Dodgers Now

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Category: Rafael Furcal

End of mania? Dodgers outright John Ely, Carlos Monasterios

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During a miserable 2010 season, John Ely and Carlos Monasterios had moments of near inspiration. Moments, however, does not a season -– nor a career -– make.

So it’s come to this: The two former emergency starting pitchers were outrighted to triple-A Albuquerque just before Thursday night’s deadline to set the 40-man roster and protect players from the Rule 5 draft.

Which is how the Dodgers originally acquired Monasterios, of course.

Carlos-monasterios_250The Dodgers added five minor leaguers to the 40-man roster to protect them from the draft, leaving their roster at 38.

In 2010 the Dodgers went into the season without a real No. 5 starter, and soon it was tryout time. Ely got the call in May, and much to everyone’s surprise, initially pitched exceedingly well.

After seven starts, while the light-throwing right-hander’s control was sharp, he was 3-2 with a 2.54 ERA. He even inspired a fan’s conceived Elymania cover of Sports Illustrated (@PA_Dodger via Blue Heaven).

Alas, it was not to last. He finished the season 4-10 with a 5.49 ERA. Ely, 25, spent most of last season at Albuquerque where he went 7-8 with a 5.99 ERA.

The Dodgers kept Monasterios, 25, on the 2010 roster all season to keep his rights. He appeared in 32 games, including 13 starts, going 3-5 with a 4.38 ERA. He appeared in only one game at Albuquerque last season before injuring his elbow and undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Of the five players joining the 40-man, only two were drafted by the Dodgers. Added were:

-- Outfielder Alex Catellanos, 25: He came from the Cardinals for Rafael Furcal. In 121 at-bats at double-A Chattanooga he hit .322, with .406 on-base and .603 slugging percentages.

-- Right-hander Stephen Fife, 25: A starter who came in the Trayvon Robinson trade, had a combined 3.74 ERA at double-A but has seriously struggled in the Arizona Fall League (1-6, 8.06 ERA).

-- Right-hander Chris Withrow, 22: Another former first-round pick from Texas, he went 6-6 with a 4.20 ERA at double-A, with 130 strikeouts in 128 2/3 innings.

-- Right-hander Josh Wall, 24: A former second-round pick, he was a middle reliever at double-A who went 4-5 with a 3.93 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings.

-- Left-hander Michael Antonini, 26: A starter who came from the Mets for Chin-Lung Hu, and finished 10-9 with a 4.01 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 148 innings at double-A.

The Dodgers previously added outfielders Scott Van Slyke and Alfredo Silverio to their 40-man.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photos: (Top) John Ely pitches against the Detroit Tigers during an interlegaue game in 2010. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times. (Bottom) Carlos Monasterios posing during media day. Credit: Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images

Daily Dodger in review: Hiroki Kuroda makes pitch to stay

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HIROKI KURODA, 36, starting pitcher

Final 2011 stats: 13-16, 3.07 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings, .254 opponent batting average in 202 innings.

Contract status: Free agent.

The good: Kuroda was remarkably consistent. He had a small bump in May when he had a 4.02 ERA, but the other five months he combined for a 2.90 ERA. His strikeouts, innings and victory totals were career-highs. Batters hit just .189 against him with runners in scoring position.

The bad: Not a whole lot there. Gave up 24 home runs. His win-loss record was unimpressive, but not much of that cannot be blamed on him. The Dodgers struggled to score him runs the first two-thirds of the year –- they averaged 5.52 runs for Kuroda on the season, ranking 71st among major league starters –- or he would have had a more impressive record.

What’s next: Will he stay or will he go now?

The Dodgers want him back and could certainly use him. GM Ned Colletti said he would give Kuroda some time after the season to determine if he wanted to return. Retirement doesn’t appear to be an option, but he could go back to pitch a final season in Japan.

The take: And there was a time when that’s exactly what I suspected he would do. He was a treasured star for the Hiroshima Carp, a second-tier team mostly devoid of starts. Figured loyalty called him back to finish his career where it started.

Only now I’m not so sure, which doesn’t mean with Kuroda I have any particular insight. Remember, he is a different cat. When the Dodgers wanted to trade him at the deadline to a contending team, he refused. Instead of playing in the postseason –- a la Rafael Furcal –- he stayed in Los Angeles to pitch for a third-place team out of playoff contention.

He got a pass on lacking competitive juices because of some supposed cultural divide, which I never bought for a second. Now I’ve decided that he just likes it here. He’s purchased a home in Los Angeles, his kids are in school here, he’s become comfortable living and working in Southern California. He’s also made over $47 million in his four years here; guess that would make plenty comfortable here.

I’m leaning on him returning, a good thing for a Dodgers team with only three other current starters. He’ll have to take a pay cut, but when you’re working down from $12 million, that ain’t too tough a duty.

Kuroda is a steady presence on the mound and in the clubhouse. He’s still throwing as well as ever, and even if he takes a slight step back, he’ll remain a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda works against the Angels during an interleague game this summer. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Daily Dodger in review: The long goodbye to Rafael Furcal

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RAFAEL FURCAL
, 34, shortstop

Final 2011 stats: .197, one home run, 12 RBI, 15 runs, five stolen bases in eight attempts, .272 on-base percentage, .248 slugging percentage in 137 at-bats with the Dodgers.

Contract status: Traded to Cardinals, looming free agent.

The good: Well, he is playing in the World Series. The Cardinals like him and he likes them so much, he’s willing to return. Alas, his time this season with the Dodgers was just shy of disastrous.

He just never could get healthy. He was well-liked by just about everyone on the club, though, after spending most of the last six years with the Dodgers. Overall, he was actually one of the best shortstops in L.A. Dodgers history.

The bad: Furcal did not suffer much luck his final season in Los Angeles. In something of a freak accident, he broke his thumb sliding head-first into third base on April 11 in San Francisco. He was so distraught at the thought of another injury, he briefly talked of retiring.

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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: Dee Gordon, the future is now

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DEE GORDON
, 23, shortstop

Final 2011 stats: .304, 34 runs, nine doubles, seven walks, 24 stolen bases, .325 on-base percentage in 224 at-bats.

Contract status: Under team control.

The good: Showed flashes of his jaw-dropping speed when first called up, but really flourished in the final month after returning from a shoulder injury. He hit .372 in September with seven doubles. Even mixed in five walks. Defensively, covers plenty of ground and has a good if unspectacular arm. The kid can motor.

The bad: Before his shoulder injury he was batting just .234 with a .248 on-base percentage. Miserable numbers for someone viewed as a leadoff hitter. Defensively his mind sometimes appears to wander on the most routine of plays. And too often he drops his arm to a sideways motion on his throws to first, causing the ball to sail.

What’s next: Hope you’re sold on him, because he is looking like your 2012 starting shortstop. Assuming the Cardinals don’t pick up that $12 million option on Rafael Furcal, there is always the remote possibility the injury-prone shortstop could return with a heavily incentive-laden contract; the Dodgers love him when he’s healthy. But it appears pretty certain they are going young (and cheaper) with Gordon.

The take: Of all the touted young players who made an impact last season, Gordon is the one position player set to have the greatest daily influence on 2012. He’s going to have his learning curve and will require patience at times, but appears a wise roll of the dice.

His speed makes him one of the team’s most exciting players, and this is a team in need of some excitement. Watching him fly around the bases is pure joy.

He’ll need to become more consistent defensively and, if he is to be an effective leadoff hitter, continue to develop his bunting and learn to draw a walk. He just needs to get on base, where his speed can create havoc.

Gordon is young, works hard and wants to reach his potential. If he develops as planned, the Dodgers could have their starting shortstop for the next 10 years.

RELATED:

Daily Dodger in review: Clayton Kershaw, an ace delivered

Daily Dodger in review: Andre Ethier battles Andre Ethier?

— Steve Dilbeck

twitter.com/stevedilbeck

Photo: Dee Gordon. Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

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

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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.

Dodgers make earth move for Cardinals in 13-2 blowout

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It must have felt like an out-of-body experience. It was the Dodgers, offensive juggernaut. A team to fear.

Runs came everywhere, from most everyone. Players crossed the plate like it was an easy habit. Balls flew over the wall, off defenders, on line drives into the gap.

After five innings, the Dodgers had scored 11 times. With Clayton Kershaw on the mound throwing blanks, it was overkill.

The Cardinals looked like a team that could have used the Little League mercy rule, ultimately falling, 13-2, Tuesday in St. Louis.

It was the most runs the Dodgers had scored since a 15-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins on June 27, the day the club declared bankruptcy. Which a Frank McCourt attorney actually said proved the club wasn’t bothered by the team’s financial troubles.

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Dodgers stun Cardinals with rare ninth-inning rally, 2-1

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All the stars seemed aligned against the Dodgers on Monday.

They were playing at Busch Stadium, where they had gone 3-15 since it opened in 2006. They were up against Chris Carpenter, who was 6-0 lifetime against the Dodgers. And they trailed, 1-0, heading into the ninth inning, an obstacle they had overcome once in 63 previous games.

And they won, with an improbable ninth-inning rally after former Cardinal Aaron Miles tripled in the tying run and Rod Barajas drove him home with the wining score when his grounder bounced off the glove of ex-Dodger Rafael Furcal, who threw wide of the plate.

Rookie Javy Guerra came on to close it, and the Dodgers had escaped with a 2-1 victory no one saw coming.

St. Louis’ Tony La Russa gave the Dodgers a nice assist with come curious overmanaging. Carpenter took a 1-0 lead into the ninth, having held the Dodgers to five singles -- three by James Loney.

But after he hit Juan Rivera to open the bottom of the ninth, La Russa went to the bullpen, and Carpenter did not look happy. He’s a little less happy now.

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Aaron Miles, this season's surprise, makes good all over

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Our continuing search to always find something positive to say about the Dodgers now takes us to Aaron Miles.

Yeah! See, it isn’t all bad.

Miles is this season’s unexpected Dodgers surprise, one of the pleasant variety. He’s come fairly out of nowhere to become a valuable part of this year’s team.

There wasn’t much attention paid when the Dodgers signed Miles in the offseason as a non-roster invitee. They already had one versatile diminutive infielder in Jamey Carroll. Yawns abounded. Miles seemed insurance headed for triple-A.

But in the spring, Miles hit .321 with a .528 slugging percentage. When Casey Blake started the season on the disabled list, Miles had made the team. It figured a brief stay.

Except he’s never left. Starting infielders Rafael Furcal, Juan Uribe and Blake all took turns on the disabled list. Ivan De Jesus Jr. did not develop. Juan Castro hit like Juan Castro.

And Miles, 34, delivered. All over the field and all over the lineup.

Continue reading »

Dee Gordon injures shoulder, but it's not considered serious

Dodgers-dee-gordon_640 There is a limit to these things, apparently.

Which didn't meant the Dodgers weren't staring down another you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me scare Saturday night in Phoenix when prized rookie shortstop Dee Gordon left the game in the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks because of an injured right shoulder.

A momentary pause here for those of you who still feel compelled to tilt back your head and scream into the night.

The fear was that he had separated -- or possibly even dislocated -- the shoulder, but after X-rays both scenarios were ruled out and he was left as day-to-day.

Gordon is so reed thin that an injury hardly seems unlikely. And the way the Dodgers have batted injury all season, it was nearly impossible not to expect the worst.

So however long Gordon is out, it won't seem as dark as it momentarily appeared.

The Dodgers had picked off Kelly Johnson in the third inning and had him in a rundown. Johnson dived back to first and Gordon dived to tag him, catching Johnson for the out but rolling awkwardly on his shoulder.

With Rafael Furcal dealt to St. Louis at the nonwaiver trading deadline, Gordon is scheduled to be the Dodgers' regular shortstop for the final two months of the season.

Jamey Carroll, who frequently filled in for injury-prone Furcal the past two years, took over for Gordon on Saturday.

ALSO:

The rising of Mike MacDougal: Feel free to breathe

Dodgers and Angels launguish in baseball's West Coast hitting doldrums

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dee Gordon. Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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