Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' Episode 11 - Dodgers, League, Otani, other news

At long last, "Dugout Blues" is back on the air. I know our tens of listeners were wondering where we went.

This week, Jared Massey (L.A. Dugout) talk about the Brandon League signing, the big trades the Dodgers made during the season (Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez) and about Japanese phenom Shohei Otani.

Libsyn link
Direct link
iTunes link

Look for new episodes of "Dugout Blues" every Wednesday at 12 p.m.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dodgers sign Brandon League to 3-year deal, not the end of the world

No matter the similarities in the length and money, the Dodgers signing Brandon League to nearly the same deal Juan Uribe got is actually not a bad thing.

The team signed the veteran right-handed reliever to a 3-year, $22.5 million contract on Tuesday with a vesting option for 2016.

It really isn't the end of the world, despite what you may have read on Twitter. I will say isn't preferable to give a reliever three years, but don't go jumping off any bridges just quite yet.

We all knew this was coming, but there are worse ways to spend $22.5 million (not many, but see Uribe, Juan).

I've written about bringing back League on a couple of occasions (Oct. 9, Saturday).

League will apparently be the Dodgers' closer (with that type of money, I don't know why I was surprised). But this also raises the question: Are the Dodgers not sold on Kenley Jansen's long-term health?

Jansen had his heart procedure last week and is doing great. However, if the Dodgers don't think they can rely on him consistently, I understand the need to bring League back.

Money is obviously no object for this ownership group. While this deal is a Ned Colletti special, they gave him $10 million more than Matt Guerrier (younger, better pitcher, makes sense). This deal will not hamper the Dodgers' ability to add players down the road -- but it isn't a particularly good business practice to continue, either.

The Dodgers now have nine free agents, none of whom I especially I want to see back. I wouldn't be opposed to Randy Choate coming back, but everyone else can go elsewhere.

Photo credit: swswigart, Flickr

Monday, October 29, 2012

2012 Los Angeles Dodgers Season Review: Outfield

The Dodgers had one of the best-looking outfields in the National League heading into the 2012 season. Despite not having a left fielder, the combination of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier were tough to beat. After acquiring Carl Crawford, the outfield should be that much better in 2013 and beyond.

Dodger outfielders by the numbers

Left Field
76 R, 34 2B, 4 3B, 6 HR, 52 RBI, 21 SB, 63 BB

Center Field
98 R, 30 2B, 5 3B, 23 HR, 84 RBI, 21 SB, 58 BB

Right Field
86 R, 38 2B, 1 3B, 23 HR, 97 RBI, 3 SB, 52 BB

Individual performers

Bobby Abreu
.246/.361/.344, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 28 R, 15.2 BB%
- Abreu was picked up off waivers in May and got off to a nice start as a Dodger. In his first 33 games, Abreu hit .326/.444/.461 while playing a lot of left field. His next 37 games, however, were forgettable: .178/.267/.222. His poor performance got him designated for assignment. After a brief minor-league stint, he was exclusively a pinch-hitter for the Dodgers in September. Considering what he is at this point in his career, Abreu gave the Dodgers more than people expected.
Grade: C-

Andre Ethier
.284/.351/.460, 20 HR, 89 RBI, 36 2B, 8.1 BB%
- Ethier's season was no surprise. He, as usual, was streaky and his overall numbers reflected that. He started his 2012 on a hot streak, as he hit .327/.384/.566 in his first 52 games. In his next 61 games, he hit .234/.315/.329. He finished the season strong at .304/.364/.522, including eight of his 20 home runs. A couple things to note: Ethier's walk and strikeout rates went in the wrong direction. His walk rate dropped nearly 2.5 percent and his strikeout rate increased nearly 1.5 percent. For a guy heading into his age-31 season, that isn't a good sign. However, his performance earned him a contract extension, which I liked at the time. But unless he figures out left-handed pitching (.222/.276/.330), he's going to be the most expensive platoon man this side of Alex Rodriguez.
Grade: B-

Tony Gwynn
.232/.276/.293, 4 3B, 17 RBI, 13 SB, 5.8 BB%
- Gwynn was signed to a 2-year deal in the winter, and I was a big fan of it. Gwynn also earned praise early in the season for his pinch-hitting. However, after he was asked to step in full-time for Kemp, his offensive ineptitude was exposed. From May 29 through Aug. 5 (his last game in the majors in 2012), he hit just .188/.235/.243. No matter how good his glove is in center field (and it is that good), a triple slash like that won't cut it. He was relegated to Albuquerque for the rest of the season. He's signed for 2013 at $1.15 million, so it'll be interesting to see what the Dodgers do with him.
Grade: D

Elian Herrera
.251/.340/.332, 10 2B, 17 RBI, 26 R, 10.8 BB%
- The man who seemed to come out of nowhere, Herrera, like a lot of other Dodgers, got off to a fast start. He made his Major League debut on May 15. Through June 12, he was hitting .300/.400/.378 while playing primarily second and third base for the team. Again, like a lot of other Dodgers, he struggled after his hot streak: .206/.280/.289. He'll be in the mix for the utility player spot for the team in 2013.
Grade: C-

Matt Kemp
.303/.367.538, 23 HR, 69 RBI, 22 2B, 8.9 BB%
- Kemp, coming off an MVP-caliber season in 2011, struggled with injury. The sad thing is, he got off to an incredible start. Before suffering his first hamstring injury in May, he was hitting .359/.446/.726. Kemp tried to come back too soon, aggravated the same injury and was out for a month. He came back and hit well before he cooled off a bit.  After running into the center field wall in Colorado, he struggled mightily. Kemp had a 20-game stretch where he was downright atrocious (.159/.216/.256). He finished the season strong, though (.367/.406/.867). He had shoulder surgery earlier this month and should be back for Spring Training. Let's just hope the injury doesn't sap his power.
Grade: B

Juan Rivera
.244/.286/.375, 9 HR, 47 RBI, 14 2B, 5.3 BB%
- Rivera was, as expected, pretty awful this season. In fact, he was worse this season for the Dodgers than he was in the 62 games he played for them in 2011. I mean, the man had a negative bWAR (-0.9) and fWAR (-0.8). He wasn't even replacement-level good, yet he played 109 games. That's usually a recipe for disaster. Rivera has a club option for 2013 which, if the Dodgers are smart, they'll decline it
Grade: D- (and that's being generous)

Shane Victorino
.245/.316/.351, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 15 SB, 7.7 BB%
- An ill-advised trade deadline acquisition, Victorino was pretty bad for the Dodgers -- especially since he cost the team Josh Lindblom, Ethan Martin and, to a lesser extent, Stefan Jarrin. Victorino had a career-year in 2011, but came crashing back to earth in 2012. Thank goodness the Dodgers traded for Crawford, or it'd be almost a sure thing Victorino would be back in Blue in 2013.
Grade: D-

The rest

Alex Castellanos, Grade: INC
Jerry Sands, Grade: INC
Scott Van Slyke, Grade: INC

Next up: Infielders

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Dodgers discussing 3-year deal with Brandon League, because why not?

Earlier this month, I said the Dodgers should look to re-sign Brandon League. It had been reported the Dodgers were looking to do that and, as Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times reports, the Dodgers are discussing a 3-year deal with League.

Who didn't see that coming?

Here's what I wrote on Oct. 9:
"Knowing Colletti, he'll give League a 3-year deal (if Matt Guerrier got it, why not League?). I'd be more OK with League getting the deal, but I wouldn't be signing Colletti's praises, either."
My opinion hasn't changed. If League can maintain a strikeout rate close to what he did with the Dodgers (8.9), it could be a solid deal. That's a big "if," though, as League has only averaged a K/9 better than 6.8 once in his career (2009).

If the deal goes down, I don't see this being another Matt Guerrier deal. League at least has an electric arm and a good career groundball rate. Guerrier was just a run-of-the-mill middle reliever who, somehow, got a 3-year deal.

Unfortunately, the team also wants to bring back Jamey Wright, which makes no sense. The offseason is almost upon us.

Photo credit: swswigart, Flickr

Friday, October 26, 2012

Can't believe this is happening again

In 2010, the Rangers had the dominant Cliff Lee and were poised to beat the Giants in the World Series. Five games later, something terrible happened that I won't relive.

Fast forward two years: The Tigers have perhaps the best right-handed pitcher in the game in Justin Verlander and the Giants' have been living on the edge the entire postseason.

Fast forward two games: The unthinkable is close to happening -- again.

After the Reds and Cardinals failed to win just one more game (friggin' chokers), the Tigers are doing their best to piss off every Dodger fan on the planet.

Dodger fans could always claim West Coast championship lore over Giant fans. Now, the Dodgers are 24 years between World Series appearances while the Giants are ... I'm not even going to say it.

Maybe the Mayans were right.

Photo credit: hueytaxi, Flickr

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dodgers' news: Kenley Jansen, Shohei Otani, Yunel Escobar, Andres Santiago

Kenley Jansen underwent successful heart surgery on Tuesday. His recovery time will be three to four months.

Hopefully, this solves Jansen's issues, as he's missed time the last two seasons with this. Barring anything unforeseen, he should be ready to go for 2013. And the Dodgers are going to need him anchoring the bullpen.

Otani update

Chad Moriyama has a great breakdown of the Shohei Otani situation.

The Dodgers need to land this kid. His potential is off the charts. But he might not even be the best pitching prospect in Japan.

Ben Badler of Baseball America had a look at Otani as a prospect and wrote there's an even better pitching prospect in Japan (subscription required).

Baseball America also released its report card for the Dodgers' 2013 draft class (subscription required).

Yunel Escobar for shortstop?

Mike Petriello wonders if the Dodgers should take a run at Yunel Escobar.

It's definitely an out-of-the-box idea, but it also seems like an idea that was better suited during the McCourt era. Still, you can't fault Petriello for thinking about it. Many don't want Hanley Ramirez to be the Dodgers' shortstop come Opening Day 2013. I can't say I blame them, but I also think his offensive potential at the position outweighs his defensive shortcomings (and I can't believe I just typed that).

Of course, I could change my tune come the end of April and Ramirez has butchered multiple plays at shot.

Santiago shines in AFL Wednesday

Andres Santiago made his third start of the Arizona Fall League season and had his best outing by far: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB (both in the first inning), 5 K.

The only negative part about his performance was his strike percentage. He threw 70 pitches, but just 41 strikes -- good for a 56.3 percent strike rate. He had a 61 percent strike rate in 26 Southern League innings, so it's something he'll have to work on going forward.

Dugout Blues

Look for new episodes of the Dodgers' podcast "Dugout Blues" in the not too distant near future.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Shohei Otani elects for free agency, Dodgers a possible destination

Get used to the name Shohei Otani, folks. You'll be hearing it for a long time. The Japanese right-hander today announced he will pursue a career in Major League Baseball.

What makes this situation different is he's just 18 years old. Usually, Japanese players are bound to play for the Nippon Professional Baseball League until their mid-to-late-20s, so to get a player of Otani's ability while he's still a teenager could mean great things for him and his team.

Here is some footage of Otani in action.

Otani seems to be excited about the prospect of playing Major League Baseball.
"'I think I will start in the minor leagues but I want to challenge in the majors. It's been my dream since entering high school.'"
The long-term imapct of Otani's decision on the NPB is unknown, but his decision could be the start of something new in Japan.
"Otani was expected to go in the first round of Thursday's amateur draft in Japan.

If he signs with a major league team, Otani would become the first potential top draft pick to make the direct jump from a Japanese high school to the U.S."
However, I'd expect the NPB to fix whatever loophole may be present to prevent too many of these situations in the future.

Signing Otani won't come down to which team offers him the most money. Otani falls under the international spending limits from MLB's new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and the Dodgers have already tapped into some of that budget. It's going to come down to who's the best salesman.

Assistant General Manager Logan White understands that and has been actively on the case for more than a month now.
"The Los Angeles Dodgers will be/were the first to meet with Otani today. They had actually scheduled an appointment to drop by Hanamaki Higashi before they knew that he was going to file his letter of intent. Logan White (Assistant GM, Amateur and International Scouting), Acey Kohrogi (Executive Director, Asian Operations and Scouting), and Keiichi Kojima (scout) are expected to attend the meeting. The Red Sox are also said to be interested.

Dodgers could be front runners for Otani: scout Kojima has been keeping track of Otani since he was a first year high school student and assistant GM White was in Japan in March to watch him pitch in a practice game. Otani will not attend the meeting.  Hanamaki Higashi manager Hiroshi Sasaki will represent him. At least five MLB teams, including the Rangers and Red Sox are said to be interested."
The Dodgers are not shy when attempting to sign Japanese players.
  • Hideo Nomo was the biggest get back in 1995.
  • Kazuhisa Ishii, seen as a solid pitcher at the time, wasn't that great.
  • Takashi Saito, however, was great for the Dodgers. It's too bad he didn't make it to the majors until his late-30s. He could have been something special.
  • Hiroki Kuroda, who I wouldn't mind seeing back with the Dodgers next season, was the most recent prominent player the Dodgers signed out of Japan.
Oh, and who could forget Norihiro Nakamura -- No. 66 in your programs and, well, probably No. 66 in your hearts.

The Dodgers will do whatever they can to get Otani to agree to play in Los Angeles. As I wrote last week, this would be a great acquisition for the Dodgers. I didn't see it as likely (not many did), but now that Otani has elected for free agency, it's exciting to think of the possibilities.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dodgers need to steer clear of the A-Rod, Yankees' mess

I never thought I'd be writing about Alex Rodriguez on this blog. I never thought the media would ramp up such ridiculous rumors. OK, I lied about that last part.

The fact is, the Dodgers showed their financial strength this season with a flurry of acquisitions and ungodly amounts of money being added to the payroll. I guess it makes sense for the media to assume Los Angeles would be a landing place for Rodriguez.

But the Dodgers need to stay away.

I couldn't care less about Rodriguez's alleged tail-chasing escapade. All I care about is what he does on the field.

Rodriguez's production has declined dramatically in the last two seasons. He's hitting just .274/.357/.444 in that time. Those are actually solid numbers, but not by Rodriguez's standards -- and certainly not for the price tag.

Something else to consider is Rodriguez's health. He hasn't played more than 138 games since 2007, his age-31 season. He's going into his age-37 season averaging 124 games played per year since that time. With no designated hitter, the number could be less than that.

No good can come of A-Rod in Dodger Blue.

Before his performance-enhancing drug admission, I was a Rodriguez fan. I was always bitter because Seattle (smartly) chose him instead of Darren Dreifort in the 1993 MLB Draft. Rodriguez had allegedly told Seattle he wanted to play in Los Angeles, but Seattle didn't listen.

Thus, the Mariners got a future Hall of Famer and the Dodgers got a glass-armed flamethrower who couldn't stay healthy. Dreifort could hit, though.

Rodriguez is a shell of his former self. He has $114 million remaining on his 5-year contract -- and that's just his base salary. Here are the bonuses he earns if he gets to certain home run milestones (via Cot's):
"$30M marketing agreement based on home run milestones ($6M each for reaching 660, 714, 755 and tying and breaking major league HR record)"
Not that money is a huge factor for the Dodgers these days, but it has to play into the decision. The Yankees are going to have to pay a large portion of the deal, but I wouldn't want the Dodgers giving up anyone of consequence to get him (Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, etc.), no matter how much New York were to include.

I'm in no way saying a guy like Juan Uribe is better than Rodriguez and deserves one more chance at third base. Hell, I'm not even saying Luis Cruz is better than him. But the Dodgers should look elsewhere for third base help.

With first base locked up through 2018, Rodriguez couldn't even move there if (when) he became a liability at the hot corner. Acquiring Rodriguez would also block Corey Seager from having a shot at the position when he's ready. Granted, no one knows if Seager will actually ever make a major league appearance, but the Dodgers didn't draft him in the first round to let him sit behind an aging veteran.

I have no good answer for third base. I like Hanley Ramirez at shortstop. I like Chase Headley and, in hindsight, would gladly trade Zach Lee and others to get him, but that doesn't seem to likely now.

The Dodgers are going to have to get creative to fill the void at third base. As solid as Cruz was, he won't hold up over the 162-game season.

While I don't know who the Dodgers will tab to play third base, but I know it shouldn't be A-Rod.

Photo credit: dwhartwig, Flickr

Thursday, October 18, 2012

2012 Los Angeles Dodgers Season Review: Rotation

Aside from Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers' rotation -- despite posting decent numbers -- was generally underwhelming in 2012. September was actually the pitching staff's best month, but even if the Dodgers had made the playoffs, they didn't have the starting pitching to hang with the big boys.

Dodgers' rotation by the numbers
56-56 W-L
3.41 ERA
1.25 WHIP
8.2 H/9
0.8 HR/9
3.0 BB/9
7.5 K/9
2.51 K/BB
2 CG, 2 SHO (both by Kershaw)


Clayton Kershaw
14-9, 2.53 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 6.7 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 2.5 BB/9, 9.1 K/9, 2.89 FIP
- Kershaw wasn't as dominant as he was in 2011, but he wasn't as far off those numbers as some would lead you to believe. Kershaw still led the majors in ERA for a second consecutive season and led the majors in hits per nine innings. He also led the National League in WHIP. His slider wasn't nearly as good a pitch as it was in 2011, but his fastball improved and he made his curveball a great weapon again. In fact, his curveball was nearly twice as good as it's ever been. He was the Dodgers' most consistent performer and should take home team MVP honors (for what it's worth).
Grade: A

Chad Billingsley
10-9, 3.55 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 8.9 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 2.7 BB/9, 7.7 K/9, 3.34 FIP
- Billingsley had just hit his stride before injuring his elbow in late August. It was the second time he hurt his elbow. This time, it might mean Tommy John surgery. He emerged as the Dodgers' second-best pitcher and would have been a big help in September. He had a career-low walks per nine rate and a career-best strikeout-to-walk ratio. Let's just hope his elbow recovers well enough for him to pitch in 2013. I'd be surprised if it does, though.
Grade: B

Chris Capuano
12-12, 3.72 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 8.5 H/9, 1.1 HR/9, 2.5 BB/9, 7.4 K/9, 3.95 FIP
- Capuano was brought in to help alleviate the loss of Hiroki Kuroda, and he did an admirable job doing so. He scored career-bests in ERA, WHIP and hits per nine innings. He pitched so well that he garnered some All-Star consideration from some. I wasn't appalled by his signing, but I was still wanting Kuroda to return. He was consistent in the first half before seemingly running out of gas in the second half.
Grade: B-

Aaron Harang
10-10, 3.72 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 8.7 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 4.3 BB/9, 6.6 K/9, 4.14 FIP
- Harang, all things being equal, was reasonably adequate for the Dodgers this season. We all remember his Dodger record nine consecutive strikeouts, but that's about all we remember. Harang's walks per nine innings and walk-to-strikeout ratio were not in line with his career numbers, accounting for a high WHIP. He's a prime candidate to be traded or sent to the bullpen come 2013.
Grade: C

Joe Blanton
2-4, 4.99 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 10.3 H/9, 1.1 HR/9, 2.5 BB/9, 8.0 K/9, 4.26 FIP
- Blanton came over in an August trade that sent Ryan O'Sullivan to the Phillies. I was actually a fan of this deal when it went down (though, I would have rather kept O'Sulivan), but Blanton struggled in his 10 starts as a Dodger. He's a free agent and I'd be surprised if he was re-signed.
Grade: D

Nathan Eovaldi
1-6, 4.15 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 10.1 H/9, 0.8 HR/9, 3.2 BB/9, 5.4 K/9, 4.11 FIP
- Eovaldi began the season in Double-A -- just as he did last season -- and was recalled to fill a rotation void. He was decent in his second go-round with the Dodgers before he was traded with Scott McGough for Hanley Ramirez. Eovaldi pitched similarly in Florida, but there's still a lot of promise left in his 22-year-old arm.
Grade: C

Ted Lilly
5-1, 3.14 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 6.7 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 3.5 BB/9, 5.7 K/9, 3.92 FIP
- Lilly got off to a fast start before suffering what would end up being a season-ending shoulder injury in May. Before allowing eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings in his last start of the season, Lilly owned a 1.79 ERA and had clearly established himself as the Dodgers' third starter. He had shoulder surgery and his status for 2013 is unknown.
Grade: B-

Josh Beckett
2-3, 2.93 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 9.0 H/9, 1.0 HR/9, 2.9 BB/9, 8.0 K/9, 3.61 FIP
- Beckett came over with something to prove. I'm not sure he did, but he pitched reasonably well in his one-plus month with the Dodgers. Beckett is a wild card for the Dodgers. He could be the Dodgers' No. 3 starter Opening Day.
Grade: B

Stephen Fife
0-2, 2.70 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 8.4 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 4.1 BB/9, 6.8 K/9, 4.14 FIP
- Fife, a surprise addition to the 40-man roster prior to the season, actually made some meaningful starts for the Dodgers and didn't get shelled. That qualifies as a successful season for the 25-year-old righty. Fife used a lot of smoke and mirrors to get through his starts as he didn't miss many bats.
Grade: C+

Next up: Outfielders

Photo credits
Kershaw: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue
Eovaldi: EephusBlue, Paint the Corners

Monday, October 15, 2012

2012 Los Angeles Dodgers Season Review: Bullpen

The Dodgers had a pretty good bullpen this season. Aside from a higher-than-desired walks per nine rate, the group was better than last season.

Dodgers' bullpen by the numbers
30-20 W-L
3.23 ERA
1.26 WHIP
7.2 H/9
0.7 HR/9
4.1 BB/9
8.8 K/9
2.14 K/BB
40 saves

Individual Performers

Ronald Belisario
8-1, 2.54 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 6.0 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 3.7 BB/9, 8.7 K/9, 3.09 FIP, 1 save
- Belisario, who didn't pitch at all in 2012, started this season by being suspended for 25 games. Obviously, that had no negative impact on his performance as he was the Dodgers' second-most reliable reliever. Despite an ERA half a run higher than his 2009 performance, he actually pitched better in 2012. And to think, I actually questioned the Dodgers giving Belisario another shot.
Grade: A

Randy Choate
0-0, 4.05 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 8.8 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 6.1 BB/9, 7.4 K/9
- Choate was acquired in the Hanley Ramirez deal and filled a need for the Dodgers. His performance as a Dodger was just "meh." He was the true definition of a LOOGY, as he appeared in 36 games for the Dodgers but threw just 13 1/3 innings. He walked too many hitters (nine, included three intentionally) and gave up too many hits. However, I wouldn't be opposed to the team bringing him back.
Grade: C

Todd Coffey
1-0, 4.66 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 7.9 H/9, 0.5 HR/9, 4.2 BB/9, 8.4 K/9, 3.61 FIP
- Coffey was a late signing and I didn't really understand it at the time. He got off to a rough start, but he really turned it on in June, allowing just two hits and no runs in 8 2/3 innings. In Coffey's first July outing, he gave up two runs in 2/3 of an inning. It would also be his last outing of the season as he would suffer a torn ulnar collateral ligament and need Tommy John surgery.
Grade: C

Scott Elbert
1-1, 2.20 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 7.4 H/9, 0.8 HR/9, 3.6 BB/9, 8.0 K/9, 3.80 FIP
- Elbert was a solid performer out of the Dodgers' bullpen for the second year in a row. He was the only left-hander until the team acquired Choate in July. Elbert's 2.20 ERA was better than 2011 (2.43), but a few of his peripherals weren't as good. His FIP was up more than a point and his K/9 dropped by 1.2. He injured his elbow late in the season and had surgery. Thankfully, it wasn't Tommy John.
Grade: B

Javy Guerra
2-3, 2.60 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 8.8 H/9, 0.2 HR/9, 4.6 BB/9, 7.4 K/9, 3.34 FIP, 8 saves
- Guerra started the season as the team's closer and got off to a quick start. However, he struggled and was ousted from the role. He also spent time on the disabled list this season. Despite all that, he was somewhat effective for the Dodgers this season. His WHIP was 30 points higher than last season due to a higher hits per nine and walks per nine. He'll need to get a handle on that going forward.
Grade: C+

Matt Guerrier
0-2, 3.86 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 5.1 H/9, 1.9 HR/9, 4.5 BB/9, 5.8 K/9, 6.31 FIP
- Guerrier hit the disabled list for the first time in his career in 2012. Fitting, considering the Dodgers foolishly signed him to a 3-year contract prior to the 2011 season. When he did pitch, however, he was relatively ineffective, as he walked seven and gave up three home runs in 14 innings. He's set to make $3.75 million this season, so he isn't going anywhere.
Grade: D+

Kenley Jansen
5-3, 2.35 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 4.6 H/9, 0.8 HR/9, 3.0 BB/9, 13.7 K/9, 2.40 FIP,  25 saves
- Jansen, as he did last season, dominated out of the bullpen. Unfortunately, like last season, missed time with a heart issue. That's pretty much the only blemish on his record. Aside from a late-August blemish against Colorado, Jansen was nails in the second half. Early on, I wondered if Jansen's decreased velocity was something to be concerned about. Judging by the results, I'd say no. But it is interesting to note his velocity was down 1.4 MPH from 2011.
Grade: A

Brandon League
2-1, 2.30 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 5.6 H/9, 0.0 HR/9, 4.6 BB/9, 8.9 K/9, 6 saves
- League was quite valuable for the Dodgers down the stretch, filling in for the injured Jansen as the Dodger closer. The only area where he struggled was the walks. He'll need to bring that down no matter where he ends up. While I wasn't a fan of the trade at the time, I recently penned a post saying the Dodgers should re-sign the hard-throwing righty.
Grade: A-

Josh Lindblom
2-2, 3.02 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 7.9 H/9, 1.7 HR/9, 3.4 BB/9, 8.1 K/9
- Before he was traded to Philadelphia, Lindblom was sharing setup man duties with Belisario. Aside from the inordinate number of home runs allowed, Lindblom pitched well in the role. If there's one position the Dodgers can afford to trade, it's right-handed relievers.
Grade: B-

Shawn Tolleson
3-1, 4.30 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 7.2 H/9, 1.0 HR/9, 4.8 BB/9, 9.3 K/9, 4.08 FIP
- Tolleson made an inauspicious debut, walking the first two batters he would ever face (on 10 pitches). But he still managed to be a serviceable middle reliever for the Dodgers. He was able to strike out more than a batter per inning, but he has to refine his control and command. The Dodgers will need him to take the next step. He profiles as a better reliever than Lindblom, so that shouldn't be too hard for him.
Grade: C+

Jamey Wright
5-3, 3.72 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 9.6 H/9, 0.3 HR/9, 4.0 BB/9, 7.2 K/9, 3.39 FIP
- Wright was a non-roster invitee and, as he had the seven previous seasons, made a big league roster. For who he is and what he brings, he pitched a hell of a lot better than anyone could have expected. Still, he wasn't exactly getting the ball in the ninth inning of a close game. At least he kept the ball in the yard, though. The Dodgers have said they want to bring back their free agent relievers, but I'm hoping that doesn't include Wright.
Grade: C

The rest

Rubby De La Rosa, Grade: INC
John Ely, Grade: INC
Mike MacDougal, Grade: F
Paco Rodriguez, Grade: B+
Josh Wall, Grade: INC

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Dodgers have interest in Japanese phenom Shohei Otani, acquisition unlikely

I haven't been this excited about an 18-year-old prospect since, well, Corey Seager. But Shohei Otani has a chance to be an incredible prospect -- and the Dodgers are interested in him.

I'm not going to lie: I had no idea who this kid was before Friday. Thankfully, Mike Petriello and Chad Moriyama kicked all kinds of ass breaking down the kid and what it would take to get him.

From Petriello:
"As you can imagine from an 18-year-old high school kid from the Pacific Rim, there’s not a whole lot of actual scouting out there on him, and I’d be lying to you if I said that I’d heard of him before a few hours ago. Still, 18, touching triple digits. It’s enticing, to say the least.

But let’s clarify what this is and isn’t. This isn’t Daisuke Matsuzaka, who cost the Red Sox a $51.1m posting fee in 2006. This isn’t Yu Darvish, for whom the Rangers paid $51.7m last year. And he’s not Hiroki Kuroda or Takashi Saito, who came to the Dodgers with no posting fee at all. Per the rules of NBP, the major professional Japanese league, players are bound to their teams for nine years after being drafted. If they ask to play in the United States, a team may “post” them, accepting the largest blind bid from a MLB team in order to allow the player to move. In the cases of Kuroda & Saito, they had put in their nine years (or more) and didn’t come to the States until their 30s.

For Otani, it’s a little different. He’s not yet been drafted by NBP, so he’s not technically subject to the nine year rule. However, it’s excessively rare for a high school player to skip Japanese ball and go right to America. In fact, the only player I can find who has done that is Junichi Tazawa, who’s pitched in 46 games for Boston around Tommy John surgery since making his debut in 2009. (And, now that I look at it, he was outstanding this year, with a 45/5 K/BB in 44 innings.) But Tazawa’s case is unique as well, since he went undrafted by NBP out of high school and spent several seasons pitching for an unaffiliated team in Japan."
From Moriyama:
"It’s unlikely that the primary obstacle here will end up being money. Otani’s decision will likely revolve around his willingness to leave home for a foreign land as a teenager, his ability to deal with becoming a trailblazer and breaking tradition, and perhaps most importantly, the ramifications his decision will have on the relationship between him and the NPB, the MLB and the NPB, and the Dodgers and the NPB.

Unlike Korea and Taiwan, who inexplicably (IMO) let MLB teams pilfer their amateur talent, the NPB still has a handshake agreement in place with the MLB regarding their amateur players. And while I don’t have an inside track on how this all shakes out, given Otani’s immense talent, if he decides he wants to sign overseas, the strength of that agreement will be put to the test."
There aren't many 18-year-olds who legitimately touch 100 MPH on the gun. Otani already possesses a major league body at 6'4, 190 pounds. He would be a hell of a get for the Dodgers.

Unfortunately, the Dodgers can't use their incredible monetary advantage to land Otani, so it really depends if he wants to go against the grain of the NPB.

Here's some video of the phenom.

The Dodgers have done quite well on the international market this season. Everyone knows about Yasiel Puig, but the Dodgers also inked Mexican lefty Julio Urias, who was considered to be a top prospect on the international market. Adding Otani would be -- at this point -- unbelievable.

We'll see what happens, but I'm not exactly penciling him in on my Dodgers' prospect list anytime soon.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hanley Ramirez should bat leadoff for the Dodgers in 2013 and beyond

Something was painfully obvious this season: the Dodgers lacked a legitimate leadoff man.

Dee Gordon, coming off a strong rookie campaign, faltered as the leadoff man and struggled with a wrist injury. The other players used in his place -- mainly Mark Ellis, Tony Gwynn and Shane Victorino -- didn't fare much better.

The Dodgers got below-average production out of the leadoff spot in 2012 (.226/.281/.302). That isn't going to cut it with a team that has Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez hitting in the middle of it.

So, it would seem the Dodgers are in need of a leadoff hitter. But they might have the perfect guy to plug into the leadoff spot right now. His name: Hanley Ramirez.

Ramirez was acquired to be a middle-of-the-order bat, but his talents might better utilized hitting atop the Dodgers' order.

Ramirez's best days came as a leadoff man, as he's hit .309/.385/.536 in his career (403 games). Conversely, he's hit .301/.372/.478 in the No. 3 spot in his career (416 games). With Kemp around, however, that isn't going to happen.

There are more numbers that backup the notion of Ramirez leading off.

In his career, he owns a .322/.381/.649 triple slash when leading off a game. The high slugging percentage is due to the 25 leadoff home runs Ramirez has hit in his career. Not Rickey Henderson, but not bad, either. He also owns a .320/.384/.561 triple slash when he's the first batter of an inning.

The man obviously knows what to do in the leadoff spot despite hitting there just 28 times since the start of the 2010 season.

And something else that's overlooked: Ramirez can still run. He's not going to steal 51 bases as he did in 2006 and 2007, but he could easily swipe 25 as the Dodger leadoff man (maybe more). While Gordon has the ability to steal 60 bases, he can't do it if he isn't getting on base.

There's no way of knowing whether Ramirez could replicate his production from his early days, but using guys like Gordon and Ellis in the leadoff spot isn't good enough for the Dodgers' lineup.

A 1-2-3-4 of Ramirez, Carl Crawford, Kemp, Gonzalez could be quite a sight. That doesn't even include Andre Ethier or any potential offseason additions (Chase Headley, please!).

And before you think Crawford could be a legitimate leadoff man, check out his numbers in the No. 1 spot and his numbers leading off the game or an inning. Not good, and nowhere near Ramirez's numbers.

We'll see if the Dodgers have the stones to hit Ramirez leadoff. To me, it's a no-brainer.

Photo credit: SD Dirk, Flickr

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Prospect news: Lee among SL's best, Puig out for AFL, first two AFL games

Zach Lee, who was ranked as the fifth-best prospect in the California League last week, was tabbed as the Southern League's 13th-best prospect, according to Baseball America.

Lee was the only current Dodger prospect to make the list. Allen Webster, who was traded to Boston in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, was ranked as the league's ninth-best prospect.

That was a little surprising, but Baseball America has always liked Webster, so I guess it isn't that surprising.

Lee will begin the 2013 season with the Lookouts and, if all goes according to plan, he won't don a Dodger jersey until September at the earliest. But it is nice to have the organization's top prospect close enough to the majors that he could contribute if needed.

Puig won't play in AFL

Dodgers' $42 million prospect Yasiel Puig won't play in the Arizona Fall League after suffering a staph infection. The injury isn't serious.

Many folks were interested to see how Puig would do against advanced competition as he had just 95 plate appearances in his debut season.

There is a chance he'll play winter ball, but the level of competition is significantly lower than that of the AFL.

While Puig's talents are still unknown, it's hard not to acknowledge the outstanding physical ability he possesses. He's an imposing figure and, if his head is screwed on straight, should be the next great Dodger prospect.

I'm hoping to see him in person come next season.

Pederson, Eadington struggle in AFL opener

Joc Pederson and Eric Eadington both go their first taste of fall ball on Tuesday -- and both didn't fare particularly well.

Pederson, who hit second and played left field, went 0-for-4 with six runners left on base while Eadington gave up two solo home runs in his inning of work.

Neither of them played in Wednesday's game.

Rafael Ynoa played well in the first game (2-for-4 with an RBI). Gorman Erickson has played in both games, but merely as a backup catcher.

Chris Reed and Red Patterson pitched in Wednesady's game. Reed, who replaced Steven Rodriguez on the roster, went one scoreless inning while hitting a batter. Patterson also threw a scoreless inning with a walk and a strikeout.

Andres Santiago is slated to start on Friday. I'm really interested to see how he does against advanced competition.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Dodgers should seriously entertain re-signing Brandon League

When the Dodgers traded for Brandon League, I wasn't impressed. League came from Seattle as about as mediocre as one could be. Yet, his performance as a Dodger was surprising and actually, good.

League pitched so well with the Dodgers that I wouldn't mind him being re-signed.

The Dodgers traded Leon Landry and Logan Bawcom to get League, which I wasn't happy about at the time. In hindsight, it wasn't as bad as expected, but I'm still not a fan of trading for veteran relievers midsesason.

League's Dodger career started off shaky as he allowed six runs in his first five innings. But after bullpen coach Ken Howell corrected a mechanical flaw, League was filthy. In 22 1/3 innings, League had a 0.40 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, .114 BAA and averaged nearly a strikeout per inning.

League made $5 million this season and he should easily be able to get that on the open market. The question is: will the Dodgers -- more specifically, Ned Colletti -- give it to him?

All signs point to "yes." From the L.A. Times:
"Colletti wants to re-sign the Dodgers relievers who will be free agents: closer Brandon League, right-hander Jamey Wright and left-hander Randy Choate."
League and Choate, yes. Wright, no. But we'll get to that in another post.

So, it seems the Dodgers have interest in bringing him back. And League has interest in returning.
"'This is definitely somewhere I'd like to play, but it's not up to me. We'll see what happens.'"
With Kenley Jansen set to undergo heart surgery soon, there's no iron-clad guarantee he'll be back for 2013. I mean, it is heart surgery after all (but most expect him to be just fine). Having a guy like League could be beneficial.

Make no mistake: Jansen is the Dodgers' closer if he's healthy. But League could be an important cog as a setup man. His mid-90s fastball and the ability to get groundballs (59.5 percent for his career) is a good combination.

Knowing Colletti, he'll give League a 3-year deal (if Matt Guerrier got it, why not League?). I'd be more OK with League getting the deal, but I wouldn't be signing Colletti's praises, either.

With Josh Lindblom in Philadelphia and Javy Guerra an inconsistent option in the late innings, re-signing League might be near the top of the winter "To Do" list.

Like League said above: We'll see what happens.

Photo credit: swswigart, Flickr

Thursday, October 4, 2012

No surprise: Joc Pederson and Zach Lee two of the Cal League's best

Dodger prospects Joc Pederson and Zach Lee both cracked the Top 5 of Baseball America's California League Top 20 list, published today.

Pederson checked in at No. 3 while Lee was No. 5 on the list.

Pederson's amazing second half helped to catapult him near the top of this list. Overall, he finished the season with a .313/.396/.516 triple slash with 18 home runs, 70 RBI, 96 runs and 26 stolen bases.

What made Pederson's performance that much more impressive is the fact he's only 20 years old and is roughly two years younger than league-average.

Pederson was also named the Dodgers' Minor League Player of the Year. I bestowed the same honor upon him on this site last month.

Lee was the highest-rated pitcher on this list and there were just six pitchers in the Top 20. That's not surprising considering the Cal League is a notorious hitter's haven.

Before his promotion to Chattanooga Lee, also 20 for most of the season (turned 21 Sept. 13), had some really good peripherals with the Quakes: 1.26 WHIP, 1.6 BB/9, 8.5 K/9 and a 4.03 FIP.

He gave up a few too many hits (9.8 per nine) an home runs (1.5 per nine), but he was good otherwise. Lee showed improvement in those areas in the Southern League.

I wrote about his time in the Cal League earlier this season. Lee's ability is unquestioned and his floor is higher than most pitching prospects.

Chris Reed and Yasiel Puig were mentioned in the piece, but they didn't have enough playing time to qualify. Reed would have been, at best No. 6 and at worst No. 10 on this list had he qualified.

Former Dodger-now-Mariner prospect Leon Landry was ranked No. 15 on this list after winning the league batting title. He was traded along with Logan Bawcom to Seattle in July for Brandon League. He had a truly remarkable season after struggling mightily in the Midwest League in 2011.

Jim Shonerd, the author of this list, has written the last two Dodger Top 30s for BA and it will be interesting to see if he does it again.

It will also be interesting to see if he does indeed rank Pederson (presumably No. 1) ahead of Lee. Lee is still my top player in the system, but it's a close race among the top four (Puig and Corey Seager included).

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dodgers officially eliminated from playoff race, baseball season over

Mark Ellis' short fly ball to center field that, at first looked like it had a chance to drop, ended the Dodgers' season tonight.

"Drop, drop, drop! Ahh f---!"

That's a direct quote from me at the end of the game.

Well, it was definitely an interesting season. There's still one more game -- a game that will be inexplicably started by Clayton Kershaw -- but the Dodgers' playoff hopes ended tonight. I predicted 86 wins from the team in April. With a win tomorrow, they'll hit that mark. Of course, I also predicted they'd nab one of the two wild cards.

Considering how much the team changed from April until now, yes, it's disappointing they'll be watching playoff baseball at home, but this team is primed for next year and beyond.

They'll spend the necessary money to upgrade the team (i.e. a No. 2 starter) and hopefully Logan White & Co. can rebuild the farm system to be respectable once again.

No doubt it sucks to lose. It sucks even more to lose to the Giants. But the Dodgers have no one to blame but themselves.

Also, if someone could gather all the empirical evidence against bunting and forward it to Don Mattingly, that'd be just swell. Far too often did the Dodgers resort to the bunt this season. They completed 82 sacrifices -- most in the majors.

Don, for the sake of everyone with a brain who roots for the Dodgers, STOP BUNTING.

The offseason will be upon us soon and the Dodgers will make some moves, but I wouldn't expect a flurry of moves ala this trade season.

Now, it's time to root for anyone but the Giants (as usual). I'm going with Oakland, Washington and Baltimore, just for kicks.

One final note: Vin Scully will be back next season (not breaking news), so that's something to look forward to.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Two out, two to go for the Dodgers

If only the Dodgers didn't wait to, you know, start playing good ball again, we'd be looking at this week differently.

But here we are and the Dodgers are two games behind the Cardinals for the last Wild Card spot with two games remaining.

The best the Dodgers can do is force a tie with the Cards, resulting in a one-game playoff for the right to have a one-game playoff with the Braves to make the "real" playoffs.

I watched the game last night and found myself wanting the Dodgers to win -- not unlike any other night. However, I also thought to myself, "It wouldn't be the end of the world if the Dodgers didn't make the playoffs."

At this point, I might actually prefer it, and Clayton Kershaw is the biggest reason for this.

If the season ends after Wednesday, Kershaw will be able to rest his ailing hip without risking potential injury to his golden left arm. That is, after he makes his final start of the season.

Kershaw is going to pitch no matter what happens tonight, but I'd like it if the Dodgers stepped in and said, "No, Clayton, you've done enough."

I said a couple weeks ago I would have sat Kershaw and Matt Kemp for the remainder of the season. I stand by that statement, but it's great to see Kemp mashing again.

I was always more worried about Kershaw than Kemp. Kershaw's injury had greater potential for long-term issues.

Hopefully this is a look at what we'll see next season. Since the Dodgers don't have a lot of wiggle room (third base and starting pitcher are about the only impact positions that could be upgraded), we're looking at the core of the team for 2013 (and beyond).

Not playing October (playoff) ball might be a good thing for this squad. It can start fresh in 2013 and hopefully take the National League by storm.

So, while it's nice to see the team playing well (winners of six in a row), I'm kinda hoping the season does indeed end after Wednesday.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue