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Category: Don Mattingly

Daily Dodger in review: Chad Billingsley and a deeper well


CHAD BILLINGSLEY, 27, starting pitcher

Final 2011 stats: 11-11, 4.21 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 152 strikeouts and 84 walks in 188 innings.

Contract status: Signed through the next two seasons.

The good: Billingsley had his moments. Of course, he always has moments. He struck out 11 and threw eight scoreless innings against the world champion Cardinals in April. He retired 21 of his last 22 Nationals in July.

The bad: His ERA was a career high and it was the first time he did not finish with a winning record. His strikeouts declined as the season worn on; his strikeouts-to-walks ratio was 2.56 in May but fell to 1.07 in September.

What’s next: Two more years, but of what? He’s a rotation stable on a staff needing two more starters, so he’s not going anywhere.

The take: What to make of Billingsley? He is the team’s most frustrating pitcher because everyone, Billingsley included, agrees there is more there. The frustration stems from recognizing the talent and expecting greater results. Sort of a mini-Matt Kemp, circa 2010.

His career, however, is not headed upward and actually is slipping in the wrong direction. Even manager Don Mattingly, who is very careful about criticizing players, spoke unusually plainly about Billingsley at the season’s end, telling The Times’ Dylan Hernandez that the right-hander had flat-lined.

Billingsley blamed it on mechanics, which sounds too much like the standard pitching excuse and not enough about a burning drive to succeed. His mild-mannered nature has always led to questions about his competitiveness, but I think he wants to win just as badly as the next guy — he just shows it differently.

He clearly, however, needs to take it to another level. He doesn’t have to be No. 1 starter material, just higher than he is now. And right now, he looks too much like a .500 pitcher. There is more there.

— Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Chad Billingsley delivers a pitch against the Washington Nationals in July during a 3-1 victory at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Tim Wallach could be Red Sox managerial candidate


I think that whole Theo Epstein to the Cubs melodrama is over, but you know the way this daily goofiness has unfolded, it’s hard to be certain. I’m pretty sure it’s settled, but it’s only Monday.

Believe Golden Boy Theo is set to be officially introduced as the Cubs' new president on Tuesday. About the same time, Boston is expected to announce Ben Cherington as their new GM.

And Cherington’s first order of business is only to select a new manager.

Tim Wallach anyone?

The Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber reported that Cherington is not expected to place much significance on previous major-league managerial experience and that "Cherington figures to interview the likes of Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach, Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum, Philadelphia Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin and Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Dave Martinez."

I have no doubt Wallach is going to be a great manager one day for some team. After the way the Red Sox melted down the stretch under Terry Francona, they’re ripe for someone to come in and get their talented team in line.

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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.

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Dodgers Web musings: Don Mattingly doubts big bat is coming

Don3Say this for Don Mattingly: He usually does not try to snow you. He might, understandably, favor the company line, but he is a straight shooter.

That was on display again this week during a radio interview with 710 AM's "Mason and Ireland," when Mattingly first stated the obvious -– that the Dodgers most need an impact bat -- but then acknowledged he was not counting on that happening.

"I can't say I'm confident that we're going to be able to do it," he said. "We've talked about different things. ... You hear Prince [Fielder], you hear Albert [Pujols]. Those are nice thoughts; there's a lot of teams talking about those type of guys ... but you got to have a Plan B, a Plan C. How do we put offense together if we can't do something like that? That's the biggest thing.

"And obviously, I don't know where we're going to be as far as what we're going to be able to do. Are we going to go backward with the budget, are we going to go forward? ... It's hard to know right now."

Got that right. Hard to know the budget when you can’t be sure who will own the team come next spring.

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Daily Dodger in Review: Javy Guerra, the unexpected closer

, 26 on Halloween, reliever

Final 2011 stats: 2-2, 21 saves in 23 opportunities, 2.31 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 7.3 strikeouts per nine innings, .218 opponent batting average in 46 1/3 innings.

Contract status: Under team control.

The good: The great surprise of the Dodgers’ 2011 season. If you saw this one coming, you predicted Lady Gaga. You knew the Cardinals would make the World Series.

The rookie may not have consistently blown people away in that classic closer mode, but he was a model of consistency. If he hadn’t allowed a pair of runs in his final game of the season — coming on his fourth appearance in five days — he would have finished the season with a sub-2.00 ERA. Until that last appearance, had been successful in all but one of his 22 save opportunities. Has a good, confident presence on the mound.

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Daily Dodger in Review: Jonathan Broxton's unfamiliar terrain

JONATHAN BROXTON, 27, reliever

Final 2011 stats: 1-2, 5.68 ERA, seven saves, 1.89 WHIP, 10 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings.

Contract status: Free agent.

The good: He saved seven games in eight opportunities, six in the month of April. Ah, did not throw a wild pitch?

The bad: Alas, pretty much everything else. Despite his 7.58 ERA after his infamous 48-pitch meltdown against the Yankees on June 27, 2010, Don Mattingly entered his rookie managerial season declaring Broxton was again the closer.

He tried to make it work, but those seven saves were not exactly of the impressive variety and soon Broxton was finally ’fessing up to a sore elbow. Which led to a bone-bruise diagnosis in his elbow and a stint on the disabled list from which he never returned.

What’s next: The great unknown. He just completed a two-year, $11-million deal. He was no doubt hoping for a big season heading into free agency but instead has become a humongous question mark, pun intended.

He’s probably going to sign an incentive-laden, one-year contract with someone, trying to prove he has recovered from his injury. If he does, he figures to be a bargain. If he doesn’t, it may prove a small roll of the dice.

Even his agent, however, admitted that the days of Broxton throwing 100 mph are probably over, and he never did completely master an offspeed pitch to complement his fastball.

The take: It is possible Broxton could return to the Dodgers, if his price is cheap enough. No one is going to sign him as a closer, so he’ll have to be willing to return to his original position as a setup man. And many would argue that he’s better suited for that role.

What Broxton is thinking remains unknown, since he stopped talking to the media the last couple months of the season. Not that he ever said a whole lot when he was talking. Still, those so frustrated with Broxton over the past year and half that they’re fine with throwing him overboard should remember he's still only 27 years old. And a two-time All-Star.

And sure, you would be more easily convinced he was putting forth the proper effort if he’d lose a few pounds, but after watching the specimen that is CC Sabathia pitch for the Yankees, Broxton looks almost svelte.

He might benefit from a fresh start elsewhere, but it’s not like he’s ever been a problem in the clubhouse, and he likes it here. If the price drops into bankrupt territory, Broxton could yet return.


Daily Dodger in review: Clayton Kershaw, an ace delivered

Daily Dodger in review: Andre Ethier battles Andre Ethier?

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Jonathan Broxton. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times.

Daily Dodger in review: Andre Ethier battles Andre Ethier?


We begin our second annual look at the individual season of each Dodger with a look at one of the team's most significant players in 2011.

ANDRE ETHIER, 29, outfielder

Final 2011 statistics: .292 batting average, 11 home runs, 62 runs batted in, 30 doubles, .368 on-base percentage, .421 slugging percentage in 487 at-bats.

Contract status: Final season of arbitration eligibility.

The good: Hit almost .300, had a 30-game hitting streak early in the season, was second on team with 67 runs and played a solid right field.

The bad: Power threatened to disappear. Hit only 11 home runs, and his slugging percentage was the lowest of his six-year career. Implied the Dodgers were making him play through knee pain instead of opting for surgery, took it back and then shortly afterward had season-ending surgery.

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Dodgers Web musings: Red Sox interested in Tim Wallach?

The guy many wanted to see become the Dodgers' successor to Joe Torre was Tim Wallach.

Wallach was an ex-Dodgers third baseman, hitting coach and had successfully managed their triple-A Albuquerque team. He had the right temperament, was liked and respected by players, front office personnel and the media.

When the baton was handed down to Don Mattingly, Wallach accepted a position on his staff as the third base coach. Most figure it’s a temp gig until another team comes calling.

And one may soon.

The Boston Herald is reporting Wallach is on the list of candidates the Boston Red Sox are considering for their next manager.

Plenty of worthy names are reportedly on their list –- Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, Tampa Bay bench coach Dave Martinez, Cleveland third base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. and Milwaukee hitting coach Dale Sveum –- but it would be difficult to find a better candidate than Wallach.

Also on the Web:

-- The Pirates have hired Dodgers assistant trainer Todd Tomczyk, 34, as their new head trainer. He spent five seasons with the Dodgers.

-- Meanwhile, Baseball Trade Rumors looks at Dodgers assistant general manager Logan White as a potential GM.

-- Tony Jackson of ESPN/LA has five key questions for the Dodgers to consider this offseason.

-- Ramona Shelburne writes that Dodgers GM Ned Colletti won’t put an opening day deadline to signing Matt Kemp to a long-term extension, as Kemp’s shy agent Dave Stewart has suggested.

-- Mike Petriello looks for where this big bat the Dodgers supposedly desire would come from if they are unable to sign Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols.

-- And here’s a brief but fun news reel looking at the Brooklyn Dodgers as they reported to spring training in 1954 under rookie Manager Walt Alston.


 -- Steve Dilbeck

Searching to recharge a flat-lined Chad Billingsley

Is there more in there or not?

That was the question we had about Chad Billingsley when the Dodgers opened camp this year –- and that remains the question now that their season over.

Billingsley made 32 starts, marking the fourth consecutive season he made 31 or more. He was 11-11 with a 4.21 earned-run average.

“It’s not bad,” Manager Don Mattingly said.

But …

“I think he should be trying to get a little better, a little better, a little better,” Mattingly said. “For me, it’s kind of flat-lined. I feel there’s more there.”

Billingsley said he felt the same way.

“It definitely wasn’t what I wanted,” he said of his season.

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Matt Guerrier in the middle: There needs to be more there


In some areas, right-hander Matt Guerrier was exactly what the Dodgers thought they had bought over the winter. In other areas, not so much.

And because they went three years and $12 million for the reliever, people tend to notice the not so much.

On the season, Guerrier went 4-3 with a 4.07 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP and one save. It was the sixth consecutive season Guerrier saved exactly one game. He is also the only reliever to have appeared in 70 games in each of the last five seasons. There is certainly consistency there.

But the ERA was significantly higher than the 3.17 and 2.36 he had posted the previous two seasons with the Twins. And also less than impressive was allowing 19 of 41 inherited runners to score.

Middle relievers got expensive in the past offseason, and it’s safe to say the Dodgers were expecting more from their investment. And apparently both Guerrier and Manager Don Mattingly believe there’s more there for the 33-year-old.

Said Mattingly to reporters the day after the season ended: "He told me he didn't throw the way he thinks he's capable. I told him in spring, 'Don't come here thinking you've got anything to prove to anybody,' but in Minnesota everybody knew him and what he could do. He comes here and he's trying to prove to us and the fans.

"He said he felt like he wasn't himself. He expects to be more consistent, better with runners on base. He said he's better than this, and I think he'll be better next year."

Better would be a good thing. A little "wow" factor would be nice too, but right now, the Dodgers would happily settle for consistency.


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: Dodgers reliever Matt Guerrier works against the Rockies in Colorado. Credit: Justin Edmonds / Getty Images


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