Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Theriot traded for Hawksworth

Ryan Theriot was traded today for Cardinals' pitcher Blake Hawksworth. Theriot was a candidate to get non-tendered by the Thursday deadline, but that's obviously not going to happen anymore.

Theriot came over to the Dodgers in the trade deadline deal that brought Ted Lilly to LA and sent Blake DeWitt to the Cubs. Appearing in 54 games playing second base, Theriot hit .242 with a .323 OBP, and gave very little power with five doubles, one homer, and no triples. A solid .309 average in August gave way to a meager .141 in September.

The official signing of Juan Uribe made Theriot expendable, as Uribe fills the void of primary starter at second while also playing other infield positions. The Dodgers needed to get more pop in their lineup, and Uribe's 24 homers last season are more than six season's worth of homers for Theriot at 16.

Hawksworth pitched mostly out of the bullpen in his two years with the Cardinals, making eight starts last season. For his brief career, he's gone 8-8 with a 4.07 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, and 81 strikeouts in 130 1/3 innings. He'll be right in the mix out of the 'pen.

What's promising about Hawksworth is probably equally as concerning: he had a great rookie season in '09. But, he followed that up with a sub-par sophomore season. Two years ago, he went 4-0 in 30 games with a 2.03 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and .209 BAA. Last season those numbers dipped to 4-8 in 45 games, 4.98 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, and .310 BAA.

Since Theriot was not in the future plans, it's worth getting a guy who's shown he can get hitters out. Hawksworth struggled with that last year, but the hope is that he'll bounce back and be one of the key arms late in games.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Colletti updates closing and catching situations

Ned Colletti was just interviewed on MLB Network's "Hot Stove Live" and updated the status of both closer and catcher:

Closer - As of now, Jonathan Broxton will be the closer heading into Spring Training. When asked what happened with him last year, Colletti said that he checked out physically time and time again last season, so it was mostly a lack of confidence. No other potential closer was discussed.

Catcher - There's still no definite answer on what will happen with Russell Martin, but they have until Thursday's non-tender deadline to decide. Colletti admitted that they'll have to make a decision without much knowledge on how well Martin is progressing towards being healthy for the spring. I tried to read between the lines on what Colletti was saying, but I still have no idea if he'll be back or not. We shall see.

Two-time champion Uribe the newest Dodger

Fresh off of signing three pitchers to the starting rotation, Ned Colletti is now adding more punch to the offense.

Juan Uribe has agreed to a three-year deal worth $21 million to join the Dodgers
. The deal is pending a physical, so there's always the slight chance it falls through.

What Uribe gives the Dodgers is a power hitter who can fill a hole in the infield, most likely at second base. Last season, he hit .248, but with a 24 homers and 85 RBIs. Project those numbers with the Dodgers, and he would have finished second in homers (Matt Kemp, 28) and third in RBIs (Kemp, 89; James Loney, 88).

Another good quality of Uribe is his versatility playing the infield. While it looks like he'll be at second, he has plenty of experience at short and third as well. He doesn't look like the trimmest person in the world, but he has a great glove, which makes him very valuable for later in games when there's defensive shuffling.

Three years has probably struck people as being too long. But, my guess is the Dodgers had to be bold in order to get him, hence the extra year or so. Colletti knows that he couldn't go through another season with such little pop in his lineup, so this is a nice move.

With Casey Blake and Rafael Furcal another year older and not as productive as they once were, Uribe can slide into their positions as well to provide some rest. Still, look for another third baseman to be brought in as well since Blake can't be considered the everyday answer there anymore.

Heading into the Winter Meetings next week, Colletti can keep focusing on improving the offense. He's off to a great start with Uribe, but he can't stop there. Adding another power source will be key.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dodgers snag Garland to complete rotation

With only two starters under contract at the end of the 2010 season, the Dodgers knew they had a lot of work to do to strengthen their rotation.

Not even a month later, they already completed their Christmas shopping.

First it was Ted Lilly, then Hiroki Kuroda, and now Jon Garland has returned to the Dodgers with a one-year, $5 million deal to be the fifth starter. The signing gives the Dodgers five starters who won at least 10 games this past season.

Garland is coming of a fine season for the Padres in which he went 14-12 with a 3.47 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and 136 strikeouts in exactly 200 innings pitched. He was a big reason they spent most of the season in first place of the NL West before losing it at the end to the Giants.

He'll be entering his 12th big league season in which he sports a career 4.32 ERA. Keep in mind that he pitched for the Dodgers in '09 after being traded for Tony Abreu at the trade deadline. He pitched very well, going 3-2 with a 2.72 ERA, but was a victim of the numbers game and got left off the postseason roster under Joe Torre.

The Dodgers obviously had many needs going into the season, but the starting rotation was the one that arguably struck out the most. Just like that, it's been taken care of, and Ned Colletti deserves plenty of credit for this.

Don't get me wrong, Garland isn't Cy Young material, and I would expect his ERA to be closer to 4.00 than the mid-3's he had last season. But, for an end-of-rotation guy, he fits the mold very well. He routinely pitches 200 innings and has only been on the DL once in his career.

With the Winter Meetings a week away, Colletti can now concentrate on getting his offense some more thump. He's got the horses to start the game, now he needs guys to give them run support. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Eveland inks minors contract

Dana Eveland has signed on with the Dodgers for one year on a minor league deal. The lefty was recently with the Pirates.

Eveland's best year was in 2008 with the A's, going 8-8 with a 4.34 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 168 innings. He's a career 16-21 with a 5.74 ERA and 1.74 WHIP. Um, ouch!

He's only 27, so maybe he's young enough to get something out of him. His numbers aren't pretty, as he's already bounced around four teams in his brief career, with the Dodgers now being his fifth. I'm not sure starting is in his future, but maybe a southpaw out of the 'pen will work out.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kuroda officially returns as rotation takes shape

It's official, Hiroki Kuroda is back.

Kuroda did indeed sign a one-year, $12 million contract to stay with the Dodgers. Included is a full no-trade clause and an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses. The Cardinals, Rockies, and Phillies were said to be interested in his services, but he chose to re-up with the Dodgers without taking any offers.

As I've talked about in my previous post, this really gives the Dodgers a solid 1-4 in the rotation. Clayton Kershaw will be the anchor, Chad Billingsley a solid #2, and Ted Lilly and Kuroda interchangeable in the 3-4 spots. In a division that features the world champion Giants and their deep rotation, the Dodgers can at least counter with some good arms of their own.

The key now is what the Dodgers do with their offense. Will they make a big splash and get a big bopper? Will they go after a couple solid bats and spread out the money? Will they not make a splash at all? Honestly, it could go any of these three ways. Wait and see.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Welcome back, Kuroda?

Based on what ESPN's Buster Olney has to say, it sure looks that way.

Olney is reporting that the Dodgers have agreed to a one-year deal with Hiroki Kuorda for $12 million. Kuroda originally signed with the Dodgers back in 2008 for three years and $35.3 million.

Kuroda has enjoyed a solid stay in the big leagues. Over the last three seasons, he has gone 28-20 with a 3.60 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 362 strikeouts in 497 innings pitched. Last season he was 11-13, but with a career-best ERA of 3.39, strikeouts of 159, and innings of 196 1/3.

The talk after this past season was that he was all set to pack his bags and head back to Japan to finish out his career. But, this looks like he's willing to give it one more go in the states. After going through his strongest season to date, it only makes sense to come back and get paid pretty nicely.

If Kuroda really is back in the fold, then the Dodgers would have a starting rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, and Kuroda, with a fifth starter to be named later. I'll take that. Kershaw is right on the edge of getting tagged with "ace" status, and the other three have shown how good they can be as well.

The price tag of $12 million struck me as a little expensive at first, but I think it's worth it considering the Dodgers know what they'll get in Kuroda. He won't overpower people, but he's gotten better in each of his seasons and knows what it takes to get batters out. For someone who could be the #4 starter, it works out great.

The downside, and understandably so, is that he'll be 36 next season. His full season of health in the 2010 season is proof that even in an older age, he can hold up just fine. It won't always be this way, so a one-year deal, and nothing more, is probably a smart move.

With the starting rotation seemingly set (keep in mind this deal still needs to go through), the Dodgers now need to fully shift their focus to the offense. They need someone who can hit the damn ball! Hopefully far and long, too.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gibbons resigns as Podsednik walks

The Dodgers made a couple of moves with their outfielder today, as Jay Gibbons has agreed on a one-year deal, while Scott Podsednik has declined his option to become a free agent. Gibbons's deal will be worth $650,000. Podsednik turned down $2 million.

Gibbons was an interesting story last season, as he tore up Triple-A to the tune of a .347 average with 19 home runs. When he was called up in August to the big club, he hit .280 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 37 games mostly in left field.

For this cheap, it's a good sign by the Dodgers. Gibbons showed some signs of having pop left in his bat, and for the Dodgers, they'll take that any way they can get it. Who knows if the Dodgers will make a big splash and sign a slugger, but I can see him getting some time in left field and being a key pinch-hitter.

As for Podsednik, the word is that even with declining his option, he's still talking to the club about coming back. Not too sure how serious those talks are, however. Seems obvious to me that the Dodgers didn't want to pay him $2 million.

If he does sign elsewhere, it's really not a big loss. He's a good source of speed at the top of the order, but he only had a .313 OBP when he came to the Dodgers. That's just not good enough, especially on a team that lacks power. Plus, he was 5-for-8 in stolen base attempts in 39 games, so it's not like he was setting the world on fire. A decent player, but not one they'll miss.