Monday, December 30, 2013

Dee Gordon could get one final shot to be a valuable player with the Dodgers

Dee Gordon shows the volatility that are prospects. He was once the Dodgers' top prospect, drawing comparisons to guys like Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins. Now, he's struggling to hang on as a utility player in the majors.

With Alexander Guerrero's injury concerns in the Dominican Winter League, perhaps Gordon gets one more shot as a starter in the majors -- at second base with the Dodgers.

Gordon began the offseason by going to the Dominican to play the outfield with Licey. He played primarily center field, but also dabbled in the corners. He handled himself well enough, reportedly, as he surely has the athleticism to handle the outfield. The bad thing is, his bat doesn't play especially well out there. He's a career .256/.301/.312 hitter in 669 plate appearances, which leaves a lot to be desired.

He's now playing in the Puerto Rican Winter League in hopes of him acclimating himself at second base. He played 20 games at second in Triple-A last year and three with the Dodgers (totaling 3 2/3 innings).

The question isn't particularly with his bat, but with his glove. He was a below-average shortstop. Second base isn't terribly different than shortstop, but a player still needs to be sure-handed at the position. That, and inaccurate throws, were Gordon's bugaboos at the position. A shift to second base should, in theory, cut down on the throwing errors. His arm is plenty strong, but sometimes he doesn't know where it's going.

With Guerrero's hamstring injury preventing him from playing a full winter ball season, second base could be wide open for Gordon's taking.

There is no other viable second base option beyond Gordon and Guerrero on the Dodgers' roster -- even in the minors. Sure, General Manager Ned Colletti mentioned Miguel Rojas by name in a radio interview, there's no earthly way Rojas breaks camp as the Dodgers' opening day second baseman. The Dodgers don't need an offensive powerhouse at second, but thinking Rojas -- a career .234/.302/.287 hitter in the minors -- could be the team's opening day second baseman is borderline clinical.

As of now, it's Gordon's job for the taking. It's entirely possible the Dodgers acquire someone to play a couple months as the starting second baseman while Guerrero gets more seasoning in the minors (preferably Triple-A). But Gordon being able to handle the position would make things a lot easier, and increase his utility.

Of course, the Dodgers not picking up Mark Ellis' option (would have cost them an additional $4.75 million) and them not retaining Nick Punto looks like a mistake right now. What do they say about hindsight and 20/20...?

If Gordon is ever going to amount to anything other than a mediocre utility player (which is isn't, at the moment), this could be his last shot at doing so. He could bat eighth, not make mind-numbing errors at second and be a player who provides positive value (or at the very least, replacement level value), then the Dodgers would be more than thrilled. But I'm not holding my breath.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Report: Yasiel Puig arrested in Florida for allegedly driving 110 MPH

Yasiel Puig has been pretty quiet since the end of the season, and thankfully so. But news broke today about him being arrested at around 9:30 a.m. local time in Florida for driving recklessly.

Puig was allegedly driving 110 MPH on Interstate 75 in Naples, Fla., also known as Alligator Alley.

This is the second time Puig has been arrested for excessive speeding, as he was allegedly driving 97 MPH in Tennessee back in late April. The charges were dropped in November.

This isn't the type of news the Dodgers and their fans want to hear regarding the budding superstar, but there have been rumblings of some being worried about this type of behavior.

Once is being foolish, twice is asking for trouble. I don't even want to know what a third time would bring.

Boys will be boys, but Puig has to know everything he does is magnified ten-fold because of his level of stardom, his flamboyancy and propensity to be in the spotlight. He cannot continue to do these things -- especially things that put his and others' lives in danger. We've all sped, but I can't say we've all driven 110 MPH in a 70 MPH zone.

Here's hoping he stays out of trouble the rest of the offseason.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Friday, December 27, 2013

Seeking Dodger fans/writers to be contributors to Feelin' Kinda Blue

I've maintained this blog for almost 4 1/2 years on my own. With life being, well, life, it might be time to call on some help. So, if you've ever wanted to write for a well-established Dodger blog, this might be for you.

I'm looking for one or two Dodger/baseball fans who are passionate about the team and writing about the team. While I write a lot about prospects, you are free to write about whatever you want (within reason, of course). I am looking for someone who could write game recaps (gamers), ready for publishing immediately after the game ends. I'd like to have every game covered, but I also understand life happens and it may not be possible to do so. Mainly, I'm looking for more content on the site, and I know there are Dodger fans out there who want to express themselves.


  • Background in writing
  • Ability to use Blogger CMS
  • Ability to write breaking news articles
  • Ability to write detailed, thought-provoking articles
  • Ability to analyze Dodger baseball
  • Ability to research desired topics
  • Ability to express opinion(s) with research to support
  • Ability to adhere to style guide
  • Ability to communicate clearly and quickly
  • Ability to use social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  • Ability to use Creative Commons to enhance articles (i.e. Flickr, Wikimedia Commons for photos)

Desired skills (but not required)

  • Degree/training in journalism, English or related field
  • Knowledge of AP Style
  • Knowledge of Dodger farm system
  • Knowledge of sabermetrics
  • Audio and video editing
  • Photography
  • Ability to attend games (MLB or minor league)


All submissions will be subject to editing by myself, but I won't change your voice or what you're trying to stay (mostly for grammar/style/etc.).

Available positions are unpaid (unfortunately). If the website traffic were to increase, perhaps there could be some revenue sharing down the road. This blog gets anywhere from 17,000-40,000 pageviews per month.

If you are interested, please send a resume and at least two (2) writing samples to If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me via email or on Twitter (@FeelinKindaBlue).

Deadline to apply is Jan. 10. Thank you for your interest.

-Dustin Nosler

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dodgers' competition for Masahiro Tanaka appears to be strong

It finally happened. The Rakuten Golden Eagles posted right-hander Masahiro Tanaka on Christmas Eve, giving interested teams an early Christmas present.

Tanaka, 25, has been the best pitcher in Japan for the last several years. In 2013, he went 24-0 (I know, wins, but dayum!) with a 1.27 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 1.4 BB/9 and a 7.8 K/9. Those are really good numbers in any league. There figures to be many teams after Tanaka's services.

With the $20 million posting fee, which is now a "release" fee, meaning the Golden Eagles post him at $20 million and the team that signs him would have to pay that money in a release fee. Semantics.

Here are the teams I expect to be interested in Tanaka:
  • All of them
Now, here are the team's I realistically expect to be interested in Tanaka:
  • Angels
  • Cubs
  • Diamondbacks
  • Dodgers
  • Mariners
  • Yankees
And the wild cards:
  • Astros
  • Giants
  • Rangers
My prediction on Tanaka landing spots (in order)
  1. Dodgers
  2. Mariners
  3. Yankees
  4. Cubs
  5. Astros
  6. Angels
  7. Diamondbacks
  8. Giants
  9. Rangers

Dodgers: Well, I've written quite a bit about Tanaka, and while he'd be seen as a luxury by some, he's more of a necessity than a luxury to me. A top four of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Tanaka (with Dan Haren as the No. 5) is unrivaled.

Mariners: Surprisingly, the Mariners rank ahead of the Yankees for me. Tanaka's preference, reportedly, is to play on the West Coast so his travels to Japan are easier. The M's spent nearly a quarter-billion dollars on Robinson Cano, so it'd be wise to surround him with some more talent. A rotation of Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Tanaka and Taijuan Walker would be amazingly good.

Yankees: They need Tanaka the most, but budget limitations could prevent them from going all-in on him. By others' calculations, the Yanks are about $11 million south of the $189 million luxury tax number. Seeing as they paid $28 million in luxury taxes for 2013, they seem to be intent on lowering their payroll to that number. However, the savings they'll get when Alex Rodriguez is suspended is a wild card for them. After CC Sabathia (who could be declining) and Hiroki Kuroda (who struggled in the second half), there isn't a sure thing in the rotation. Tanaka isn't a sure thing, but he's better than what the Yankees have behind Sabathia and Kuroda.

Cubs: The North Siders fail the criterion of being a West Coast team, but they have lots of money and team president Theo Epstein has a history of signing Japanese players. Oh, and the Cubbies need a starting pitcher. This team is closer to contending than some may think, as their farm system is loaded with position players. There is a noticeable lack of good pitching prospects, though.

Astros: They are the biggest wild card in all this. Houston isn't technically West Coast, but it's closer than Chicago or New York. The Astros had, roughly, a $15 million payroll in 2013 in their rebuilding process. Some had suggested they'd be in on Shin-Soo Choo, but he went to the other team in that state. They could swoop in and steal him from the New Yorks and LAs of the baseball world. In two years, their rotation could look like this: Mark Appel, Tanaka, Carlos Rodon (potential No. 1 pick in 2014 MLB Draft) and Lance McCullers. That's pretty good.

Angels: I didn't immediately identify the Angels as a suitor for Tanaka because they've whiffed badly on their last two huge signings (Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton). While they need pitching, Tanaka is going to cost a ton of money and it doesn't seem their budget is unlimited like, say, the Dodgers. But with Arte Moreno, anything is possible, I suppose.

Diamondbacks: Arizona has said Tanaka is its "No. 1 priority" this offseason -- well, aside from acquiring all of the grit. Tanaka is going to sign a nine-figure contract over six- or seven years. I'm not sure a commitment like that is in the Diamondbacks' nature.

Rangers: Before Choo signed for $130 million, the Rangers would have likely been in on Tanaka. Yu Darvish (and Tanaka isn't Darvish) has enjoyed great success in Texas and Tanaka would have made a nice pairing for the Rangers. But, it seems they'll be limited by their budget.

Giants: This one is just for show. The Giants are at the end of their budgetary commitment for 2014, so it doesn't seem like they'll be real players for Tanaka. San Francisco has a solid rotation already of Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Tim Hudson. While a couple of those guys are volatile, it isn't as if the Giants need Tanaka -- and they probably can't afford him anyway.


This will all be resolved (in theory) by Jan. 24 -- that's when the posting time expires (30 days from day of posting date).

Tanaka's agent is Casey Close. He's a prominent agent with clients such as Kershaw, Greinke, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira. If there's any benefit to be had, it looks like it might lie with the Dodgers and Yankees.

Money talks. The Dodgers have the most money, but I don't think they'll pay more the $120(ish) million for Tanaka (not counting the release fee). The M's could be the Dodgers' biggest competitor, with the Yankees needing him more than any other team here. But seriously, watch out for the Astros. I just have a weird feeling about them.

Photo credit: Neier, Wikimedia Commons

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dodgers' signing of Jamey Wright could signal something is brewing

After the Dodgers reportedly agreed to terms with Chris Perez late Sunday night, it was a safe assumption they were done adding pieces to the bullpen. But the Dodgers apparently agreed to a 1-year contract with former Dodger (and just about everyone else) Jamey Wright.

I wrote about Wright when the Dodgers reportedly had interest in him at the Winter Meetings.
"Something to note is the reduced ground ball percentage. The nearly 11 percent decline didn't result in an outrageous rise in his home run per fly ball rate, which was likely because he struck out more than a batter per nine innings more in 2013 than he did in 2012.
He'll be 39 later this month, so there's no guarantee the success will continue. But on a 1-year deal, Wright would be well worth a look.
Wright has made a Major League rosters in each of the last eight seasons as a non-roster invitee. This year, it seems he won't have to be an NRI, as NRIs don't usually get inked in December -- especially those who have been really solid the last couple of years."
He probably didn't agree to a minor-league deal, so this creates quite the full bullpen in Los Angeles.

Bullpen locks
J.P. Howell
Kenley Jansen
Chris Perez
Paco Rodriguez
Brian Wilson
Jamey Wright

Bullpen hopefuls
Jose Dominguez
Brandon League
Seth Rosin
Chris Withrow

Bullpen longshots
Stephen Fife
Onelki Garcia
Yimi Garcia
Matt Magill

Chad Billingsley
Scott Elbert


That's 16 players for -- at most -- seven spots. Because guys like Dominguez and Withrow have options, they're likely the odd men out. Rosin was a Rule 5 draftee. If he's to remain with the Dodgers, he'll have to be on the 25-man roster (or the disabled list). I only put League here because he was atrocious in 2013 and I could see the Dodgers eating that money (though, it isn't likely).

Billingsley and Elbert will be placed on the 60-day disabled list. Billingsley is expected to pitch later this season, so he'll almost assuredly be back.

The Wright signing could signal a couple things:
  1. Perez (or Howell, I suppose) failed his (their) physical(s)
  2. There's a trade brewing
Of the two, I'd say No. 2 is more likely. Guess it could be David Price, but I wouldn't call it a lock. Maybe a minor(ish) trade involving Withrow or Dominguez, because having guys like Perez, League and Wright instead of Withrow makes zero sense.

We'll see what happens. Wright is a solid reliever, but the bullpen is now overflowing with available arms. Something has to give here.

Photo credit: Keith Allison, Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dodgers, Chris Perez, close to 1-year contract, according to report

Ned Colletti appears to have finally settled on his "high-leverage" reliever with closing experience, as the Dodgers are reportedly close to signing former Indians' closer Chris Perez to a 1-year contract.

Terms aren't yet known, but it'd be a shock if Perez got more than a $4 million contract. He was set to go into his last year of arbitration after earning $7.3 million in 2013. The Indians (wisely) decided to non-tender the burly right-hander.

Perez, 28, is best known for his antics off the field. In August 2012, he confronted an Athletics' fan and had some choice words for said fan. He attempted to mail some marijuana to his home using his dog's name. Seriously.

Oh, and he's not a very good reliever. Well, he used to be, but he was pretty bad in 2013. Perez posted a 4.33 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 9.3 H/9, 1.8 HR/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 9.0 K/9. And his ERA didn't exactly jive with his 5.08 FIP. He was worth nearly a negative win in 2013 (-0.9). That's pretty hard to do out of the bullpen.

Perez's biggest bugaboo is his propensity for giving home runs. He owns a 1.1 HR/9 for his career, and gave up 11 in 54 innings this past season. His home run-to-flyball rate was an astronomical 20 percent (meaning, for every 100 fly balls he were to give up, 20 of them would over the fence). Dodger Stadium should help him with that problem, but he'll need to keep the ball down to be an effective reliever.

Barring anything unforeseen, Perez is likely slated for seventh-inning duty for the Dodgers.

His repertoire consists of a low-to-mid-90s fastball and a low-80s slider. He threw a curveball sparingly in his first two seasons, but he's been a two-pitch pitcher ever since. FanGraphs rated Perez's fastball at -15.4 last season -- the worst among all MLB relievers with at least 50 innings pitched.

Perez was good in 2010, posting a 1.71 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in 63 innings at the age of 24 (despite a 4.0 BB/9). So, there's a chance he could recapture some of what made him an effective reliever just a few years ago.

The move likely means Jose Dominguez will begin the 2014 season in the minors (likely in Albuquerque). Chris Withrow is also a candidate of beginning the season in the minors, if the Dodgers need the active roster space -- but it'd be a mistake. If Perez is replacing, say, Brandon League, I say it's an upgrade. If he's replacing Withrow, it's a big, big mistake.

The Dodgers' 40-man roster is officially at 37, but when the signings of J.P. Howell and Juan Uribe become official, that number will go to 39. The Dodgers still need a couple bench pieces and could be in on Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. The Dodgers will almost assuredly place Chad Billingsley on the 60-day disabled list at some point, so that could also open up another spot. Otherwwise, I wouldn't get too comfortable if I'm Mike Baxter, Justin Sellers and, to a lesser extent, Javy Guerra.

Photo credit: Keith Allison, Wikimedia Commons

Dodgers' minor-league coaching staffs have a lot of MLB experience

The Dodgers made a number of changes in the minor-league coaching ranks and announced said changes on Sunday.

There was a vacancy at the Triple-A level after former Albuquerque Isotopes' manager Lorenzo Bundy was promoted to third base coach. The Dodgers filled that hole with a former Major League catcher. There are new managers at every level of the Dodgers' minor-league system (save the Dominican Summer League).

Triple-A Albuquerque
Manager: Damon Berryhill
Hitting coach: Franklin Stubbs
Pitching coach: Glenn Dishman

Double-A Chattanooga
Manager: Razor Shines
Hitting coach: Shawn Wooten
Pitching coach: Scott Radinsky

High-A Rancho Cucamonga
Manager: P.J. Forbes
Hitting coach: Mike Eylward
Pitching coach: Matt Herges

Low-A Great Lakes
Manager: Bill Haselman
Hitting coach: Johnny Washington
Pitching coach: Bill Simas

Pioneer League Ogden
Manager: Lee Tinsley
Hitting coach: Leo Garcia
Pitching coach: Greg Sabat

Arizona League Dodgers
Manager: John Shoemaker
Hitting coach: Henry Cruz
Pitching coach: Hector Berrios


The most interesting move is Berryhill jumping from the short-season ball to the highest level of the minors. Berryhill managed Ogden for the last five years. He guided the Raptors to four playoff appearances. He's a former catcher, so there's no doubt he has the smarts for the job He's a fine choice to replace Bundy.

Stubbs returns as Isotopes' hitting coach. Last season was his first with club and sixth with the organization. He should have a good opportunity to work with Joc Pederson. Dishman has the unenviable position as the Isotopes' pitching coach. But it's his fourth year in that position, so he must be doing something right. Maybe he can make Zach Lee's stay a little more enjoyable than is anticipated.

Shines earned a promotion from Low-A to Double-A, where he figures to manage some familiar faces. He managed the Loons last season to the playoffs. His son Devin Shines is an outfielder in the organization.

Wooten, a former major leaguer most notably with Anaheim, will have the task of making guys like Scott Schebler and Darnell Sweeney into better hitting prospects. Former Dodger Radinsky takes over as the team's pitching coach. He figures to work with some of the better Dodger pitching prospects in 2014, including guys like Onelki Garcia, Chris Reed and Ross Stripling.

Forbes takes over for Carlos Subero and could have the most talent of any Dodger minor-league manager. He should have Corey Seager and Julio Urias to start the season, as well as Chris Anderson and Tom Windle.

Eylward gets bumped up from Great Lakes, where he was the hitting coach, to Rancho Cucamonga, where he will be the hitting coach. Herges returns third season as the Quakes' pitching coach.

Haselman managed the Inland Empire 66ers (Angels' affiliate and former Dodgers' affiliate) the last two seasons. He went to UCLA.

Washington was the Quakes' hitting coach this past season and also was the Glendale Desert Dogs' (Arizona Fall League) hitting coach in 2013. Simas returns for his second campaign as the Loons' pitching coach.

Tinsley is coming over from the Cubs for his first year with the organization. He played 14 years in the big leagues. Shoemaker has been with the Dodgers' organization in some capacity since 1977.


Overall, some really nice hires. If these guys can continue to develop and improve the prospects through their respective minor-league journeys, then their work will be done.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

How the Rangers' signing of Shin-Soo Choo impacts the Dodgers

To be honest, not a whole lot. The last thing the Dodgers needed was another outfielder, unless said outfielder were named Giancarlo Stanton or Mike Trout. But the impact of Shin-Soo Choo's signing with the Rangers (7 years, $130 million, dayum) might be felt the rest of the winter.

While the Dodgers are insistent on the idea of not trading an outfielder (even though they probably should), the Rangers signing Choo removes one potential landing spot for Andre Ethier (or Carl Crawford).

Matt Kemp -- despite the myriad of rumors -- is going nowhere, as isn't Yasiel Puig. But I still contend the Dodgers need to make a move with one of these four before the start of the 2014 season.

The likelihood of the quartet being healthy for the vast majority of the season isn't terribly likely, but what if they are? Ethier and/or Crawford are going to be none too happy with playing just 2-4 times per week. Provided Kemp and Puig are healthy, they're 150-plus-game players. Ethier and Crawford are as well (their contracts say so), which could cause problems.

It can be argued Ethier would be a better investment than what the Rangers did with Choo. But Choo still posted an .885 OPS while hitting a paltry .215/.347/.265 against left-handers in 2013. If he ever learns to hit lefties, he'd be a Top-10 offensive player in the game.

The teams originally interested in Choo include the Mariners, Orioles, Tigers and Giants, to go along with the Rangers, Reds and Yankees. We all know the Giants aren't interested in trading for Ethier (well, they might be, but it won't happen). The Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury and tried to give Choo $140 million, but he declined (and will actually get more net money in Texas because of no state income tax).

That leaves the Mariners, Orioles, Reds and Tigers. The Tigers don't have anyone really to trade and the Orioles are balking at spending money.

With Nelson Cruz still available -- and seeking a contract similar to what Ethier is owed over the next five years ($71.5 million), he might be preferred by the Mariners and Orioles. The fact he has draft pick compensation tied to his potential signing has kept him on the market this long (not his performance-enhancing drug suspension).

The Reds make a lot of sense, as they have Ryan Ludwick penciled in as their everyday left fielder. That doesn't bode well for their success. An Ethier/Ludwick platoon could work. A Crawford/Ludwick platoon could work as well. A lineup led by Billy Hamilton and Crawford would be nothing if not fun to watch.

The Mariners have Nick Franklin available after signing Robinson Cano, so an Ethier-for-Franklin deal could make some sense (with other pieces and money involved).

If Ethier is moved this winter, I'd say Seattle or Cincinnati are the most likely landing spots, with Baltimore a distant third. He makes sense for all three teams. Crawford could be substituted for Ethier in deals to Cincinnati or Baltimore, but I don't see Seattle having much interest in him.

I'm not opposed to the Dodgers keeping all four of their outfielders, but I don't envy Don Mattingly if all four guys are healthy. And it isn't selfish for these guys to want to play. Hell, players are criticized for not wanting to play at times. If all four guys are kept, don't expect Scott Van Slyke to get many plate appearances or for Joc Pederson to be recalled anytime soon.

The Choo signing is likely the last big one this offseason. Masahiro Tanaka could be the biggest one remaining, if the Rakuten Golden Eagles decide to post him. The signing likely takes the Rangers out of the Tanaka sweepstakes, if it commences. The Yankees, Cubs and Mariners are likely to be the Dodgers' biggest competitors for his services.

Photo credit
Choo: NewJack984, Wikimedia Commons
Ethier: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Friday, December 20, 2013

Zach Lee should be the Dodgers' No. 5 starter in 2014 if no Tanaka, Price

It's Dec. 20, and the Dodgers still haven't acquired a big-name starting pitcher. It isn't necessarily a huge need, but it'd be nice to have one more big arm in the rotation.

The Dan Haren signing was really good, but I envision him as the team's No. 5 starter rather than its No. 4. But there's a very real scenario in which he's the No. 4 starter, and that isn't the worst thing in the world.

The market has been quiet. David Price rumors abound, and I'm not as opposed to him as I was earlier this offseason (or as others, including the Dodgers, it seems). Masahiro Tanaka may or may not be posted (somewhat reminiscent of the Alexander Guerrero situation). 

Obviously, Tanaka would be the preference. He's younger than Price and wouldn't cost prospects. Price would cost prospects and a length contract extension. With the Dodgers still needing to lock up Clayton Kershaw (hurry up already!) and Hanley Ramirez (could be soon), a Price extension might be No. 3 on the "To Do" list.

Some have suggested Price would be an insurance policy in case Kershaw -- somehow -- decides to leave via free agency. After all, he's "curious" about the prospect, and who could blame him?

If the Dodgers don't acquire Tanaka or Price, it's unlikely the Dodgers would sign a free agent. Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana both have draft pick compensation tied to them, while the team has shown little-to-no-interest in Matt Garza. Aside from that trio, there isn't really any starter worth signing.

Josh Beckett would be the No. 5 starter if the season were to start today. But let's be honest: No one wants to watch Beckett pitch anymore.

He's probably done, but he's also due nearly $16 million in 2014. There might be the obligation to pitch him -- and the Dodgers probably will -- but they should spare us the inevitable mound meltdown by Beckett. He had one good start in 2013 and was surprisingly solid for the Dodgers in 2012. But, as Daniel Brim laid out today on his blog (seriously, check it out), the history of those who attempt to come back from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery don't tend to have much success.

My alternative: Zach Lee.

Lee, 22, is pretty much MLB-ready and, if he isn't traded, he should be given serious consideration for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. He enjoyed his best season to date in the Southern League, posting a 3.22 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 2.2 BB/9 and a 8.3 K/9. All of those numbers were career-bests for the Dodgers' 2010 first-round pick. He's getting better every year he pitches.

If he begins the season in the minors, the Dodgers could conceivably send him to Albuquerque, as they did with Matt Magill last season. Almost everyone knows the Pacific Coast League is none too friendly to pitchers, and the Dodgers tend to avoid sending their top starter prospects there. However, if Lee went back to Chattanooga, it'd be his third stint with the Lookouts. He doesn't have much more to prove.

His stuff ticked up slightly in 2013, and he definitely has a future as a starting pitcher. He won't be a No. 1 or No. 2, but I see him as a low-end No. 3 or high-end No. 4 at worse. Plus, it'd be nice to see the Dodgers give a youngster a shot. They haven't really done so since Kershaw and Chad Billingsley (through no fault of their own).

If I'm Lee, I'd attach myself to Zack Greinke's hip in spring training and absorb everything the cerebral starter has to offer.

The Dodgers appear committed to keeping the farm system in tact. If they want to see what Lee's true worth is, this might be the time to find out. If the truly want to model their farm system and development after the Cardinals, this would be a fine time to start.

As for what to do with Beckett: I'm not sure. Make him the long reliever? Eat almost all his contract to trade him? Designate him for assignment? All of them seem like viable options. Honestly, I don't particularly care. I want the best 25 guys out there, and Lee profiles to be better than Beckett is right now. Beckett won't make-or-break the Dodgers' season.

I really hope the Dodgers land Tanaka. I'd be OK with them landing Price. If they must include Corey Seager to land Price, then I'd like to see them sign Aledmys Diaz to replace him (that's pretty much the only scenario in which that is acceptable, but it still isn't preferred). If those two options fall through, Lee is my guy. And I've been higher on Lee than most in the last couple of years (even if he won't be my No. 1 prospect for 2014).

One way or another, I'd rather not see Beckett throw another pitch as a starter for the Dodgers again. It's nothing personal, it's just the fact that Lee is the better option.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Podcast: 'Dugout Blues' episode 64 - Uribe, Howell, scouts, top prospects

On this episode of "Dugout Blues," Jared Massey (Dodger Diamond) and I recap the uneventful Winter Meetings and other happenings in Dodger land.

The Dodgers didn't do anything at the meetings, but they re-signed Juan Uribe and J.P. Howell in the last four days -- both of which were solid deals.

The Dodgers also bolsted their scouting department by adding six new scouts, while elevating two guys -- Josh Bard and Aaron Sele -- to professional scouts. Two of the new hires include Peter Bergeron and Ron Mahay.

Jared released his Top 55 prospects list for 2014. I grill him a little, but not as much as I could have. Joc Pederson tops his list. I'll be releasing my Top 50 prospects in January.
Episode dedications
Jared and Dustin: Paul Lo Duca
As usual, we close with Q&A. They were a little lighter than in episodes past, but it's the holiday season after all.

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

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Dodgers bring back former prospect Josh Bell, and I'm excited about it?

I shouldn't be this excited for a non-roster invitee, but I find myself really liking the Josh Bell signing the Dodgers made on Monday.

Bell, 27, was drafted by the Dodgers in the fourth round of the 2005 MLB Draft. He made the usual stops in his development, culminating in 2009 with Double-A Chattanooga. Bell hit .296/.386/.497 with 11 home runs and 30 doubles. At age-22, that was rather impressive.

But he didn't remain with the Dodgers. He was shipped off to Baltimore with Steve Johnson for George Sherrill. In fact, it was one of my first handful of posts on this blog. Here's what a younger, dumber me had to say about it.
"On the surface, this looks like a good, even trade. However, the Blue Jays were said to be interested in Bell in a potential Halladay package. Unless the Dodgers also acquire Halladay by 1 p.m. tomorrow, this trade will look a lot worse. I don't believe Dodger GM Ned Colletti would blow a chance to get Halladay by trading Bell for a reliever, so there's still hope, I suppose."
That was the gist of the post. Even I forgot it was that short. If this kind of trade were made today, I'd have a completely different opinion about it. Good thing the Dodgers just re-signed J.P. Howell.

Turns out, it wasn't a good trade for the Dodgers. While Bell didn't go onto exactly tear up the league, they sold short on a power-hitting third base prospect for a lefty reliever who was terrible in his time in LA.

But back to Bell. I have this strange, irrational feeling he's going to make some noise in spring training -- more noise than the likes of Nick Evans and Dallas McPherson (hat tip to Chris Jackson). I guess I'm putting a lot of misplaced faith in Mark McGwire. Not because McGwire isn't good at his job, but because Bell has never lived up to his potential.

Bell looked like he might be a GUY in 2010 when he debut with the Orioles. The overall numbers didn't look great -- .214/.224/.302 -- but one game stood out to me.

It was Aug. 21, 2010, in Baltimore on FOX Saturday Baseball. The Orioles were facing Cliff Lee and the Rangers. Bell was in the starting lineup. He came up with a man on in the third inning. Batting right-handed -- his worse of the two sides -- against Lee, he crushed a home run to center field. It was a no-doubter. I was excited to see it sail over the wall. Then, Bell came up in the fourth inning and clubbed a 2-run home run to right-center field -- again off Lee. It was mighty impressive.

Yes, it's the smallest of sample sizes, but Bell flashed the potential that made him a Top-5 prospect in the system at one time.

Bell made stops with the Diamondbacks, White Sox and Yankees following his stint with the Orioles. The only big league appearances he had were with Arizona in 2012.

I'm sure you've stopped reading by now, as who wants to read much about a career .195/.223/.265 hitter? But I have some kind of feeling about him. The Dodgers need backup infielders in the worst way, and they definitely need someone to prevent the recently re-signed Juan Uribe from playing in more than 140 games. Odds are extremely against Bell from doing something he hasn't been able to do in his career to this point -- be a quality major leaguer.

This is just another case of me gloming onto a former Dodger prospect because he was a former Dodger prospect (Hi, Franklin Gutierriez!). But if Bell somehow breaks camp with the team, I'll definitely refer back to this post. But he's even more likely to be among the first cuts in March.

Stranger things have happened, and the Dodgers have employed some questionable third basemen in the past. But if Bell could somehow be the power-hitting third baseman the Dodgers need (as a backup), that would be awesome. Odds of that happening: 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 percent.

Having said all that, I'm sure he'll be released in a couple weeks, making this post all for naught.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Monday, December 16, 2013

Dodgers to re-sign J.P. Howell to surprisngly reasonable 2-year deal

J.P. Howell was supposed to break the bank (for him and lefty relievers) this winter, but he didn't. He is reportedly set to re-sign with the Dodgers for two years and $11.25 million. There's also a mutual option of $6.25 million for 2016 that vests with 120 appearances in 2014-15.

Howell has made 122 appearances the last two seasons, so if he pitches enough for his option to vest, it'll almost be surely because he has pitched well.

By comparison, Javier Lopez got three years and $13 million from the Giants and Boone Logan got three years and $16.5 million from the Rockies.  Howell at two years, $11.25 million (up to $17.5 million in three years) looks awfully good.

What separates Howell from Lopez and Logan is the fact he can get right-handers out -- something that makes him more valuable to the Dodgers.

With Paco Rodriguez faltering down the stretch, the Dodgers needed another left-hander in the 'pen. Considering the options, they couldn't have done better.

I had Howell pegged at two years and $7 million, but that was before the market developed. I tweeted in the last week or so I'd be fine with giving him a $18 million over three years. I wrote a few weeks ago a 3-year deal was just fine with me.

I'd even argue re-signing Howell is a more important move than re-signing Brian Wilson.

The bullpen is just about wrapped up. With the addition of Seth Rosin as a potential long-reliever, the Dodgers might not need another high-profile bullpen signing. If they don't want to go with Jose Dominguez or Brandon League, perhaps another right-hander could be brought in. Jamey Wright had been mentioned before, and I'd be good with that.

Howell wasn't a sure bet to return to the Dodgers, but his California ties (born in Modesto, went to school in Carmichael, lives in Los Angeles) probably played into his decision. Oh, and that whole "Playing for a championship" thing.

Photo credit: Keith Allison, Wikimedia Commons

Dodgers might need a 2B if Alexander Guerrero isn't ready by opening day

Alexander Guerrero was signed to be the Dodgers' everyday second baseman, but he hasn't looked like that so far this winter. Not because of poor performance -- he's hitting .289/.325/.447 -- but because he hasn't played that much (40 plate appearances).

Guerrero, 27,  suffered a hamstring injury in early November, sat out nearly three weeks, came back and seemed to reaggravate the injury last week. He totaled just five at-bats in the last three games. With him being such an unknown, the Dodgers can't go into the season with Guerrero expected to play 140-plus games at second base, can they?

The Dodgers lost their insurance policies in Mark Ellis after he signed a 1-year deal with the Cardinals on Sunday, and Nick Punto, who has long since signed with Oakland. The Dodgers probably won't acquire a big-name second baseman (i.e. Howie Kendrick), but a guy who's capable of playing 80-100 quality games at the position could be in order. The only problem is, there aren't a ton of those guys available -- either on the free agent market or via trade.

Here's my best guess as to who the Dodgers could land to help out at second base.

Free agent


Of the free agents, Turner has already been mentioned. Other guys I like from that list include Carroll, Getz, Izturis, Roberts and Santiago.

Carroll is a former Dodger and a little long in the tooth. He's been pretty poor since leaving the Dodgers after the 2011 season. He plays multiple positions, but he might not be a 100-games-played guy anymore.

Getz has a light bat and is exclusively a second baseman, but he does a couple things well. He doesn't strike out a lot (9.1 percent) and he's a really good basestealer (82.8 percent success rate).

Cesar Izturis is a personal favorite of mine. He's always been a plus defender and is adept at all three infield positions that aren't first base. His bat isn't much, but if the Dodgers are looking for a quality defensive backup, he might fit.

Roberts is the most interesting guy here. He was a budding star for the Orioles before injuries got the best of him. He's also deal with concussions in recent years, so that's always going to be an issue. He's 36 and has the best offensive upside of anyone on this list. He's strictly a second baseman, but also owns a .279/.349/.412 career slash line, which would be a nice complement to Guerrero's uncertainty.

Santiago is another multi-position infielder with a light bat. He's basically interchangeable with Carroll, Gets and Izturis.

Of the trade targets, it's obvious Franklin is the best. The Mariners signed Robinson Cano, so they're looking to move Franklin for some kind of upgrade elsewhere. Perhaps some kind of Andre Ethier-for-Franklin swap could be had. Acquiring him would likely mean Guerrero starts the season in the minors. When he's ready, the Dodgers can figure out what to do with Franklin after that. He'd be a nice trade chip come July.

Bonifacio and Callaspo are similar players. Both can play multiple infield positions, with Bonifacio being able to handle center field. Callaspo is the better offensive player, while Bonifacio is the better runner. The Royals don't have a great second base option, so Bonifacio might not be available right now. Callaspo figures to get a lot of playing time with the A's, but he's a little redundant with Punto on board. Acquiring either of these guys might not be likely (Callaspo more likely than Bonifacio), but either of them would fit nicely into a bench role for the Dodgers.

Maicer Izturis is similar to Callaspo, but there's no indication the Blue Jays are looking to move him.


There are options out there. They're not terribly appealing, but they're out there for the Dodgers' taking. None of these guys -- outside of Franklin -- would cost a lot to acquire. I'd really like to see the Dodgers sign a guy like Roberts, despite his injury concerns. He's a solid defender who might have a little bit of offensive ability left in his bat.

If they don't acquire a second baseman -- with the way the roster is currently constructed -- Dee Gordon could be the team's starting second baseman in Australia on opening day. Yikes.

I'm still on board with the Guerrero signing, but with the injury concerns in winter ball and the lack of playing time over the last 18-24 months, it'd be a surprise if he were to open the season as the Dodgers' starting second baseman. Being an older signee actually works in his favor. A good spring training could change that, but a stopgap is probably more realistic at this point.

Photo credit: Keith Allison, Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dodgers re-sign Juan Uribe to 2-year deal, save us from Michael Young

In a move that was overdue, the Dodgers on Saturday re-signed Juan Uribe to a 2-year contract. It's the smart, somewhat safe play, but I find myself feeling a touch disappointed about this deal.

Uribe had been holding out for three years. As the best free agent third baseman, he would have been foolish not to. He drew alleged interest from the Marlins, Rays and White Sox.

I'm disappointed because I was hoping for an upgrade at the position -- or at least someone with the potential to be an upgrade. Uribe is a great defensive third baseman, but it remains to be seen if he can duplicate (or come close to) the offensive numbers he posted in 2013. I also acknowledge I shouldn't be disappointed in this signing, but the offseason just got a lot less interesting for the Dodgers. Again, that should be a good thing, but I guess I'm just craving some kind of acquisition to get my transaction fix.

It isn't terribly hard to hit .278/.331/.438 these days -- and I'd take that from Uribe. But the first two years of his 3-year deal were absolute garbage. Uribe was a .199/.262/.289 hitting in 2011-12, prompting the Dodgers to go with Luis Cruz for the last couple months of 2012 and the first six weeks of 2013.

Quality third baseman just aren't readily available in baseball these days, as evidenced by this offseason and the Dodgers' inability to fill the position post-Adrian Beltre. To get Uribe at two years isn't the worst thing in the world.

Now, Uribe won't play 162 games. Hell, he will probably struggle to make it to 140. So, a left-handed complement could be in order. I pegged Eric Chavez as that guy in my offseason plan. He's about the only guy on the open market worth a flyer. At last check, the Dodgers aren't interested in him. That could change, as the offseason has been held up in some part due to the Uribe situation.

This move also, in my eyes, renders Corey Seager untradeable. Seager should be ready for full-time duty in two years -- be it at shortstop or third base -- just as Uribe ends his deal. If the Dodgers trade Seager for anyone who isn't a long-term third baseman (or shortstop), they'll be in this exact position in two years. If they were to acquire a bonafide offensive superstar, that might be the only other situation in which it makes sense to trade Seager.

This assures another two years of #Uribear, which is just fine with me. One of the best hashtags after (right after #fuente).

I never thought I would grow to like Uribe, but his solid play in 2013 and his great clubhouse presence is worth the 2-year deal alone. The financials aren't out yet, but I'd be shocked if he got more than $20 million. It's a bit high, but it's also an easy price to pay considering the alternative. 

After all, Michael Young could have been the Dodgers' starting third baseman in 2014. Just think about that for a second and try to go on with your day.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

Friday, December 13, 2013

Daniel Murphy-for-Chris Reed deal could make sense for Dodgers, Mets

Most Dodger fans are expecting Juan Uribe to return on a 1- or 2-year deal. As the best free agent third baseman available, Uribe has every right to test the market (he'd be foolish not to).

But the Dodgers can't wait around forever. It seems Uribe is holding up the Dodgers' offseason moves to some degree -- something that seems highly unlikely just a year ago. The White Sox are (or aren't interested), as are (or aren't) the Marlins.

I've pondered trades for Chase Headley, Will Middlebrooks and Aramis Ramirez -- none of which seem too likely. So, if Uribe or any of these three don't man the hot corner for the Dodgers in 2014, perhaps a second baseman could.

No, I'm not talking about Alexander Guerrero. I'm talking about a player I've seen suggested by some over the last year-plus -- the Mets' Daniel Murphy.

Murphy is far from ideal to play third base for the Dodgers, but he's better than some might expect (myself included).

In limited time (220 2/3 innings), he's posted a 7.2 UZR/150 and a +2 defensive runs saved number. Not bad, but with David Wright in New York, there wasn't much playing time to be had there. That works out to about 25 games played, and he hasn't played the position since 2011, but it also seems like a worthwhile risk. If he's athletic enough to play second, he's athletic enough to play third. His arm is the biggest question mark. If he can make the throw consistently, he should be decent enough defensively. He won't be Uribe there (though, he'd probably have better range), but he'd be solid.

Conversely, Murphy is one of the worst defensvie second basemen in the league, posting a career -7.3 UZR/150 and -26 DRS in more than 2,600 innings. While his bat plays better at the position, his glove plays better at third -- and that's good news for the Dodgers.

Murphy isn't a great hitter and doesn't walk particularly much. His on-base percentage is tied to his batting average. If he isn't hitting, he isn't getting on base. His 6.1 percent career walk rate leaves some to be desired. But at least he doesn't strike out at a ridiculous rate (13 percent).

His .424 career slugging percentage isn't great, but it's somewhat passable for a third baseman. Considering some of the names the Dodgers have thrown out there in recent years, he'd be a considerable upgrade.

Murphy, 29 in April, has a little pop, as he hit a career-high 13 home runs in 2013 and smacked 38 doubles. He's posted above-average OPS+ numbers in all but one year of his career (96 in 2009), so the potential for some extra base hit ability is there.

Steamer and Oliver projections have him posting less than favorable stat lines:

.280/.323/.408, 8 HR, .127 ISO

.283/.324/.406, 10 HR, .123 ISO


I'd bet on a similar stat line he put up in 2013. He's a solid -- if unspectacular -- player. He probably wouldn't be the difference between the Dodgers winning and losing a World Series, but he'd be a nice alternative if the Dodgers don't bring back Uribe. He also seems like a more feasible acquisition rather than a guy like Headley.

I'm thinking Chris Reed gets a deal done. Others in the industry obviously like Reed more than I do, so I'm thinking a Top 10 pitching prospect in the Dodgers' system would be enough to land Murphy from the Mets.

The Mets are reportedly wanting Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers for Ike Davis. A team can never have enough pitching, and Reed could very well make his Major League debut in 2014.


The Dodgers and Mets made a trade on Thursday. New York sent right-handed pitcher Seth Rosin to LA for cash considerations.

The 25-year-old was selected by the Mets (from the Phillies) in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. The Dodgers made no other Rule 5 moves or lost anyone from their system.

Rosin is a big guy -- 6'5, 250 pounds -- and projects as a middle reliever. Because he was a Rule 5 pick, he'll need to remain on the Dodger active roster for the entire season. If not, he'll need to be offered back to the Mets for $25,000. The Dodgers had to pay $50,000 to get him, plus whatever extra they're giving the Mets.

With the Dodgers needing a long reliever, Rosin might fit that bill. They were interested in Jamey Wright at the Winter Meetings, and he has yet to decide on the Dodgers or the Rays. If Wright goes back to Tampa, Rosin's chances of sticking improve dramatically.

The Phillies tried Rosin as a starter in the minors in 2013 with not much success. He posted a 4.33 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 8.5 H/9, 0.9 HR/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 6.8 K/9. Rosin is surprisingly adept at throwing strikes, something that eludes most pitchers who are available in the Rule 5. His career walk rate is 2.7 per nine innings. Couple that with an 8.3 K/9 in his career and you have the makings of a solid reliever.

From Phuture Phillies (May 2013):
"Rosin was a 2010 4th round pick by the San Francisco Giants out of the University of Minnesota. In college his fastball worked 91-92 touching 94, though the summer before he touched 96 on the Cape. His secondary offering were fringy and most scouts thought he belonged in the bullpen possibly in a high leverage role. The Giants moved him to the bullpen part time after drafting him, but after acquiring him in the Hunter Pence trade the Phillies moved him back to the rotation."
He's a flyball pitcher, so it appears Dodger Stadium is a good place for him. But he's never thrown a pitch beyond Double-A, so it remains to be seen how he performs in the majors (if the Dodgers keep him around that long).

It's a good gamble for the Dodgers to make. If Rosin is close to replacement level, that'll be just fine.

Photo credit: slgckgc, Flickr