Thursday, November 28, 2013

Analyzing Baseball America's Dodgers' Top 10 prospects list for 2014

Baseball America is in full prospect-ranking season, and the Dodgers' Top 10 list officially drops online Monday.

However, the print publication (yes, print media still exist) came out on Tuesday to give us an early look at the list.

Big thanks to silverwidow99 for making the list public.

3. LHP Julio Urias
4. RHP Zach Lee
7. 2B Alexander Guerrero
8. LHP Chris Reed

I had originally planned to write a quick piece predicting the list, but I waited to long.

After a strong 2013 and winter ball season, Pederson lands at No. 1 -- and I like it. He's now established as a Top 50 prospect, and probably closer to Top 30.

Seager has the most potential of anyone on this list, especially if he's able to stick at shortstop (which he probably won't).

Yes, even more potential than Urias, but that's no knock on the 17-year-old. He was great in his professional debut.

Baseball America doesn't factor in service time into its prospect status, hence the inclusion of Withrow.

No. 8-10 are pretty interchangeable, although, I think Stripling deserves to be a bit higher.

The only ranking I question is Guerrero at No. 7. I get it, BA isn't particularly high on Guerrero. But one would think a potentially plus bat at a traditionally glove-first position has to be a Top 5 ranking in this system. Remember, they ranked Hyun-Jin Ryu at No. 1 heading into 2013, so they aren't averse to ranking older, international prospects high on their lists.

The ranking says a little about Guerrero and more about BA's intel, which is usually pretty good. I have a better feeling about Guerrero's future and am inclined to trust the Dodgers' scouting department (and yes, my opinion is obviously biased). After all, they've hit on their last three big international signings -- Hiroki Kuroda, Yasiel Puig and Ryu.

The Dodgers' system is pretty top-heavy, as evidenced by this list. I'm shooting for sometime in the next six weeks to unveil my Top 50 Dodger prospects. Admittedly, I'm waiting to see how the Masahiro Tanaka situation plays out. If he gets posted and the Dodgers sign him, he's the clear No. 1 prospect in the system.

We'll see what happens.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dodgers should go all-in on Franklin Gutierrez to be their fourth outfielder

I have an affinity for former Dodger prospects. Guys like Edwin Jackson, James McDonald and Carlos Santana have been quality major leaguers whom I wish were still Dodgers.

Jackson is a quality starter with the Cubs, McDonald is a free agent who had a solid run in Pittsburgh and Santana is one of the best offensive catchers in the game.

Enter Franklin Gutierrez. The Dodgers sent him to Cleveland just before the 2004 season with Andrew Brown for Milton Bradley. I wasn't upset he got traded because Bradley was productive with the Dodgers, when he was on the field. It ended up as a good deal for the Dodgers, as they landed Andre Ethier for Bradley and Antonio Perez a couple years later.

I've been trying to "acquire" Gutierrez since last winter, when Ethier was close to being traded to the Mariners. Alas, no deal was struck. Now a free agent, there's no need to make a trade to acquire him.

Gutierrez, 31 in February, has played in 173 games in the last three years -- total. So, why would I want the Dodgers to sign a guy like this? Well, my affinity is part of it, but I also think Gutierrez is the perfect fourth outfielder for the Dodgers.

"But Dustin, the Dodgers already have four outfielders, plus Scott Van Slyke and Joc Pederson."

Yes, I'm aware of the situation. I also believe the Dodgers need to trade one of the four outfielders (more on that in my next post).

The Dodgers lacked a true center fielder when Matt Kemp wasn't on the field in 2013 (and Kemp has never been good defensively in center). Skip Schumaker was the backup in center -- so much so that he actually started a playoff game in center field this year.

Ethier filled in admirably for Kemp in center field in 2013, but I have concerns about his long-term defensive effectiveness out there (and his long-term stay-with-the-Dodgersness).

It's clear the Dodgers don't think Yasiel Puig can handle the position, and Carl Crawford isn't a viable option for the position. Pederson looks like he might stick in center field in the majors, but he isn't going to displace Kemp in the lineup (if Kemp is healthy) -- at least, not yet.

That brings us back to Gutierrez.

Gutierrez is a plus-defender in center field. In 2009, Gutierrez was a 6-win player due primarily to his elite defense. He also can hit a little bit (really, just a little).

I had the Dodgers signing Chris Young in my offseason plan, but he signed a 1-year, $7.25 million contract with the Mets this week. That's starter's money, and Young certainly wouldn't have been a starter in LA. Gutierrez is probably no better than a fourth outfielder at this rate, and seeing the inordinate number of injuries the Dodger outfield suffered in 2013, there should be ample playing time for the former Dodger prospect.

Gutierrez hasn't been great in center the last two seasons, according to defensive metrics. He posted a -31.7 and -23.9 UZR/150 and -4 defensive runs saved in 2012 and 2013. He only played 81 games total, so it's a smaller sample size. He played 92 games in 2011, posting a  28.8 UZR/150 and +10 DRS. So, the ability to roam center field at an above-average clip is still there.

His best defensive season came in 2009 (153 games), when he posted a great 29.0 UZR/150 and 32 DRS in 1,353 1/3 innings in center field. He won't play enough to match the games, innings and DRS, but he could be effective enough to post a high UZR/150.

Surprisingly, he isn't totally inept with the bat. He only has a .238/.276/.363 triple slash in the last three injury-riddled years, but he also popped 10 home runs in 145 at-bats in 2013. From 2007 through 2010, he triple slashed .261/.317/.403 and averaged 13 home runs in that time. As a fourth outfielder with the Dodgers, that's more than an acceptable offensive output.

And he's nails against left-handed pitching. For his career, he owns a .287/.344/.474 triple slash with a 25.3 AB/HR rate. Against righties, he has a .242/.290/.356 triple slash and almost double the AB/HR rate (48.6). Safe to say, he'd see most of his action against left-handed pitching. If Crawford or Ethier are still around, he could be a nice spot-starter for whoever is playing left field. He could be somewhat effective against right-handed pitchers, provided he plays sparingly against them.

The fact is, the Dodgers absolutely need a true center fielder on the roster. Gutierrez is the best one available. I'm not sure if he cares one way or another the Dodgers traded him all those years ago. I'm guessing he'd be happy to have a job with a championship-caliber baseball team.

If I'm Ned Colletti, I picked up the phone to call Gutierrez's agent the second Young signed.

As the self-proclaimed president of the Franklin Gutierrez Fan Club, this team cannot go into the 2014 season without a security blanket in center field. Gutierrez would be just that.

Photo credit: kdirk, Flickr

2013 Los Angeles Dodgers season review: Relief pitchers

The Dodgers’ bullpen was solid, despite some hiccups this season. It was led, finally, by its elite young closer, a rookie lefty, a crafty veteran lefty and another rookie who could be in line for a larger role in 2014.

Dodger bullpen by the numbers
30-24 W-L
3.49 ERA
1.29 WHIP
8.0 H/9
0.8 HR/9
3.5 BB/9
8.6 K/9
2.42 K/BB
46 saves

Individual performers

4-3, 1.88 ERA, 76 2/3 IP, 0.86 WHIP, 5.6 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 2.1 BB/9, 13.0 K/9, 6.17 K/BB, 190 ERA+, 28 saves
- Jansen was, once again, dominant out of the Dodgers’ bullpen. He also, once again, had to take the closer job from an inferior pitcher for the second year in a row. Jansen mixed in his slider a bit more this season, but he lived off his plus-plus cutter and is one of the best relievers in the game.
Grade: A

5-7, 3.97 ERA, 68 IP, 1.47 WHIP, 9.5 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 3.7 BB/9, 6.5 K/9, 1.75 K/BB, 90 ERA+, 1 save
- Belisario might have the second-nastiest pitch in the Dodger bullpen. His mid-90s sinker is devastating -- when he can control it. There were stretches in 2013 when he controlled it well, but he also got hit around a bit. He was better in the middle of the season than he was at the beginning or end (either from overuse or general ineffectiveness). He was overtaken by a young pitcher who’s two spots down on this list.
Grade: C-

4-1, 2.03 ERA, 62 IP, 1.05 WHIP, 6.1 H/9, 0.3 HR/9, 3.3 BB/9, 7.8 K/9, 2.35 K/BB, 176 ERA+
- Howell was an under-the-radar signing, and it paid off greatly for the Dodgers. Howell was hell on lefties and pretty good against right-handed hitters, too. That versatility should help him land a 3-year deal on the free agent market -- hopefully from the Dodgers.
Grade: B+

3-4, 2.32 ERA, 54 1/3 IP, 0.90 WHIP, 5.0 H/9, 0.8 HR/9, 3.1 BB/9, 10.4 K/9, 3.32 K/BB, 154 ERA+, 2 saves
- Rodriguez was one of the Dodgers’ best relievers for a majority of the season, but overuse led to a poor September and October. Still, Rodriguez is a big part of the bullpen going forward and Don Mattingly’s willingness to trust a young guy was refreshing to see.
Grade: B+

6-4, 5.30 ERA, 54 1/3 IP, 1.55 WHIP, 11.4 H/9, 1.3 HR/9, 2.5 BB/9, 4.6 K/9, 1.87 K/BB, 68 ERA+, 14 saves
- League began the 2013 campaign as the Dodgers’ closer. He got off to a good start before imploding on an epic level. Initially, I like the deal to bring him back. Of course, I thought we were getting the good League, not the horrifically bad one. He’s still owed $15 million over the next two years. Barring a bold DFA, he’ll be back. Hopefully he’s no more than a mop-up guy.
Grade: F

3-0, 2.60 ERA, 34 2/3 IP, 0.95 WHIP, 5.2 H/9, 1.3 HR/9, 3.4 BB/9, 11.2 K/9, 3.31 K/BB, 138
ERA+, 1 save
- Withrow’s recall was somewhat surprising, but he took full advantage of his first big-league action. A failed starter in the minors, Withrow thrived out of the bullpen and laid claim to late-inning, high-leverage work for the Dodgers. The only issue I see is his home run rate. He gave up five homers in 34 2/3 innings. That needs to come down. Despite that, he could be Jansen’s setup man for many years to come with a mid-90s fastball and two breaking pitches that are -- at times -- plus-offerings.
Grade: A-

2-3, 4.80 ERA, 30 IP, 1.47 WHIP, 9.6 H/9, 0.9 HR/9, 3.6 BB/9, 6.3 K/9, 1.75 K/BB, 75
- Guerrier was, mercifully, in the last year of an inexplicable 3-year contract, and he performed about as expected -- poorly. He was so bad that he was actually traded to the Cubs for the next guy on this list and international spending money -- a net win for the Dodgers. At no time this season was he a reliable option and eventually needed surgery.
Grade: F

0-0, 2.53 ERA, 21 1/3 IP, 1.55 WHIP, 5.9 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 8.0 BB/9, 11.4 K/9, 1.42 K/BB, 143
- Marmol gonna Marmol. He struck out his fair share of batters, but he also walked his fair share. Not much was expected when he was acquired, but at least he wasn’t God-awful for the Dodgers. Rightfully, the team didn’t trust him in high-leverage situations.
Grade: C

2-1, 0.66 ERA, 13 2/3 IP, 0.88 WHIP, 5.3 H/9, 0.0 HR/9, 2.6 BB/9, 8.6 K/9, 3.25 K/BB, 556
- Wilson’s signing was a low-risk, high-reward proposition for the Dodgers (and himself) -- and it appeared to pay off for both. Wilson was great in limited time, continued that to the playoffs and it should result in a multiyear deal to close. If not, I’d love for the Dodgers to bring him back to set up Jansen.
Grade: A

The rest
Jose Dominguez, Grade: B
Onelki Garcia, Grade: INC
Javy Guerra, Grade: D
Peter Moylan, Grade: D-
Skip Schumaker, Grade: C (Because he touched 91 MPH on the gun)
Shawn Tolleson, Grade: INC
Josh Wall, Grade: D- (Because he was the fall guy for a couple games)

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dodgers to sign Dan Haren to 1-year, $10 million contract, and that's great

In the Dodgers' first big signing of the offseason, they are set to ink former Nationals' right-hander Dan Haren to a 1-year, $10 million deal, pending a physical. There's a 2015 vesting option if Haren pitches 180 innings in 2014.

I had the Dodgers signing Haren to a modest $5 million deal for one year with incentives to push it to $8 million in my offseason plan. After Josh Johnson signed with the Padres last week, it looked like Haren could get at least a 2-year deal at $8-10 million annually.

Haren, 33, is coming off a down season with the Nationals, posting a 4.67 ERA in 169 2/3 innings. However, he was solid from July through the rest of the regular season.

July through September (16 games, 15 starts)
3.29 ERA
1.05 WHIP
87 2/3 IP (5.8 IP per start)
7.6 H/9
0.9 HR/9
1.8 BB/9
8.6 K/9
4.67 K/BB

Haren is a hometown kid as he was born in Monterey Park, went to high school at Bishop Amat Memorial and college at Pepperdine University.

At his peak, Haren was a 6-win pitcher (twice) and has been worth nearly 39 wins for his career. He posted WARs of 1.8 and 1.5 the last two seasons. In Los Angeles, he could easily be a 2-3-win pitcher.

With Josh Beckett coming off surgery and Chad Billingsley not set to come back until midseason (probably not even as a starter), the Dodgers needed to do something to shore up the rotation. Haren is a great step toward that.

As of now, Haren is slated to be the team's No. 4 starter. I'm sure that will change once Masahiro Tanaka is posted -- something that could happen sooner rather than later. If the Dodgers win the posting and sign him, Haren could very well be the best No. 5 starter in baseball. A.J. Ellis seems to like the deal.
Dave Cameron of FanGraphs pointed this out on Twitter: Haren is basically Tim Lincecum the last couple of years -- 2012 and 2013. Lincecum, albeit younger, signed a 2-year, $35 million deal. In retrospect, the $10 million commitment to Haren looks like a steal.

I'm really happy with this acquisition. I've been a fan of Haren for a long time (ever since his Oakland days). If he can build on his resurgent second half of 2013, this should be a low-risk move for the Dodgers.

Jersey number prediction: He wore 15 for most of his career and 24 while in Oakland (one season) and Anaheim. No. 15 is available on the Dodgers, so I see no reason he won't wear it.

Photo credit: Lane 4 Imaging, Flickr

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dodgers should re-sign J.P. Howell, even if it requires a 3-year deal

When the Dodgers signed J.P. Howell to be the primary left-handed option out of the bullpen, some folks were skeptical. I, on the other hand, was pretty happy about the deal.

He signed for $2.85 million. This winter, he's going to hit the jackpot.

The Angels just signed Joe Smith to a 3-year, $15-plus million deal. You're probably saying, "Who?" You're not wrong for doing so. Smith is a solid right-handed reliever who isn't an elite reliever by any means. In this day, apparently non-elite relievers get 3-year deals at questionable average annual values. Remember when the Dodgers signed Brandon League to a 3-year, $22 million deal? Oof.

Howell was a big part of the Dodger bullpen in 2013, and it'd be great to have him back. He posted a 2.18 ERA, 2.89 FIP, 7.8 K/9 and a 0.3 HR/9 in 62 innings. He's effective against right-handers, too.

vs. LHB

vs. RHB

His .452 OPS against lefties was fifth-best in the majors this season. He did this without anywhere near elite stuff. His fastball averaged 85.2 MPH before the 2013 season.

What's interesting to note is his velocity ticked up a bit this season on all his pitches. His fastball checked in at 87.4 MPH, his curveball at 80 MPH and his changeup at 81.2 MPH. His fastball and changeup were career-bests, while his curveball velocity was the third-best of his career.

As a result of the increased velocity, his fastball and curveball rated the best of his career at age 30. FanGraphs rated his fastball at 9.9 (previous high 4.2) and his curveball at 6.5 (previous high 3.8).

There's no sign of his stuff regressing, as his stuff doesn't put a lot of stress on his arm. While giving 3-year deals to non-elite relievers is a risky proposition, I'd be for giving it to Howell if it means he sticks around.

I did an informal Twitter poll yesterday asking the question. Here are some of the results.

Pretty split. At this rate, it seems Howell will easily get a 3-year deal on the open market. If Scott Elbert were healthy or the Dodgers had another lefty they could trust outside Paco Rodriguez, I'd say let Howell walk. But a 3-year, $12-15 million deal shouldn't be out of the question.

One way or another, Howell is going to get lots of money this winter, and should have job security for quite awhile.

Photo credit: Keith Allison, Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, November 21, 2013

2013 Los Angeles Dodgers season review: Starting pitchers

A strong starting rotation has long since been the calling card of the Dodgers, and 2013 was no different. A Cy Young award winner, a big-money free agent who paid off and a rookie led this group.

Despite having question marks at the end of the rotation, the Dodgers were still great in this department.

Dodger starting pitchers by the numbers

62-46 W-L
3.13 ERA
1.19 WHIP
8.3 H/9
0.8 HR/9
2.5 BB/9
7.7 K/9
3.07 K/BB
7 CG

Individual performers (minimum 40 IP)

16-9, 1.83 ERA, 236 IP, 0.91 WHIP, 6.3 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 2.0 BB/9, 8.8 K/9, 4.46 K/BB, 194 ERA+
- What can I say about Kershaw that hasn't already been said about the greatest things in life? He's the best pitcher in the galaxy and has another Cy Young award to show for it. Now, about that contract extension...
Grade: A

15-4, 2.63 ERA, 177 2/3 IP, 1.11 WHIP, 7.7 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 2.3 BB/9, 7.5 K/9, 3.22 K/BB, 135 ERA+
- Despite suffering a broken collar bone, Greinke was better than advertised in his first season with the Dodgers. He's a "No. 1a," not a "No. 2." The next step: making 30-plus starts and logging 200-plus innings.
Grade: A-

14-8, 3.00 ERA, 192 IP, 1.20 WHIP, 8.5 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 2.3 BB/9, 7.2 K/9, 3.14 K/BB, 119 ERA+
- Ryu's debut season went better than anyone could have expected. Ryu established himself as a legitimate No. 3 starter after the Dodgers inked him out of Korea last year. He's going into his age-27 season and should get better.
Grade: B+

Ricky Nolasco (with Dodgers)
8-3, 3.52 ERA, 87 IP, 1.19 WHIP, 8.6 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 2.2 BB/9, 7.8 K/9, 3.57 K/BB, 101 ERA+
- Nolasco got off to a great start with the Dodgers before impolding the last three starts. He, at one time, looked like he might challenge Ryu for the team's No. 3 spot in the playoffs. He only appeared in the NLCS, and didn't fare too well. Still, he was well worth the price the Dodgers paid in young players.
Grade: B

4-7, 4.26 ERA, 105 2/3 IP, 1.41 WHIP, 10.6 H/9, 0.9 HR/9, 2.0 BB/9, 6.9 K/9, 3.38 K/BB, 84 ERA+
- Capuano was all-but-traded in the winter only to remain with the Dodgers for the duration of the 2013 season. He had his ups and downs, but was a somewhat valuable piece for the Dodgers in 2013.
Grade: C-

4-4, 3.86 ERA, 58 1/3 IP, 1.53 WHIP, 10.6 H/9, 1.1 HR/9, 3.1 BB/9, 6.9 K/9, 2.25 K/BB, 93 ERA+
- Fife had asserted himself well, despite suffering the same shoulder injury twice this season. He had a sub-3.00 ERA for a majority of his season before having a rough go at it late. Fife is definitely a nice No. 6 or No. 7 starter for the Dodgers at this point.
Grade: B

0-5, 5.19 ERA, 43 1/3 IP, 1.50 WHIP, 10.4 H/9, 1.7 HR/9, 3.1 BB/9, 8.5 K/9, 2.73 K/BB, 69 ERA+
- Beckett had one good start in Arizona (which he lost). Other than that, he was atrocious and missed most of the season with an injury. He's on the books for 2014, so barring an unforeseen trade or release, he'll be around. Reports say he'll be ready for the start of the season. I'm skeptical about that.
Grade: D-

1-0, 3.00 ERA, 12 IP, 1.42 WHIP, 9.0 H/9, 0.8 HR/9, 3.8 BB/9, 4.5 K/9, 1.20 K/BB, 123 ERA+
- I'm sure you're asking, "Wait, I thought the minimum number of innings pitched is 40?" It is, but Billingsley gets a write-up because of his and the Dodgers' stubborness. Billingsley was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL in late-August 2012 and instead of undergoing Tommy John surgery, he and the Dodgers decided to try to rehab through it. Well, that didn't work and cost Billingsley all but two games of the 2013 season and likely at least half of the 2014 season. I'm one of Billingsley's biggest fans, but this was clearly the wrong call (and many said the same whent he decision was made).
Grade: F 

The rest
Ted Lilly, Grade: F
Matt Magill, Grade: D-
Edinson Volquez, Grade: C

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 62 - Offseason rumors, awards, Rule 5/AFL

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) and I somehow record one of the longest episodes in the show's history, despite not having a whole lot to talk about.

We wrap up awards season and I divulge my Internet Baseball Writers Association of America ballot.

Tim Wallach was officially announced as Don Mattingly's bench coach. Bully.

Offseason rumors abound, and the Dodgers are mentioned with some good players and some not-so-good players. We also say goodbye to Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker.

The 40-man roster deadline is tonight and we discuss who we would add to protect from December's Rule 5 Draft.

The Arizona Fall League is over and Corey Seager had a "meh" showing. Not surprising for a 19-year-old in his first full season of ball.

The Dodgers hired an executive away from Washington to be a national crosschecker in the form of Roy Clark. Great hire.
Episode dedications
Jared and Dustin: Jose Nunez
As usual, we close with Q&A. Here's hoping for some more good ones next week!

We'll probably continue to record every other week, or as news warrants, during the winter.

Libsyn link
Direct link
iTunes link

Look for new episodes of "Dugout Blues" every Wednesday. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast and review us on iTunes. We want to make this the best podcast we can so we're always looking for suggestions and ways to improve.

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 (@Dodger_Diamond or @FeelinKindaBlue). You can also "Like" the podcast on Facebook. We always welcome audience participation.

Image credit: Joe Martin

Dodgers lose Shawn Tolleson to Rangers, plus 40-man & Rule 5 Draft

This was surprising: the Dodgers lost reliever Shawn Tolleson via waivers on Tuesday to the Texas Rangers.

Tolleson, 25, appeared in one game for the Dodgers this season and 40 in 2012. The reliever with great minor-league numbers struggled with injuries in 2013 (a back and hip, primarily). He's also a Tommy John surgery survivor (senior year of college).

In 127 2/3 career minor-league innings, Tolleson has an eye-popping 1.34 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 13.0 K/9. In his limited time with the Dodgers, he didn't show quite the same potential.

Affordable relievers with great swing-and-miss potential don't usually hit waivers, so it was surprising he was available. The Dodgers were probably trying to sneak him through on this day of many roster moves, as teams must choose to add players to their 40-man rosters by 9 p.m. tonight. If some minor-leaguers aren't added, they'll be eligible for the Dec. 12 Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings.

The only way this move makes sense is if the Dodgers think Tolleson's injury history is too much for him to overcome. Otherwise, I can't make sense of the move. The Dodgers already had eight open spots on the 40-man roster and have expendable players like Mike Baxter, Javy Guerra and Justin Sellers who could easily be outrighted before losing a reliever of Tolleson's potential.


In seemingly unrelated news, the Dodgers should be adding reliever Yimi Garcia to the 40-man roster sometime in the next few hours. He's the only Dodger minor-leaguer eligible for the Rule 5 Draft I'd add to the roster.

Garica, 23, had a 2.54 ERA, 0.81 WHIP and 12.7 K/9 with in Double-A this season. He posts great numbers thanks to a low-90s fastball with some movement and a legitimate wipeout slider. He doesn't throw exceptionally hard, but he has better-than-average control and command, but he got bit by the home run bug a bit in 2013 -- (1.3 HR/9, nine home runs in 60 1/3 IP. That appears to be an anomaly, as he gave up just five home runs in his first 189 1/3 innings minor-league innings.

Some other notable prospects who are Rule 5-eligible this year are as follows:

Of all the players listed, I'd give Patterson the best chance of being nabbed. The 26-year-old is a versatile reliever who doesn't light up the radar gun, but gets outs. I could see a team taking a flyer on Baez, but I'm not confident in that. The only other guy who could get popped is Martin, who has a mid-90s fastball and sometimes-wipeout breaking ball from the left side. Other than them, none of these guys will get chosen.

If a player is chosen, he has to remain on the active roster (25-man) for the entire season, or the drafting team would have to offer the player back to the original team at half the $50,000 price tag.

I'll do a post previewing players the Dodgers could choose in the Rule 5 Draft when it gets closer.

Photo credits
Tolleson: Epic Memories by Ron, Flickr
Patterson: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dodgers' SP alternatives to signing Masahiro Tanaka aren't great

Everyone assumes the Dodgers are going to sign Masahiro Tanaka this winter. It's a reasonable assumption. But what happens if the Dodgers don't end up with the 25-year-old Japanese righty?

The new posting system, which was reportedly agreed upon before MLB pulled the offer last week, has been delayed again. Reports now say Tanaka might not be posted until the end of the year (six weeks). The Dodgers can't really sit back and wait for an unsure acquisition, unless they're going to post $100 million, pretty much assuring they'll have the right to negotiate with him.

Then again, the Yankees are desperate for starting pitching and want to keep payroll at less than $189 million to avoid a ridiculous luxury tax. The posting fee isn't included in the payroll.

Many (myself included) think David Price is option No. 2. But recent news is making me question that. 

Stan Kasten and Co., seem hell-bent on building through the farm system -- which is awesome. To acquire Price, the number of high-celing prospects going to Tampa Bay would be prohibitive with Kasten's philosophy.

So, who's next on the list?

We can cross off guys like Ubaldo Jimenez, Hiroki Kuroda and Ervin Santana off the list, as they received qualifying offers from their teams, which means the Dodgers would have to forfeit their first-round draft pick to sign either one. While both Kuroda and Santana are quality pitchers (Jimenez not so much), it just isn't worth it.

If Kuroda didn't have draft pick compensation tied to him, he'd be near the top of my list of free agent targets.

That leaves pitchers like Bronson Arroyo, Bartolo Colon, Scott Feldman, Matt Garza, Dan Haren, Josh Johnson, Scott Kazmir, Ricky Nolasco and Jason Vargas available on the free agent market. Let's look at each of these guys.

- Soft-tossing righty with propensity to give up home runs. Dodgers have reportedly been in contact. Don't really want him in Blue.

- On the wrong side of 30 (he'll be 41 in May) and the wrong side of 275 pounds. Had a great 2013, but can't be counted on.

- Should be a nice cost-effective starter, but he'll be massively overpaid by a team desperate for starting pitching.

- The most talented/healthy free agent starter (and the biggest jerkstore), Garza is going to get a 4-year commitment at or more than $15 million per season. The Dodgers could afford it, but they might not want to pay it. Had interest in him in 2012.

- As a No. 5 starter, he'd be a great pickup. As a No. 4 starter, maybe not so much. Had a resurgent second half in Washington and might do well coming home.

- Johnson has ace potential, but he's never been able to stay healthy and had a miserable year north of the border. He'll sign a pillow contract (1-year deal to re-establish value) with someone. San Diego and San Francisco are interested.

- Reclamation project who struck out more than a batter per inning in 2013. Cleveland would love to bring him back. More of a high-risk signing for the Dodgers.

- He'd be a fine No. 4 starter for the Dodgers. Problem is, there are teams lining up to give him big money on 3- and/or 4-year deals. Reports say the Padres, Phillies and Twins are in on him, as well as 'Frisco (maybe not so much now after signing Tim Hudson).

- Pitched in Anaheim last year and was pretty decent (but not anywhere close to Zack Greinke). Angels need pitching perhaps more than any team in baseball. I'm betting he goes back there.

As for trade targets, teams aren't exactly rushing to trade good starters. Price is out there, the Cardinals have about eleventy billion starters (but most are cost-effective and really good), and the Phillies have some high-priced hurlers they should trade, but won't (see Marlon Byrd and Carlos Ruiz signings). There's also some scuttlebutt the Mariners might trade Hisashi Iwakuma to improve offensively, but I'm not so sure the Dodgers match up that well. Andre Ethier or Matt Kemp would be logical targets for Seattle.

The Dodgers could also turn to the farm system. Zach Lee is not only the Dodger starting pitching prospect closest to the majors, he's the best. With Josh Beckett on track for opening day (we'll see about that), the Dodgers need at least one pitcher. Maybe Lee is that guy.

Another starter close to the majors is Ross Stripling. He's similar to Lee in terms of frame, repertoire and maturity, but he might need a little more seasoning in Double-A.

Chris Reed also pitched at Double-A last season, but I'm not at all confident in him being in the rotation in 2014 (or ever, really).

Guys like 2013 draft picks Chris Anderson and Tom Windle are at least a year away from contributing in the rotation (and that's being optimistic), while Julio Urias is at least two years away.

Onelki Garcia looks like a reliever at this point and Matt Magill (or McGill, if you listen to Jim Bowden)  wasn't great in his debut. I still have faith in him, but he might be better off coming out of the bullpen in the majors. Stphen Fife and Red Patterson are extreme longshots.

No matter what the Dodgers decide to do, they'll need at least one addition to the rotation (maybe two). Chad Billingsley is due back midseason, but I'm guessing he'll get the lion's share of his work out of the bullpen when he comes back.

Photo credits
Arroyo: SD Dirk, Flickr
Stripling: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Monday, November 18, 2013

2013 Los Angeles Dodgers season review: Outfielders

The Dodgers' outfield was quite solid despite a rash of injuries in 2013. It got a boost from a hot-hitting rookie, a quitely consistent center fielder and a fast-starting left fielder. They also didn't get much from their former MVP candidate.

Dodgers outfield by the numbers

Left field
719 PA, 80 R, 170 H, 37 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 50 RBI, 17 SB, 57 BB, 100 K

Center field
695 PA, 74 R, 176 H, 38 2B, 1 3B, 14 HR, 73 RBI, 12 SB, 65 BB, 140 K

Right field
711 PA, 85 R, 183 H, 36 2B, 3 3B, 25 HR, 67 RBI, 12 SB, 61 BB, 149 K

Individual performers (all Wins Above Replacement numbers taken from FanGraphs)

.283/.329/.407, 6 HR, 31 RBI, 15 SB, 6.0 BB%, 2.9 WAR
- Crawford got off to a hot start, leading the Dodgers in April and early May. He cooled off, (predictably) got hurt, struggled before somewhat surging before the playoffs. He then proceeded to hit four home runs in 10 playoff games. He's a streaky hitter who was solid defensively in left field.
Grade: B

.270/.328/.395, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 15 2B, 7.6 BB%, -0.4 WAR
- Kemp wasn't healthy to start the season, and it showed. Once he got healthy, he got hurt, again. Once he got healthy, again, he got hurt, again. The ankle injury he suffered the Sunday after the All-Star break in Washington bothered him the rest of the season. He showed signs of the MVP-caliber player he is, but his health wouldn't allow him to sustain it. It was surprising that he didn't play in the playoffs because of the severity of his ankle injury. Hopefully he doesn't play in 2014 until he's 100 percent. Two off-season surgries mean he might not be ready for the start of the season, which is OK.
Grade: D+

.272/.360/.423, 12 HR, 52 RBI, 33 2B, 11.0 BB%, 2.9 WAR
- Ethier's season was good, if unspectacular. His on-base percentage was respectable, his walk rate was above-average and his play in center field was surprisingly good. He'll likely be traded this off-season, but his 2013 performance was much better than it seemed.
Grade: B

.319/.391/.534, 19 HR, 42 RBI, 21 2B, 8.3 BB%, 4.0 WAR
- Puig was the Dodgers' most valuable and best outfielder after being recalled on June 3. His debut was great as he took the baseball world by storm. His power is undeniable, as is his arm. I don't think he's a .319 hitter going forward, but he's definitely a player you can build your team around. He's only going to get better with age (he'll be 23 next season).
Grade: A

.263/.332/.332, 2 HR, 30 RBI, 16 2B, 7.9 BB%, -1.0 WAR
- Schumaker's numbers don't look that bad, but they still amounted to a minus-1-win player. He was a win worse than anyone the Dodgers could have acquired off the waiver wire or in Triple-A. At least he threw a scoreless inning of relief and topped out at 91 MPH on the radar gun. He gets a half-a-grade point for that alone.
Grade: D

.240/.342/.465, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 8 2B, 13.2 BB%, 0.9 WAR
- Van Slyke proved himself to be a capable bench player with power for the Dodgers -- something they haven't had in seemingly forever. Yet, he was absent in the playoffs despite being on the roster. Van Slyke should be the fourth outfielder this team absolutely needs (after someone is traded, of course).
Grade: B

The rest
Nick Buss, Grade: INC
Alex CastellanosGrade: INC
Elian HerreraGrade: INC

Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Saturday, November 16, 2013

My 2013 IBWAA awards ballot: Trout, Kershaw, Myers, Hurdle, Uehara, more

This is my 2013 Internet Baseball Writers Association of America awards ballot (yay transparency!). I feel I didn't go too homer in some places. Enjoy!

*- BBWA winner
**- IBWAA winner
***- BBWA and IBWAA winner

American League

Most Valuable Player
1. Mike Trout, Anaheim
2. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit***
3. Josh Donaldson, Oakland
4. Chris Davis, Baltimore
5. Robinson Cano, New York
6. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay
7. Manny Machado, Baltimore
8. Dustin Pedroia, Boston
9. Max Scherzer, Detroit
10. Adrian Beltre, Texas
- Like last year, my top two are the same. Also like last year, Cabrera was voted ahead of Trout. Trout has two of the best age-20 and 21 seasons, yet has zero MVPs to show for it. Oh, and he plays defense and runs the bases well. Donaldson was really good and underrated this season. Machado had a solid season with the bat, but was game-changing with his glove.

1. Max Scherzer, Detroit***
2. Felix Hernandez, Seattle
3. Anibal Sanchez, Detroit
4. Yu Darvish, Texas
5. Chris Sale, Chicago
- Scherzer had a fantastic season, and it had nothing to do with wins. Hernandez is underrated seemingly every year. Any of these five had a case for the award.

Rookie of the Year
1. Wil Myers, Tampa Bay***
2. Jose Iglesias, Boston/Detroit
3. Chris Archer, Tampa Bay
- Myers was not only the best rookie in an otherwise weak AL crop, he was the most impactful. Iglesias hit surprisingly well, but also has an “8” glove. Archer is the next great Tampa Bay starter.

Manager of the Year
1. Terry Francona, Cleveland*
2. Ned Yost, Kansas City
3. Bob Melvin, Oakland
- Francona did a masterful job in Cleveland. There’s some talent on that roster, but not 92-win talent. I’m shocked Yost didn’t get a lot of play for the award in the BBWA or IBWAA ballots. Melvin guided his team to the third-best record in baseball. I probably erred by not including IBWAA winner John Farrell**.

Reliever of the Year
1. Koji Uehara, Boston
2. Greg Holland, Kansas City**
3. Neal Cotts, Texas
- Uehara doesn’t throw hard at all, yet was one of the most dominant relievers in baseball. Holland is on the cusp of being an elite closer. Cotts had an amazing comeback season.

National League

Most Valuable Player
1. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh***
2. Matt Carpenter, St. Louis
3. Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles
4. Yadier Molina, St. Louis
5. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
6. Joey Votto, Cincinnati
7. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
8. Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles
9. Shin-Soo Choo, Cincinnati
10. Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee
- McCutchen was far and away the NL’s best player. While his counting stats aren’t overly impressive, he provided much more value than home runs and RBIs. Carpenter led the majors in runs scored, hits and doubles. Ramirez would have run away with this award if he performed like he did over, say, 130 games. He was that valuable. Molina and Goldschmidt were great in their own rights. I probably should have voted Kershaw higher.

Cy Young
1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles***
2. Jose Fernandez, Miami
3. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
4. Cliff Lee, Philadelphia
5. Matt Harvey, New York
- This was the slam dunk of all slam dunks. Kershaw had a season for the ages and was never in danger of losing out to a fluke season (like last year). Fernandez was shut down in September, or he could have made a better case. Harvey was the biggest competition for Kershaw before he blew out his elbow.

Rookie of the Year
1. Jose Fernandez, Miami***
2. Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles
3. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles
- The award is for “best rookie,” not “most valuable rookie.” Puig was the most valuable, Fernandez was the best. His age-20 season was one of the best in the history of the game -- hard to overlook that. Ryu was hurt by a deep class (Shelby Miller, Julio Tehran) and age (26).

Manager of the Year
1. Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh***
2. Fredi Gonzalez, Atlanta
3. Don Mattingly, Los Angeles
- OK, maybe this was the slam dunk of slam dunks. Like Francona in Cleveland, Hurdle managed his team to better-than-expected results with talent that wasn’t necessarily top-notch (despite having the MVP). Mattingly is only here because his team sucked until June 22 and he was almost fired.

Reliever of the Year
1. Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles
2. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta**
3. Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis
- Hard to go wrong with any of these three. My Dodger bias plays in a little here, but Jansen is vastly underrated in the media because, well, I’m not exactly sure why.

Graphic credit: Howard Cole, baseballsavvy