Dodgers Now

Steve Dilbeck and The Times' Dodgers reporters
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Category: Nathan Eovaldi

Aaron Harang on verge of becoming a Dodger

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The Dodgers’ starting rotation is about to be set.

The bankrupt ballclub is expected to finalize a contract with Aaron Harang on Wednesday, when the right-hander is scheduled to undergo a physical examination, according to people familiar with the situation.

The deal would be worth $12 million over two seasons, according to multiple reports.

When Harang's signing becomes official, the Dodgers will have five starters signed not only for the upcoming season, but for 2013.

The development clouds the future of 21-year-old Nathan Eovaldi, a hard-throwing right-hander who was impressive in six major-league starts last season.

General Manager Ned Colletti said he still views Eovaldi as a starter, but acknowledged there is a possibility he could move to the bullpen.

ALSO:

Pricey free agents don't fit into plans, Dodgers' Ned Colletti says

In the L.A. sports viewing market, a clash of media titans

Dodgers sign Jerry Hairston Jr., work on deal with Aaron Harang

-- Dylan Hernandez in Dallas

Photo: Aaron Harang delivers a pitch during a game between the San Diego Padres and Dodgers on Sept. 24. Credit: Lenny Ignelzi / Associated Press

Dodgers sign Chris Capuano; Hiroki Kuroda looks gone

Capuano_275Hope that new Dodgers owner leans to the left.

If not quite desperate to add a starter to their rotation, the bankrupt Dodgers were sadly at least sniffing in the area. And so it came Friday, that they signed left-handed Chris Capuano for two years and $10 million.

The agreement was first reported by ESPN’s Jim Bowden.

The addition of the fragile Capuano all but ends right-hander Hiroki Kuroda’s four-year career with the Dodgers, and leaves the Dodgers with three left-handers in their rotation — Clayton Kershaw, Ted Lilly and Capuano. Chad Billingsley is their only certain right-handed starter. Right-hander Nate Eovaldi is currently in line to be the team’s No.3 starter.

The addition of Capuano, 33, as a fifth starter wouldn’t be so bad, though given he’s had two Tommy John surgeries, a two-year, $10-million deal should leave everyone more anxious than a teenager readying for a first kiss. Alas, it’s the going rate.

The trouble is, he’s essentially replacing Kuroda in the rotation, which is a fairly serious step down.

Kuroda will be 37 to start next season, but is arguably coming off his finest year (13-16, 3.07 ERA). He’s getting up in the years, but hasn’t shown signs of slowing down. And he wants to pitch for one more season.

Which will now likely be in Japan. His asking price was apparently out of General Manager Ned Colletti’s price range; the GM seemed to have given up on the possibility of re-signing Kuroda weeks ago. Budget restraints and all. And then there was all that money spent elsewhere (Juan Rivera, $4.5 million).

Now comes Capuano, who had Tommy John surgery in 2002 and again in 2008. He missed all of the 2008 and 2009 seasons, and nearly half of 2010.

Continue reading »

Hey, buddy, could you spare an extra starter?

Ned Colletti

Baseball’s annual winter meetings are this weekend in Dallas, but don't look for the Dodgers to exactly be at the hub of activity.

General Manager Ned Colletti is nearing the end of his budget for the 2012 season and he’s still minus two starters for the rotation.

The Dodgers must be on the every-other-year rotation plan. They went into the 2010 season with only four starters, which proved one Charlie Haeger knuckleball away from total disaster. Last year they actually thought they had an extra starter in Vicente Padilla, who managed to throw almost nine innings before ending his season due to injury, surprising no one. And then Jon Garland went down.

For 2012 they currently have Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly and two holes. Rookie Nathan Eovaldi may have to fill one slot, but assuming they are unable to bring back Hiroki Kuroda, that still leaves a huge gap. Unless you’re all excited about the return of Dana Eveland.

Between Frank McCourt dropping another $9.9 million in bankruptcy-related expenses (per The Times' Bill Shaikin) just through October and Colletti dropping $4.5 million on Juan Rivera, it doesn’t appear the Dodgers have enough money left to bring back Kuroda. He wants to pitch one more season.

If the Dodgers go the free-agent route, the second-tier starters available are wholly uninspiring. Mike Petriello looked at them and his best, reluctant recommendation is … Jeff Francis?

There is, of course, the trade market. Yet to acquire a quality arm the Dodgers probably would have to give up an Andre Ethier or James Loney, both one year from free agency, simply creating another hole.

Dodgers.com’s Ken Gurnick previewed the winter meetings by estimating that Colletti had only about $10 million left to work with — and that was before he spent at least $800,000 on utility infielder Adam Kennedy.

Meanwhile, for the rest of baseball, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder are still out there.

MORE:

Fox can't put Bud Selig on witness stand, judge rules

Adam Kennedy agrees to one-year deal with Dodgers

Larry King aligns with Dennis Gilbert in Dodgers bidding

— Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Ned Colletti. Credit: Morry Gash / Associated Press.

Daily Dodger in review: Nathan Eovaldi, hurler no one saw coming

NATHAN EOVALDI, 21, starting pitcher

Final 2011 stats: 1-2, 3.63 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, six strikeouts per nine innings, .230 opponent batting average in 34 2/3 innings.

Contract status: Under team control.

The good: He was the torpedo no one saw on the radar until suddenly he hit. An 11th-round draft pick in 2008, Eovaldi had gone a combined 4-6 with a 4.30 ERA in three minor-league stops in 2010.

He started last season at double-A Chattanooga, where he was really scheduled to spend the year. But when Rubby De La Rosa, who had been previously plucked from Chattanooga, was lost to elbow surgery, the Dodgers called up Eovaldi to join the rotation. He was 6-5 with a 3.62 ERA at Chattanooga.

In his six starts for the Dodgers, he went 1-2 with a 3.09 ERA. In five of them, he went at least five innings and allowed two runs or less. Because he's only 21, to play it safe they took him out of the rotation as a precautionary move.

The bad: Four vowels vs. three consonants. After nine days off following his last start, he struggled in four relief appearances (a 10.13 ERA).

What’s next: At the moment, he probably has one of the five spots in next season’s rotation. If the Dodgers do resign Hiroki Kuroda, they may add another established pitcher to the rotation and allow Eovaldi to spend another season in the minors.

The take: It’s always dangerous to get carried away by a small string of games by a young pitcher (see: John Ely), but the Dodgers certainly liked what they saw of Eovaldi during his six-game stretch as a starter.

He wasn’t hitting 100 mph on the radar and raising eyebrows like De La Rosa, but he still showed an impressive fastball and solid poise for a young right-hander fresh up from double-A.

The Dodgers have reason to be leery of starting the season with Eovaldi in the rotation, but neither will they be afraid to. He could no doubt benefit by developing his other pitches in the minors for one more season, which is no doubt the best-case scenario.

But when your team is bankrupt and ownership is in chaos, best-case scenarios have a way of melting away. Which is why you’d best hope that those six starts last season were a true indicator of what he can do over the course of a full season.

— Steve Dilbeck

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

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

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

Gordon620

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.

MORE:

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.

Matt Kemp going out in style, hits 38th homer in 4-2 victory

Dodgers1_600

If one significant opportunity has slipped away for Matt Kemp during the season’s final days, that doesn’t mean he’s given up on another.

Kemp’s spectacular season flirted down the stretch with a triple crown, but the past couple of days the batting title has drifted out of reach.

Yet with two games left in the season, Kemp still has an outside shot at a highly exclusive club -- 40 stolen bases and 40 home runs.

Kemp hit the 40 stolen-base mark over a week ago and on Monday hit his 38th home run to lead the Dodgers to a 4-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix.

Only four players in baseball history –- Jose Canseco (A’s, 1988), Barry Bonds (Giants, ’96), Alex Rodriguez (Mariners, ’98) and Alfonso Soriano (Nationals, ’06) –- are in the 40-40 club.

Kemp’s monster three-run blast in the first inning left him needing two homers in the final two days. Tough duty, but last season he hit home runs in each of his final five games.

The home run broke his tie with Cardinal Albert Pujols for the National League lead, and pushed his No. 1 RBI total to 123 –- fourth highest in Los Angeles Dodgers history. Still ahead: No. 1 Tommy Davis, 153 (1962) Shawn Green, 125 (’01); Mike Piazza 124 (’97).

Kemp went one for four on the night, dropping his batting average to .324. Mets shortstop Jose Reyes went three for four to push his average to .333962, slightly ahead of Brewer Ryan Braun at .333032.

The victory left the Dodgers 81-78, the first time all season they've been three games over .500, and assured them a winning record this season.

The Dodgers got 5 2/3 scoreless innings from left-hander Dana Eveland, who earned the victory to raise his record to 3-2. The journeyman called up in September retired 14 of his first 15 batters. He allowed five hits, did not walk a batter, struck out five and lowered his earned-run average to 3.03.

Eveland left with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth, but Josh Lindblom came on to strike out Paul Goldschmidt.

The Diamondbacks scored their two runs without a hit in the eighth after rookie Nathan Eovaldi walked the bases loaded. Scott Elbert relieved, but an A.J. Ellis passed ball allowed arun to score. After Elbert walked the bases loaded again, reliever Mike MacDougal came on and walked in another run.

Despite some shaky defense by shortstop Dee Gordon, rookie right-hander Javy Guerra pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 21st save in 22 opportunities.

Jerry Sands singed in the eighth, extending his hitting streak to 14 games.

MORE:

Dodgers-Diamondbacks box score

--Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp is congratulated by teammates Jerry Sands and Dee Gordon after hitting a three-run home run in the first inning Monday night at Arizona. Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand / US Presswire

Ned Colletti and the Dodgers' looming, uncertain offseason

If there’s one thing most every offseason offers, it’s uncertainty. And then there is the coming offseason for the Dodgers, which may discover new doors into the unknown.

"I think we have more questions this offseason than we’ve had in the past," General Manager Ned Colletti says.

From small to huge, from backups to star players, from short term to long, all the way to who is going to be the team’s owner.

Colletti is charged with piecing it all together -- determining who he wants to re-sign and which free agents and trades he wants to pursue. When to gamble, when to play it conservatively.

"The offseason really is Ned’s time," Manager Don Mattingly said.

The team offense is the one area everyone agrees the Dodgers need to focus on improving. And the easiest way is to add a significant bat, which remain in shorter supply than love letters between Frank McCourt and Commissioner Bud Selig.

"I say the most dramatic way we can improve the offense, that would be the way we would go," Colletti said.

Alas, there are only two big bats scheduled for free agency, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. Either will be looking at a $100 million-plus contract. McCourt has never spent $100 million on a single player, and that’s when he wasn’t in bankruptcy court. Only one player has ever received a $100 million contract from the Dodgers, Kevin Brown back in 1999.

"The pitching and defense have been pretty good," Colletti said. "It’s the offense we have to try and impact, whether that’s from the inside or outside, we have to make the offense more productive. It’s a domino effect inside the lineup."

The Dodgers have at least $25 million coming off the books this offseason, so the possibility of signing a Pujols or Fielder isn’t completely ridiculous. Yet even if they were to make a run at them, there certainly is no guarantee that they’d return the interest. Some players may not be attracted to a bankrupt team.

Colletti said he hasn’t been told by McCourt yet what kind of budget he’ll have in the offseason, though that’s standard operating procedure for this time of year. Most years, of course, the Dodgers aren’t bankrupt.

When he starts to piece it all together, here are some issues Colletti will have to address:

-- Colletti said he wants to re-sign right-hander Hiroki Kuroda: "We’d love to have him back here."

-- If Kuroda returns, Colletti would still need a fifth starter: Nathan "Eovaldi has to be a candidate for that. I don’t want to count anyone else out. [Dana] Eveland has had two real good starts out of three. And there maybe somebody else in the system who can take that."

-- Assuming he doesn’t get a Pujols or Fielder, Colletti may tender James Loney after all: "As of right now, I’d say he’s somebody we’d have back."

-- Juan Uribe was a bust and then went out with injury but has two more years on his contract and will return next season, most likely at third: "We’re going to have to count on it. Everything is risky."

-- When the big pieces are filled in, several of this year’s role players -– Tony Gwynn Jr., Aaron Miles, Jamey Carroll, Juan Rivera and even Casey Blake -- may return: "In the right situation, yes."

-- Steve Dilbeck

Meet the new Dodgers, same as the old Dodgers

Dodgers1_600

Ah, what to make of this? General Manager Ned Colletti saying he hopes you like this year’s Dodgers, because they are pretty much going to be next year’s Dodgers.

Kinda gets you all tingling, eh?

Of course, this year’s Dodgers have been a major disappointment and have struggled for more than four months just to climb to .500. Crowds have disappeared. Belief that anything will ever change as long as Frank McCourt owns the team permeates everything Dodgers.

Which, naturally, explains why you shouldn’t expect significant changes to this team next season. That would require signing a major bat, which is hard to do when you’re bankrupt, or even when your plan all along was to reduce payroll.

Colletti acknowledged that McCourt had yet to let him know how much he can spend in the offseason, and good luck with that. He has attorneys to pay, you know.

Both Manager Don Mattingly and Colletti said it’s the offense that needs upgrading, a statement’s shock value that resonates right up there with "desert needs more water."

The only troubling thing to this is that it seems immediately reactive to this year’s team and not part of an overall plan. I suppose some of that is always inherent with the job, but a year ago it was the rotation that was a problem –- as anyone paying attention knew it would be going into the season. So Colletti opened this season not only with five starters, which is always wise, but an extra one on board just in case. The extra one, Vicente Padilla, went down to injury just as the fifth starter, Jon Garland, did, but the plan was solid.

This season it was the offense that struggled -- as anyone paying attention knew it would be going into the season, though maybe not so extreme.

So now the emphasis is going to be to add a bat, and I sure hope you believe Juan Rivera can do this for a full season. Big bats cost big money, which McCourt was loath to spend even when he was pretending to and not dropping $35 million on divorce bills.

The good part to this .500 season is that having a crummy team, and battling constant injuries, enabled to Dodgers to get a good and encouraging look at a lot of young players.

Still, it’s not like the next wave will be reminiscent of the Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Russell Martin and James Loney invasion. Most of the promise comes from young pitchers and a couple of light-hitting infielders.

And then there is the rotation, which at the moment has only three sure starters: Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly.  How much do you really like Nathan Eovaldi and Dana Eveland?

To the team’s great credit, they have continued to play hard, though as Mattingly has recognized, it is always dangerous to place too much credence in the performance of late call-ups, either good or bad.

There is plenty that needs to be added next season. And there are 10 current Dodgers who have contracts ending within the next three weeks. Plenty of bodies will come and go, yet the team figures to look very familiar.

RELATED:

Dodgers get back to .500 with win over Giants

Kenley Jensen is making batters look silly

Andre Ethier is headed for knee surgery

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Juan Rivera, the Dodgers' recently acquired left fielder, is congratulated by ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw after scoring on a balk against the Giants in the fourth inning Saturday in San Francisco. Credit: W. Henderson / Getty Images

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