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Category: Ned Colletti

Ned Colletti shifts front-office duties of two assistants

 A tweak here, a tweak there, and presto! -– the annual makeover of the Dodgers front office.

This one hardly qualifies as some major shakeup, but it has apparently left two special assistants to General Manager Ned Colletti, Vance Lovelace and Rick Ragazzo, with greater authority within the organization.

When assistant GM Kim Ng left the Dodgers to join Joe Torre in the commissioner’s office at the start of last season, it hardly left Colletti with much time to do any serious restructuring of the front office.

But on Saturday, Colletti told Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com he was promotingLovelace to director of professional personnel and Ragazzo to director of pro scouting.

Previously this off-season, Colletti hired attorney Alex Tamin as an assistant for player analysis and arbitration preparation.

Lovelace previously was director of pro scouting and joined the Dodgers front office in 2001 as a scout. Ragazzo is entering his fifth season with the Dodgers.

Of course, at a higher level, the Dodgers still don’t have a team president since firing Dennis Mannion 14 months ago.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers sign Tony Gwynn Jr. to two-year, $2-million deal

Tony-gwynn-jr2_600

And it didn’t go down to the absolute wire or anything.

The Dodgers did right Monday, signing outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. to a two-year, $2-million contract only hours before the deadline to tender him or lose him to free agency.

That’s probably a year more than most might have expected, but General Manager Ned Colletti has been on something of a two-year contract binge this off-season.

Gwynn, 29, will receive $850,000 next season and $1.15 million in 2013. Gwynn told The Times' Dylan Hernandez that the Dodgers approached him Thursday and the deal was completed over the weekend.

"The first offer they made me was a two-year deal,'' Gwynn said. "I hadn’t even thought of that. When they came with a two-year deal, my ears immediately perked up.''

The two-year contract will carry him through his arbitration years. He can become a free agent at the end of this deal.

Gwynn was not tendered a contract by the San Diego Padres after hitting .204 in 2010, enabling him to originally sign with the Dodgers.

"I was a lot more calm with the whole process [this year],'' Gwynn told Hernandez. "I was coming off a much better season. I was comfortable going through the whole process. I knew I was going to have a job somewhere. But I wanted to stay here. I really enjoyed the coaching staff. I enjoyed being with the players.''

Averaging $1 million per year is hardly an unreasonable amount for a reserve outfielder as versatile, and who was used as much last season, as Gwynn.

in his first season with the Dodgers, Gwynn appeared in a career-high 136 games, batting .256 with 37 runs and 22 stolen bases in 312 at-bats.

The Dodgers' starting outfield is set with Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Juan Rivera, though Gwynn could still play a reasonable amount of time in left field for Rivera, who also plays first, and as a late-inning defensive replacement.

Colletti has tried to add strong defensive players this season, and Gwynn continues with that trend.

"That suits me really well,'' Gwynn said. "That’s not just a Dodger thing. If you’re able to go out and get some of the bigger hitters, that’s nice. But a lot of times, games are won on defense and pitching. I’ve been on teams where the offense wasn’t very good, but the defense was, and when it came down to one run, it gave us an edge.''

MORE:

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. slides safely into second base with a steal as Braves second baseman Dan Uggla tries to handle the throw during a game last season at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Daily Dodger in review: Josh Lindblom shows his promise

Ah, yes, the winter meetings over and still a couple left …

JOSH LINDBLOM, 24, reliever

Final 2011 stats: 1-0, 2.73 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings, no home runs in 29 2/3 innings.

Contract status: Under team control.

The good: A couple springs ago, Lindblom was a mini-sensation, a promising young starter standing 6 foot 4. He never got untracked at triple-A Albuquerque, was converted back to a reliever and then started last season down at double-A Chattanooga, where his career again started moving forward.

He was called up three times last season and was effective in each. He gave up an earned run in only eight of his 27 games. Throws hard and seems to have a strong desire to succeed.

During his three stints at Chattanooga, he had 17 saves, a 2.13 ERA and 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

The bad: On Sept. 11 in San Francisco, he threw six pitches, but allowed a hit, a walk and a pair of runs. It was the only time in 27 games he allowed more than one run in a game.

What’s next: Unless GM Ned Colletti goes all veteran-reliever-happy in the next couple of months, appears to have a spot on the 2012 roster.

The take: Throwing 29 2/3 innings isn’t exactly a major body of work to make grand determinations, but the former second-round 2008 pick showed only promise last season. Maybe not screaming, "This guy has to be our future closer" promise, but enough to remain in their plans for next season. And enough to leave the door open on all possibilities.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

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

James Loney should give Dodgers real concern

Loney3
The Dodgers had big news too, about their first baseman. In keeping with the times, however, this  personnel news was of a different variety than player signings.

While the Angels were signing Albert Pujols and demonstrating what a well-run franchise can do when it negotiates a new TV deal, the Dodgers were back in a Delaware bankruptcy court while trying to deal with the news that James Loney was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after authorities said he swiped three cars on the 101 Freeway last month.

After allegedly hitting the three cars with his Maserati at 6:12 p.m. on Nov. 14 in Sherman Oaks, California Highway Patrol spokesman Leland Tang said Loney came to an abrupt stop in the fast lane, appeared unconscious to drivers of the three other cars and then attempted to flee the scene.

And the Dodgers have until Monday to tender him a contract.

Teammates and coaches like to kid Loney about his goofiness, but this is a whole other world. And a damn scary one. One to be very concerned about and cautious with.

CHP officers said Loney demonstrated "symptoms of being intoxicated or being under the influence of something." So they suspect he was either drunk or on drugs while motoring west on the 101 on a Monday evening.

He was taken to Sherman Oaks Hospital for tests, including ones for alcohol and drugs. Tang said the results were not yet available. Hey, it’s only been 3½ weeks.

If cleared of the DUI, that would still leave troubling questions. He allegedly lost consciousness because why? He hit his head? He had a seizure? He was just really, really tired?

Continue reading »

Dodgers have no interest in Manny Ramirez

Manny3
In case you were wondering, no, Manny Ramirez isn’t on his way back to the Dodgers.

General Manager Ned Colletti immediately shot down the far-fetched idea of re-signing Ramirez, who electrified Dodger Stadium in 2008, only to be later exposed as a drug cheat and leave Los Angeles in disgrace.

“I think we’re probably past that at this point,” Colletti said.

Ramirez was on the verge of being hit with a second drug-related suspension last season when he decided to leave the Tampa Bay Rays and retire.

But he has evidently had a change of heart and wants to play somewhere. His attempt to play in the Dominican Winter League was blocked by Major League Baseball because he hadn’t served his suspension.

Ramirez has filed for reinstatement.

Taking into account the time he missed by retiring, MLB has reduced his suspension from 100 games to 50.

Still, any team that signs him would be without him for almost two months at the start of the season.

ALSO:

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-- Dylan Hernandez

Photo: Manny Ramirez with the Dodgers in 2010. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Don Mattingly talks about Dodgers' ownership issues

Don3
Manager Don Mattingly said that as a player or coach, he never understood the influence an owner had on a team.

“When you’re a player, you’re just kind of playing and you’re thinking, ‘What’s the owner doing?’” Mattingly said. “It’s, ‘We have to do it down here.’"

As a rookie manager leading a team with major ownership issues last season, Mattingly said his thinking changed.

While Mattingly maintained the off-the-field problems didn’t affect the way players approached their at-bats or fielded ground balls, he said, “That’s the one thing I really felt like I had an understanding of, that force that ownership causes. It’s a driving force that says, ‘We’re going here. This is our mission. This is how we’re going to get there. You guys are entrusted to make that happen, but this is where we’re going.’”

Mattingly said he felt that circumstances forced him and General Manager Ned Colletti to take that responsibility.

“You just can’t do it from those seats,” Mattingly said. “I know there was lots of trouble with everything that was going on and Mr. (Frank) McCourt didn’t want to be a distraction by being down in the clubhouse … and he a lot to deal with … but I think that’s what we missed last year, more than anything, is that driving force.”

Mattingly said he hasn’t spoken to McCourt this winter.

What about Magic Johnson? The former Lakers star is part of a group preparing to bid for the Dodgers.

“Have not,” he said. “I haven’t talked to Larry Bird, either.”

Continue reading »

Aaron Harang on verge of becoming a Dodger

Aaron3
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:

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

And that pretty much wraps up your 2012 Dodgers roster. All goose bumps, are you?

Word that the Dodgers are about to sign right-hander Aaron Harang would lock up their projected rotation, and pretty much close their offseason shop.

If the signing of Harang doesn’t exactly have the faithful reaching for confetti, neither should it leave them screaming into the night. He had a nice bounce-back season for the Padres in 2011 and is certainly a fine back-of-the-rotation starter. As was the recently signed Chris Capuano.

Trouble is, neither is a frontline starter, which essentially is what Hiroki Kuroda was, and now he’s officially cast adrift. After Clayton Kershaw, Kuroda was actually the Dodgers’ No. 2 starter last season.

Now the Dodgers 2012 rotation shapes up this way (with 2011 numbers):

                                    W/L      ERA     WHIP   SO/9

Clayton Kershaw            21-5    2.28    0.98    9.6

Chad Billingsley             11-11  4.21    1.45    7.3

Ted Lilly                       12-14  3.97    1.16    7.4

Aaron Harang               14-7    3.64    1.36    6.5

Chris Capuano              11-12  4.55    1.35    8.1

As a unit, after Kershaw it doesn’t have much wow factor. The rest are of the capable variety, which is probably two too many of those for a team that wants to contend for a title.

Still, they figure to give the bankrupt Dodgers a chance to win most nights, which is better than where this could have been headed.

Of course, the latter three aren’t exactly kids, nor are they known for keeping the ball in the ballpark. Lilly turns 36 next month and gave up 28 homers last season in 192 2/3 innings. Capuano is 33 and surrendered 27 homers in 186 innings. And Harang turns 34 in May and gave up 20 homers in 170 2/3 innings.

Hope Matt Kemp is doing plenty of offseason sprints.

Harang led the National League in strikeouts back in 2006 and came back with 218 strikeouts the next year. But he suffered through three consecutive losing seasons with the Reds until turning things around last season as a fly-ball pitcher for the Padres in pitching-friendly Petco Park.

He was probably the Padres’ best starter last season, though they declined their half of a $5-million mutual option for 2012.

As a final piece, he leaves the Dodgers with a solid enough rotation, though unlikely to leave the Giants all envious. And with all that age, injury seems inevitable.

But with his payroll being cut up to $20 million from a year ago, General Manager Ned Colletti is in the make-do business. When you’re making do, goose bumps are not required.

— Steve Dilbeck

The Hiroki Kuroda the Dodgers never knew: Now he'll go anywhere?

Hiroki Kuroda

Well, well, what have we here?

Hiroki Kuroda, who exercised the no-trade clause in his contract last summer because he wanted to remain in Los Angeles, is now apparently open to signing with just about any team east of the 605 Freeway.

Curious, eh? He made $12 million last season, and although what he’s looking to make in 2012 hasn’t been leaked, it was enough for Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti to decide early that Kuroda was unlikely to return.

Now come reports he’s interested in signing with the Rockies, with the Red Sox,  the Angels, the Diamondbacks, with just about any team with an extra couple of mil to spend.

Of course, if he would have accepted a trade at the July 31 deadline, he could have saved the Dodgers about $4 million in salary. Which just might have made the difference in being able to bring him back for 2012.

If Kuroda had accepted a trade last summer –- and the Red Sox were considered a prime suitor –- the Dodgers not only might have saved his $4 million in salary, but also have received a nice prospect in return.

But out of loyalty he decided to stay? And now he’s willing to go, the Dodgers are $4 million poorer and getting nothing in return.

It’s not Kuroda’s fault the Dodgers’ payroll is being scaled back about $10 million this season, but whatever he was asking was beyond what Colletti viewed as the Dodgers’ reach. Now they’ve gambled that Chris Capuano can keep his duct-taped elbow intact the next two years at a cost of $10 million, and that is not a step up over Kuroda.

Hey, all the best. Go get as much as you can. It is the American way. There was never a single complaint about his effort on the mound. His moves off it, however, were left wanting.

ALSO:

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Mark Cuban plans to take part in Dodgers bidding process

Bill Plaschke: Magic Johnson leads dream team bidding for Dodgers

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Hiroki Kuroda. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

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