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Category: Reed Johnson

Dodgers at the deadline: No mega-deal comes forth, but they're left improved [Updated]

Well, that’s over with. Feel better? No? Aren’t ready to order those playoff tickets just yet?

The non-waiver trade deadline ticked off Saturday, leaving the Dodgers with a new starter in their rotation, a new reliever, a new second baseman and extra outfielder -- and the same left-fielder, at least if he ever actually gets healthy. Who knew getting in touch with your female side was so time-consuming these days?

No blockbuster deal suddenly reared its head. No fresh star power, nothing to really get the juices flowing for the Dodgers’ faithful.

So they move on without a Cliff Lee, Dan Haren or Roy Oswalt. Move on without the addition of a serious bat.

Is the result disappointing for a team in the second-biggest market in baseball? Absolutely. Is it surprising? Sorry, silly question.

We’ll leave ruminating over the size of the L.A. market versus the size of the Dodgers payroll for another day -- or several -- and instead focus on the immediate question:

Are the Dodgers a better team today than they were last week?

And -- deep breath here -- the answer is: yes.

Ted Lilly is not the legitimate No.1 starter the rotation craves, but even at 34, he is a positive addition. Granted, his 3-8 record is not impressive, nor was his last little visit to Dodger Stadium.

In his three starts since, however, he has a 1.80 ERA (four earned runs in 20 innings). And his record is somewhat deceptive, given that the Cubs provided him the second-lowest run support (3.77 per nine innings) in the majors, second only to Oswalt's (3.07).

So a rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Vicente Padilla and Lilly is solid, one through five. That’s progress. The Dodgers will go out knowing they should have a chance to win every night.

[UPDATED:] Plus, the addition of the left-handed Lilly will enable to the Dodgers to again make Carlos Monasterios a reliever and unload one of those slugs dragging down the bullpen.

In a true deadline move, the Dodgers acquired reliever Octavio Dotel from the Pirates for James McDonald and minor-leaguer Andrew Lambo. This is another deal that makes it clear the Dodgers are focused on winning this season.

Dotel is 36, but had been closing for the Pirates (21 saves in 26 opportunities) and should be a good addition for this season. Lambo, 22, is an actual prospect and losing him could come back to haunt. But he’s twice been suspended for testing positive for a drug on the banned list. McDonald never delivered on his promise; perhaps he benefits from a fresh start.]

Scott Podsednik is a solid addition to the outfield and a serious step up from Xavier Paul, Garret Anderson, and even Reed Johnson.

Essentially swapping Blake DeWitt for Ryan Theriot straight up is not exactly an exciting upgrade. Many of their numbers are fairly similar, and Theriot is six years older than DeWitt. Still, Theriot (who does have a scary .320 on-base percentage) is arbitration eligible next season, so this could be the Dodgers’ second baseman for a while.

And then there is the deal that wasn’t made, unloading Manny Ramirez to the White Sox. Their offer: We’ll pay $1 million on his remaining contract.

The Dodgers didn’t bite, and for very good reason. Whatever you may think of Ramirez, he is still a productive hitter when healthy. When healthy, alas, being a key phrase here.

If the Dodgers had dumped Ramirez, they would have essentially said they were giving up on the 2010 season. Which would go against every other move they made, and be the kind of move that would never fly in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers are struggling to score and need to add offense, not subtract it. If Ramirez comes back in a week or two, he’s certainly capable of giving the offense a spark.

So, sure, it’s disappointing the Dodgers couldn’t pull the trigger on a significant deal to get the masses all excited. Still, in the short term, the moves Ned Colletti made have left the Dodgers an improved team.

[UPDATED: Said Colletti: "I don’t know if it was a great trade deadline or not. We’ll find out. I know that we set out to add a starter and add a bullpen piece, and see if we can add some more speed and versatility to the lineup, and we did that. How it all turns out, we’ll see."]

And hey, next year Carl Crawford is a free agent …

-- Steve Dilbeck

What could be next now that the Dodgers have added an outfielder and Roy Oswalt has moved on?

Now what, ye lovers of Boys in Blue?

The Dodgers acquired a needed outfielder in Scott Podsednik, and if the masses have done less than cartwheels (more on that later), at this moment he is a useable piece on a team in need of several pieces.

The most needed piece all season has been an ace.

Those, of course, tend to be in short supply. The Big Three approaching Saturday’s non-waiver trading deadline -- Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, and now apparently, Roy Oswalt -- have all moved on.

There is no other known pitching stud now available. Which leaves the Dodgers trying to determine whether they will go for the next tier: Ted Lilly, Paul Maholm, Jake Westbrook.

Any of these would be an upgrade from Carlos Monasterios or John Ely. But how much of an upgrade and at what cost?

General manager Ned Colletti has a limited number of prospects and money to deal with. Lilly has nearly half his $13-million salary still coming this season and Westbrook almost half his $11-million. Both are in the last year of their deals. Maholm is at $5 million this season, with $5.75 million due next season.

Since Colletti said after the Podsednik deal that he was turning his focus to pitching, it’s safe to assume he’s seriously looking at the second tier of available pitchers.

But unless they come unexpectedly cheap -- and apparently the Indians want to be wowed with prospects -- it might be best at this point to look for bullpen help.

In Wednesday’s loss to the Padres, the only reliever who did his job was beleaguered George Sherrill. Otherwise, the Dodgers are carrying a whopping eight relievers and can count on only two of them:   Jonathan Broxton and Hong-Chih Kuo. Kenley Jansen is exciting, but far from proven.

One reliever may be sent down when Podsednik joins the team, returning the Dodgers to a more practical 12 pitchers.

But they are expected to bring Ely up Saturday, and at that point may have a more interesting decision to make. Podsednik is left-handed, as is Garrett Anderson. Xavier Paul could be sent down, but at this point the Dodgers would be better served waiving Anderson, a good guy who’s been bad at the plate. And it is almost August.

Meanwhile, picking up Podsednik has underwhelmed the blogosphere. None seem up in arms, they’re just less than excited.

-- Pauloberjuergue.com fears it was done simply so the Dodgers could claim they did something.

-- Mikesciosciastragicillness.com -- which is also opposed to adding a starting pitcher -- is wavering on the deal, though would like it more if Anderson is released.

-- ESPN/LA.com’s Jon Weisman said "this guy helps your team, but not a ton."

-- Memoriesofkevinmalone.com’s Chad Moriyama calls Podsednik a short-term upgrade, but thinks the Dodgers gave up too much.

-- Then from the other side, KingofKauffman.com’s Michael Engel is giddy with excitement over the deal.

My quick take: Look, it doesn’t figure to be the deal of the postseason, but at least for this year Podsednik figures to be very helpful. Particularly with the uncertainty surrounding the return of Manny Ramirez and Reed Johnson.

And don’t forget, Manny is gone after this season, so it’s not impossible that the Dodgers will even keep Podsednik around for the final year of his contract.

It’s not like Lucas May, 25, and Elisaul Pimentel, lower Class A, were real prospects.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti all outward patience as trading deadline approaches

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

Dodgers put Manny Ramirez on the disabled list for the third time this season; out three weeks [Updated]

Mannyramirez_586

It’s not easy getting old, or at least being a 38-year-old Manny Ramirez.

For the third time this season, the Dodgers have placed Ramirez on the disabled list with a bad right leg.

Ramirez was put on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 17 before Tuesday’s game with a strained right calf, though the Dodgers said he’s expected to be out three weeks.

That would leave Ramirez unable to play until Aug. 9, at which time he would likely need a rehabilitation assignment.

Manager Joe Torre said he was certain Ramirez would be back at some point this season. Ramirez had just been activated from the DL with a sore right hamstring on July 15.

The next day he left the game in the first inning with what was described as right calf tightness after simply running to second on a pop up. An MRI Tuesday revealed the strain.

"That’s why it wouldn’t go away, it was something more than just mild, I guess," Torre said.

The Dodgers activated Brad Ausmus to take his place on the roster, temporarily giving them three catchers. At least for Tuesday, it gives then a much-needed right-handed bat off the bench.

Ausmus has been out all but four games after undergoing back surgery in April. Catcher A.J. Ellis could be sent down Wednesday if another outfielder is called up.

The Dodgers already have outfielder Reed Johnson on the disabled list with lower back strain. He’s not eligible to come off the DL until Friday.

"The player we bring up is probably going to be here until Reed comes back," Torre said.

The Dodgers have only one other outfielder on their 40-man roster, Trayvon Robinson who’s at double-A Chattanooga. The Dodgers, however, have room to add someone to their 40-man roster if they elected to call up an outfielder from triple-A Albuquerque.

Most troubling for the Dodgers has to be their inability to count on Ramirez. This is the third time his right leg has sent him to the disabled list. He went on April 23 with a right calf strain (though a different calf muscle). It is the second time this month he’s gone on the DL, having previously been disabled July 3 with a sore right hamstring.

"You never want to get used to it, you always expect him to come back,’" Torre said. "That’s the issue, you’re still anticipating him coming back. I know this was a big disappointment just by the virtue we just got him back off the list. And nothing really happened, but it was worse than we first thought."

Ramirez was also dogged by leg injuries in his final days with Boston in 2008, the seriousness of which was at contention with the Red Sox and one of the factors that led to his trade to the Dodgers.

If the Dodgers were considering trading Ramirez for a starting pitcher, Tuesday’s third move to the DL can’t help his value. Plus, Ramirez has the rest of his prorated $20 million for this season coming.

Though Ramirez hasn’t displayed the electric power he demonstrated when he first came to the Dodgers, he has still been highly productive -- .317, eight home runs, 39 RBIs in 186 at-bats -- when actually healthy.

Torre said the Dodgers would continue to start rookie Xavier Paul in left field in place of Ramirez, except against some left-handed pitchers.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez looks on from the dugout against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on July 18. Credit: Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images

Dodgers have a loss to forget, falling 8-4 to Cards and losing Manny Ramirez to leg injury

Cardinals_600

There is the heartbreaking loss, the ugly loss, the laughable loss, and then there is what-the-heck-was-that loss.

A loss like the Dodgers’ fiasco Friday in St. Louis.

It was a tad otherworldly -- Dodgers on bases all over the place but runs somehow still hard to come by, their starting pitcher suffering a blowup for the second consecutive night, and their highest-paid player again limping off into the unknown.

This is no way to start the second half. But it is how the Dodgers have gotten underway.

A warm night in St. Louis got off to the wrong kind of start when Manny Ramirez re-injured his right leg in the top of the first inning. He never did take the field, and his departure was bookended by the wrong kind of final score, an 8-4 Cardinals victory.

Manny was playing only his second game since coming off the disabled list, where a sore right hamstring had landed him. He also spent an earlier stint on the DL because of a strained right calf.

The Dodgers have initially called his latest leg problem right calf tightness, and for now are listing him day-to-day. Reed Johnson is on the DL because of a sore back, so if Ramirez has to return to the disabled list the Dodgers are in trouble. The only potential replacement outfielder on their 40-man roster is Trayvon Johnson, who is hitting well (.296, eight home runs, 37 RBIs) -- at double-A Chattanooga.

Injuries can’t explain the horrendous start to the second half by the Dodgers’ starting pitchers.

One night after Clayton Kershaw gave up four runs and eight hits in only 4 1/3 innings, Chad Billingsley one-upped him  in the ugliness department -- seven runs and 10 hits in four innings.

In the Dodgers’ first two games of the second half, Kershaw and Billingsley -- their two young, budding pitching stars -- have a combined 11.88 ERA, with 18 hits in 8 1/3 innings.

St. Louis rookie Jaime Garcia  wasn’t a whole lot better (two runs, eight hits in 3 1/3 innings), but with the Dodgers leaving 12 men on base and the Cards using Billingsley for batting practice, it made for an easy enough victory for the home team.

Five Cardinals relievers held L.A. in check and the Dodgers fell to 4-19 in St. Louis since 2004.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols congratulates catcher Yadier Molina after he hit a two-run home run against the Dodgers on Friday night. Credit: Jeff Roberson / Associated Press

Dodgers' Manny Ramirez: What to do while he's out, what to do when he returns

Life Without Manny, the story continues …

Our favorite dreadlocked, not-talking, singles-hitting, Silly String-loving, gimpy outfielder, Manny Ramirez, is already more than halfway through his latest stint on the disabled list.

With the coming All-Star break, the Dodgers will have to play only six more games before Manny and his sore hammy can come off the DL.

Which raises two questions: What to do in the short term and want to do when he returns?

Manager Joe Torre’s short-term answer is apparently to play rookie Xavier Paul, called up from triple-A Albuquerque when Manny went on the disabled list, against right-handers and Reed Johnson against left-handers.

Paul started his first two games after being called up, but gave way to Johnson on Monday against left-hander Nate Robertson.

Torre, however, contends he has no set rotation.

"I really don’t," he said. "Johnson is playing [Monday] because of the left-hander and the fact you want to get him some action.

"Otherwise, it’s going to be X Paul. That will pretty much be the rest of the rotation this first half."


And then, of course, what to do when Manny returns.

The simple answer is send Paul back down. That doesn’t make it the right answer, just the simple one.

Sadly, the better answer is to release Garret Anderson.

Sad because he is such a good clubhouse presence, seems more at peace than at any time in his career, and you know has a terrific history that demands patience.

But how much patience? As I wrote June 6, Anderson was a great idea but it simply hasn’t worked.

Anderson was batting .149 on June 6 and has raised his average to .188. That’s some tough duty.

It isn’t as if Paul is tearing it up, but he’s batting a respectable .273 and offers a more versatile game. He’s 25; just how much more is he really going to benefit from going back to Albuquerque and playing every day?

Torre loves veterans, particularly when it’s playoff time. Getting to the playoffs, however, is no guarantee with this team.

Torre seems to particularly love Anderson, which is understandable. But he has to give in to his realist side at some point, and by playing Paul over Anderson now, he could be tipping his hand.

As ESPN.com’s Jon Weisman wrote when he was called up, this time Paul needs to stay. Torre needs to put his best team on the field every night.

And right now, sadly, that’s a team without Anderson.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers return to National League West, drop Giants, 4-2, on Casey Blake two-run homer

Dodgers_600

Meanwhile, back in the National League West, all was just rosy.The crushing loss to the Yankees the night before just so much yesterday’s news, the Dodgers returned to their own league Monday, and better yet, their own division.

They beat the San Francisco Giants, 4-2, when Casey Blake hit a two-run, eighth-inning home run off reliever Santiago Casilla.

The Dodgers limped into the Bay Area having lost eight of their last 10. With their loss to the Yankees on Sunday, they had dropped 11 of their last 13 interleague games.

Ah, but in the NL West, bullets bounce off their chests, roses are thrown at their feet.

Monday’s victory leaves the Dodgers 19-5 in their own division. Against everyone else, they’re 21-30.

It didn’t hurt the Dodgers' cause that the Giants are a struggling team right now. They’ve lost five of their last six. And then Monday hit into five double plays. The five double plays tied a Dodger record.

Chad Billingsley got the Dodgers going. Billingsley, making his first start since June 11 after going on the disabled list with a sore groin, pitched about as well as the Dodgers could have hoped.

He held the Giants to two runs on five hits in six innings. He walked two and struck out three, throwing 98 pitches.

The Giants opened the scoring with one run in the first. Andres Torres walked, stole second and scored on an Aubrey Huff single.

The Dodgers took the lead with a pair of runs off Barry Zito in the third.

Rafael Furcal doubled and was singled to third by Reed Johnson. Andre Ethier’s fly to left was deep enough to sacrifice Furcal home. Manny Ramirez then lined a hit to center that Torres dived awkwardly for and missed, the drive going for a run-scoring double.

Billingsley carried the 2-1 lead into the sixth before pinch-hitter Travis Ishikawa doubled down the left-field line and scored on Freddy Sanchez's single.

With Jonathan Broxton unavailable after his 48-pitch outing Sunday, Torre got a scoreless inning each from Jeff Weaver and Ronald Belisario, before Hong-Chin Kuo pitched the ninth to earn his second save of the season.

For Blake, it was his eighth home run of the season.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake is congratulated by teammate A.J. Ellis after hitting a two-run home run in the eighth inning of the Dodgers' 4-2 victory over the Giants on Monday. Credit: Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images

Can Matt Kemp get the message? Joe Torre keeps him on bench in Dodgers opener against Giants

The lineup for the Dodgers’ showdown with the Giants was posted Monday, once again lacking the name Matt Kemp.

One day after sitting against the Yankees in the finale of that high-profile series, Kemp was back on the bench against Barry Zito in what is actually a more significant series. Division games count like two games.

And still no Kemp -- and Manager Joe Torre isn't promising he’ll be in the lineup Tuesday either.

It’s not just that Kemp is struggling at the plate (.196 in June), but on the field and on the bases.

Reed Johnson started in his place Sunday and had a pair of doubles, making it easier for Torre to justify sitting Kemp again Monday.

"Kemp has good numbers against Zito, but Reed had a good game [Sunday] night so I just decided to go with the same lineup that scored some runs,’’ Torre said.

Kemp has such a seemingly casual attitude, he can be hard to read. Or if you try, it can be an unflattering read.

He doesn’t exactly emanate competitive fire. His energy seems focused on being cool, both in the clubhouse and too often on the field. He comes off so relaxed, his focus and intensity come into question.

And his manager is the laid-back Torre. Still, Torre clearly was irate when Kemp was picked off second base in the ninth inning Wednesday against the Angels. Though not nearly as irate as if, say,  Tommy Lasorda were his manager.

It would have been interesting to see how the fiery Lasorda handled the immensely talented Kemp. Maybe he gets the most out of him; maybe he crushes him.

Torre has been patient to the extreme, but benching him two consecutive days is his subtle signal of unhappiness. As is his not promising Kemp will be back in the lineup Tuesday.

"We'll see," Torre said. "I'm going to take it a day at a time. Reed has given us a little energy and  we need that energy today."

They need that energy every day. They would prefer to get it from Kemp.

Certainly, he will be back in the lineup soon. There’s just no guarantee he’ll have received the message.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Start spreading the news: Dodgers ready for Yankees by finally winning interleague game, 10-6 over Angels

Haeger_300 Not two more base running blunders at second base, not a bank of lights going out in the seventh inning causing an 18-minute game delay, not starting pitcher Charlie Haeger could stop the Dodgers from finally winning a game Thursday night.

Not just a game, but an interleague game. Not just an interleague game, but a game against the Angels.

The Dodgers had lost nine consecutive interleague games, five in a row against the Angels.

But after receiving nearly five serviceable innings from Haeger and chasing Angels starter Scott Kazmir with a five-run fourth inning, the Dodgers salvaged their final meeting against the Angels with a 10-6 victory.

The Angels jumped on Haeger for a quick run in the first, and for a moment it looked like it would be the same Haeger who carried an 0-4 record and 8.53 earned-run average into Thursday’s game.

But Haeger -- something of an emergency starter with Chad Billingsley and Carlos Monasterios on the disabled list -- was able to keep the Angels at bay the next two innings as the Dodgers went to work on Kazmir (6-6).

Reed Johnson’s dribbler to third with the bases loaded went for an infield hit to score one, before Rafael Furcal doubled in two more. Two more scored on a Jamey Carroll single and fielder’s choice from Andre Ethier.

A Mike Napoli solo home run got one back for the Angels in the bottom of the fourth, and after the Dodgers scored one in the fifth, the Angels chased Haeger with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth to cut their deficit to 6-4.

But just when it looked like the Dodgers might invent yet another way to lose, they scored two more in the seventh.

Continue reading »

The day after: Joe Torre talks to players following Wednesday meltdown, but no one is benched

The lineup was posted later than normally Thursday, and there were changes, just not the dramatic kind that might have been suspected after Wednesday’s incredible ninth-inning meltdown.

The day after, nobody was benched. There were no fresh incriminations, no new signs of frustration.

Matt Kemp and Russell Martin were both inexcusably picked off second base Wednesday, lapses that had the normally mild-mannered Joe Torre fuming after the game. He held a brief postgame clubhouse meeting, and several witnesses described him as uncharacteristically angry.

"He was mad," said one. "And he doesn’t get mad very often."

When the lineup was finally posted Thursday, Kemp and Martin were both in it, as was Reed Johnson, the runner who had let up enough as he approached home that he couldn’t touch the plate with the tying run before Martin was called out.

Still, there were subtle changes.

Jamey Carroll started at second base against Angels left-hander Scott Kazmir and was in the No.2 spot in the lineup for only the second time this season.

Andre Ethier, who hit second Wednesday with the return of Rafael Furcal in the leadoff spot, was back in the three spot, followed by the usual suspects. Johnson hit ninth.

"Carroll’s had some success off Kazmir," Torre said. "It’s just trying to fiddle with it, is all it is.

"If I give you a good reason why I’m doing this today, then why the hell didn’t I do it yesterday? We’re just trying to fiddle with it. It’s our last day of DH, so we’re going to try and make it as long and profitable as we can. Hopefully it works."

Carroll entered the game 4-for-7 lifetime against Kazmir.

Torre was calm Thursday, trying to put Wednesday’s debacle behind him and his team.

"We have to move forward," he said. "You have to be able to deal with stuff you can’t change. It was one we let get away, but you turn the page. We have work to do today."

Martin had a long private conversation with third-base coach Larry Bowa in the dugout prior to Thursday’s game.

--Steve Dilbeck
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