Dodgers are more comfortable leaving Broxton in the 8th inning role for now. I can't say I disagree with that line of thinking, but I certainly wouldn't be uncomfortable seeing him close either.

From what I can tell, the Brewers are probably the favorite. It's been said that Hoffman would like to get to 600 saves (he's currently at 554), and won't sign with a team where he can't close. The Brewers have basically nobody right now in that role. The only guys who's somewhat close is Jorge Julio, but I'd hardly call him a closer.

So the ball is now in Hoffman's court. Both teams made the playoffs last year, but both could lose big free agents (Brewers lost C.C. Sabathia to the Yankees; Dodgers may lose Manny Ramirez). One thing the Dodgers do have going for them is that Hoffman is from Anaheim and lives in San Diego, so LA would be close to home. That helped lure Jeff Kent a few years back, and that worked out nicely. Is it enough to get Hoffman? The next couple of days should tell the story.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Who else could be in on Manny?

Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports (not the guy who is my favorite receiver of all time) wrote an interesting article about other teams that could be in the Manny run. With guys like Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett all signed for huge contracts (hey, all by the Yankees! What a shock!), all eyes are now on Manny to see what happens with him.

Brown provides a list of possible teams involved, and their likeliness to sign him. Here they are:

LA Dodgers
- Still the likely front runners in all of this. Even though the Dodgers might be better off by getting more pitching help, Dodgers fans simply won't accept not getting him back. With Andruw Jones deferring $12 million of his salary, that only helps the odds of getting him. Plus, Jones and Manny share the same agent, the infamous Scott Boras. Coincidence? We will see.

San Francisco Giants - Getting Manny could instantly catapult them into the favorites for the NL West (keep in mind, this is a weak division). The pitching has been upgraded, but the offense still needs that extra punch. Don't sleep on them.

Tampa Bay Rays - Could be the perfect fit for the DH... but Pat Burrell was just signed today for that role, so forget it. Beside that, the price tag just is too high.

Washington Nationals - They're looking for a "face of the franchise" to fit in. Teixeira would have been it, but Manny probably isn't. They'll look for less.

New York Yankees - Why the hell not? They obviously don't give a damn about price tag, so another $100 million could be not big deal. But, they already have enough OF/DH guys, so even the Yanks might have to drop out of the running. Then again, I doubt many people thought they'd get Teixeira...

New York Mets - They're focusing more on getting another starting pitcher, such as Derek Lowe. If Manny still wants $20 million +, then they won't go after him. Lower the price, and they could be players.

Toronto Blue Jays - Unless Lyle Overbay and Scott Rolen are moved, it's not likely they'll want to add more payroll.

Texas Rangers - They were mentioned on the MLB Network yesterday as now being in the mix, but it's just talk right now, and nothing serious.

The other teams are the Baltimore Orioles, Anaheim Angles, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, and Oakland A's. None of those teams look serious at all, but were at least worth a mention.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Mercifully, Andruw Jones may soon be gone

What a difference a year can make. Or should I say, What a difference one LOUSY year can make.

The debacle known as the Andruw Jones signing looks to have finally come to an end. Jones has agreed to defer much of his salary left to spread out over the course of up to six years. In return, he will be either traded or released before the start of Spring Training. It could happen this month.

This ends what will go down as perhaps the worst free agent signing in baseball history. Seriously, I'm not kidding. Think about the expectations that were brought when he was signed. To refresh your memory, he was supposed to be a power bat in the middle of the order the Dodgers desperately needed, and give Gold Glove-caliber defense in center.

Instead, he only played 75 games, battling a weight problem (in other words, he was fat) that most likely led to a tear in his right knee. His final tally on the year was absolutely PATHETIC: .158 AVG, .256 OBP, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 76 K. And it's not like he could fall back on his used-to-be amazing defensive ability because he had a hard time tracking down balls he used to get to with ease in the past.

It's really hard to believe just how awful he really was. It's hard to put into perspective. I can't think of anyone that has ever signed a rich contract like he did (2 years/$36 million) and gave them literally nothing in return. Embarrassing.

Keep in mind that he hasn't actually been sent anywhere yet, but it will happen. Now that he'll be off to a "fresh start" somewhere else, the Dodgers have even more money to play around with. It's estimated that this move frees up $12 million, which goes along with the nearly $50 million opened up from the other 16 free agents that are now gone.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this money will go towards luring back Manny Ramirez, and rightfully so. To update on his situation, it looks as if Scott Boras and Ned Colletti are back in contact, which is a positive sign. But, there's now rumors swirling that the San Francisco Giants have offered a 4-year deal to him. Plus, the Anaheim Angels may rethink their strategy of not looking to replace the Mark Teixeira departure with him.

Hopefully, the Jones departure will be the beginning of bigger news for LA.