Monday, December 31, 2012

My 2013 Hall of Fame Ballot -- Bagwell, McGwire, Piazza, Raines and more

I've done Hall of Fame ballot posts in the past, but this one is more than just another ballot for me. As a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, my vote is counted with all IBWAAers to see how the votes differ from that of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Something every voter -- IBBWA or BBWA -- must decide is how to vote for those who were caught or admitted using performance-enhancing drugs. Not only must a voter decided how he or she will handle it, but it must be consistent.

I know guys like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were first-ballot guys before they even (allegedly) touched a syringe or any kind of oils. I get that. However, my own personal feeling is they need to be punished in some way for that use. Yes, their reputations are tarnished and will always be, but I cannot bring myself to vote for a known PED user or someone who had all kinds of evidence pointing in that direction on the first ballot. The second or third ballot? Sure. But they're not first-ballot-worthy in my book.

My ballot

Jeff Bagwell
Barry Larkin (not elected by IBWAA, thus still eligible)
Edgar Martinez
Mark McGwire
Mike Piazza
Tim Raines
Alan Trammell
Gil Hodges (IBWAA special-consideration candidate)
Marvin Miller (IBWAA special-consideration candidate)

A star-studded cast for sure. I'll break them down candidate-by-candidate (sans the special-consideration candidates). Last year's BBWAA vote in parenthesis.

Jeff Bagwell (56.0)

- Here's what I wrote about Bagwell on last year's ballot (well, my blog post, at least):
"Bagwell was one of the most fearsome hitters of the 1990s, posting an average season of .304/.416/.545, 29 HR, 107 RBI, 35 2B, 102 R, 98 BB. That includes his first two seasons, including a Rookie of the Year award in 1991 and two strike-shortened seasons. His career took off in 1994 when he slugged 39 home runs, drove in 116 runners and posted an obscene 1.201 OPS. Those numbers were good enough to earn him the NL MVP that season. From 1994 to 2003, he averaged the following: .301/.420/.574, 37 HR, 116 RBI, 36 2B, 116 R and 107 BB. So it seems his 1994 season (minus the .368 batting average and .750 slugging percentage) would set the tone for the rest of his career. The only reason he wasn't a surefire first-ballot guy was phantom steroid/performance-enhancing drug allegations. I left him off last year because I didn't envision him as a first-ballot guy in general (side note: he was one of my favorite non-Dodgers in the '90s). Upon further review, it appears I was mistaken. The guy put up some amazing numbers and should be rewarded as such.
Nothing Bagwell did in the last 12 months has changed my mind (humor intended).
Most impressive season: 1994, Houston: .368/.451/.750, 39 HR, 116 RBI, 32 2B, 104 runs scored, 213 OPS+, 8.9 bWAR, 7.8 fWAR
Extrapolated for 162-game schedule (155 games played): .368/.451/.750, 55 HR, 163 RBI, 45 2B, 146 runs scored

Barry Larkin (86.4, elected)

- Here's what I wrote about Larkin last year. I'm honestly not sure why he wasn't elected by the IBWAA last year.
"Much like Roberto Alomar, when you thought of shortstops in the '90s, Larkin was one of the first guys you thought of. Not only was he a solid defender, he was pretty good with the bat -- so much so that he took home the 1995 NL MVP. He was a consistent hitter, putting up a career line of .295/.371/.444 and was the face of the Cincinnati Reds franchise for the better part of 13 years."
Most impressive season: 1996, Cincinnati: .298/.410/.567, 33 HR, 89 RBI, 36-for-46 in SB, 117 runs scored, 154 OPS+, 7.4 bWAR, 6.8 fWAR

Edgar Martinez (36.5)

- A lot of repeat guys, so you're going to see this line a lot: what I wrote about him last year.
"I'm a National League guy. I'm staunchly opposed to the designated hitter, but Martinez was such an incredibly talented hitter that it's a little easier to look beyond the fact he played the vast majority of his games as a designated hitter. Nevertheless, he put up some awfully impressive numbers: .312/.418/.515 career slash line. He was Ken Griffey's primary protection for the great Seattle teams of the '90s. He led the Majors in batting in 1992 (.343), but that wasn't nearly his most impressive showing. His 1995 season was one of his best, leading the AL in batting and runs scored. He led the Majors in on-base percentage, OPS, OPS+ and doubles that season. Martinez is one of the most underrated hitters of all-time. He would have been a shoo-in first-ballot guy if he played in the field. There has to be precedent for a designated hitter making the Hall, so why not the best one of all time?"
Yeah, this guy needs to be in the Hall. The DH can go to hell, but Martinez shouldn't be penalized for being one of the greatest hitters of the 1990s.

Most impressive season: 1995, Seattle: .356/.479/.628, 29 HR, 113 RBI, 52 2B, 121 runs scored, 185 OPS+, 7.7 bWAR, 7.5 fWAR
Extrapolated for 162-game schedule (162 games played): .356/.479/.628, 32 HR, 126 RBI, 58 2B, 135 runs scored

Mark McGwire (19.5)

- I've never written about McGwire before. It's hard to come up with a set of rules to go by when it comes to those who used PEDs (reference the beginning of this piece). McGwire had a fantastic career. He wasn't a guy who was going to shorten his swing to go the other way or hit behind a runner to move him up, he was the quintessential power-hitter. He didn't hit for a high average, but he hit a ton of balls over the fence. That's what he was paid to do. He hit 42 or more home runs six times in his career. While he'll always be remembered for his 70 homers in 1998, his 49 home runs in his rookie season of 1987 was pretty impressive.

McGwire put up some ridiculous numbers, including a .394 on-base percentage. His career slugging percentage (.588) is good for eighth-best in Major League history. Despite the PED use, he had a Hall of Fame career. He'll be held out for a long time by the BBWAA and I'd actually be a little surprised if he were voted in by the writers during his time on the ballot.

Most impressive season: 1998, St. Louis: .299/.470/.752, 70 HR, 147 RBI, 162 BB, 130 runs scored, 216 OPS+, 7.2 bWAR, 8.8 fWAR

Mike Piazza (first year eligible)

- Piazza is my favorite player of all-time and he's the best offensive catcher of all-time. A 62nd-round draft pick, Piazza was never a defensive dynamo and was drafted as a favor to his father by Tommy Lasorda, Piazza's godfather. Man, did the Dodgers knock that one out. Piazza. He had a cup of coffee in 1992 before exploding onto the scene in 1993. Piazza took home Rookie of the Year honors after a .318/.370/.561 with 35 home runs, 112 RBI in 149 games. That was the first of a 10-year stretch in which he was a superior offensive force behind the plate. From 1993 to 2002, his average season was .322/.389/.579 with 35 home runs, 107 RBI, 25 doubles, 85 runs scored and 56 walks. And his 1997 season will go down as one of the best (if not the best) by a catcher ever. Sadly for me as a fan of his and the Dodgers, he was unceremoniously traded to the Marlins during the 1998 season -- a trade that should have never happened.

After a great run with the Mets, Piazza had a couple one-season stints in San Diego and Oakland before hanging up his cleats. He'll always be my favorite player and should be a first-ballot guy. Some will use suspected PED use (ala Bagwell) to keep him off their ballots. It's completely unfair, but expected.

While he'll likely go into the Hall as a Met, he'll always be a Dodger to me.

Most impressive season: 1997, Los Angeles: .362/.431/.638, 40 HR, 124 RBI, 201 H, 104 runs scored, 185 OPS+, 8.5 bWAR, 9.4 fWAR

Tim Raines (48.7)

- Here's what I've written about Raines the last two years.
"Aside from Rickey Henderson, Raines is the best leadoff hitter of the last 50 years. Batting first, he had a slash line of .294/.385/.427. Surprisingly, he spent a lot of time batting second and third in his career (2841 plate appearances), but he will always been known as a leadoff guy. He had a four-year stretch from 1981-84 in which he led the National League in stolen bases -- 71, 78, 90, 75 respectively. In 1981, a strike-shortened season, he stole those 71 bases in 88 games."
There's a big push from the Internet community to get Raines in the Hall. Here's hoping it happens. He deserves it.

Most impressive season: 1987, Montreal: .330/.429/.526, 18 HR, 68 RBI, 50-for-55 in SB, 123 runs scored, 149 OPS+, 6.8 bWAR, 6.9 fWAR

Alan Trammell (36.8)

- Like Raines, here's what I've written for the last two years.
"Trammell is a lot like Larkin. When you think of the Tigers in the 1980s, Trammell is the first guy you think of. He, along with Cal Ripken, were the first two guys to redefine the shortstop position, as they were offensive (the good offensive) players. However, they didn't sacrifice defense for offense. From 1983-90, Trammel had an .813 OPS as a shortstop. In a time when shortstops were 'glove-only' guys, it was almost unheard of. He also has the 72nd-best WAR of all-time (66.9), 0.2 points in front of Dodgers' Hall-of-Famer Pee Wee Reese. He's also 0.2 points ahead of former Dodger Eddie Murray."
If Larkin is a hall of famer, so is Trammell. They have the same career bWAR (although Trammell accumulated it in 113 more games).

Most impressive season: 1987, Detroit: .343/.402/.551, 28 HR, 105 RBI, 21-for-23 in SB, 155 OPS+, 8.4 bWAR, 7.9 fWAR

I left some noteworthy guys off my ballot (aside from Bonds and Clemens), most notably Craig Biggio, Kenny Lofton, Curt Schilling and Larry Walker. Those guys should all get into the Hall of Fame someday. Ballots are limited to 10 selections and I had nine, so there's no way I could have fit everyone on there. All except Walker are first-timers. Biggio is a member of the 3,000-hit club and will get in. Hell, I'll probably vote for him next year. Lofton is a lot like Raines. He deserves to get in, but it might take awhile. Schilling didn't strike me as a hall-of-famer, but the more I look and read, it seems he is indeed worthy. Walker is a candidate whose stock has improved over time, thanks to advanced statistics.

It'll be interesting to see how many votes Bonds and Clemens get. They won't get it, but seeing how many actually voted for them will be interesting.

Of all the first-timers who aren't PED guys, Piazza has the best chance of going in on the first ballot. Hopefully guys like Bagwell and Raines (at minimum) join him. More likely, guys like Jack Morris and Dale Murphy make it.

Photo credits
Bagwell: shgmom56, Flickr
Larkin: Rick Dikeman, Wikimedia Commons
McGwire: Keith Allison, Flickr

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Don't worry, the Dodgers aren't getting Kyle Lohse, plus other news and links

The Hot Stove is cooling down a bit, but some are doing their best to keep it going. Like Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

Cafardo came up with this gem today regarding Kyle Lohse and the Dodgers.
"The Dodgers may jump in, even with Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang slated for the back end of the rotation."
Lazy journalism strikes again.

First, the speculation is unsourced, likely a concoction of Cafardo's own doing. Second, there's no mention of that Zack Greinke guy. Third, Capuano and Harang are slated for trades, not the end of the rotation (all quiet on that front as of now).

Naturally, MLB Trade Rumors picked it up. However, it didn't make as big a deal about as CBS Sports did.
"He would be an upgrade for the Dodgers over Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang, both of whom they have already attempted to trade. The team's rotation is already crowded, however, so it's unclear if they would actually spend a significant amount of money for the 34-year-old Lohse."

Don't worry, folks, the Dodgers aren't signing Lohse. It makes less sense now than it did before the team signed Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Oh, and there's also the draft pick the Dodgers would lose by signing him.

I don't have to write about this, but it'd be nice if I didn't even have to hear about this nonsense.

Dodger links

Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness suggested some kind of Capuano-for-J.J. Hardy deal. Makes a lot of sense on paper.

Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. looked at Bill James' 2013 projections for Dodgers' starting pitchers. Ryu is missing because he's yet to pitch in the majors.

Mike Newman of FanGraphs wrote about Onelki Garcia and Chris Reed. I "blurbed," (to use his word) about these two videos (and his Joc Pederson one) on Wednesday.

David Larulia of FanGraphs had an informative Q&A with Reed. Bright kid (Stanford guy and all), but I still don't see him sticking in a rotation long-term.

Marc Hulet of FanGraphs posted his Top 15 Dodger prospects. Some curious choices and thin write-ups.

Pete Sorice of Catcher Interference questioned whether Orel Hershiser or Tim Leary was the Dodgers' ace in 1988. Looking at the numbers, it's a valid question. It doesn't really matter, though, as the Dodgers were baseball's best that season (despite not having the best talent).

Chris Jackson of the Albuquerque Examiner wrote about the Dodgers' signing of Dallas McPherson. The last time McPherson was an Isotope (with the Marlins), he hit 42 home runs, so there's that.

Photo credit: shgmom56, Flickr

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 16 - Dodgers, Rasmussen, Puig, Mattingly

On this, the final 2012 episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (L.A. Dugout) and I talk about the "big" trade that sent John Ely to Houston for Rob Rasmussen. We both like the deal.

We also answer some reader questions, which were excellent this week. Will Brian Wilson (yes, that Brian Wilson) end up with the Dodgers? What's up with Alex Castellanos? Will we see Yasiel Puig in September? And this one is the most compelling: Is this a make-or-break season for Don Mattingly? I'm going to go more into depth on that in a post.

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Look for new episodes of "Dugout Blues" every Wednesday. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast and review us on iTunes.

If you have questions you'd like us to answer or certain topics/players you want to hear more about, feel free to email us ( or or send us messages on Twitter (@LADugout or @FeelinKindaBlue). We always welcome audience participation.

Thank you for listening. Massey and I are shooting for a more consistent podcast going forward. We appreciate the support. If there's something we could improve upon or change up, we're always welcome to suggestions.

Thanks, and have a great New Year. Go Blue

Image credit: Joe Martin

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dodgers' prospect videos: Onelki Garcia, Joc Pederson and Chris Reed

I wish I could take credit for these videos, but I can't. Instead, credit goes to Mike Newman of FanGraphs. He gets to see the Lookouts on a consistent basis, which is something I can't do all the way in California.

He posted three videos of Dodger prospects on Christmas Day -- Onelki Garcia, Joc Pederson and Chris Reed.

Garcia (YouTube link)

- The first half of Garcia's delivery is relatively smooth -- no funk, no pauses, no surprises. The second half (the release) is a little strange. Garcia doesn't bend his back much when he releases, thus making it look like he's pushing the ball toward the plate. His release appears to be a high three-quarters arm slot, as there aren't many true over-the-top left-handers in baseball.


- I saw Pederson live in June and was impressed by him. In this video, he looks a lot better at the plate, despite only having a handful of at-bats at Double-A (that will change in 2013). It looks like he's holding his hands a little higher and the bat pointed more toward the pitcher rather than straight up in the air (compare the photo below to the 0:06 and 0:14 mark) earlier in his stance. This video is from September, so a lot could have changed in three months for the young hitting prospect. Not sure if it contributed to his increase in power, but it's interesting nonetheless.


- Reed has a somewhat herky-jerky delivery, something he said he worked on throughout the season. It starts out well enough, but the herk and jerk comes in when his back leg breaks down and he pushes off the rubber to deliver the pitch. His release point is a traditional three-quarters.


It's always nice to see video of guys who aren't local to California. Garcia pitched all of one game for Rancho Cucamonga late in the season, which I wasn't able to see. I also wasn't able to see Reed pitch live in the three games I saw the Quakes this season.

These three are firmly entrenched among my Dodgers' Top 10 prospects list (though, I'm not the biggest Reed fan). It'd be a surprise if they aren't in everyone's Top 10 list this winter.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Sunday, December 23, 2012

While unlikely, trading Andre Ethier to the Rangers could benefit Dodgers

While an Andre Ethier trade is pretty unlikely (gave it a 20 percent chance of happening in the latest episode of "Dugout Blues," and that's generous), it isn't completely out of the realm of possibility.

Along with the Mariners, a team that is interested in his services is the Texas Rangers, as Mike Petriello reported.

The Rangers haven't had a successful offseason, by most accounts. They lost out on Zack Greinke to the Dodgers, Josh Hamilton went to Anaheim, R.A. Dickey went north of the border in a big trade, Edwin Jackson signed with the Cubs and Mike Adams left via free agency.

They've kicked the tires on Adam LaRoche and Cody Ross (who signed with the Diamondbacks on Saturday), and now have interest in Michael Bourn after signing A.J. Pierzynski.

Still, the Rangers' best route to improve this winter could be via trade. That's where the Dodgers come in.

From Friday's post, here's a list of the Dodgers' needs:
  • Third base
  • Second base
  • Left-handed reliever
  • Fourth outfielder
I'm adding farm system depth, which is something the team should always be on the lookout for.

The Rangers have a really good farm system, and one player in particular stands out as their best trade chip: Mike Olt.

The 24-year-old third baseman is blocked by Adrian Beltre at third base and I don't think Texas is ready to move him off the position just yet.

Olt had a small cup of coffee this season, batting .152/.250/.182 in 40 plate appearances with the Rangers. His real damage came in the Texas League (Double-A), where he hit .288/.398/.579 with 28 home runs and 61 walks in 421 plate appearances. His strikeout rate is a tad high for my liking (24.4 percent for his minor-league career), but he offsets that with his power and good plate discipline (career 14.4 percent walk rate).

The more I look at Olt, who is a potentially plus defender at third base, the more I'd like the Dodgers to nab him in an Ethier deal. The Rangers won't be rushing to trade a talent like him, but they obviously wouldn't be opposed to moving him in the right deal.

Another player who would interest the Dodgers is Ian Kinsler. Just a year or so ago, it'd be inconceivable the Rangers would even entertain trading him. However, the emergence of Jurickson Profar and Elvis Andrus' elite play at shortstop have almost made Kinsler expendable. Almost.

The 30-year-old is coming off a down season in which he hit .256/.326/.423 with 19 home runs, 42 doubles and 60 walks in 731 plate appearances. He went from a 7.5 fWAR in 2011 to 3.2 in 2012. While it's unrealistic to expect he'd WAR in the sevens yearly, one would expect a better WAR than he posted.

Kinsler was a good defender at second base in 2011 (16.2 UZR/150, 18 defensive runs saved) and an unspectacular defender in 2012 (0.0 UZR/150, 1 DRS). He's in the middle of his prime, but he's on the other side of 30 (just barely). If the Rangers are going to move Kinsler, now would be the time. He just signed a 5-year, $75 million extension in April, but it'd probably be best to move him before he's not worth the contract.

All things being equal, I'd probably swap Ethier for either of these two straight-up. Texas probably wouldn't want to take on all Ethier's salary in an Olt deal, so there'd be cash and other players involved.

My proposals

To Texas: Ethier, cash
To L.A.: Olt, David Murphy

Why it works for Texas: The Rangers use one of their best trade chips to acquire their left fielder (Nelson Cruz in right field) who should have a field day in that park. He won't replace Hamilton's production, but he'll help mitigate the loss. Plus, the team keeps its double-play combo of Andrus and Profar (with Kinsler moving to first base). 

Why it works for L.A.: The Dodgers get their starting third baseman and can finally rid themselves of Juan Uribe. They also get a stopgap replacement for Ethier in Murphy, who won't be nearly as good outside Texas' hitter-friendly confines.

To Texas: Ethier, Chris Withrow, cash
To L.A.: Kinsler

Why it works for Texas: The money is about even, but the team opens up a spot for Profar at second base while replacing Kinsler with a potential thumping outfielder. It also acquires a former top prospect who's local to the area (Austin) and still has a lot of arm talent. Plus, it gets to keep Olt as a potential trade chip in July.

Why it works for L.A.: The Dodgers get their leadoff man and second baseman (sorry, Mark Ellis). His production dip in 2012 is a little alarming, but he's just 30 and has time to rebound.

As is with every trade I propose on this blog, I'm not sure how realistic it is. If you look at the comments from Friday's post, you'll see I probably went a little overboard (in the Dodgers' favor) on my proposal.

While the Mariners might be a better fit (needs-wise) for the Dodgers, the Rangers might ultimately be the best trading partner because there aren't as many moving pieces.

Photo credits: mikelachance816, Flickr

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mariners are the Dodgers' best match for a potential Andre Ethier trade

With the Andre Ethier kinda-sorta-but-not-really rumors floating around (depending who you believe), it might be a good time to check out which teams might be interested in him and what the Dodgers could possible look for in return.

First, let's identify the Dodgers' remaining needs.

Third base

I recently wrote a post saying Luis Cruz isn't the answer at third base. He isn't, but there really aren't any great alternatives. Juan Uribe, painfully, has one more year on his contract and might not break camp with the club. The Dodgers would absolutely have to get some sort of third baseman in return for Ethier.

Left-handed reliever

With Scott Elbert coming off elbow surgery and Paco Rodriguez entering his first full season as a professional, the Dodgers could use a veteran lefty out of the bullpen. If it were up to me and Elbert was 100 percent healthy, I'd have no problem with them being the lefties. Methinks Ned Colletti and Don Mattingly would disagree.

Second base

The Dodgers do have Mark Ellis, who is still a plus defender at the position. They also have Skip Schumaker, who isn't. But looking toward 2014, the Dodgers are going to need someone to replace Ellis. Perhaps a prospect who's not quite Major-League ready could be in play.

Fourth outfielder

I don't know about you, but I'm not a fan of Schumaker being the fourth outfielder. The Dodgers need a guy who can truly play center field and who is preferably right-handed. The entire Dodger bench is lacking in quality, but they don't have a legitimate fourth outfielder at this moment.

Those are probably the Dodgers' three biggest needs right now. They certainly don't need any starting pitchers, as they're trying to trade one or two. They don't necessarily need another right-handed reliever, but if they get a guy with tons of arm talent, it'd be tough to pass that up.

There are two confirmed teams to have talks with the Dodgers about Ethier -- Seattle and Texas. In this post, I'll take a look at what Seattle has to offer.

The Mariners are trying to give their money away to hitters, yet no one is biting. They were in on Josh Hamilton before he signed with Anaheim and have interest in Nick Swisher, who isn't reciprocating said interest. The offensive-starved team did land Kendrys Morales on Wednesday, but he won't be enough to revitalize their offense.

Seattle has a lot of interesting pieces, some of which might not be available in trade.

The Dodgers would seemingly have interest in guys like Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, Nick Franklin and Franklin Gutierrez.

Let's just get this out of the way now: the Mariners aren't trading Ackley to the Dodgers for Ethier. The 2009 No. 2 overall pick had a great debut season in 2011, but had a severe case of the sophomore slump in 2012. Despite the slump, I'd almost swap Ethier straight-up for Ackley.

Seager, the older brother of Corey Seager, was the Mariners' primary third baseman in 2012, playing 138 games at the hot corner. He hit 20 home runs while posting a .259/.316/.423 triple slash. Not bad for a 24-year-old in a difficult place to hit. His splits -- home/road and left/right -- weren't favorable.

Seager did most of his damage on the road (.293/.324/.511, 15 home runs) and against right-handed pitching (.272/.335/.449, 13 home runs) -- the latter of which make him look like a platoon player. Perhaps a platoon of Seager and Cruz at third base wouldn't be the worst thing, but it'd hardly be like having Chase Headley there.

Franklin is one of the Mariners' top position prospects. He's a shortstop and probably profiles better at second base long-term. With Ackley there, the Mariners would need to keep him at shortstop. However, if they acquired a shortstop (Dee Gordon), they could be more inclined to move the 21-year-old. He posted a .278/.347/.453 triple slash between Double- and Triple-A, including a .322/.394/.502 line at Double-A Jackson. I'd like to see him replace Ellis in 2014.

Gutierrez, a former Dodger prospect, is an elite defender in center field. Problem is, he doesn't hit well and has a hard time staying healthy. His not hitting well can be rectified by playing him predominantly against left-handed pitching (career .293/.351/.479 against lefties). Gutierrez is so elite in center (How elite is he?!) he once posted a 6.3 fWAR. It also came du. ring his best offensive season, but it's still impressive. I think he'd be the perfect fourth outfielder for the Dodgers.

My Proposal

To Seattle: Ethier, Gordon, cash (to offset some of Ethier's money)
To L.A.: Seager, Franklin, Gutierrez, Brandon Maurer

Why it works for Seattle: The M's get a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat who can slide into right field. They also get a shortstop who was a Top 30 overall prospect just a couple years ago. Oh, and some green stuff so they're not taking on all of Ethier's $85 million.

Why it works for L.A.: The Dodgers get a starting third baseman, a second baseman of the future, a fourth outfielder and a really good right-handed pitching prospect. The M's would still have a stacked system if they lost a couple guys out of the middle of their Top 10.

The Mariners are also interested in Chris Capuano, who seems to have more trade value after the M's dealt Jason Vargas (who isn't as good) for Morales. If the Dodgers included him, this could be quite the hefty deal.

Having said all this, I'm not sure how realistic my proposal is. The Dodgers would still need a right fielder for the season. With Seager at third base, the right fielder wouldn't have to be someone of great note -- just someone serviceable until Yasiel Puig is (hopefully) ready in 2014.

Photo credit: Cbl62, Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 15 - Ethier, Schumaker, prospect lists

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (L.A. Dugout) and I talk about the Skip Schumaker acquisition, which occurred shortly after we recorded the last podcast.

We also talk about the Andre Ethier trade rumors. While we both realize the Dodgers probably aren't going to trade him, there's at least some validity to the rumors.

Finally, we give a sneak peek of our top prospect lists. Massey is doing a Top 20 and I'm doing a Top 50. I'm shooting for mid-January on that list. I'm just not going to be able to squeeze it in before the end of the year.

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Look for new episodes of "Dugout Blues" every Wednesday. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast and review us on iTunes.

If you have questions you'd like us to answer or certain topics/players you want to hear more about, feel free to email us ( or or send us messages on Twitter (@LADugout or @FeelinKindaBlue). We always welcome audience participation.

Image credit: Joe Martin

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dodgers send John Ely to Astros for Rob Rasmussen, and it's a good deal

Not the trade some were expecting, but a trade nonetheless. The Dodgers sent John Ely, the perpetrator of "Elymania" a few years ago to Houston for left-handed pitcher Rob Rasmussen.

With the Dodgers signing Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, while also shopping starters Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang, Ely was about 15th on the starting pitcher depth chart. It's nice he's going to get a chance somewhere else, as the Astros are coming off a 107-loss season and can use help in the rotation.

Then again, Ely hasn't done much since he fast start, as Eric Stephen aptly pointed out on Twitter.
"After starting his major league career with a 2.54 ERA with 37 K / 8 BB in 46 IP, John Ely's last 18 apps: 1-11, 62 runs in 69.1 IP"
So, there's that. Ely is probably Four-A roster fodder at this point, but it's still a worthwhile risk for Houston.

Rasmussen, 23, is a wee man, listed at 5'9, 160 pounds. Surprisingly, he's been a starting pitcher in his minor-league career (60 games, 53 starts).

Rasmussen was drafted in the second round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Marlins. Prior to that, he was drafted by the Dodgers in the 27th round of the 2007 draft, but he didn't sign and ended up attending UCLA. He was dealt from the Marlins to the Astros (along with another local boy -- Matt Dominguez) to get Carlos Lee last season.

His peripherals aren't exactly great, but he's left-handed and has a pulse, so he has some value. He generally keeps the ball in the park (0.7 HR/9) and gets a decent amount of strikeouts (7.3 K/9), but his 3.8 BB/9 needs some work. It's not that bad, but it doesn't tell the whole story.

Baseball America ranked him No. 7 in the Miami system prior to the 2012 season. FanGraphs ranked him No. 15 in the Astros' stacked system and Minor League Ball gave him a "C+" grade, but not a Top-20 ranking this winter.

From FanGraphs:
"A scout I spoke to about the former UCLA pitcher sees a big league role in his future. 'I think he'll be able to get people out at the big league level but he's got to get the ball down,' he said. 'He's up to 94 (MPH) with two breaking balls. The little dude works his tail off.' Two concerns brought up were his lack of deception, as well as his command/control issues – although he has few red flags in his delivery."
From Minor League Ball:
"Rasmussen was drafted in the second round in 2010, out of UCLA. He is pitching in the High-A Florida State League this year at age 23, posting a 3.90 ERA with a 75/36 K/BB in 88 innings with 83 hits allowed. Rasmussen is undersized at 5-9, 160, but he has good arm strength and works in the low-90s, mixing in a curve, slider, and changeup. Rasmussen threw strikes in college but has had mixed results as a pro, and has not dominated the lower levels of the farm system. He could be a fifth starter but is more probably a reliever in the long run."
Control seems to be Rasmussen's biggest issue -- and rightfully so. His fastball sits in the 89-92 MPH range. He also has a potentially plus-slider and potentially an average curveball and changeup. He has the classic four-pitch arsenal and, coming from the left side, makes it a little bit better.

Being able to control and command the pitches are going to be what determines his future -- as well as his build. There aren't many sub-6-foot starting pitchers in the game, which is why many are projecting him as a reliever. I say, let him stay in the rotation until he proves he can't handle it.

Rasmussen threw 54 1/3 innings in Double-A last season and I could see him beginning the season in Double-A with a midseason promotion to Triple-A, if warranted.

Oh, and there's really nothing to not like about the trade.

Photo credit: Brhirschmann, Wikimedia Commons

Dodgers lack a quality bench, which is something that needs to be addressed

The Dodgers have a pretty thin bench. When guys like Skip Schumaker and Jerry Hairston are the best the team has to offer, something needs to be done.

For all the corner outfielder/first basemen the Dodgers had in recent years, that's where they're lacking right now. Despite acquiring Schumaker, the Dodgers might still need a legitimate center fielder. Tony Gwynn might be that guy, as he's under contract for 2013. However, the Dodgers don't appear to have much faith in him because of his bat -- or lack thereof.

The premiere bench player available on the free agent market is Scott Hairston. He hit .263/.299/.504 with 20 home runs in 398 plate appearances. While the batting average and on-base percentage leave a lot to be desired, that .504 slugging mark is fantastic. Unfortunately, the Dodgers don't appear to have any interest in him.

As far as an infielder, Jeff Baker might be worth a look. He owns a .296/.344/.498 triple slash against southpaws in his career. Baker can play first, second and third base and has dabbled a bit in the corner outfield spots. He'd likely be come cheaply. He's far more intriguing than an OF/1B like Carlos Lee or Juan Rivera, mostly because he isn't Carlos Lee or Juan Rivera.

If the Dodgers want a true center fielder, the Mariners would probably like to rid themselves of Franklin Gutierrez and his contract. He plays elite defense in center field and has a career .293/.351/.479 triple slash against left-handed pitchers in his career. He's actually a perfect bench candidate in my eyes. I'd like to see him as part of a larger deal involving the Dodgers and Mariners, and if you've listened to "Dugout Blues," you'd have an idea of what that trade might be.

Dee Gordon, who is still a Dodger, could be the team's true backup shortstop, but it would probably rather have him playing every day in Triple-A. Nick Punto looks like the team's backup shortstop -- for now. Elian Herrera also has a lot of versatility, which could keep him on the roster when the team breaks camp.

The Dodgers already have a bench player who is likely to start at third base (Luis Cruz), which weakens the "real" bench. And the Dodgers must cut ties with Juan Uribe. He doesn't deserve a roster spot after his last two seasons. The Dodgers can do so much better for so much less.

Photo credit: slgckgc, Flickr

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Report: Dodgers shopping Andre Ethier, which makes some sense

There have been whispers the Dodgers have been shopping Andre Ethier basically the entire winter. Today, those whispers got even louder.

From Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (surprisingly enough):
"Source: Dodgers shopping Andre Ethier. If they deal him, they could be in the mix for Nick Swisher."
Mike Petriello said he also heard the team is shopping Ethier, as did Ken Rosenthal. However, neither mentioned Swisher (yet).

It makes sense to move Ethier -- in some ways -- but it doesn't make a lot of sense to replace him with Swisher, even on a short-term deal.

The logic behind such a deal would seemingly be flexibility and hopefully to improve the farm system. The Dodgers didn't give Yasiel Puig $42 million to be a fourth outfielder.

Some teams that could logically be interested in Ethier's services include Seattle, Texas and Atlanta (maybe). My best guess is there could be a match with Seattle.

Time is short and I have to go to work, so I'll do another post tonight or tomorrow with a lot more depth.

Photo credit: McD22, Flickr

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Luis Cruz isn't the answer at third base, but there are few alternatives

If only Adrian Beltre was a free agent this winter...

Luis Cruz was a nice story. He really was. But a "nice story" isn't good enough to be a starting third baseman in Major League Baseball.

Cruz, 28, got a chance to play this season and took advantage of it. He hit .297/.322/.431 in 78 games. He had surprising pop, hitting six home runs and 20 doubles (tied for fourth-best on the team). But there's one key statistic that shows Cruz is probably due for a regression in 2013: his walk rate.

Baseball is about getting on base, and Cruz did that about 32 percent of the time in 2012. Not bad for a utility player, but not good enough for an every day third baseman. He walked just 3 percent of his plate appearances (nine times in 296 plate appearances) and his batting average on balls in play was a little better than average (.320). When he stops hitting at a .297 clip, which is going to happen because he's Luis Cruz, his on-base percentage will plummet. It's simple math (and I hate math).

The Dodgers, who are on an unprecedented spending spree, need to upgrade the hot corner next. The problem is, there aren't a lot of quality free agent options available and they don't have the means to acquire a guy like Chase Headley, who is suddenly one of baseball's best third basemen.

Kevin Youkilis, the best available third baseman, was signed earlier this week by the Yankees. Other than him, there really isn't anyone on the market worth signing. Eric Chavez, signed by the Diamondbacks, would have been a nice left-handed option at third base. But guys like Placido Polanco (career .714 OPS at 3B), Scott Rolen (considering retirement) and Casey McGehee (production plummeted since 2010) are the best available. Yeah, it's that weak.

I'm not sure what the Dodgers are going to do. It'd be easier to acquire a shortstop and move Hanley Ramirez to third base, but the Dodgers are (rightly) keeping him at shortstop. Yes, his defense is subpar, but the offense he provides at shortstop is greater than his defensive shortcomings.

A guy who I almost wrote a post about earlier this offseason was Asdrubal Cabrera, but when the asking price for him was Trevor Bauer, I quickly changed my tune (and then, Bauer was traded for much less than he was worth). Cabrera is not a great defensive shortstop, so he could have either displaced Ramirez or slid over to third base.

The Indians are in rebuilding mode and Cabrera has a lot of value. If the Dodgers could get him for a decent package, I'd be all for it. But that doesn't seem too likely. There are other teams that would outbid the Dodgers (in prospects) to land Cabrera.

The more and more I think about it, the more Cruz might be the Dodgers' best option at third base -- for now.

Looking at next year's free agent crop (thus, more likely to be traded this year), it doesn't look great. Martin Prado is the best, but the Braves probably won't move him unless they tank this season. Jhonny Peralta is a third baseman posing as a shortstop, but he probably won't be dealt. Wilson Betemit isn't an every day player and would be a nice complement to Cruz, but the Orioles are suddenly contenders.

Let's just hope Corey Seager develops as the team's third baseman of the future -- hopefully along the lines of Headley, minus the switch-hitting.

Things could be worse. The Dodgers could have traded for Michael Young.

Photo credits
Cruz: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue
Cabrera: MissChatter, Flickr

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 14 - Dodgers, Greinke, Ryu, prospects

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (L.A. Dugout) and I talk about the biggest Dodger news of the offseason -- the Zack Greinke signing. We're both in agreement on this deal and think it's going to be a great thing for the Dodgers.

We talk about the Hyun-Jin Ryu signing, which came in at the last minute. We also answer a couple of reader questions (which can be asked at anytime by emailing us or getting to us on Twitter) about how the Dodgers can rebuild the farm system and a review of the last two draft classes.

Libsyn link
Direct link
iTunes link

Look for new episodes of "Dugout Blues" every Wednesday at noon. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast and review us on iTunes.

Also, a big thank you goes out to Joe Martin, one of our listeners. He made the awesome new logo for the podcast because he's good people. Thanks Joe, we really appreciate it!

Image credit: Joe Martin

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dodgers designate Scott Van Slyke for assignment, but could still trade him

In a somewhat surprising move, the Dodgers on Wednesday designated Scott Van Slyke for assignment to make room for the newly acquired Skip Schumaker.

The Dodgers had a few options from which to choose -- Justin Sellers, John Ely, Stephen Fife and Juan Uribe -- but they decided to ditch Van Slyke.

The most obvious choice would have been Sellers, as he was coming off surgery and doesn't have much of a future in the majors. The guy the Dodgers traded to get Schumaker -- Jake Lemmerman -- probably has more of a future in the majors. But the Dodgers sure do love themselves some middle infielders.

Ely and Fife would have gone because the Dodgers have eleventy-billion starting pitchers now. They're more serviceable than Sellers, but it wouldn't have been a surprise to see them go.

And of course there's Uribe, but it seems the Dodgers just can't bring themselves to do the right thing.

Something else to consider is the Dodgers could still trade Van Slyke. He's on waivers and could be claimed by a team. If he is, the Dodgers and the claiming team could work out a deal. The Dodgers could also just let him go without a trade.

The Dodgers should package Van Slyke with Chris Capuano to get Joel Hanrahan from the Pirates.

From John Perrotto of USA Today:
"Am told would want a second player in addition to Chris Capuano if they were to trade Joel Hanrahan to . Don't know who."
It makes a lot of sense.

The Dodgers did take an unusually long time to announce the roster move after Schumaker was officially added, so one could assume they were discussing some sort of other transaction. If all it takes is a 26-year-old likely Four-A player to pair with Capuano to get a guy like Hanrahan, I'm all for it.

Photo credit: EephusBlue, Twitter

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Report: Dodgers acquire Skip Schumaker for Jake Lemmerman

Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness reported tonight the Dodgers have sent infield prospect Jake Lemmerman to the Cardinals for infielder/outfielder Skip Schumaker.

The Dodgers, in need of a bench player, land a versatile player in Schumaker, 32, who can play second base and the outfield (including center field). He isn't going to unseat Mark Ellis as the team's starting second baseman, but he should get a decent amount of playing time between second base and the outfield.

He's a career .288/.345/.377 triple slash, which is better than I thought before I looked last week. He doesn't have any pop, which doesn't help the Dodgers in terms of power off the bench. Schumaker's versatility and decent on-base skills are his bread and butter.

Schumaker is signed through 2013 at $1.5 million. He's an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Not the preferred target, but not exactly a crippling trade, either.

Lemmerman, 23, played in Double-A this season and, save for one hot week, didn't do much with the Lookouts. He hit .233/.347/.378 with seven home runs, 29 doubles and posted an 11.8 percent walk rate.

His plate discipline was never a question, but he doesn't have much bat other than his solid on-base skills. He doesn't have much power and is a decent infielder. He plays mostly shortstop but profiles better long-term as a second baseman. He'll also see some time at the hot corner before he hangs up his spikes.

Lemmerman's upside is that of a poor man's Mark Loretta, minus the All-Star appearance. He isn't much of a loss for the Dodgers.

As Petriello pointed out, the Dodgers' 40-man roster is full, so a corresponding move will have to be made. Justin Sellers will likely be outrighted, but we'll see what happens.

Photo credits
Schumaker: Keith Allison, Flickr
Lemmerman: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dodgers, Korean lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu agree to contract at the last minute

It took the full 30 days, but the Dodgers and Hyun-Jin Ryu on Sunday agreed to a contract. The total financial commitment the Dodgers made is unknown, but it cost $25.7 million to get to this point. Odds are, it's going to be a $50 million-plus commitment.

Update (2:43 p.m.): Jon Heyman and Tim Brown tweet that Ryu will get $36 million over six years. He also can earn $1 million per season in performance bonuses. He also has an opt-out clause after five years and "an innings threshold." The total commitment to Ryu is six years and about $67.7 million. A hefty sum for a middle-of-the-rotation guy. Mike Petriello had the years/amount first (6/42).

As of this moment, the lefty is expected to be in the Dodgers' rotation -- at least, that's what a financial commitment of this type would indicate.

The rotation is jam-packed right now, but with the Zack Greinke signing and this deal, there will be a trade or two in the near future (I'm looking at you, Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang). With Chad Billingsley's status unknown, I'd venture a guess Ryu slots in as the team's No. 5 starter at this point.

And despite the Dodgers' adding two starting pitchers, word is they're looking to make another big splash -- in the starting rotation.

The team has been connected to Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse (unfortunately), R.A. Dickey and James Shields. The Dodgers obviously have a better chance of landing a guy like Sanchez or Lohse, but they have enough to make a play for Dickey, if they wanted. Shields would be ideal, but is unlikely.

The Dodgers are putting an awful lot of money into the starting rotation. They could also use a third baseman, but the market is nowhere near as plentiful as it is for starting pitcher.

The Dodgers' front office obviously has a plan. Let's just hope they aren't planning on going into the 2013 with Luis Cruz as their starting third baseman.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

All is right: Dodgers to sign RHP Zack Greinke to record-breaking contract

Of course the Dodgers would agree to terms with Zack Greinke while I was watching the latest iteration of the James Bond franchise (which kicked ass).

The 29-year-old right-hander agreed to a 6-year, $147 million contract on Saturday with the Dodgers. This isn't surprising as everyone expected this to happen. Hell, I predicted this in September, which really isn't going out on a limb.

His $24.5 million average annual value is the highest for any pitcher in baseball history, topping CC Sabathia's $24 million per season mark.

Jim Bowden said the contract breaks down this way:
  • $12 million signing bonus
  • 2013: $17M
  • 2014: $24M
  • 2015: $23M
  • 2016: $24M
  • 2017: $23M
  • 2018: $24M
Pretty standard. The Dodgers of old were known to spread out a signing bonus, but these obviously aren't the same ol' Dodgers. But it's still unknown whether he'll receive the full signing bonus now or if it'll be spread out. It doesn't really matter.

What's interesting is the last few days, everyone had the Rangers as the favorite to sign him. Everyone. It's unknown what changed, but it's likely money talked in this situation.

Greinke is also coming into a perfect situation. The Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw, who is the unquestioned ace (and likely baseball's first $200 million pitcher). The Dodgers needed a legitimate No. 2 starter, and that's what Greinke is. Sure, he'd be the ace of a lot of rotations, but this luxury is something not to be overlooked.

Greinke is easily a Top 15 pitcher in the game and probably closer to Top 10. He's underrated -- well, he was underrated until today. That designation goes out the window when you're likely making more money in one year than everyone who has ever read this blog -- combined.

This instantly makes the team better. If they didn't make another move this winter, I'd call it a successful offseason.We know that isn't going to happen, but it just shows the impact of this signing.

Also, this signing likely spells the end of the Kyle Lohse speculation, which was ridiculous to begin with. I don't care what some are saying, bringing in Lohse makes less than zero sense.

Also, from the department of something probably only I care about: I'm hoping Greinke dons No. 21 with the Blue. Adrian Gonzalez is No. 23, the number Greinke wore in Kansas City and Anaheim. Hanley Ramirez wears No. 13. He wore No. 2 in Florida, which is retired. He could switch to No. 3 and let Greinke have No. 13, but I think No. 21 looks much better, don't you?

Welcome to L.A., Zack. Here's hoping your stay is prosperous for the franchise. I firmly believe this is the first major step toward the Dodgers being a World Series contender for many, many years to come.

Photo credit: Jninja, Wikimedia Commons

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dodgers' news - Silverio, Ryu, rotation, Sanchez, Shields, Lohse, prospects

It's been a busy week without it having been a busy week. Sounds weird, I know. But the Dodgers have been involved in tons of rumors, but there haven't been a lot of transactions.

Here's a quick rundown of some of the Dodger-related news this week.

Silverio wasn't concussed?

Ben Badler of Baseball America was able to interview Alfredo Silverio, the former Dodger prospect who was selected by the Marlins in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday.

There were a couple of interesting notes from the piece.
"The Dodgers brought Silverio in for tests and determined that he had a concussion. Only there was one problem: Silverio said the test was done in English. Silverio signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2003 and can speak English, but it's not his native language. Silverio said he understood everything the doctors were telling him, but he wanted to think about what they were saying before he responded, which may have been misinterpreted.

With Silverio's concussion, the Dodgers wanted him to stay off the field, but Silverio asked the Dodgers if he could get a second opinion. When Silverio went to the University of Pittsburgh a few weeks later for a test -- this time conducted in Spanish -- Silverio said they told him he did not have a concussion. Even with that, Silverio still missed the entire 2012 season, as he had Tommy John surgery that spring, which Silverio said he believes was the result of an elbow injury he sustained in the car accident."

The most interesting part of this is the fact Silverio's concussion might have been misdiagnosed. While it didn't matter in terms of playing time because of the elbow injury, it raises some concerns for me.

It's always better to be on the safe side, but in a situation like this, the Dodgers should have done a little more to make sure Silverio didn't actually have a concussion. It shows a lack of diligence on their part. Knowing the his first language isn't English, they should have conducted the examination in Spanish in the first place. And slow answers aren't the be-all, end-all when it comes to diagnosing a person with a concussion, but it is a significant part.

It obviously didn't scare the Marlins away, as they took Silverio early and likely expect him to contribute significantly in 2013.

There wasn't a spot for Silverio on the Dodgers' this season, so losing him doesn't hurt as much as it would have, say, last year. However, the Dodgers medical staff needs to do a better job in situations such as these in the future. While I haven't heard anything like this, it'd be in its best interest to make sure somethign like this doesn't happen again.

Ryu deadline Sunday

The Dodgers have until Sunday at 2 p.m. to sign Hyun-Jin Ryu to a contract. Mike Petriello reported Ryu has already passed his physical, which is the first step to getting the deal done.

Yes, the Dodgers and Ryu's agent Scott Boras have gone back and forth already, but that was just the opening salvo. Expect the negotiations to heat up Saturday with a deal being struck just prior to the deadline. It's the Scott Boras way.

And with the Dodgers less and less likely to land Zack Greinke, Ryu's signing could be that much more important.

Speaking of potentially no Greinke...

With the team contemplating a move to the next-best free agent starter -- Anibal Sanchez -- it could and should also explore the trade market even further.

The Dodgers have been linked to R.A. Dickey and James Shields. While it'd be easier to land Dickey, I still want the Dodgers to go after Shields. He provides more value, despite Dickey coming off a 2012 Cy Young season.

But whatever happens, the Dodgers need to steer way clear of Kyle Lohse. He isn't that good a pitcher and he'd cost the Dodgers their first-round draft pick. If the Dodgers were going to give up a draft pick to sign a pitcher, they should have just signed Hiroki Kuroda.

First prospect list of 2013

It's prospect season and True Blue L.A. is the first site to check in with a prospect list. Its fan voting concluded on Friday with not a lot of surprises.

Its Top 10 is as follows:

1. Yasiel Puig
2. Zach Lee
3. Corey Seager
4. Joc Pederson
5. Chris Reed
6. Matt Magill
7. Paco Rodriguez
8. Chris Withrow
9. Garrett Gould
10.  Onelki Garcia

Check out the full Top 20.

I'm shooting for the end of the month to release my Top 50. Right now, it's going to take some doing. If it doesn't go live this year, it in early January.

Photo credit: Cbl62, Wikimedia Commons