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Category: Aaron Miles

The offensive emptiness that is the Dodgers 2012 bench

Dodger
Look real hard and you can find it. It’s there, just not exactly under the spotlight. Maybe not in hiding, though you could make the argument that the Dodgers will try it.

It is the Dodgers’ bench, such as it. And as it is, it’s wholly unimpressive.

Presenting your 2012 Dodgers in reserve: catcher Matt Treanor, infielders Jerry Hairston Jr. and Adam Kennedy, and outfielders Tony Gwynn Jr. and Jerry Sands.

There’s some versatility and some nice defensive elements, but offensively there just isn’t much there. The power hitter is Sands, he of the 194 career at-bats? The left-handed bats are Gwynn and Kennedy?

This is all as currently scheduled, of course. And these things almost never go as scheduled. Which would explain why the Dodgers started last season with Xavier Paul, Hector Gimenez and Ivan DeJesus Jr. on the roster.

General manager Ned Colletti said he thinks this year’s bench can be superior to last season’s, before quickly asking which Dodgers’ bench he should reference.

"Unfortunately our bench ended up playing," Colletti said. "The bench was really the second bench."

Which is why the 2012 edition is so scary. Chances are, some of them are going to have to play more than expected. And this is what manager Don Mattingly will have to choose from based on last season’s numbers:

Player                         Avg.                OBP                 SLG

Treanor                      .214                .338                .291

Hairston                     .270                .344                .383

Kennedy                     .234                .277                .355

Gwynn                        .256                .308                .353

Sands                         .253                .338                .389

And as a group, it’s not like it’s a bunch of kids approaching their prime. Kennedy is 36, and Treanor will be in March and Hairston in May.

Plus you have to remember the Dodgers’ regular everyday lineup is already going to have its risks. Rookie shortstop Dee Gordon batted .304 last season but in only 224 at-bats, so we’ve yet to see if pitchers adjust to the slight Gordon. And A.J. Ellis is going to be the main catcher, and has a career .262 average with zippo power in 206 career at-bats.

There’s not a strong pinch-hitter in the group, either. Career averages as pinch-hitters: Treanor .200, Hairston .174, Kennedy .223, Gwynn .288, Sands .000 (only four at-bats). There's not really a reserve shortstop.

Last year the Dodgers wanted to start the season with a bench of Dioner Navarro, Jamey Carroll, Aaron Miles, Tony Gwynn Jr., Marcus Thames/Jay Gibbons. Navarro and Thames were busts, and Gibbons couldn’t overcome vision issues. Yet they still might prove a better group.

The Dodgers 25-man roster is basically set. If everyone makes it through spring healthy, there are no position openings.

 ``If it goes the way it’s planned, the team has some flexibility to it but not a whole lot,’’ Colletti said.

On days when Juan Rivera or James Loney don't start, the bench will get a boost but it could use plenty more. It could have used a Coco Crisp, but Colletti denied an interest in the outfielder before he re-signed with the A’s.

``Never had a conversation,’’ Colletti said.

Colletti is operating under budget constraints unworthy of a team playing in the second-largest market in the country, but such are the times when your team is in bankruptcy court.

And such is the bench.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodger Stadium. Credit: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times.

Larry Bowa: Joe Torre 'would be perfect' for Dodgers

Torre-bowa_640Joe Torre would be the “perfect” person to run the Dodgers, his longtime lieutenant said on Wednesday.

“He’s a great baseball mind who can get the organization back to where it should be,” said Larry Bowa, who was a member of Torre’s coaching staffs with the New York Yankees and Dodgers from 2006 to 2010.

Torre resigned his executive position with Major League Baseball to join Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso in bidding to buy the Dodgers.

“Hopefully, his group will get it,” Bowa said. “I’m a little biased, but I think he would be perfect.”

In particular, Bowa pointed to Torre’s understanding of both on- and off-field matters.

“He understands both sides of the coin,” Bowa said. “The best I have seen with that is [Hall of Fame executive] Pat Gillick,” Bowa said. "But Joe is right there. He has that kind of knowledge and that kind of work ethic.”

Of Torre, Bowa said, “He understands the baseball part of it. He understands the economic part of it. He understands the fans’ viewpoint, the players’ viewpoint, the minor-league viewpoint.”

Bowa said Torre makes decisions carefully.

“Joe’s not a spontaneous guy,” Bowa said. “Joe’s going to have Plan A, Plan B, Plan C and Plan D. He’s going to have a backup plan. He’s not going to say, ‘I’m going to get this guy,' and have no other plan. Joe, he calculates his moves.”

When Torre managed the Yankees and Dodgers, he delegated a lot of responsibility to his coaches. Bowa said he thinks Torre would operate similarly as a team’s high-level executive.

“He trusts the people he hires and lets them work,” Bowa said. “He doesn’t just hire people. It’s ‘If I’m not here, can he take care of this area?’”

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-- Dylan Hernandez

Photo: Larry Bowa, left, and Joe Torre in 2008. Credit: Doug Benc / Getty Images

Dodgers announce first 15 non-roster invitees for spring training

Cory1The Dodgers have released their first group of non-roster invitees for spring training, and the field appears fairly weak.

Most have had brief stops in the majors elsewhere, but none with the kind of highlights that Aaron Miles and Mike MacDougal, both of whom made the team last year, at least had on their resumes.

Here are the first 15:

Right-handed pitchers Angel Guzman, Fernando Nieve, Jose Ascanio, Ryan Tucker, Shane Lindsay, Will Savage, left-handed pitchers Alberto Castillo, Matt Chico, Scott Rice, Wilfredo Ledezma, catcher Josh Bard, infielders Jeff Baisley, Lance Zawadzki and Luis Cruz, and outfielder Cory Sullivan.

Savage and Rice pitched well last season at double-A Chattanooga.

Bard, 33, got in 81 at-bats last season for the Seattle Mariners (.210). Sullivan, 30, has spent parts of six seasons with three teams in the majors, but all of it last year at the Philadelphia Phillies’ triple-A Lehigh Valley team, where he hit .210.

The Dodgers are negotiating to bring back MacDougal, but if for some reason that goes awry, a middle reliever could yet emerge from this group. Castillo, 35, was 1-0 with a 2.31 earned-run avereage in 17 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks last year.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Former Colorado Rockies outfielder Cory Sullivan in 2007. Credit: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images

Dodgers close to signing infielder Adam Kennedy

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Ned Colletti’s love affair with veteran infielders endures, as the Dodgers are close to signing former Angels playoff star Adam Kennedy, a source said.

The Dodgers have already signed Mark Ellis as their second baseman, but Kennedy would give them a versatile utility infielder.

Kennedy, who turns 36 in January, hit only .234 last season for the Mariners, with weak .277 on-base and .355 slugging percentages.

But defensively, the left-handed hitter played first, second and third base for Seattle.

The former J.W. North-Riverside High School and Cal State Northridge star is best remembered as the second baseman of the Angels who hit three home runs in a playoff game against the Twins and helped lead the club to its only World Series title in 2002.

Last year Colletti signed veteran free-agent infielder Aaron Miles as a non-roster invitee, and the switch-hitter ended up batting .274 in 454 at-bats. The signing of Kennedy would seem to kill the possibility of the free-agent Miles returning.

Terms of Kennedy’s deal with the Dodgers were not immediately known.

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Photo: Adam Kennedy with the Angels in 2005. Credit: Los Angeles Times.

Exclusive: Dodgers are about to lose Jamey Carroll

Fabforum

The Dodgers are on the precipice of losing their favorite little super utility player, Jamey Carroll, the Los Angeles Times has learned.

Carroll is close to signing a multiyear deal with another team, sources said Friday. They didn't say which team.

Carroll, who will be 38 in February, is coming off a two-year, $3.85-million contract with the Dodgers. Due to team injuries, he played more like a starter, batting .290 in 803 at-bats during his two seasons with the Dodgers.

Now Carroll reportedly wants a starting position, and despite his success in Los Angeles and an opening at second base, the Dodgers are apparently not looking at Carroll as a regular.

The Colorado Rockies, one of the veteran’s previous teams, were reportedly interested in signing Carroll but were thought to be balking at an asking price that approached the two-year, $8-million deal signed by light-hitting infielder Omar Infante with the Marlins. The Braves have also shown interest in Carroll.

The Dodgers don’t have an obvious in-house candidate to start at second base. They could re-sign free agent Aaron Miles, another utility player last season. Otherwise they're looking at bringing in a free agent. Justin Sellers is a candidate for a utility role.

On Thursday the Dodgers lost catcher Rod Barajas to Pittsburgh.

— Dylan Hernandez, reporting from State College, Pa., with Steve Dilbeck

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Photo: Jamey Carroll. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times.

Daily Dodger in review: Justin Sellers shows off versatility

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JUSTIN SELLERS, 25, infielder

Final 2011 stats: .203 batting average, .283 on-base percentage, .301 slugging percentage, 20 runs, nine doubles in 123 at-bats, one error.

Contract status: Under team control.

The good: Injuries forced the August call-up of Sellers, and the Dodgers had to like what they saw from him defensively. He’s currently a better shortstop than Dee Gordon, plays a very good second and also can fill in at third.

Great nickname. All tatted up, he’s called "Cellblock." Plays hard and with enthusiasm. Hit .300 against left-handers and .278 in his first 16 games.

The bad: Trouble was, he hit .145 in his 20 games after that. Has a touch of power, but if he has any hopes of making it as a major leaguer he can’t afford a sub-.250 batting average. Turns 26 in February.

What’s next: It’s possible he could make the team next year as a utility infielder, but the Dodgers are hopefully more ambitious and looking for more certainty in that role.

The take: There’s enough to like about Sellers, who after his encouraging start was being compared to a younger Jamey Carroll. Alas, it was just one month.

In the short term they would be better served trying to bring back Carroll and letting Sellers at least start the year back at triple-A Albuquerque. If injuries continue to hit this team next season like they did in 2011, he’d get called up soon enough and maybe even stick (witness Aaron Miles).

They currently do not have a starting second baseman, but if Sellers should somehow win the spot, you’ll know how the Dodgers' off-season went.

— Steve Dilbeck

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Clock ticking for teams to re-sign free agents

Photo: Justin Sellers hits an RBI during the 7th inning of the Dodger's 4 - 2 victory over the Diamondbacks in September. Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Dodgers have most free agents, four days of exclusivity to re-sign

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The clock is now ticking on the exclusive window for teams to re-sign their free agents.

The Dodgers, with 10 free agents -– the most in baseball, have until 9 p.m. Wednesday before the players are free to also negotiate with other teams.

The four-day exclusive period for a team to re-sign its free agents began Saturday night.

Of the Dodgers’ 10 free agents, only one –- catcher Rod Barajas -– is thought to project as a Type B free agent, which could provide a team a supplemental draft pick if the Dodgers offer arbitration.

Of course, what the Dodgers can do financially is the great unknown. The team remains tied up in bankruptcy court. The team and Major League Baseball are reportedly working on a settlement. Their trial is currently scheduled to start Nov. 29.

Barajas, 36, earned $3.25 million last season with a one-year contract. The Dodgers are looking at going young behind the plate and not expected to offer him arbitration.

The Dodgers’ other free agents are: infielders Casey Blake, Jamey Carroll and Aaron Miles, pitchers Jonathan Broxton, Jon Garland, Hiroki Kuroda, Mike MacDougal and Vicente Padilla, and outfielder Juan Rivera.

Any could return, but it’s hard to have a firm offseason plan when ownership and a true budget is uncertain.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Outfielder Juan Rivera connects for a two-run double in a Dodgers victory over the Pirates in September. Credit: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images

Daily Dodger in review: Aaron Miles, thanks for unexpected season

FabforumAARON MILES, 34, infielder

Final 2011 stats: .275, three homers, 45 runs batted in, 49 runs, 17 doubles, .314 on-base percentage.

Contract status: Free agent.

The good: Miles was something of a surprise. First came the surprise that the spring-training invitee even made the club, then the surprise that he became a useful, versatile infielder. Played a decent second base, hustled, added a veteran presence on what became an increasingly younger team. Incredibly, with all the team injuries, had 454 at-bats.

The bad: It seemed as if he had a better season than his final numbers revealed. Struggled playing third base. Was OK at most things, but excelled at none.

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Meet the new Dodgers, same as the old Dodgers?

Dodgers_600

Hope you really, really believe in that Dodgers team that finished the 2011 season on a nice roll.

Because the more I think about, the more I expect it to return largely unchanged.

That wouldn’t be much of a stretch given the bankrupt Dodgers’ ever-uncertain ownership situation. Hard to spend a significant amount of money when you don’t have much and it's not clear who can spend it.

But the more closely you look at a lengthy interview that General Manager Ned Colletti gave to ESPN's Jim Bowden, the more it looks like you’d best get out the 2012 welcome mat for the 2011 Dodgers.

Yeah, he wants to add an impact bat. So do about 29 other teams. Yet despite how much sense it makes, no one really expects the team in the second-largest market in the country to make a serious run at either Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols. After that, a serious drop-off. Hey, he could always sign Carlos Beltran. He’s an ex-Giant and everything!

Not signing a free agent leaves trading for a big bat, and the Dodgers have precious little to offer in return. Unless, you know, you want to unload this Clayton Kershaw kid.

So the odds are exceedingly poor that a bat of significance will be brought in, and then there are Colletti’s comments to Bowden where he pretty much has everyone coming back from 2010 save for catcher Rod Barajas.

Which means you’d best get ready for this sales pitch: The Dodgers will significantly upgrade their lineup simply by adding a healthy Juan Uribe and Andre Ethier to it.

Ooooh, when do pitchers and catchers report again?

Assuming health for Uribe (sports hernia surgery) and Ethier (minor knee surgery), and the return of James Loney at first, the Dodgers’ lineup holes would be at second, left and catcher.

And Colletti flat out said, "Behind the plate, we'll probably let Tim Federowicz and A.J. Ellis handle the duties." He also said: "We need to figure out left field as well, but we're leaning towards Jerry Sands, especially after the way he finished this season with us." At second base he noted that Jamey Carroll and Aaron Miles were free agents and said: "Right now we have the two young players in [Justin] Sellers and Ivan DeJesus that we might let compete for that job next year."

Believe that last one if you feel so inclined, but the Dodgers GM –- as he needs to –- clearly has his Plan B in place if he's unable to acquire a big bat.

The same ol' even extends to the rotation, where Colletti at least sounds hopeful that Hiroki Kuroda will re-sign, citing the fact that Kuroda bought a home here and his children go to school here. That would leave a familiar rotation of Kershaw, Kuroda, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly and Nathan Eovaldi.

The bullpen evolved into a young strength, though Colletti would like to add another veteran.

Sounds remarkably like your 2011 Dodgers. The Dodgers were 25-10 in the last five-plus weeks of the season. That's encouraging, but the season is six months long. Keeping that group mostly intact places a lot of hope on a team that excelled for five weeks.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Juan Rivera, who might be returning to play left field, is congratulated by first baseman James Loney after bringing in Andre Ethier, left, and Matt Kemp with a three-run home run against the Phillies on Aug. 10 at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Kuroda shines, but Roberts' slam wins it in 10th for Arizona

Ryan3
If that was goodbye, Hiroki Kuroda made it memorable. Then Ryan Roberts added his own memory.

Kuroda will become a free agent at the end of the season, and at age 36, has said he’s uncertain whether he wants to pitch in the majors again next year or return for a final season to Japan.

When Kuroda took the mound Tuesday against the Diamondbacks, everyone knew it might be his final performance as a Dodger. So all he did was go out and throw six scoreless innings, holding Arizona to five hits. While not walking a batter and striking out five. It was Kuroda at his best.

Just so the humble Kuroda didn’t think anything had changed, the Dodgers typically offered modest support, scoring  only one run for him. They finally pushed five across in the 10th, only to see the Diamondbacks come back with six of their own in the bottom of the inning, Roberts' walk-off grand slam leaving Arizona with a stunning 7-6 victory.

Kuroda completed his fourth season with a 13-16 record and a 3.07 earned-run average -– ninth lowest in the National League.

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