Dodgers Now

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Category: Ned Colletti

Dodgers Web musings: Manny Ramirez goes 'Moneyball'

Or maybe that should be the other way around. Our favorite dreadlocked, greatest-quote, not-talking, power-hitting, feeble-swinging bundle of contradictions has taken his waning talents to the Oakland A’s.

You probably missed that chapter in the book, but for an A’s team woefully shy on talent, it is a small gamble. At least financially. Pedro Gomez at ESPN reported that Ramirez signed for $500,000. Of course, the Dodgers still owe him $8.3 million in each of the next two years.

The Manny who absolutely electrified Dodger Stadium in 2008 is now 39 and coming off a year in which he sat out almost the entire season after being busted a second time for using performance-enhancing drugs.

He’ll have to serve a 50-game suspension first, but he wants to play, so best of luck and all. Manny is now Oakland’s problem, though it might make for an interesting sequel.

Also on the Web:

— Pitchers and catchers report to camp Tuesday and Dodgers.com’s Ken Gurnick writes that it will the first time in a decade they so with an ace. You can possibly figure out who that is.

— The Times’ Patt Morrison has an interesting Q&A piece with Sue Falsone, the first head female trainer in any American professional sport.

— Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti gives a video interview to Fox at a Kings game where he confirms that he wants to sign Andre Ethier to a long-term contract.

   

— ESPN’s Buster Olney says Yankees catcher Russell Martin has dropped weight for this season. Where have we heard about Martin adjusting his weight before? Oh yeah, here.

— Believe it or not, he’s still here: Brett Tomko has signed a minor-league deal with the Reds.

— And while on ex-Dodgers, infielder Blake DeWitt — the Dodgers’ future second baseman only two years ago — has accepted a minor league assignment with the Cubs after clearing waivers. He’s 26.

— Hong-Chin Kuo is ready to start his new life as a Seattle Mariner: “We all face challenges in life. I had one last year and my teammates helped me through it — everyone helped me through it. My coaches, my wife, everyone.”

— The Jeremy Lin phenomenon reminds some of Nomomania. Wait, check that, it’s Fernandomania.

— Don Mattingly tells Dodgers.com's Gurnick that despite not having an established closer like Jonathan Broxton, he is more confident in his bullpen this season.

— Robert Timm at Dodger Dugout offers his two cents on the team’s coming spring.

— Steve Dilbeck

No one on the Dodgers has more at stake in 2012 than Ned Colletti

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Ned Colletti is all in this season. His career as the Dodgers general manager is on the line. It is every season, of course, but more so in 2012, with the Dodgers about to undergo new ownership.

It’s also true for Don Mattingly as the manager, but more so for Colletti. New owners typically don’t come in and announce everything will operate just as before. They want their people in charge, making decisions, reformatting the team in some new image.

When Frank and Jamie McCourt purchased the team in 2004, the first thing they did was start searching for a new general manager. In what should have been a complete indication of things to come, they actually made existing general manager Dan Evans apply and interview for his own job. They hired Paul DePodesta, about as miscast to lead an operation as Barney Fife. He was gone after two quick years.

Someone is going to be named the next Dodgers owner by April Fools' Day. They are going to want to place their stamp on the team. It’s hard to imagine Colletti survives — unless the Dodgers win this season.

So you can criticize his off-season moves, but no individual has more at stake on the outcome of this season than Colletti.

Continue reading »

Frank McCourt: A few words in praise of Dodgers owner

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Hey, I didn’t say they were my words.

It must be understood that despite racking up almost a billion dollars in debt and taking the Dodgers into bankruptcy, Frank McCourt still has supporters. They mostly point to the team’s four playoff appearances in his eight years of ownership.

And then there is General Manager Ned Colletti, who during Tuesday's announcement of Clayton Kershaw’s two-year, $19-million contracttook the time to commend McCourt for trying to leave the team in good condition.

Colletti based this on McCourt’s off-season signing of Kershaw and Matt Kemp (eight years, $160 million), and his efforts to sign Prince Fielder.

“When you think about how we were able to complete a deal with Matt for eight years, get the go-ahead to go after Prince and sign Clayton for a couple of years, you have to give Frank credit,” Colletti said.

“These are things he didn’t have to do. We could have not pursued Prince and let the next owner deal with Matt and Clayton. To his credit, he’s trying to leave the organization in the best place possible.”

Just makes you see ol' Frankie in a completely different light, no?

Continue reading »

Dodgers' James Loney won't face charges after freeway accident

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Would love to announce everything has been cleared up in James Loney’s arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence, after officials announced Wednesday he would not be criminally charged.

The Los Angeles city attorney’s office said there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against Loney after all drug tests came back negative.

Which is very good news for Loney, and the Dodgers, though it doesn’t exactly explain how he drove his Maserati into three cars on the 101 Freeway on a weekday evening in November.

Loney refused comment to The Times on Wednesday through his agency, as he did when the news of his arrest first broke in December. Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti previously said Loney told him he struck his head on something after the first collision and then could not remember what happened.

Which would include sideswiping the next two cars, trying to flee the scene and acting in such a manner that California Highway Patrol officers thought he was under the influence.

Hey, hit your head hard enough and odd things can happen.

The Dodgers were satisfied with Loney’s explanation, enough so that they signed him last month to a one-year contract for $6.375 million.

Loney, who turns 28 in May, is scheduled to return as the Dodgers starting first baseman after hitting .288 with 12 home runs and 65 runs batted in last season. His .416 slugging percentage was the third-lowest for any major league first baseman with a minimum of 500 at-bats.

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Potential Dodgers owners already reaching out to Derrick Hall

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers first baseman James Loney is congratulated by teammates after hitting a two-run home run against the Colorado Rockies last spring at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times / May 30, 2011

Hiroki Kuroda talks about leaving Dodgers, why he chose Yankees

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Hiroki Kuroda confirmed what Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said earlier this month:  Colletti remained in contact with his agent until he decided to sign with the New York Yankees three weeks ago.

Kuroda said the Dodgers were exploring ways they could fit him onto their roster, even though they had already signed free-agent starters Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano.

“They were unable to ever make a formal offer,” Kuroda said in Japanese. “I couldn’t wait any longer.”

The Japanese right-hander took a one-year $10-million contract with the Yankees that included a full no-trade clause. The deal was officially announced this week.

The reasons behind his exercising a similar clause last year to prevent the Dodgers from trading him to an American League contender –- the Yankees were believed to be among the suitors -– were no longer issues. He wasn’t backing out of a commitment. He wouldn't be joining a team midseason, something he said he thought would take away from the joy of winning.

Asked whether he would have remained with the Dodgers had they made him a reasonable offer, Kuroda said, “It’s hard to talk about something hypothetical. Obviously, I was comfortable there. I liked it there. My family liked it there.”

In fact, Kuroda said his wife and two school-age daughters will remain in Los Angeles while he is in New York next season.

“Part of me is sad to leave Los Angeles,” he said. “I loved the atmosphere of the stadium.”

Continue reading »

Report: Dodgers went hard after Prince Fielder

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Not in the hunt, not going to happen, the payroll limit has been met.

That’s all General Manager Ned Colletti said officially about the possibility of signing free agent first baseman Prince Fielder. All one clever deke?

Now comes a report that the Dodgers did go after Fielder, pretty hard too, and made a very reasonable offer.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports said the Dodgers actually were the other mystery team in on Fielder, secretly met with him and offered a seven-year contract with what should have been an attractive four-year opt-out clause.

Heyman said the deal averaged about $26 million the first four years and in the low $20-million range the last three. He estimated the total package to be worth just over $160 million.

The report said the Dodgers were actually one of the final three teams in on Fielder and thought they had a good shot. Who knows, if Victor Martinez doesn’t injure his knee and propel the Tigers hard into the bidding, maybe that press conference in Detroit on Thursday officially announcing his signing to a $214-million, nine-year contract is instead taking place in Los Angeles. At a lesser figure, of course.

Continue reading »

Can the Dodgers find a second lefty for the bullpen?

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A closed shop, right? Barring injury, the Dodgers’ 25-man roster  seems almost boringly set.

Yet a month before the start of spring training, it’s possible there could be one opening. Anyway, the Dodgers at least have to consider adding a second left-hander to their bullpen.

At the moment, Scott Elbert is their only lefty reliever. Elbert delivered his breakout season last year (2.43 ERA, 1.23 WHIP). Most teams, however, prefer having two lefties in their pen. And it’s here where things get dicey.

The Dodgers have no obvious second left-handed candidate. And if they were to uncover one, then promising right-hander Josh Lindblom (2.73, 1.04) might be pushed out. Unless Blake Hawksworth’s minor elbow surgery proves a bigger challenge than anticipated.

Continue reading »

Dodgers officially wave goodbye as Hiroki Kuroda signs with Yanks

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Nearly six months after they tried to trade him to save $4 million in salary and get a prospect in return, only to have the right-hander nix the deal, Hiroki Kuroda is officially gone.

Kuroda reportedly signed a one-year deal with the Yankees Friday for $10 million.

So long, best of luck, but can’t pretend to understand it.

Kuroda was supposedly so loyal to the Dodgers, he exercised the no-trade clause in his contract last July. The thought then was, in 2012 he would either return to the Dodgers or go back to pitch in Japan.

The Dodgers thought so too, at least initially. But he was apparently trying to get close to the $12 million he made last season, so General Manager Ned Colletti filled his rotation by signing veteran starters Chris Capuano (two years, $10 million) and Aaron Harang (two years, $12 million).

Both will make $3 million next season, or 60% of what Kuroda ended up signing for. Of course, you could certainly argue they’re about a combined 60% as good as Kuroda.

Kuroda went a misleading 13-16 last season, actually pitching much better than his record indicated. He had a 3.07 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP and struck out a career-high 161. And even though he’ll turn 37 next month, there was no doubt he could still pitch and the Dodgers wanted him back.

Continue reading »

The offensive emptiness that is the Dodgers 2012 bench

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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.

Curbing enthusiasm over return of Ronald Belisario

Dodgers_640All excited are you? Can’t get that heart to stop racing? Worried you’re going to hyperventilate?

Ronald Belisario is coming, Ronald Belisario is coming.

Supposedly. So his agent says. Complete with a 25-game suspension in tow for a drug-abuse violation.

Yeah, all underwhelmed. Belisario is about as reliable as a cellphone battery, although with a cellphone you at least have a warning when it’s going out. With Belisario, there’s no telling.

Now his agent says he’s actually managed to get a visa and plans to show up to spring training on time, which would be a first for him as a Dodger.

The first time he showed up late in 2009, he unexpectedly became a camp sensation. He made the team, threw some serious gas and finished the season with a 2.04 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings pitched in 69 games.

After having bounced around in the minors for the previous nine years, you would have thought he’d embrace this late-career opportunity. Instead, it was more visa issues the next spring following a previous DUI arrest, two stints on the restricted list (one reportedly for rehab) and a season in which he seldom looked the same (5.04 ERA).

The Venezuelan never could get a visa last year. And now he’s supposed to be welcomed back with open arms? I think not. This is a player with a lot to prove, in terms of his mental commitment, his drug issues and his arm.

Fortunately for the Dodgers, they don’t truly need him. Buoyed by the arrival of several young arms last year, it’s pretty much full. General Manager Ned Colletti is still negotiating to bring back Mike MacDougal. Wisely, the Dodgers are not about to count on Belisario again.

If he does show up on time, proves he’s committed again, has overcome his drug issues and has the arm of 2009, then swell. It’s like bonus points. The suspension actually gives the Dodgers another month to figure out where he’s at.

The Dodgers don’t play their 26th game until May 4, at which time some reliever will have no doubt fallen victim to injury. Belisario is out of options.

He’ll turn 29 on New Year’s Eve, which is kinda scary. He deserves another chance but needs to be on one short leash. Because right now it almost feels like a warning: Ronald Belisario is coming.

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— Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Ronald Belisario. Credit; Bret Hartman / For The Times

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