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Category: Jerry Hairston Jr.

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.

Jerry Sands would still be better off playing every day in minors

Jerry3That would be Jerry Sands, the one Dodgers prospect with power close to being ready to play every day. The question is, how close?

The Dodgers’ current outfield has Matt Kemp in center, Andre Ethier in right, and for the most part Juan Rivera in left. Rivera could split time with Tony Gwynn Jr., Jerry Hairston Jr., and the theory goes, Sands.

Only I’m thinking, despite his strong September, Sands would be best served starting next season as an everyday player back at triple A.

He’s 24 and still needs to play regularly. And even if Manager Don Mattingly goes all lefty-right splits and plays Rivera some at first for James Loney, or Sands or Rivera for Ethier, I doubt he’s going to get the kind of at-bats the still-young hitter needs to continue to develop.

And despite saying otherwise, maybe the Dodgers are thinking the same thing. There is a report at MLB Trade Rumors that the Dodgers and Cubs are talking to Coco Crisp about playing left field.

Crisp, 32, is a  speedy switch-hitting outfielder who put up some very respectable numbers last season for the A’s (.264, 27 doubles, 49 steals, 69 runs). He would no doubt be a solid addition for the Dodgers, but one who would need real playing time.

How seriously the Dodgers are about this is uncertain. Crisp earned $5.75 million last year, so it could be as simple as his agent calling the Dodgers and saying his price has come down, are you interested? Of course, you would think it’d have to come down fairly significantly to pique the bankrupt Dodgers’ interest.

Continue reading »

Dodgers need to tender Tony Gwynn Jr.

Tony-gwynn-jr_600

The hours are ticking away and Tony Gwynn Jr. waits.

Can we do away with the suspense? Do the Dodgers really need to play this game of contract chicken with Gwynn? Make the deal, or tender him a contract and go to arbitration. Seems simple enough.

Unless, of course, the Dodgers could be playing another game — how low can you go?

Gwynn is the one Dodger who is uncertain whether the Dodgers will officially tender him a contract prior to Monday’s 9 p.m. deadline. I’ll go out on a thin limb here and say I’m pretty sure Clayton Kershaw gets tendered. Andre Ethier and, yes, James Loney, are going to be offered contracts. Hong-Chin Kuo, sadly, is not expected to receive an offer.

And that leaves Gwynn, who went through this last season with the Padres, who non-tendered him. Which made him available to sign with the Dodgers, which he did at what proved to be a bargain price at $675,000.

Gwynn played more than expected (a career-high 136 games) and better than most anticipated. He was as strong as advertised defensively, a little better than expected offensively and stole 22 bases.

In most ways, he was the ideal extra outfielder. And still would be.

So don’t risk losing him over a comparatively small amount of dough. If the bankrupt Dodgers are really planning on playing Juan Rivera in left most days, they’ll need Gwynn just as much this season as last. And although Jerry Hairston Jr. could play center if — deep breath here — injury were to befall Matt Kemp, Gwynn is the better defensive outfielder.

In a text to Dodgers.com's Ken Gurnick, Gwynn said he was uncertain how it would all play out. Bring him back and end the suspense.

MORE:

Dodgers won't add an MVP, no matter what happens to Ryan Braun

Scott Boras: Dodgers, Mets shopping in 'fruits-and-nuts category'

Bill Plaschke: Ryan Braun needs to follow his own advice

— Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Tony Gwynn Jr. gets ready for batting practice last season. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Dodgers Web musings: Are the Angels now L.A.'s No. 1 team?

Moreno-dipoto_600

Heard that one before.

Heard it when Disney bought the team. When the Angels won their first World Series in 2002.  When Arte Moreno bought the team and signed Vladimir Guerrero. And when Frank McCourt drove the Dodgers into bankruptcy.

And, of course, now that the Angels' off-season has been just a tad more impressive than that of the Dodgers’.

You sign the best hitter of his generation, Albert Pujols, and the top starter available, C.J. Wilson, and people tend to notice.

The Times' T.J. Simers said the Angels' moves were clearly in response to the Dodgers signing Aaron Harang and Jerry Hairston Jr. Wrote Simers: "There’s only one Los Angeles baseball team that anyone cares about and it isn't located in Los Angeles."

Added ESPN/LA’s Tony Jackson: "The Dodgers are all about history and tradition and lore. The Angels are all about the here and now, and the future, both short- and long-term."

For the Dodgers, it's a bad convergence of the darkest point in their franchise history and one of the highest for the Angels. And it should be noted that last season the Angels, for the first time, outdrew the Dodgers in attendance.

Also on the web:

-- The roster is looking full, but General Manager Ned Colletti tells Dodgers.com’s Ken Gurnick: " ... There's also more work to do. We're by far a finished product. Take the rest of the winter off? No."

Colletti can't seem to stop his love affair with utility infielders. Gurnick wrote that the Dodgers had been trying to trade for the Mets' Daniel Murphy.

-- The Times' Bill Shaikin and Kevin Baxter explain how Frank McCourt enabled the Angels to finance their stunning signings by maximizing their own TV-rights deal.

-- The Times’ Esmeralda Bermudez and Eric Spillman have more troubling details about James Loney's arrest last month on suspicion of driving under the influence.

-- Gurnick also has Clayton Kershaw's agent saying they're in no hurry to sign a long-term deal.

-- The Times' Joe Flint writes that the gloves are coming off between Time Warner Cable and Fox Sports in the battle over Dodgers media rights. The 2004 contract that prevented the Dodgers and Time Warner from partnering for a regional sports network doesn't apply to Time Warner Cable, that company argues, because it was spun off as its own seperate operation in 2009.

-- True Blue L.A.'s Eric Stephen has an overview of all the Dodgers' player moves this off-season.

-- Scott Boras, funny man? Who knew? Speaking to The Times’ Dylan Hernandez on the off-season spending of the Dodgers and Mets: "Normally, they're in the steaks section, and I found them in the fruits-and-nuts category a lot."

-- Dodgers individual spring training tickets are now on sale.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Angels owner Arte Moreno, left, introduces Jerry Dipoto as his general manager in October. Credit: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press

Dodgers sign Jerry Hairston Jr.

Jerry-hairston_600

The Dodgers have signed utility man Jerry Hairston Jr. to a two-year, $6-million contract, according to people with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal hasn’t been officially announced.

Hairston will earn $2.25 million in 2012 and $3.75 million in 2013.

Hairston, 35, batted .270 with five home runs and 31 runs batted in for the Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers last season. He played five positions over the course of the year: second and third base, shortstop, left and center field.

— Dylan Hernandez in Dallas

RELATED:

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Dodgers working toward deal with Aaron Harang

Dodgers' 2012 rotation: Few thrills, but could have been worse

Photo: Jerry Hairston Jr. looks up at the home plate umpire as he slides safely into home plate past St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina in the fourth inning of Game 4 of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium. Credit: Whitney Curtis / EPA

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