Dodgers Now

Steve Dilbeck and The Times' Dodgers reporters
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Category: Dee Gordon

Daily Dodger in review: The long goodbye to Rafael Furcal

, 34, shortstop

Final 2011 stats: .197, one home run, 12 RBI, 15 runs, five stolen bases in eight attempts, .272 on-base percentage, .248 slugging percentage in 137 at-bats with the Dodgers.

Contract status: Traded to Cardinals, looming free agent.

The good: Well, he is playing in the World Series. The Cardinals like him and he likes them so much, he’s willing to return. Alas, his time this season with the Dodgers was just shy of disastrous.

He just never could get healthy. He was well-liked by just about everyone on the club, though, after spending most of the last six years with the Dodgers. Overall, he was actually one of the best shortstops in L.A. Dodgers history.

The bad: Furcal did not suffer much luck his final season in Los Angeles. In something of a freak accident, he broke his thumb sliding head-first into third base on April 11 in San Francisco. He was so distraught at the thought of another injury, he briefly talked of retiring.

Continue reading »

Orioles to interview Dodgers' De Jon Watson for GM post

Dodgers farm director De Jon Watson will interview for the Baltimore Orioles’ vacant general manager position, according to a baseball source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Watson has been the Dodgers’ head of player development for the last five years. His system sent the likes of Javy Guerra, Dee Gordon, Jerry Sands, Nate Eovaldi and Justin Sellers to the major leagues this year, sparking a turnaround that allowed the bankrupt club to finish above .500.

Watson hasn’t had much to work with: The Dodgers rank last in player development spending, according to a filing in bankruptcy court by Major League Baseball.

Watson interviewed for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ general manager position last year, losing out to Kevin Towers.

-- Dylan Hernandez

Daily Dodger in review: Wanting so very much to love Jerry Sands

Sands1JERRY SANDS, 24, outfielder

Final 2011 stats: .253 batting average, four homers, 26 RBI, .338 on-base percentage, .389 slugging percentage in 198 at-bats, plus no errors and six assists.

Contract status: Under team control.

The good: After being called up a second time when rosters were expanded, he hit .343 in September with a .413 on-base percentage and a .493 slugging percentage. Included was a 14-game hitting streak. Showed a strong, if not always perfectly accurate, arm.

The bad: In his first call-up, surprisingly on April 17, he hit .200 with a measly .294 on-base percentage and .328 slugging percentage. Had trouble pulling the ball. Considering expectations for the Dodgers'  reigning Minor League Player of the Year, a disappointing start.

What’s next: All things are possible. His strong September has likely earned him a spot on the team next spring, though that’s hardly assured.

When James Loney was off to his rotten first half, there was thought Sands might be moved to first. But Loney’s strong second half has probably assured his return, unless of course, you’re a believer in the team signing Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols or Jimmie Foxx. In which case, there is even the remote possibility of Loney moving to left.

Continue reading »

Daily Dodger in review: Dee Gordon, the future is now

, 23, shortstop

Final 2011 stats: .304, 34 runs, nine doubles, seven walks, 24 stolen bases, .325 on-base percentage in 224 at-bats.

Contract status: Under team control.

The good: Showed flashes of his jaw-dropping speed when first called up, but really flourished in the final month after returning from a shoulder injury. He hit .372 in September with seven doubles. Even mixed in five walks. Defensively, covers plenty of ground and has a good if unspectacular arm. The kid can motor.

The bad: Before his shoulder injury he was batting just .234 with a .248 on-base percentage. Miserable numbers for someone viewed as a leadoff hitter. Defensively his mind sometimes appears to wander on the most routine of plays. And too often he drops his arm to a sideways motion on his throws to first, causing the ball to sail.

What’s next: Hope you’re sold on him, because he is looking like your 2012 starting shortstop. Assuming the Cardinals don’t pick up that $12 million option on Rafael Furcal, there is always the remote possibility the injury-prone shortstop could return with a heavily incentive-laden contract; the Dodgers love him when he’s healthy. But it appears pretty certain they are going young (and cheaper) with Gordon.

The take: Of all the touted young players who made an impact last season, Gordon is the one position player set to have the greatest daily influence on 2012. He’s going to have his learning curve and will require patience at times, but appears a wise roll of the dice.

His speed makes him one of the team’s most exciting players, and this is a team in need of some excitement. Watching him fly around the bases is pure joy.

He’ll need to become more consistent defensively and, if he is to be an effective leadoff hitter, continue to develop his bunting and learn to draw a walk. He just needs to get on base, where his speed can create havoc.

Gordon is young, works hard and wants to reach his potential. If he develops as planned, the Dodgers could have their starting shortstop for the next 10 years.


Daily Dodger in review: Clayton Kershaw, an ace delivered

Daily Dodger in review: Andre Ethier battles Andre Ethier?

— Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dee Gordon. Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Meet the new Dodgers, same as the old Dodgers?


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

For Dodgers, the kids were a lot better than all right


There’s youth served and youth force fed.

Sometimes the play of a kid is just so exciting it demands that he be called up. And sometimes, bodies are just falling everywhere and a team has little choice but to reach into its system, give ’em a push and let go of the bicycle.

Outside of the play of their big two –- Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp -– the most encouraging aspect to the Dodgers’ improved performance over the final two months was the play of their kids. Lots and lots of kids, and almost every one responded. And most at a level the team had little right to anticipate.

None were really in their plans for 2011. Position players Jerry Sands and Dee Gordon and right-hander Rubby De La Rosa were scheduled to be September call-ups. The rest were still deep in the development stage.

Then injuries hit the Dodgers unusually hard, though it wasn’t exactly totally unexpected given the age of their roster. Down went Casey Blake, Jon Garland, Jay Gibbons, Dioner Navarro, Vicente Padilla (all before opening day), Hector Jimenez (remember him?), Rafael Furcal, Hong-Chih Kuo, Marcus Thames, Jonathan Broxton, Blake Hawksworth, Kenley Jansen, Rod Barajas, Juan Uribe and Andre Ethier. Some made repeat visits to the disabled list. Some never came back.

All of which created opportunity. At least the Dodgers were willing to give the kids a chance, rather than signing or trading for some tired journeyman. They get points for that. And the Dodgers were delighted with how most responded:

-- Jerry Sands: The lone power prospect, he struggled during his first call up in (.200 average, .622 on-base plus slugging percentage) but was a different hitter in September (.342, .908). He hit in 15 of his last 16 games (.407, 1.063). Could start next season back in triple-A or in the starting lineup.

-- Dee Gordon: There are still real concerns about his defense, but he figures to be their starting shortstop next season. The final month of the season, he hit in 21 of 26 games (.372) and stole 12 bases. There will be growing pains, but an exciting talent.

-- Justin Sellers: Struggled at the plate (.203), but can play three infield positions and is a heady player. If Jamey Carroll doesn’t return, option as a utility infielder.

-- Javy Guerra: The surprise of the season. Guerra only figured to be up a couple weeks while Hawksworth was on the DL, but he was pitching so well he stuck and by early July had become the Dodgers’ unexpected closer. Saved 21 games in 23 opportunities.

-- Kenley Jansen: You’d pay to see him pitch. After he came back from a sore shoulder, he was almost unhittable. In his last 31 games, had a 0.55 ERA. Set an MLB record of 16.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

-- Josh Lindblom: The former second-round draft pick seems to have found himself as a reliever. Had a 2.73 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 27 games.

-- Rubby De La Rosa: The hard-throwing right-hander was looking like a rotation find for years to come, before injuring his elbow and undergoing Tommy John surgery. He could return next summer, though initially as a reliever.

-- Scott Elbert: Not a rookie, but after a frustrating few seasons finally appeared comfortable as the left-handed reliever (2.43 ERA, 1.23 WHIP).

-- Nathan Eovaldi: Another called up largely out of desperation, but in six starts had a 3.09 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. Penciled in as a starter.


Bankruptcy judge rules against McCourt

Dodgers need to swing for fences to keep Kemp

Strong finish sparks hope for Dodgers for next season

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dee Gordon, next year's starting shortstop, has been a pleasant surprise. Credit: Christian Peterson/Getty.

That's a wrap: Dodgers complete longest season with 7-5 win

And that is your Dodgers’ 2011 season.

All the ownership ugliness, all the wondrous individual play of Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp, the lousy team start, the surprising team finish. All now done with.

The Dodgers wrapped it up Wednesday with a 7-5 victory over the Diamondbacks, completing their longest season at 82-79 -– only the second time all year they were three games above .500.

All the baseball craziness on Wednesday was left to those chasing wild-card berths. This one on a warm desert night had no significance, the Brewers winning earlier Wednesday to assure they would have homefield advantage over Arizona.

There was no stunning, final two-homer game by Kemp that enabled him to join the 40 home run, 40 stolen base club. He just settled for a final two-run homer.

Alas, Kemp ended up hitting .324 with 39 homers, 126 RBI, 114 runs and 40 stolen bases on the season. Otherwise, he just never could seem to get it going.

The homers, runs and RBI all led the league, and the 126 RBI are also the second highest total ever for a Los Angeles Dodger (Tommy Davis, 153, 1962).

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

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.

Continue reading »

Jerry Sands and Dee Gordon, meanwhile, finishing on high note


Lost amid Matt Kemp’s pursuit of the hitting triple crown and Clayton Kershaw’s pitching triple crown, is a nice finishing surge by a pair of rookies.

Jerry Sands has a 12-game hitting streak, and Dee Gordon is only one behind him. And they’re reaching some noteworthy company.

Longest hitting streaks, L.A. Dodgers rookies:

1. 20 - Tommy Davis                          July 30-Aug. 20, 1960

2. 18 - Bill Sudakis                             July 31-Aug. 19, 1969

T-3. 16 - Andre Ethier                        July 26-Aug. 12, 2006

T-3. 16 - Steve Sax                            June 11-27, 1982

T-5. 14 - Raul Mondesi                       May 8-22, 1994

T-5. 14 - Raul Mondesi                       May 25-June 10, 1994

T-5. 14 - Mike Marshall                      July 22-Aug. 4, 1983             

8. 13 - Willy Aybar                             May 26-June 7, 2006

T-9. 12 - Mike Piazza                         Sept. 21-Oct. 3, 1993

T-9. 12 - Bob Lillis                             Sept. 12-26, 1958

T-9. 12 - Jerry Sands                         Sept. 12, 2011-current

The Dodgers have only four games left to their season, so even if Sands continues gets a hit in every game, the best he can finish on the list is tied for third.

Still, Sands is 12 for 46 (.435) in his streak, raising a batting average that was at .187 before it began to its current .330.

Gordon is 18 for 45 (.400) during his 11-game streak, raising his average to .298.


Dodgers' minor league report

Why spend a Princely sum when a pauper will do?

Matt Kemp takes his show on the road in Dodgers' 2-0 win

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon puts the ball in play during a game against the Giants last week at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / US Presswire

If that was farewell, Hiroki Kuroda made it a winner, 7-2


His neck hurts, he’s 36 years old, on a middling team and very possibly playing his final season in the majors.

And Hiroki Kuroda is still here, still soldiering on, still fighting the aches and disappointments and pains of age to take his turn in the Dodgers rotation every five days.

Kuroda was back at it Friday night, after a recent MRI exam showed no new damage to his old bulging disk, still mixing his plethora of pitches with effective results.

In what may have been his final start in Los Angeles, Kuroda went six strong innings to lead the Dodgers to a 7-2 victory over the Pirates before an announced crowd of 41,148.

Kuroda (12-16) allowed two runs (one earned), while holding the Pirates to five hits and a pair of walks. He struck out seven. Kuroda will become a free agent at the end of the season.

He fell behind in the second inning after giving up a single and a walk, when rookie Dee Gordon’s throw to first base sailed wide for a run-scoring error.

The Dodgers tied the score in the bottom of the inning on back-to-back doubles by Jerry Sands and Rod Barajas, and took the lead with a pair of runs in the third.

Gordon singled and stole second, and Justin Sellers walked before Matt Kemp’s hit scored Gordon. Juan Rivera beat out a potential double-play relay to first base to allow Sellers to score and put the Dodgers ahead, 3-2.

The Pirates got one back in the top of the sixth inning on an Alex Presley solo home run, but the Dodgers came back in the bottom of the inning to score four times –- three on a pinch-hit home run by James Loney.

Russ Mitchell, Jamey Carroll and Aaron Miles each singled to start the bottom of the sixth inning. A Gordon groundout scored Mitchell before Loney launched a two-out, full-count offering from reliever Chris Resop into the right-field pavilion.

Loney had been one for 10 as a pitch-hitter this season, without an RBI.


Dodgers-Pirates box score

McCourt seeks court's approval to sell TV rights

Dodgers seek permission to hire a public-relations firm

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda delivers a pitch against the Pirates on Friday night at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Kelvin Kuo / US Presswire


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