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Category: Carlos Monasterios

End of mania? Dodgers outright John Ely, Carlos Monasterios

John-ely_600

During a miserable 2010 season, John Ely and Carlos Monasterios had moments of near inspiration. Moments, however, does not a season -– nor a career -– make.

So it’s come to this: The two former emergency starting pitchers were outrighted to triple-A Albuquerque just before Thursday night’s deadline to set the 40-man roster and protect players from the Rule 5 draft.

Which is how the Dodgers originally acquired Monasterios, of course.

Carlos-monasterios_250The Dodgers added five minor leaguers to the 40-man roster to protect them from the draft, leaving their roster at 38.

In 2010 the Dodgers went into the season without a real No. 5 starter, and soon it was tryout time. Ely got the call in May, and much to everyone’s surprise, initially pitched exceedingly well.

After seven starts, while the light-throwing right-hander’s control was sharp, he was 3-2 with a 2.54 ERA. He even inspired a fan’s conceived Elymania cover of Sports Illustrated (@PA_Dodger via Blue Heaven).

Alas, it was not to last. He finished the season 4-10 with a 5.49 ERA. Ely, 25, spent most of last season at Albuquerque where he went 7-8 with a 5.99 ERA.

The Dodgers kept Monasterios, 25, on the 2010 roster all season to keep his rights. He appeared in 32 games, including 13 starts, going 3-5 with a 4.38 ERA. He appeared in only one game at Albuquerque last season before injuring his elbow and undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Of the five players joining the 40-man, only two were drafted by the Dodgers. Added were:

-- Outfielder Alex Catellanos, 25: He came from the Cardinals for Rafael Furcal. In 121 at-bats at double-A Chattanooga he hit .322, with .406 on-base and .603 slugging percentages.

-- Right-hander Stephen Fife, 25: A starter who came in the Trayvon Robinson trade, had a combined 3.74 ERA at double-A but has seriously struggled in the Arizona Fall League (1-6, 8.06 ERA).

-- Right-hander Chris Withrow, 22: Another former first-round pick from Texas, he went 6-6 with a 4.20 ERA at double-A, with 130 strikeouts in 128 2/3 innings.

-- Right-hander Josh Wall, 24: A former second-round pick, he was a middle reliever at double-A who went 4-5 with a 3.93 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings.

-- Left-hander Michael Antonini, 26: A starter who came from the Mets for Chin-Lung Hu, and finished 10-9 with a 4.01 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 148 innings at double-A.

The Dodgers previously added outfielders Scott Van Slyke and Alfredo Silverio to their 40-man.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photos: (Top) John Ely pitches against the Detroit Tigers during an interlegaue game in 2010. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times. (Bottom) Carlos Monasterios posing during media day. Credit: Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images

Dodgers right-hander Carlos Monasterios has Tommy John surgery

The Dodgers hung on to to Carlos Monasterios, keeping the surprising Rule 5 draft pick all season so they could retain his rights.

Monasterios, who had never really pitched above Class A, was mostly a stunning surprise. He didn’t scream future ace and certainly had his struggles, but he was effective out of the bullpen (1-0, 2.06 ERA in 35 innings).

And it was all about his future anyway.

Only it didn't arrive this season. He pitched one game at triple-A Albuquerque and was shut down.

On July 15 he underwent Tommy John surgery, performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Monasterios (3-5, 4.38) had a long work load last season. After his first major-league season, he went to the Arizona Instructional League. Then he went home to pitch in the Venezuela Winter League.

Maybe we should have become suspicious that something was amiss when he pitched only eight innings during spring training, allowing 14 hits.

Monasterios is 26, so there is still plenty of time for him to make a comeback. And he’s a control pitcher,  not someone who had to blow it by people.

But a year of patience on both his and the Dodgers’ part has gone unrewarded in the short term.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Jay Gibbons, Juan Uribe add to Dodgers' health concerns

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The list of health concerns surrounding the Dodgers in spring training grew longer Monday with Manager Don Mattingly disclosing that infielder Juan Uribe and outfielder Jay Gibbons are struggling with ailments.

In addition, third baseman Casey Blake was scheduled to get an MRI on Monday after he suffered an apparent muscle strain behind his right ribcage on Saturday.

Blake is listed as day-to-day but "they want to make sure . . . that it’s not something longer term," Mattingly told reporters at the club's Camelback Ranch facility.

Uribe, acquired by the Dodgers from the San Francisco Giants in the offseason, has complained of general tightness in his body but can still play, Mattingly said.

Uribe left the Dodgers' split-squad game against the Chicago Cubs in Las Vegas on Sunday after playing three innings and batting twice. The Dodgers acquired Uribe in part so he could occasionally play third base when Blake is resting.

Uribe "seemed OK but . . . with Casey having a little thing going on, the last thing I need is for Juan to have any issues," Mattingly said. "I’m more concerned with him feeling better before we extend him. We’ll try to extend everybody to seven [innings] tomorrow; I don’t know if Juan will get there."

Gibbons, meanwhile, "will miss the next couple of days" because "he's having trouble with the eyes, with his depth perception" and is going to get "extended testing," Mattingly said.

Gibbons, 34, who's competing for the team's left-fielder's job, is having problems getting his contact lenses to stay in his eyes "and he's having trouble with the glasses" he wears, Mattingly said, noting that Gibbons also had laser eye surgery several years ago.

He tried wearing just one contact Sunday and "that helped," Mattingly said, "but we need to get that resolved with him. If you don’t have your depth perception right on, trying to hit a breaking ball just doesn’t work.”

Meanwhile, the Dodgers optioned right-handed pitcher Carlos Monasterios to minor-league camp along with left-handed pitcher Wilkin De La Rosa.

Monasterios, 24, appeared in 32 games for the Dodgers last season -- including 13 he started -- and was 3-5 with a 4.38 earned-run average.

"His stuff's been getting better," Mattingly said, but "there’s a lot of little things that we want Monty to keep working on" such as his fielding, control and "basically handling himself out on the mound."

--Jim Peltz in Phoenix

Photo: Outfielder Jay Gibbons before the Dodgers' game against the San Diego Padres last Thursday at Camelback Ranch. Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel/US Presswire

Are the Dodgers ready for Elymania II?

Could it happen? Sure. Is it likely? No, but he’s at least building a case and causing the Dodgers to seriously think about him again.

John Ely was a brief sensation last year, answering the team’s ongoing call for a fifth starter and responding better than anyone had dared dream. Better than Ned Colletti, Joe Torre, Ely and Ely’s mommy dreamed.

During six consecutive starts from May 6 to June 1, he was 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA. He went 89 consecutive batters without allowing a walk. You kept blinking wondering if it were true.

And then it all came undone, as if Salvador Dali had suddenly taken control of Ely's pitching landscape. In his last 11 starts he went 1-8 with a stunning 8.00 ERA, including 32 walks in 54 innings.

He clearly was not the same pitcher, which is why he was ticketed for a return to triple-A Albuquerque this season.

Yet in his first three appearances this spring, he has yet to allow a run. And he is throwing strikes -- the key to his early success last season. He has yet to walk a batter and has seven strikeouts in six innings.

OK, so six spring innings amounts to precious little, but if he continues anywhere near this pace, he will pitch himself back onto the 25-man roster.

There’s no room in the rotation, but with Vicente Padilla injured and Ronald Belisario doing his annual visa dance, there are two unexpected openings in the bullpen. And Padilla was supposed to start the season as the long man.

Ely could certainly fill that role if he’s truly back on his game.

There’s reason to think he could be too. Last year he appeared to wear down and then completely lost his way. Remember, this was a 24-year-old who, aside from a couple early appearances at Albuquerque, had never pitched above double-A until last season. He had only been in the minors three years and had never thrown as many as 160 innings in any season.

Now he has a fresh start, a fresh arm and the unexpected experience from last season. The opportunity is there for him to pitch himself back onto the team.

Don Mattingly keeps saying he is not interested in keeping another left-hander in the bullpen just for the sake of a second lefty, which would only help Ely’s cause. The competition is still thick -- Ramon Troncoso, Mike MacDougal, Lance Cormier, Scott Elbert, Ron Mahay, Carlos Monasterios and now Tim Redding are all in the mix.

Ely is never going to light up the speed gun, but he proved last season that when he pitches with control, he can be highly effective. When he doesn’t, he looks overmatched.

In three early appearances this spring, he has had that control.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Once again Dodgers prove an old baseball adage true

Which is … you can never have too much pitching.

Not in April, not in the middle of summer, not in the postseason and not -- it turns out -- before the first full-squad workout.

Guerrier_300 Position players were still squeezing into their uniforms for the first time this spring, when they looked around their clubhouse and saw three relievers were already down.

Out were Vicente Padilla (elbow), Dana Eveland (hamstring) and Ronald Belisario (head).

Padilla was a lock to make the club, and Belisario was at least penciled in, so there are two openings in the bullpen that didn’t figure to be there when camp opened.

If the Dodgers open the season with seven relievers, locks are Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, Matt Guerrier, and now, probably Blake Hawksworth.

Kenley Jansen, whom the Dodgers might have been tempted to start the season at triple-A to hone his still raw closing skills, now appears in a good position to make the season-opening 25-man roster.

Which at the very least still leaves two positions open. And there is always the possibility the Dodgers might temporarily elect to start the season with eight relievers.

That leaves an open field for the rest of the contenders -- Ramon Troncoso, Ron Mahay, Lance Cormier, Scott Elbert, Mike MacDougal, Jon Link, and later, Eveland. And if they wanted a long reliever, Carlos Monasterios or John Ely.

Now that three-year, $12-million deal for Guerrier is looking better, not to mention that constant late addition of veteran, if uncertain, arms.

If the first five are in, then there is still an obvious need for a second left-hander in the bullpen. That would give an edge to Mahay, Elbert and Eveland.

But newbie manager Don Mattingly has said he will take the best arms and not get locked into having to take a second lefty. That could bode well for Troncoso, who at least had a terrific 2009 and start to last season before quickly going downhill.

None of the leading right-handers, however, has a particularly impressive history against left-handed hitters -- MacDougal (.274 batting, .421 slugging), Cormier (.271, .428) or Troncoso (.268, .425) -- so one left-handed reliever figures to emerge.

So as camp opens, competition is on in at least one area. The guys who have the best springs figure to earn opening-day roster spots. Retreads and the unproven, you're all up.

Of course, with almost six weeks to go, more injuries and sore arms remain to be discovered.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Matt Guerrier. Credit: Hannah Foslien / Getty Images

The Dodgers' farm system is in the wrong kind of rut

The problem isn’t how you’re going to keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree if you can’t even get them to the City of Light.

For every player in the Dodgers’ farm system, there is a singular goal -- to make it to the big-league club. Except that in recent years, a once-roaring pipeline has dried up to a veritable trickle.

Since the almost freakish 2006 season when the system produced the current core of the team -- Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Hong-Chih Kuo and James Loney, plus Russell Martin -- the Dodgers have produced exactly one rookie of significance: Clayton Kershaw in 2008.

Last season, John Ely (who came in an off-season trade) and Carlos Monasterios (a Rule 5 draft pick), had their moments, though neither is expected to make the club this season. The best rookie was reliever Kenley Jansen, who a year earlier was a catcher. Ronald Belisario, who had been an off-season free-agent signing, had an unexpectedly successful rookie season in 2009 but faltered badly last year.

And the Dodgers may well break camp this spring without a single rookie on their roster.

The farm system currently just isn’t producing. In the past four seasons, Kershaw is its only impact product.

The only Dodger to make MLB.com’s new list of Top 50 prospects for 2011 is reed-thin shortstop Dee Gordon, and he comes in at No. 44.

ESPN’s Keith Law’s annual organizational rankings (Insider status required) has the Dodgers listed at an anemic No. 22. The prospects trying to knock down the door just aren’t there.

I don’t care what criteria a bubblegum company uses to determine that the Dodgers were the organization of the year last season, the purpose of the farm system is to develop major leaguers. Not win minor league titles. And for the past four years, it just hasn’t produced.

Lists of prospects are interesting and fun but should not be taken too seriously. One year James McDonald and Andrew Lambo are the rising stars, the next the Dodgers are down on them.

And, of course, they tend to vary because it’s the rare player who can excel so excitingly at Double-A that he becomes a can’t-miss major leaguer. Like most things in sports, they’re educated guesses. Which is why Baseball America’s prospects list for 2011 is going to look similar, but not the same as FanGraphs.

And why one season Jerry Sands and Rubby De La Rosa are nowhere to be found on the lists last year, and then after strong lower-level seasons, jump to near the top.

Plenty of arms who appeared exciting a year ago at Double-A are now trying to reestablish credentials. Some never will. This is not an exact science but one the Dodgers traditionally excelled at.

From 1992 to 1996, the Dodgers produced five consecutive National League rookies of the year. The Dodgers have won twice as many ROY awards (16) as any other team.

But whether it is because of bad luck, poor draft picks, less emphasis on the Dominican Republic or failed development, for the past four years the system has failed to meet its mandate -- to develop major leaguers.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Daily Dodger in review: Carlos Monasterios survives the season, looks to future

CARLOS MONASTERIOS, 24, pitcher

Final 2010 stats: 3-5, 4.38 ERA, 52 strikeouts, 43 walks, 1.45 WHIP in 88 1/3 innings.

Contract status: Under team control.

The good: Listen, it was mostly good. Even very good. How so, considering his losing record and slightly elevated ERA? Because he had barely pitched above the Class-A level when the Dodgers took a flier on him as a Rule 5 draftee, and he mostly delivered. Not like the next coming of Roy Halladay, maybe, but he was still encouraging, lasted the entire season and is now the Dodgers’ property.

He started the season as a middle reliever, and in his first 12 appearances owned a 1.29 ERA. Since the Dodgers never really had a fifth starter until acquiring Ted Lilly at the July 31 trade deadline, he then took a turn in the rotation and things began to get bumpy.

The bad: He then started five consecutive games, posting a 2-2 record with a 5.96 ERA. He was back to the bullpen, but then bounced in and out of the rotation for the rest of the season (4.93 ERA in 15 appearances, seven starts). Although he prefers to start, right now he basically only throws two pitches (fastball, breaking ball), so for now is better suited to the bullpen.

What’s next: He’s not exactly getting offseason off. He’s been at team’s complex in Phoenix, participating in the Arizona Instructional League and is later scheduled to play in his native Venezuela Winter League.

Since he was rushed to the majors after being drafted out of the Phillies organization, he has a lot to catch up on. Plus, the Dodgers are trying to teach him a reliable third pitch.

Now that he lasted the entire season on their major-league roster, however, they can now start him in the minors next season.

The take: OK, so he doesn’t throw that hard. He’s a control guy. Probably not a future Hall of Famer. And right now, he’s not someone you want to pencil in the rotation.

That’s fine, he won’t like it after living the good life the past year, but he needs to head to triple-A. If they want him to start, put him in the rotation. Want him to be a reliever, see that he gets plenty of work.

Either way, it would be nice to know he’s down there should -- or when -- the rotation does get hit by injury. He could use the experience that comes from regular work. In the future, he could prove a reliable fourth or fifth starter.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Daily Dodger in Review: Kenley Jansen, greatest failed catcher ever?

KENLEY JANSEN, 23, relief pitcher

Final 2010 stats: 1-0, four saves, 0.67 ERA, 13.67 strikeouts-to-walks ratio, 1.00 WHIP in 27 innings.

Contract status: Under team control.

The good: A lightning bolt from the baseball heavens. Was insanely good, particularly considering just over a year before his call-up, he was a failed catching prospect. Threw hard, as expected, but also had considerable poise. Had a stunning 41 strikeouts to 15 walks in his 27 innings. His 0.67 ERA was the fourth lowest for a rookie in major league history (minimum 25 innings). Also, could be baseball’s only switch-hitting pitcher.

The bad: Well, he did give up two earned runs. Really, there is no bad here. He needs experience, but there is nothing to complain about after he was called up July 23.

What’s next: The upside is absolutely intriguing. Despite his quick rise to the majors after being converted to a pitcher in the middle of the 2009 season, he and Carlos Monasterios are currently in the Arizona Instructional League. Jansen is working on pickoff throws, holding runners and developing secondary pitches.

The kind of fundamental stuff most pitchers were able to work on early in their careers. Only this is early in his career.

The take: Jansen was one of the few Dodgers bright spots in a season dominated by disappointment. He’s young (turns 24 in September), talented, eager to learn and his confidence is swelling.

Maybe not next year -- though it could happen -- but he looks like a future closer. In the Dodgers’ dreams, Jonathan Broxton returns to form as the closer next season and Jansen is the right-handed setup complement to left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo. Come on, everyone should have dreams.

Certainly, it’s unrealistic to expect anyone to continue on his amazing straight line to stardom without setback; particularly anyone with such limited pitching experience.

His time as a catcher, however, seems to be partially translating to the mound. Jansen is way ahead of where even the most optimistic would have projected. The enthusiasm needs to be constrained, but he’s made it hard.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Rookie Carlos Monasterios remains overmatched in Dodgers' 7-4 loss to Astros

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Carlos Monasterios was supposed to be a middle-innings relief guy. A youngster who had barely pitched above the Class-A level, the Dodgers planned to use him judiciously.

A Rule Five draftee the Dodgers either had to keep on their roster all season or return to the Phillies, Monasterios has been used much differently than anticipated. Failure to identify a fifth starter during the first half and injuries have seen him start 12 games this season, with very mixed results.

Next season should be a very different experience for Monasterios. No longer obligated to be kept on the 25-man roster, he figures to spend his season at triple-A Albuquerque.

Sunday may have been his last start of the season, and it was a struggle from the very beginning in the 7-4 loss to the Astros.

Monasterios lasted only 1 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on five hits and a pair of walks. The Astros scored all four runs against him in a first inning that saw him throw 39 pitches, without allowing a walk.

Even with Jay Gibbons continuing to make his case for being a regular member of the Dodgers next season with a three-run homer and James Loney tripling and scoring on Russ Mitchell’s sacrifice fly to tie it, the Dodgers couldn’t hold on.

The Astros completed the scoring with three doubles in the fifth of reliever Ramon Troncoso (1-3) to score two, and a solo home run from Carlos Lee off Octavio Dotel in the eighth.

There was a bit of good news for the Dodgers. Sixteen years in the making, John Lindsey pinch hit with one out in the fifth and collected the first hit of his major-league career with a single to left.

The good-natured Lindsey has been the sweet aspect to the Dodgers' dismal September, but after loading the bases, he was left at third. Still, nothing on this planet could erase his smile as he joined teammates in the dugout.

Gustavo Chacin pitched only a third of an inning, but picked up the victory for the Astros to go to 3-2.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers catcher Brad Ausmus and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt talk to pitcher Carlos Monasterios in the first inning Sunday. Credit: Steve Campbell / Associated Press

Vicente Padilla to miss Sunday start because of recurring neck problem

Padilla_300 Dodgers pitcher Vicente Padilla was scratched from his scheduled start against the Houston Astros on Sunday because of a neck problem that resurfaced.

The Dodgers said Carlos Monasterios would start in Padilla's place.

Padilla had made only one start, last Monday in San Diego, since coming off the disabled list for a bulging disk in his neck. The Nicaraguan had allowed three runs in four innings in that game. Padilla overall has a 6-5 record and 4.07 earned-run average for the season.

He threw a bullpen session two days ago and didn't have a problem, and "threw on flat ground yesterday, no problem," Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said before Saturday's game at Minute Maid Park.

"But it later started bothering him, and he told me about the fifth or sixth inning last night," Conte said. "Then today he came in a little worse. That's what these things do sometimes, they just kind of come back."

The neck problem is causing him "pain the middle of his shoulder blades on the left side," Conte added.

With only 20 games left in the regular season, Padilla -- who was the Dodgers' opening-day starter -- might be done for the year.

"It wouldn't surprise me," Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said. "For the foreseeable future I don’t see Padilla pitching."

--Jim Peltz, reporting from Houston

Photo: Vicente Padilla is his last start at San Diego. Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel / US Presswire

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