RAMON TRANCOSO, 27, relief pitcher
Final 2010 stats: 2-3, 4.33 ERA, no saves, 34 strikeouts, 18 walks and a 1.32 WHIP in 54 innings
Contract status: Under club control
The good: Well, he started well. And he finished pretty well, at least compared with that stuff in between. He began the season looking a lot like the right-hander who had sported a 2.72 ERA and saved six games. Maybe even better. In his first six appearances, he had a 1.59 ERA. In his last eight games, he had a 1.93 ERA.
The bad: Alas, in between that start and finish, he owned a 5.31 ERA. He barely looked familiar. By July 3, the Dodgers had seen enough and sent him back to triple A. He was recalled a month later, made two appearances and was sent down again. He finally returned for good on Aug. 30, not that he seemed to have turned anything around at Albuquerque (0-2, 5.73 ERA). For most of the season, he was completely unreliable.
What’s next: He’s going to have to prove himself again. The Dodgers can’t just cross their fingers on him and Ronald Belisario. General Manager Ned Colletti has already said he’s looking for relief help this winter.
Troncoso turns 28 on Feb. 18, so it’s not like there’s all this time on his side. At this point, having a new manager can’t hurt his cause. The Dodgers need the Troncoso of 2009.
The take: What happened to this guy? A favorite refrain is Joe Torre used him too much early in the season (15 appearances in a 21-game stretch). Maybe, but he only pitched 13 innings in those 15 games. He probably could have used a few more days off in there, but it’s not like he was racking up the innings.
Still, he was never the same the rest of the season, or at least not until the final month. His fairly strong finish provides reasons to hope he’s figured out any mechanical troubles and can build on that going into spring. If he doesn’t, nothing is guaranteed for Troncoso.
-- Steve Dilbeck
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RAMON TRANCOSO, 27, relief pitcher
Jonathan Broxton’s second-half meltdown has been so staggering, it’s managed to overshadow an equally puzzling decline.
What in the name of Joe Charboneau happened to Ronald Belisario this season?
So completely nasty last season, so cover-the-eyes unpredictable this year.
Last season he was a bullpen godsend, a career minor leaguer who showed up late to camp and at age 26 made the club. And then became a dominant set-up man, posting a 2.04 ERA in 69 appearances.
This year he owns a 5.06 ERA. And that’s actually down from his 5.64 ERA on Sept. 1.
He joins Ramon Troncoso, George Sherrill, Jeff Weaver and Broxton in forming a bullpen reversal that killed the Dodgers all season.
Belisario has gone from rookie sensation to sophomore letdown. And seemingly he is the cause of his own undoing.
His season began poorly when he missed training camp because he had trouble obtaining a visa over a DUI arrest last summer. He missed the first two weeks of the season and then struggled. He had a 7.20 ERA in his first 16 appearances.
But then seemingly in shape, he seemed to turn it around. Over his next 19 appearances, he had a 1.31 ERA. Belisario appeared back.
Until he vanished in the night.
Without explanation from either him or the club. His agent said it was for personal reasons, and that was all that was ever offered. The Times, however, reported he left the team to receive treatment in a substance abuse program.
He returned on Aug. 10 after being gone for over a month. In his next 13 appearances, he had a 13.00 ERA.
Belisario seemed back on track in September, but Tuesday he relieved Hiroki Kuroda and gave up a wild pitch and a two-run homer to Dexter Fowler that tied the game. When the Dodgers rallied the next inning, he was actually credited with an unsightly victory.
In a year of frustrating performances, it can be easy to overlook Belisario’s up-and-down season. Yet it remains highly disappointing and has left the Dodgers unable to count on him next season. They can hope he returns to form, but they can’t count on it.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Dodgers make it official: They are eliminated from postseason on night they're shut out for the 17th time
They were so full of hope, and had reason to be.
The Dodgers were coming off consecutive trips to the National League Championship Series. The team's young core was coming into its own. They seemed to have an ideal blend of youth and experience.
Only it never really happened for the Dodgers in 2010. They started slowly, hinted at a rebound and then succumbed to a miserable second half.
Their season came to its inevitable conclusion on a cool Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium, when the Dodgers were officially eliminated from the postseason.
The Dodgers fell, 6-0, to the Padres, almost fittingly shut out for a baseball-high 17th time this season.
With the Giants winning earlier in the evening, the Dodgers were actually eliminated before the final out was recorded at Chavez Ravine.
One-hundred and seven days and 151 games from when the season began so full of promise in Pittsburgh, it ended Tuesday with barely a whimper.
Chad Billingsley was hardly at his best, but for his third consecutive start the Dodgers offense was a no-show. In his last three starts, the Dodgers have scored a total of one run.
The Padres got to Billingsley (11-11) with two runs in the third and three more in the fifth.
In the third inning, a walk and Adrian Gonzalez double proceeded a two-run single by Ryan Ludwick.
A bout of wildness by Billingsley was his undoing in the fifth. He gave up a single to Wil Venable and hit little David Eckstein with a pitch. When both runners advanced on a groundout, Gonzalez was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Billingsley hit Ludwick with a pitch to score one run, gave up a sacrifice fly to Yorvit Torrealba for the second and a single to Chase Headley for the third.
The Padres scored a final run in the ninth off Ramon Troncoso.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, could do nothing with Padres starter Clayton Richard.
Richard (13-8) threw the first shutout of his three-year career, holding the Dodgers to eight hits. He struck out six and walked two.
-- Steve Dilbeck
So Joe Torre fell on his sword. That’s what good soldiers do, of course, and Torre is nothing if not the good soldier.
Torre took responsibility for the Dodgers’ disappointing season prior to Wednesday’s game in San Diego, lamenting his inability to make a difference, to raise the team and individual level of play.
Now there is plenty of blame to go around, and certainly Torre will get his share. When a team goes south, that’s the typical fallout.
Yet however he is criticized for the use of his bullpen or early insistence on Charlie Haeger as a fifth starter or his reluctance to admit that Jonathan Broxton had lost his way, or his prolonged loyalty to Garret Anderson or the failure to nurture development from his young core of hitters, mostly he played the hand he was dealt.
Blame will have a universal feel when this team’s final obit is written, starting with ownership, filtering through management and down to the players themselves. Such as they were.
Torre has to take only his own bullets. He showed yet again during the fiasco that was Manny Ramirez in his final days, that he will promote the company line and protect players and management if necessary, regardless of how it makes him look.
His lineups often speak for themselves, frequently littered with role players and other teams’ rejects.
Is he actually supposed to win a pennant with a lineup of Scott Podsednik, Rod Barajas, Ryan Theriot and Jamey Carroll? Really? With Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp off in some hazy second-half funk? Rafael Furcal unable to stay healthy? Corner hitters James Loney and Casey Blake fading?
And a bullpen that was a team strength last season getting the wrong kind of turnaround performance from Ronald Belisario, Ramon Troncoso, George Sherrill and Broxton?
It’s not like Torre is some victim here. And as he well knows, a manager ultimately will always be held accountable for his team’s performance, good or bad.
But to take full responsibility for the failure of so many is wrong and unnecessary. When it comes to accepting liability for their 2010 season, the Dodgers will need to pass around a lot of mirrors.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Well, that’s life. Anyway, that’s what all the baseball people say. The Dodgers can be riding high one night, shot down the next.
Win one, lose one. Win one, lose two. It’s a formula for fourth place.
The Dodgers have been searching for that elusive winning streak to propel them back into the playoff hunt for months. They’ve had one winning streak of more than four games the entire season. In the past six weeks alone, they’ve had two six-game losing streaks.
So one night after Hiroki Kuroda lifted their spirits by taking a no-hitter into the eighth, they came back Tuesday and gave up a couple of early three-run bombs on the way to an 8-4 loss to the Phillies.
These would be the Phillies they are chasing for the National League wild-card berth. The loss dropped the Dodgers 6½ games back of the Phillies. They have 29 games to play.
Naturally, a three-game series at home against the Phillies would make this an excellent time to finally start putting together that winning streak.
A hard thing to do when your fill-in fifth starter, Carlos Monasterios, is giving up line drives all over the field and then a three-run homer to light-hitting Brian Schneider. He came into the night batting .206 with 10 RBIs.
The Dodgers picked up Monasterios, of course, is an off-season Rule 5 draft off the Phillies, via the Mets. On this night, the Phillies had to be thinking they hadn’t missed out on much.
Monasterios (3-5) lasted only two-plus innings, surrendering five runs on five hits.
He wasn’t helped out much when Ramon Troncoso continued his lost season, relieving Monasterios with two on in the third and promptly giving up a three-run homer to Ryan Howard.
That made it a 6-1 Philadelphia lead. Even when the Dodgers mounted something of a rally against Philly starter Kyle Kendrick (9-7) by scoring one in the fifth with a pair of singles and a groundout, and then two more in the sixth on a James Loney homer, they could not maintain the momentum.
The Phillies came back in the seventh when George Sherrill walked the bases loaded. Ex-closer Jonathan Broxton came on and immediately gave up a two-run single to pinch-hitter Carlos Ruiz.
The early exit by Monasterios puts the Dodgers in a tough situation for Wednesday’s noon game. The Dodgers went through five relievers Tuesday --six if you count Kenley Jansen’s successful pinch-hit single in the fifth. Starter Clayton Kershaw best be ready to pitch deep into the game.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Dodgers catcher Rod Barajas talks to starting pitcher Carlos Monasterios on Tuesday night. Credit: Kirby Lee / US Presswire
Still, the way the Dodgers handled the final days of Manny Ramirez has left me uneasy, unsettled more than it should.
Sometimes you hear the truth, sometimes the pieces of it that can be told, sometimes simply the fabrications.
Now I’m not saying the Dodgers flat out lied about Manny.
Well, except that part from Ned Colletti about how he wouldn’t trade off a key player while still feeling the team was alive for a playoff spot. Like he said Monday, what was he supposed to say while having potential trade talks about acquiring minor leaguers?
And maybe Joe Torre saying Monday that waiving Manny to the White Sox wasn’t a straight-out salary dump. When they got absolutely nothing in return.
"It opened up a roster spot," Torre said.
Right, to activate a pitcher (Ramon Troncoso). On Sept. 1, Torre can call up all the pitchers he wants.
Then there was Torre insisting that he had not started Manny the last four days because he couldn’t physically play every day … and then because he liked the energy Scott Podsednik brought to the lineup … and then because dreadlocks are so passe.
Talking in circles is not fabricating. It’s talking in circles.
"[Manny’s] choice was to play every day," Torre said. "And he wasn’t going to do that here, playing the outfield every day.
"Physically he couldn’t do it."
Clearly, Manny had continuing issues with his right leg. But how could Torre possibly know how much Manny could play if he chose not to play him?
"That is a good question," Torre said. "I chose to do the other thing by playing Podsednik and working to manufacture runs instead of putting Manny in left field and having him not be the defensive player Podsednik is."
Of course, when Manny returned from the disabled list Aug. 21 and didn’t get a single hit but the Dodgers won 8-5, Torre raved about the impact he had on the rest of the lineup and how he would play him as much as he could.
Which is a long way from sitting him four consecutive games.
"I didn’t play him the day game after a night game," Torre said. "I didn’t play him against [Ubaldo] Jimenez, that’s two games. I chose not to play him after winning four in a row because I just liked the way the club was playing with the speed guys, Podsednik, at the top of the lineup. And then yesterday, he didn’t play either.
"To answer your question, I changed my mind."
A manager’s prerogative.
Though, Manny did play the first two games of that four-game winning streak. And did want to continue playing. He was so miffed at not playing and being told he was now curiously going to be a part-time player, he apparently opted out of Sunday’s start.
Now we’ll never know if Manny could have played six games a week in the outfield. Never know if he could have regained a semblance of his old form in a late contract push.
Because Torre thinks the Dodgers are a better team with Podsednik in the lineup than Manny? Really? The Dodgers were 31-21 with Manny in the lineup and 36-43 without him.
Manny was waived Wednesday and claimed on Friday by the White Sox. He last started a game Wednesday.
The suspicion remains that the Dodgers didn’t want to start him and risk injury, blowing the waiver. And the saving of $3.8 million.
Unless, of course, you truthfully believe Podsednik brings all that energy and gives the Dodgers a better chance to win.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Manny Ramirez has officially become a member of the Chicago White Sox, to whom he was assigned on a straight waiver claim on Monday.
Ramirez is on his way to join the White Sox in Cleveland, but isn’t expected to be there in time to play on Monday night, according to a baseball source. He is expected to be in the White Sox lineup on Tuesday.
The White Sox didn’t send any players to the Dodgers, but are taking on the $3.8 million that Ramirez is due to earn over the remainder of the season.
To replace Ramirez, the Dodgers recalled reliever Ramon Troncoso from triple-A Albuquerque.
-- Dylan Hernandez
For the Dodgers, the bad news just keeps coming: Rafael Furcal injures back, Manny Ramirez return pushed back, Jeff Weaver to DL
The pregame news was all bad for the Dodgers on Tuesday, and that was besides the six-game losing streak.
-- Manny Ramirez, rehabbing his latest leg injury in Phoenix, suffered what Manager Joe Torre described as a setback. The Dodgers hoped he could start a minor league rehab assignment this week, but now he has been pushed back again.
-- Seems there is an explanation for the decline of right-handed reliever Jeff Weaver after all, the Dodgers putting him on the disabled list with right knee tendinitis and calling Ramon Troncoso back up.
-- Of most concern, shortstop Rafael Furcal, possibly their most valuable player this season, was held out of the lineup because of a strained lower back. Furcal, who had lower-back surgery in 2008, was scheduled to have an MRI exam.
At a time when the Dodgers need to add a bat in Ramirez, his return has been pushed further back, and then they lost another in Furcal. And the Furcal news had to send a shiver through the organization.
Torre said Furcal felt something on a hard throw to first base Monday night in the fifth inning on a Yorvit Torrealba infield hit.
Furcal sat out 125 games in 2008 after injuring his lower back May 12. He battled back to join the Dodgers in the postseason.
"Hopefully, it just happened and he felt it on that play," Torre said. "Hopefully, it indicates something that’s not related. But we won’t know that until we get the MRI back."
Torre had expected Ramirez to join the team Tuesday, and then decide on where to begin a rehab assignment. But he said team trainer Stan Conte went to Phoenix on Tuesday to check on Ramirez's progress and came back reporting Ramirez was still a week off before playing in any rehab games.
"It’s frustrating," Torre said. "It’s disappointing because you want his bat in the lineup."
Ramirez, 38, is hitting .317 with eight home runs and 39 runs batted in, but has played in only 61 games. It’s his third time this season on the disabled list because of a right leg injury.
Weaver was 3-0 with a 1.13 earned-run average in June. He has a 9.22 ERA since. He finally confessed to the knee tendinitis after giving up five runs in two innings Monday.
"You don’t know what he deals with on a regular basis, but he’s probably pitched effectively with it too," Torre said. "But I think over time, it eventually gets to you."
Troncoso was 1-2 with a 5.15 ERA with the Dodgers before being sent to triple-A Albuquerque. It isn’t like he turned it around at Albuquerque, where he was 0-2 with a 6.91 ERA in 10 games.
"OK, inconsistent," Torre said. "We’ll see. Maybe back here he can find that thing he had earlier this year and last year."
-- Steve Dilbeck
Need it be said, two innings does not make a career. Two tiny innings. A minor blip during a major league career.
OK, that said, go ahead and get excited.
Dream the dream, because two games into his career with the Dodgers, Kenley Jansen has opened eyes.
Two innings and he has generated excitement on a team badly in need of some. Twenty-nine pitches into his career, and a ravaged bullpen has new life.
Slightly less than a year ago, Jansen was a strong-armed catcher who couldn’t hit his weight. So he was asked to switch to pitcher. He made his professional debut as a reliever July 29. He threw a whole 11-2/3 innings last season.
And Saturday he made his major league debut with a perfect inning. And Sunday he did the same to earn a save.
"That felt awesome, amazing," Jansen said. "Just having fun out there. It’s just like a dream come true."
In a bullpen minus a struggling Ramon Troncoso (at triple-A Albuquerque) and Ronald Belisario (reportedly in a substance-abuse program), and with a struggling George Sherrill, Jansen’s unexpected rise has energized the Dodgers.
"He’s a bit of fresh air for us," said third baseman Casey Blake. "Without Belisario we’ve been ailing down there a little bit. Guys have been worked pretty hard. It’s nice to see him come in and pitch so well. A couple of tough situations for a young guy, especially [Sunday] in a one-run game and he was nails."
In two perfect innings, the hard-throwing Jansen has four strikeouts. He simply overmatched the New York Mets on Saturday and Sunday. Calm as a morning breeze.
"There’s a calmness and confidence about this youngster, and very respectful of the game," Manager Joe Torre said. "Hopefully, that’ the right read I have on him."
The 6-foot-5, 257-pound Jansen is from Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles. He speaks English, Spanish, Dutch, French and Papiamento, the official language of Curacao.
He is not your average 22-year-old. Anyway, that’s what the Dodgers hope.
He is, after all, still learning to pitch. Clearly, though, he’s making remarkable progress. Already he shows signs of being more than just a thrower.
"He’s in the 93-94 range and he gets two strikes, and all of a sudden it pops up a little bit," pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. "He’s got a little something extra. It’s not like he’s just rearing back and throwing as hard as he can every time. He’s under control."
His world could burst in his next appearance. Right now, though, he’s electric and dreaming the dream.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Kenley Jansen pitches for the Dodgers on Sunday. Credit: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images
The days tick past, the pressure builds, and Ned Colletti shrugs. He’s leaning against a wall outside the Dodgers clubhouse. He looks up at a group of reporters, hands in pockets, cell phone chiming in his pocket, reposed as can be.
"You have to exercise patience," Colletti said.
The Dodgers are a team in need, in a competitive division where the addition of a key player or two before the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline could make all the difference.
The Dodgers could use a starting pitcher, either at the front or back of the rotation. They could use a middle reliever. And with Manny Ramirez becoming more difficult to count upon, they could use an outfielder.
The assumption is that Colletti is hamstrung by the McCourts’ divorce, that a major move that would require taking on a lot of additional salary is beyond his grasp.
"That depends on what a lot is," he said. "If it makes sense as a baseball deal, we’ll do it. Am I going to take on exorbitant salary and give up a fist full of prospects -- I wouldn’t do that on any circumstances."
His main focus had been acquiring a reliable starting pitcher; the team lacks an ace and a fifth starter.
But with George Sherrill unable to return to form, Ramon Troncoso struggling and back in the minors, and Ronald Belisario on the restricted list and reportedly in a substance abuse program, a steady middle reliever is also a need.
Colletti said Friday that he did not know when Belisario would return, or even whether he would be back this season at all.
"I don’t know," he said. "I don’t know have the answer and I’m not telling you, I just don’t have it."
The Dodgers’ bullpen is so unsettled that Friday they called up right-hander Kenley Jansen, who has been pitching for less than a year. Jensen was a catching prospect converted to pitcher last summer.
And then there is the outfield, where utility infielder Jamey Carroll has been starting this week in left, what with Manny on the disabled list for the third time this season. With Reed Johnson also on the disabled list, suddenly another outfielder is of interest.
"A little bit, but not to the extent of pitching," he said. "The outfield has become a little more of a concern than in the past, not just because of Manny but also because Reed Johnson."
Last year, Colletti brought in Sherrill at the trading deadline, and later Vicente Padilla. The year before, it was Manny and Casey Blake. He has a history.
But this season, the pitching needs are clear in the rotation and bullpen.
"Wherever a potential deal will take us," he said. "If it was one or both, you do it. If it’s only one, we’re not going to pass it up because it can’t fill the other one."
Colletti has a reputation for not always returning other teams’ phone calls, though he joked Friday that it was completely opposite this year.
"I don’t owe anybody a call," he said. "Everybody owes me a call. And that’s a good thing."
-- Steve Dilbeck