Friday, November 30, 2012

Reports: Dodgers and Pirates talking Capuano-for-Hanrahan swap

Word broke earlier today from Mark Saxon and Buster Olney of ESPN and Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness that the Dodgers and Pirates have talked about a deal that would send left-hander Chris Capuano to Pittsburgh for right-hander Joel Hanrahan.

This potential deal makes a ton of sense for both sides, but particularly for the Dodgers.

As solid as Capuano was for the Dodgers last season, at least one starting pitcher is going to have to be dealt this offseason to make room for a guy like Zack Greinke or Anibal Sanchez. This would be a step in the right direction.

The term "full circle" comes to mind, as Hanrahan was drafted by the Dodgers in the second round of the 2000 MLB Draft. He was once considered a top prospect as a starting pitcher. He even threw two no-hitters in the minors. However, he never made an appearance with the Dodgers before he was granted free agency in 2006.

Hanrahan, despite an odd 2012 campaign in which he gave up eight home runs (he gave up seven in the previous two seasons combined), had a 5.4 walks per nine innings and an ugly 4.45 FIP, he was able to compile a 2.72 ERA, 10.1 strikeouts per nine and 6.0 hits per nine.

Before 2012, he was on he was to elite status. I'm of the belief his 2012 was more of an aberration and his 2010 and 2011 seasons are more the norm.

The 31-year-old will likely earn about $6-$7 million in his final year of arbitration, which is a drop in the bucket to the Dodgers. Capuano is due $7 million guaranteed this season, so the salaries are almost a wash.

The Pirates need help in the rotation while the Dodgers need to free up space in the rotation -- it seems like a good match. If the Dodgers can land an arm such as Harahan for a guy like Capuano, it seems like a no-brainer for me.

While Capuano is a better pitcher than Aaron Harang and more of a sure thing than Ted Lilly, he also holds more trade value on the open market. There's no way a team like the Pirates would want Harang or Lilly for Harahan.

If the Dodgers land him, they'll have an absolutely nasty bullpen. He wouldn't close like he did in Pittsburgh, but it'd be tough to name a better seventh-inning guy than Hanrahan.

Potential bullpen

Ronald Belisario
Scott Elbert (provided his elbow is OK)
Kenley Jansen
Brandon League
Paco Rodriguez

That's not even including guys like Javy Guerra, Shawn Tolleson or whoever else the Dodgers might acquire.

The Dodgers probably won't make this deal until they're sure his spot is upgraded. But it almost seems like a formality at this point. I'm all for it, if and when it happens.

Photo credit: UC International, Wikimedia Commons

Monday, November 26, 2012

If the Dodgers sign Zack Greinke, they'll need to trade a pitcher or two

You can never have too much pitching, but I think the Dodgers might take this notion a bit too far.

The Dodgers are considered the front-runners this winter by multiple sources for the services of Zack Greinke. With the Dodgers' rotation already full, someone is going to have to go if the team does indeed sign the right-hander.

But who?

The Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw, who absolutely isn't going anywhere. Other than him, the remaining five pitchers could all be trade candidates.

That leaves Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, Josh Beckett, Ted Lilly and, yes, Chad Billingsley.

Let's break this down a bit.


The 34-year-old southpaw is coming off one of the best seasons of his career and probably has the most trade value of the five.

He was second to Kershaw in innings pitched (198 1/3), WHIP (1.22) and actually had the lowest walks per nine of all the Dodgers' starters (2.45). He was durable in his first season in Dodger Blue and would be attractive to a team looking for a back-end starter who's good for at least 175 innings.

Capuano has a somewhat friendly contract, as he's signed for $6 million for the 2013 season. He and the club also have a mutual option for 2014 at $8 million (or a $1 million buyout). He's guaranteed $7 million, which is a nice price for a No. 4 starter (FanGraphs valued his 2012 season at $9.4 million).

Trade possibility: 80 percent


The hulking right-hander had a perfectly mediocre 2012 season -- as mediocre as his pitching career, I suppose. But Harang, 34, does hold some value.

In his last nine seasons, he's failed to top 161 innings just once (2010). He's averaged 183 innings in that span. In his last two seasons, he's averaged 175 innings and a 102 ERA+, which is basically league-average.

Harang is signed for $7 million this season. He, like Capuano, has a mutual option for 2014 at $7 or $8 million ($2 million buyout). He's guaranteed $9 million, which makes him a little less valuable to a team looking for a No. 4 or 5 starter, despite the inflated value of pitching these days.

Trade possibility: 40 percent


The Dodgers acquired the former flamethrower in August as part of the Adrian Gonzalez deal. He enjoyed moderate success in 43 innings of work as a Dodger. His overall numbers left a lot to be desired, but his 2.93 ERA and 3.61 FIP gives me hope for him the upcoming season.

Beckett has enjoyed odd-year success in the majors, meaning every other year, he has a good or at least decent season.

He hasn't thrown more than 193 inning since 2009 (his age-29 season) and is no lock to even throw 180 innings (164 average in the last three seasons). That, coupled with his unfriendly contract make him a prime candidate to remain in Dodger Blue.

Beckett is signed for $15.75 million each of the last two seasons. For a guy with middle-of-the-rotation upside at this point in his career, that's too much dough for a team to take on.

Trade possibility: 15 percent (and that's being generous)


Lilly began the 2012 season on fire, as he was perhaps the biggest surprise of any Dodger starting pitcher. However, a horrendous outing in Arizona, coupled with a shoulder injury ended his season quite fast.

Shoulder injury: the two most frightening words to hear when referring to a starting pitcher. Lilly has never been a fireballer, but it remains to be seen if he can come back from the injury and be a starting pitcher.

If he does come back, the Dodgers would likely use him out of the bullpen as a swingman.

He was pretty decent in 2011 -- his first full season as a Dodger -- posting a 3.97 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and a 4.21 FIP. Not great, but not horrible, either.

Lilly had a no-trade clause for the first two years of his 3-year deal, but it has since expired. That doesn't mean he'll be traded, but at least the team doesn't have to get his permission to do so -- provided any team would take a chance on a 36-year-old coming off shoulder surgery.

Lilly makes $12 million this season in base salary and is due a $1.5 million signing bonus on April 1.

Trade possibility: 10 percent


Here is the wild card. In a recent episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (L.A. Dugout) mentioned Billingsley as a potential trade candidate. I hadn't thought much about it before then, but he's easily the best pitcher of the five and could bring back the most value.

Of course, Billingsley suffered an elbow injury late last season and had a platelet injection that, for now, has prevented him from having Tommy John surgery. In fact, if not for this injury, he'd be a lot more likely to be traded (to a team like the Royals, which is trying to bolster its starting rotation with veteran pitchers).

Despite having a workhorse-type body, Billingsley has topped 200 innings just once in his career (200 2/3 in 2008). He's always had a problem throwing strikes consistently, leading to his being removed from games in the fifth- and sixth innings. His stuff is second to just Kershaw in the Dodgers' rotation.

Billingsley signed a 3-year contract extension prior to the 2011 season. He's due $11 million this season, $12 million in 2014 and a $14 million club option for 2015 ($3 million buyout). He's due at least $26 million for the next two seasons. It's a solid price for a solid No. 3 starter with No. 2 ability.

All things being equal, I'd rather have Billingsley in the Dodgers' rotation than not. He has No. 2 starter ability, but pitches like a No. 4 starter at times. Still, a potential top-three of Kershaw-Greinke-Billingsley is quite appealing.

Trade percentage: < 5 percent

This doesn't even include Hyun-Jin Ryu, who isn't under contract yet. If the Dodgers do ink him to a deal -- and there's no reason to believe they wont -- he'll almost assuredly have a rotation spot.

If the Dodgers land Greinke, they will have to trade at least one of these guys. My money is on Capuano being that guy. He has the friendliest contract and the best track record of anyone not named Billingsley or odd-year Beckett. It'll be interesting to see what Ned Colletti and Co., do in the next couple months.

Photo credits
Capuano: EephusBlue, Paint the Corners
Billingsley: SD Dirk, Flickr

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dodgers add prospects Matt Magill and Steve Ames to 40-man roster

In an unsurprising move, the Dodgers today added right-handed pitchers Matt Magill and Steve Ames to their 40-man roster, thus protecting them from December's Rule 5 Draft.

Both were members of the Chattanooga Lookouts this season and both performed well.

I named Magill my Dodgers' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in September after he was the Lookouts' best starting pitcher.

Magill, who just turned 23, pitched in the Southern League against advanced competition and enjoyed success. His rate stats were impressive and some were among the best in the organization. He went 11-8 with a 3.75 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 7.8 H/9, 0.5 HR/9, 3.8 BB/9, 10.3 K/9, 2.75 K/BB and a 2.91 FIP.

Magill led the organization in strikeouts with 168. His rate stats show that he's a much better prospect than many thought and definitely warrant's a spot on the Dodgers' nearly full 40-man roster (38 spots occupied).

Ames, 24, enjoyed perhaps his best season at his most advanced level. While his stuff doesn't blow hitters away, he was still able to amass a 10.2 K/9 (72 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings). He knows how to pitch.

Ames is in the long line of Dodger relief prospects and he should be the next prospect in line for a promotion. I'd be surprised if he doesn't make his major league debut in 2013.

While right-handed relievers seemingly grow on trees, Ames has a chance to be a solid middle reliever in the majors.

Magill and Ames were just two of many players who were eligible to be added, but they were the only two who were worthy of being added.

Some players had no chance of being added (Michael Antonini, Jose Dominguez, Juan Rodriguez) while some, I'm sure, were under consideration (Aaron Miller, Blake Smith, Rafael Ynoa).

Of the players left unprotected by the Dodgers, I'd be shocked if anyone of them were chosen by a team during the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft.

Guys like Cole St. Clair and Ynoa probably have the best chance, but St. Clair had a poor season at Triple-A and Ynoa has never played at a level higher than Double-A.

For now, Magill and Ames are safe and could both make their debuts in 2013.

Monday, November 19, 2012

2012 Los Angeles Dodgers Season Review: Infield and Catchers

The Dodgers should have a strong infield heading into 2013, and I'm basing that solely on the fact the Dodgers have two potentially elite offensive talents at shortstop and third base. This season, they acquired those guys later, so their impact wasn't felt as much.

The team also has found its starting catcher for the next couple of years (at least) and should be in the market to upgrade second- and third base this winter.

Dodgers' infield by the numbers

53 R, 22 2B, 2 3B, 15 HR, 60 RBI, 1 SB, 79 BB

First base
59 R, 35 2B, 1 3B, 14 HR, 79 RBI, 3 SB, 42 BB

Second base
9 HR, 54 RBI, 91 R

Third base
10 HR, 72 RBI, 38 2B

13 HR, 69 RBI, 35 SB

Individual performers

A.J. Ellis
.270/.373/.414, 13 HR, 52 RBI, 65 BB, 12.9 BB%
- Ellis finally got his chance made the most of it -- it's too bad it took until his age-31 season to get said chance. Ellis was one of the most consistent Dodger hitters throughout the season. He led the team in walks (shocking, I know) and supplied surprising pop from behind the plate (34 extra base hits). He has clearly established himself as the Dodgers' primary catcher.
Grade: B

Matt Treanor
.175/.281/.282, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 14 BB, 11.5 BB%
- I know the catcher position is defense-based, but is it really unrealistic to hope for a backup catcher to at least hit above the Mendoza line? Treanor is at the end of his run in the majors and didn't provide much in the way of production for the Dodgers this season. But at least he feels the way about T.J. Simers most of us do. That kept him from having a D- grade.
Grade: D

Luis Cruz
.297/.322/.431, 6 HR, 40 RBI, 20 2B, 3.0 BB%
- The man who seemingly came out of nowhere, Cruz provided a spark for the Dodgers this season. He wasn't great, but he was far better than anyone could have expected. By the end of the season, he was the Dodgers' starting third baseman. However, the team cannot have that plan going into 2013.
Grade: B+

Ivan De Jesus
.273/.324/.364, 3 2B, 4 RBI, 8.1 BB%
- De Jesus  was traded to Boston in August. He didn't do much otherwise, but we'll always have that pinch-hit double in Arizona.
Grade: C-

Mark Ellis
.258/.333/.364, 7 HR, 31 RBI, 62 R, 8.6 BB%
- I was higher on the Ellis signing than most, but Ellis actually underperformed his career numbers a bit. However, he played stellar defense and avoided a leg amputation after a collision at second base. When he went out with the injury, the Dodgers were forced to play guys who were not as good offensively or defensively as Ellis. He wasn't a big part of the offense, but he was a bigger part than his numbers indicated.
Grade: C

Adrian Gonzalez
.297/.344/.441, 3 HR, 22 RBI, 10 2B, 7.0 BB%
- The Dodgers made the big move to get Gonzalez, but it was more a move for the future than it was for 2012. Gonzalez, despite homering in his first Dodger at-bat, didn't hit particularly well for them. But he'll be penciled in as the cleanup hitter for the foreseeable future.
Grade: C+

Dee Gordon
.228/.280/.281, 9 2B, 17 RBI, 32 SB, 6.1 BB%
- Gordon has gone from potential 10-year shortstop to roster fodder in less than a year. That'll happen when you can't hit a lick, which is what happened with Gordon in 2012. He still managed to steal 32 bases with a well below-average .280 on-base percentage. The Dodgers seem set on having Ramirez at shortstop, so Gordon could be a trade candidate this winter.
Grade: D-

Jerry Hairston
.273/.342/.387, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 13 2B, 8.6 BB%
- Hairston made a name for himself with his stellar third base defense early in the season. However, he suffered an injury and wasn't the same player after his fast start. Still, he's a quality utility player and should be so in 2013 for the Dodgers.
Grade: B-

Adam Kennedy
.262/.345/.357, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 23 BB, 11.4 BB%
- The Dodgers won thier first nine games when Kennedy as the No. 5 hitter. The thought of Kennedy as a No. 5 hitter is laughable, but it's even funnier seeing the Dodgers reel off nine consecutive wins when doing so. The only other thing Kennedy did well was walk, as his walk rate indicates.
Grade: D+

James Loney
.254/.302/.344, 4 HR, 33 RBI, 18 2B, 6.4 BB%
 -Loney's disappointing Dodger tenure came to an end when the team sent him to Boston in the Gonzalez deal. He can play defense with the best of 'em at first, but he hits like a '60s middle infielder. His defense is the only thing that kept him from earning an F.
Grade: D-

Nick Punto
.286/.390/.314, 1 2B, 6 R, 1 SB, 13.9 BB%
- Shredder! And I'm not talking about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles villain. When the Dodgers acquired Punto in the deal, I forgot he was signed through the 2013 season, so he wasn't just a six-week rental -- unfortunately.
Grade: C-

Hanley Ramirez
.271/.324/.450, 10 HR, 44 RBI, 7 SB, 6.7 BB%
- Ramirez's acquisition was great and his start with the Dodgers was equally great. He hit .330/.392/.549 with 11 extra base hits in his first 23 games as a Dodger. However, he hit just .238/.282/.394 in his last 41 games with an ugly 46 strikeouts in 170 plate appearances. The Dodgers (and fans) are hoping he's more like the 23-game Hanley than the 41-game Hanley. Odds are he's somewhere in the middle.
Grade: C

Justin Sellers
.205/.286/.386, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 2B, 6 R, 10.0 BB%
- This season would have been prime for Sellers to do something. With both Ellis and Gordon getting injured, he would have had ample playing time. However, he also suffered an injury and was out for the rest of the season. He's not even a sure bet to be on the 40-man roster in a month or so.
Grade: D

Juan Uribe
.191/.258/.284, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 9 2B, 7.3 BB%
- There aren't many worse ways to spend $21 million.
Grade: F-minus-minus

The rest

Tim Federowicz, Grade: INC

Photo credits
Cruz and Uribe: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue
Gordon: SD Dirk, Flickr

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My 2012 IBWAA awards ballot: Trout, Braun, Hernandez, Kershaw and more

Now that award season is officially over, it's time to reveal my ballots for the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America.

American League

Most Valuable Player
1. Mike Trout, Anaheim
2. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
3. Adrian Beltre, Texas
4. Josh Hamilton, Texas
5. Robinson Cano, New York
6. Austin Jackson, Detroit
7. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay
8. Adam Jones, Baltimore
9. Justin Verlander, Detroit
10. Alex Gordon, Kansas City
- Only two players were truly worthy, but I chose Trout over Cabrera in this situation. Despite Cabrera's fantastic season, Trout's season was just as amazing, plus he has the clear edge in baserunning and defense.

Cy Young
1. Felix Hernandez, Seattle
2. Justin Verlander, Detroit
3. David Price, Tampa Bay
4. Chris Sale, Chicago
5. Jered Weaver, Anaheim
- I'm surprised Hernandez got such little play for the award. He led the American League in shutouts and home runs per nine innings. I have no problem with Price winning it, as all three were deserving.

Rookie of the Year
1. Mike Trout, Anaheim
2. Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland
3. Yu Darvish, Texas
- This was a no-brainer. If not, it would have been an interesting race between Cespedes and Darvish.

Manager of the Year
1. Buck Showalter, Baltimore
2. Bob Melvin, Oakland
3. Robin Ventura, Chicago
- This one I almost literally flipped a coin. While the IBWAA chose Showalter, the BBWA chose Melvin.

National League

Most Valuable Player
1. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee
2. Buster Posey, San Francisco
3. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh
4. Yadier Molina, St. Louis
5. Chase Headley, San Diego
6. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington
7. David Wright, New York
8. Aaron Hill, Arizona
9. Ian Desmond, Washington
10. Jason Heyward, Atlanta
- Braun was better in a lot of categories this season than he was last season when he beat out Matt Kemp for the award. While Posey had a fantastic season, Braun's pure numbers gave him the edge in my book.

Cy Young
1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
2. Gio Gonzalez, Washington
3. R.A. Dickey, New York
4. Stephen Strasburg, Washington
5. Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati
- I knew Kershaw wouldn't win, but I felt he was the best pitcher in the NL all season. I think I overlooked Dickey's amazing season and voted Gonzalez ahead of him. But Gonzalez had a great season as well.

Rookie of the Year
1. Wade Miley, Arizona
2. Bryce Harper, Washington
3. Mike Fiers, Milwaukee
- Harper had the hype and finished the season on a strong note, but I voted for Miley because he was consistently good up until a rough September.

Manager of the Year
1. Davey Johnson, Washington
2. Mike Matheny, St. Louis
3. Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh
- A lot of folks jumped on the Nats' bandwagon last year as the "breakout" team. It turned out they were a year too early. Johnson did a good job managing the team and it should be a power for years to come.

Photo credits
Trout: Keith Allison, Flickr
Kershaw: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Clayton Kershaw finishes second to R.A. Dickey in NL Cy Young voting

Clayton Kershaw fell well short of winning his second consecutive Cy Young Award on Wednesday as the Mets' R.A. Dickey was voted as the winner by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Dickey collected 27 of the 32 first-place votes. Kershaw garnered just two of those votes -- and two writers inexplicably left him off their ballots completely.

I'm surprised at Dickey's margin of victory, but he was definitely a worthy winner.

Dickey, who seemingly came out of nowhere to establish himself as an elite starting pitcher, ended the season with a 20-6 record, 2.73 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, 4.26 K/BB and a 3.27 FIP. He led the NL in innings pitched (233 2/3), complete games (five), shutouts (three) and strikeouts (233).

Kershaw's season was in doubt at one point, as he missed a start with a hip issue. I said he should have been shut down, but he came back and looked like the Kershaw of 2011, finishing his final three starts with a 3-0 record, a 0.86 ERA, .183 BAA and 23 strikeouts in 21 innings.

He led the majors in ERA (2.53) for the second straight season. He also led the majors in hits per nine innings (6.7). He was tops in the National League in WHIP (1.02) and fWAR (5.5).

This was also the fourth consecutive season Kershaw has averaged more than a strikeout per inning.

Gio Gonzalez was the only other true contender for the award. He finished third.

The award could have gone to any of the three and it'd be hard to argue otherwise.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 12 - Dodgers, Ryu, Greinke, Kuroda, McGwire, AFL

On this episode of  "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (L.A. Dugout) and I talk about the Hyun-Jin Ryu winning bid. We discuss his potential and what it might take to get him under contract. We also touch on free agent starting pitchers -- namely Zack Greinke and Hiroki Kuroda. It's safe to say, we're on the same page regarding these two. The Mark McGwire hiring is discussed, as well as a winter ball update, including Onelki Garcia, Joc Pederson and Chris Reed.

Libsyn link
Direct link
iTunes link

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dodgers' rededication to international scouting something to be excited about

The Dodgers' ownership group promised to refocus and make international scouting a big part of its new regime -- and it has yet to disappoint.

The Dodgers made a huge splash in July by signing Yasiel Puig to a record-breaking contract. They drafted Cuban left-handers Onelki Garcia (third round) and Alfredo Unzue (32nd round). Garcia has a lot of potential. They also nabbed a handful of players during the new international signing period -- most notably 16-year-old Mexican left-hander Julio Urias.

They've been linked to Japanese right-hander Shohei Otani, whose situation won't likely be resolved until the spring. And they just landed the rights to sign Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu after a $25.7 million posting fee this past weekend.

It's obvious the Dodgers are ramping up the scouting and player acquisition in this department -- and that couldn't be better.

Now that they seemingly have more money than God, it just makes things easier.

Oh, and all this was done before bolstering their international scouting staff, which happened on Monday.
"Two weeks ago the Dodgers hired Bob Engle as vice president of international scouting and Monday they brought on six of his Mariners staff -- Pedro Avila, Gene Grimaldi, Patrick Guerrero, Pat Kelly, Jamey Storvick and Mike Tosar."
For a self-proclaimed prospector, this is extremely exciting news. The Dodgers' farm system, since the likes of Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley all graduated, hasn't been anywhere near that good. They've had a bottom-third farm system for the last few years (save one year) and with the recent additions, they're pushing Top-20 territory. That's really saying something, as they've added some quality international prospects.

My hope is the Dodgers will reassert themselves in the Dominican Republic. Roughly 11 percent of players in Major League Baseball are from the Dominican. That doesn't even include minor-leaguers who have yet to debut in the majors. Venezuela would be another great place to scout heavy, as about 7.7 percent of MLBers hail from the country, including the game's best hitter (Miguel Cabrera) and one of its best right-handed pitchers (Felix Hernandez).

The Dodgers have also been trailblazers in East Asia (Japan, Korea, Taiwan), and making international scouting a priority rather than an afterthought could not mean better things for the Dodgers -- now and in the future.

Image credit: CIA World Factbook
Graphic by: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dodgers post winning bid for Korean left-handed pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu

The Dodgers were rumored to be interested in Hyun-Jin Ryu, and that rumor turned out to be true. The team posted $25.7 million for the exclusive negotiating rights for the Korean lefty. The sides now have 30 days to agree to a major or minor-league deal.

Ryu, 25, will turn 26 in March and the Dodgers didn't post more money than any of us will ever know just to sign him to a minor-league deal. He'll sign a major league deal and be inserted into the rotation.

There's no great model for predicting his contract, but I'd say a 4-year deal with an average annual value of $5 to $8 million isn't out of the question.

Mike Petriello did a great job of informing the masses of Ryu in a post on Friday.
"That all said, who is Ryu? He turns 26 in March, and has been a Korean All-Star in each of his seven seasons there. In five of those years, with the exception of 2008 & 2011, he led the league in strikeouts; he’s also notable for having gone 8 1/3 innings in helping Korea to beat Cuba for the gold medal in the 2008 Olympics."
He follows that up with links and excerpts from three or four different scouting reports on Ryu.

Here's a video from April of him striking out 13 batters in a game.

Keith Law, to no one's surprise, sees him as a reliever. But he says that a lot, so take that for what it's worth.

Chad Moriyama is a little skeptical of Ryu's ability, but said he thinks he could adjust to the majors.
"A 25-year-old Tommy John survivor, the Dodgers have to be expecting him to start, and reports have him sitting between 87-92 mph with two solid average breaking balls in a curve and a slider, and a plus out-pitch in his change-up. Even the reports that like him pencil him in as a #4 or #5 type, but the Dodgers will end up paying him like a #3, and I think his profile could reach that status as he adjusts to the league"
My take? It's always nice to add a quality starting pitcher, but at this point, he's not really much better than Chris Capuano. It could be argued he isn't much better because Ryu is an unknown at this point. After Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers have a bunch of No. 3, 4 and 5 guys, and Ryu is no exception.

I'd like him more if his fastball sat consistently in the low-90s rather than the upper-80s and low-90s. His changeup seems to be his money pitch. If he can lock down one of the other pitches -- his slider or curveball -- I'd feel better about him being more than just a back-of-the-rotation starter.

There's also the question of where he fits in among the Dodgers' top prospects. I'm going to publish my Top 50 hopefully before the end of the year, but I'd say he's easily a Top 10 guy, but closer to No. 5 than No. 10.

The Dodgers still need to land a true No. 2 to support Kershaw. That guy is either Zack Greinke or James Shields. Before this signing, there wasn't much room in the Dodgers' 2013 rotation. With everyone expecting the team to land a legitimate second starter, the Dodgers will have to trade a starter or two -- a luxury not many teams can claim. Expect Capuano and/or Aaron Harang to be dealt this winter. But I'll have more on that in a future post.

Side note: Ryu is my favorite character in the Street Fighter series. It means absolutely nothing in the context of this; just a self-serving aside by yours truly.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Despite Hiroki Kuroda's ability, the Dodgers cannot afford to sign him

Hiroki Kuroda's major league career began with the Dodgers in 2008 at the spry old age of 33. He was nothing but good for the Dodgers (3.45 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 11.9 fWAR) and had a solid season for the Yankees in 2012.

But the Dodgers should not and cannot sign him.

It's nothing personal with the guy. Hell, the Dodgers should not have let him walk after the 2011 season. But the fact he was extended a qualifying offer by the Yankees should take the Dodgers out of the running for his services.

Because he was extended the offer, the signing team would have to give up its first-round draft pick. The teams interested in Kuroda's services include the Yankees, Red Sox and the Dodgers. There is also a chance he could return to Japan.

Yet, reports say he's one of the team's top targets this winter. From Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times:
"The Dodgers' pursuit of free-agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda illustrates how much the franchise's economic realities have changed in the last year.

The Dodgers never made Kuroda a formal offer when he was a free agent last winter, as they were still owned by Frank McCourt and in bankruptcy. Now, even with six starting pitchers under contract for next season, they are among the teams in active talks with Kuroda's agent."
Thankfully, Hernandez goes on to write this:
"The Dodgers are also believed to be interested in Zack Greinke and Anibal Sanchez."
I get it. Kuroda is a quality pitcher, something the Dodgers could use in the rotation. But he's not a young guy and having to give up the draft pick is the only reason I don't want to see the Dodgers bring him back.

Now, before you call me a prospect hoarder, let me justify my stance.

Many experts are saying the 2013 draft class could be even weaker than the 2012 class, which wasn't particularly strong. With the Dodgers not getting any competitive balance compensatory selections or any picks from their free agents, they can't afford to give up their pick for a guy in his late-30s -- no matter how good he is.

Love ya, Hiroki, but the Dodgers need to stay away.

Report: Dodgers interested on Korean lefty

The Dodgers are interested in acquiring Korean left-handed pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin. The 25-year-old is considered to be the best pitcher available from the country.

The Cubs have submitted a bid for him. It's unknown if any other bids were made for Hyun-jin's services.

Photo credit: Cbl62, Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Catching up on Dodgers' news: Kerhsaw, Greinke, Sanchez, prospects

Clayton Kershaw is one of the three finalists for the National League Cy Young Award. He's competing against the Mets' R.A. Dickey and the Nationals' Gio Gonzalez.

Kershaw, the reigning winner, wasn't as good in 2012 as he was in 2011, but his 2011 was quite dominant.

Good money says Dickey will win, but Kershaw was the best pitcher in the NL this season.

Greinke, Sanchez among Dodger rotation targets

Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times reported the Dodgers will try to land at least one starting pitcher, and the name Zack Greinke has come up.

He's by far the best starting pitcher available and the Dodgers have lots of money to spend.

I penned a post in September that the Dodgers would sign Greinke to a mega deal this winter. I still stand by that prediction. He'd be the perfect No. 2 starter to slot in behind Kershaw.

Jayson Stark of ESPN tweeted the Dodgers could also look to Anibal Sanchez to fill the rotation need. Sanchez was traded to the Tigers from the Marlins in July and pitched relatively well. He wouldn't be the big-name pitcher Greinke would be, but he'd be a solid backup option.

Garcia makes AFL debut

Dodgers' prospect Onelki Garcia made his long-awaited debut in the Arizona Fall League on Tuesday. His status was in doubt due to a potential oblique injury.

If that was the case, Garcia showed no ill effects of the injury. His line: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 26 pitches, 17 strikes.

Garica, 23, was the Dodgers' third-round draft pick this year.

Another 2012 draftee chimed in on Garcia's potential. From John Sgromolo, 37th-round draft pick: 
"(F)aced him in a sim game, electric stuff! Great guy too!"
Dominguez suspended 25 games

Prospect Jose Dominguez, a favorite of Jared Massey's (LA Dugout), was suspended 25 games for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

No word on if it was a recreational drug or a performance-enhancer.

Dominguez, 22, threw 72 of his 79 innings for the Loons this season in Low-A before a late-season promotion to Double-A. He averaged nearly 10 strikeouts per nine innings while boasting an upper-90s fastball.

Silverio outrighted, re-signed

The Dodgers outrighted outfielder Alfredo Silverio to Triple-A and was subsequently re-signed. The move was made to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.

Silverio, coming off a breakout 2011, was in a car accident in January that resulted in him needing Tommy John surgery.

The Dodgers must have been rather confident they could re-sign him, otherwise they wouldn't have risked losing him. Then again, how many teams would be lining up to sign a 25-year-old minor-league outfielder coming off a lost season?

Photo credits
Kershaw: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue
Greinke: Jninja, Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Dodgers tab Mark McGwire as their next hitting coach, and it's a good thing

Well, that certainly came out of nowhere.

When Dave Hansen was dismissed as the Dodgers' hitting coach on Oct. 12, I don't think one person thought Mark McGwire would be the man to replace him. But here we are, nearly a month later and that's exactly what's happening.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"Mark McGwire will leave the Cardinals as hitting coach to accept the same post with the Los Angeles Dodgers, three years after the former single-season home run king returned to the game from relative exile.

Though the Cardinals withheld comment Friday, McGwire notified numerous players and members of the club’s baseball operations of a pending announcement as well as his appreciation for the time spent as hitting coach in St. Louis.

The club extended McGwire the opportunity to return, but the geography and family ties led him to pursue an opportunity on Dodgers manager Don Mattingly’s staff."
Bill Plashcke and T.J. Simers can't wait to sink their teeth into this one. But all steroid/performance-enhancing drug use aside, what does this mean for the Dodgers? To find out, we should look at what McGwire did for the Cardinals' hitters in his tenure.

McGwire was surprisingly offered the Cardinals' hitting coach position in October 2009. And despite having players such as Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman and Carlos Beltran in his stint with the Cardinals, McGwire earned praise for working with the younger, less-established hitters.

Quotes from McGwire in a USA Today article prior to last year's World Series:
"'I truly believe power hitters are born. I don't think you can make power hitters. But the thing is hitting is hitting. I've always enjoyed talking hitting; I've always enjoyed teaching hitting.'"
"'You get to this level, this is where it's all mental. There's always fine-tuning with your mechanics, but there's a reason why you're here: You have good mechanics; you know how to hit. And then in order to stay here for a long period of time you have to understand you can only cover 8 1/2 inches of that plate, you can't cover 17. So you have to be really good at one side or the other. And you have to know what this guy has on the mound. He has a plan; you have a plan. Let's take it on.

"I played pretty much five years, six years of my career on physical ability itself and not understanding this game is mental. If you're going to swing at pitches you shouldn't swing at, it's going to change your mechanics. So what happens with the young kid, they're going to look at that and say, 'I need to change my mechanics,' when they don't need to.'"
Guys like Allen Craig, David Freese and Yadier Molina have all seemingly benefited from McGwire's teachings. A number of times during the 2012 postseason, I saw tweets to the effect of, "Allen Craig can really hit."

Craig was never a blue-chip prospect coming up through the Cardinals' system. His bat was always going to be the thing that made or broke his career. McGwire's guidance, coupled with opportunity, allowed Craig to post a .307/.354/.522 triple slash this season.

Freese was an afterthought at third base for the Cardinals. He was a light-hitting third baseman who got a late start in baseball. Since McGwire took over in 2010, his home runs per at-bat number has improved every season:
  • 2010: 60 AB/HR
  • 2011: 33.3 AB/HR
  • 2012: 25.1 AB/HR
Oh, and he has a shiny World Series MVP trophy and a career .345/.407/.645 triple slash in postseason play.

McGwire's best job might have been what he did with Molina. Molina has never been questioned defensively. He is the best in the game. However, some wondered if his bat would ever catch up.

Through the 2010 season, Molina managed just a .268/.327/.361 triple slash. His next two seasons, he had a .310/.362/.484 triple slash. He's gone from glove-only catcher to MVP candidate in two years. It's an amazing transformation.

With this hiring, I hope McGwire is able to coax more power out of the Dodger hitters. Matt Kemp, provided his shoulder is OK, should be no issue. Adrian Gonzalez, whose isolated power has dropped from an elite .210 in 2011 to a just-better-than-average .167 in 2012, could benefit from McGwire's tutelage. Andre Ethier's ISO had decreased three years in a row prior to bouncing back last season. The same can be said about Hanley Ramirez.

There's nothing not to like about this move. McGwire, in his three years, has proven to be a competent hitting instructor. For a team with a lot of big names, he might just be the perfect fit.

I wonder if Carl Crawford is going to have to change his number now?

Photo credit: Keith Allison, Flickr