Dodgers Now

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Category: Rod Barajas

Daily Dodger in review: Juan Rivera earns return engagement

Dodgers' Juan Rivera earns a return engagement.

JUAN RIVERA
, 33, outfielder/infielder

Final 2011 stats: .258, 11 homers, 74 RBI, .319 on-base and .382 slugging percentages in 466 at-bats (combined Dodgers/Blue Jays).

Contract status: Signed this month for next season at $4.5 million.

The good: Picked off the scrapheap when designated for assignment by the Blue Jays at the All-Star break, Rivera was a pleasant surprise, particularly early. Of course, he was being compared with the right-handed bat he replaced in left field, Marcus Thames.

What Rivera did best was drive in runs. He had 46 RBI for the Dodgers (sadly just one behind Rod Barajas for fourth on the club) in just 219 at-bats and hit .344 with runners in scoring position. He was given much credit for giving Matt Kemp protection in the batting order and helping to ignite the team’s improved second-half offense.

Played left, right and first base.

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Exclusive: Dodgers are about to lose Jamey Carroll

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The Dodgers are on the precipice of losing their favorite little super utility player, Jamey Carroll, the Los Angeles Times has learned.

Carroll is close to signing a multiyear deal with another team, sources said Friday. They didn't say which team.

Carroll, who will be 38 in February, is coming off a two-year, $3.85-million contract with the Dodgers. Due to team injuries, he played more like a starter, batting .290 in 803 at-bats during his two seasons with the Dodgers.

Now Carroll reportedly wants a starting position, and despite his success in Los Angeles and an opening at second base, the Dodgers are apparently not looking at Carroll as a regular.

The Colorado Rockies, one of the veteran’s previous teams, were reportedly interested in signing Carroll but were thought to be balking at an asking price that approached the two-year, $8-million deal signed by light-hitting infielder Omar Infante with the Marlins. The Braves have also shown interest in Carroll.

The Dodgers don’t have an obvious in-house candidate to start at second base. They could re-sign free agent Aaron Miles, another utility player last season. Otherwise they're looking at bringing in a free agent. Justin Sellers is a candidate for a utility role.

On Thursday the Dodgers lost catcher Rod Barajas to Pittsburgh.

— Dylan Hernandez, reporting from State College, Pa., with Steve Dilbeck

RELATED:

Catcher Rod Barajas takes his talents to Pittsburgh

Juan Rivera could earn $9 million in two years with Dodgers

Peter O'Malley returns, will oversee former Dodgertown complex

Photo: Jamey Carroll. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times.

Rod Barajas takes his talents to Pittsburgh

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As shock waves go, this won’t quite rate up there with Frank McCourt really does agree to sell, but nonetheless there will be those surprised by the news that catcher Rod Barajas is moving on.

Barajas, a Southern California native who wanted to remain with the Dodgers, signed a one-year deal with Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday. He signed for a reported $4 million, with the club holding a $3.5 million option for 2013.

That’s some serious cash for a 36-year-old catcher with a career .238 batting average, but that tells you plenty about the state of catching these days.

Most were stunned when the Dodgers rushed to sign him for $3.25 million last off-season after they were unable to come to terms with Russell Martin.

However streaky, Barajas gave them what they asked for: a veteran behind the plate who could add some occasional pop (16 home runs, second on the team).

Sans Barajas, however, the Dodgers are left without a veteran catcher. The only two catchers currently on their roster are A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz.

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Dodgers have most free agents, four days of exclusivity to re-sign

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The clock is now ticking on the exclusive window for teams to re-sign their free agents.

The Dodgers, with 10 free agents -– the most in baseball, have until 9 p.m. Wednesday before the players are free to also negotiate with other teams.

The four-day exclusive period for a team to re-sign its free agents began Saturday night.

Of the Dodgers’ 10 free agents, only one –- catcher Rod Barajas -– is thought to project as a Type B free agent, which could provide a team a supplemental draft pick if the Dodgers offer arbitration.

Of course, what the Dodgers can do financially is the great unknown. The team remains tied up in bankruptcy court. The team and Major League Baseball are reportedly working on a settlement. Their trial is currently scheduled to start Nov. 29.

Barajas, 36, earned $3.25 million last season with a one-year contract. The Dodgers are looking at going young behind the plate and not expected to offer him arbitration.

The Dodgers’ other free agents are: infielders Casey Blake, Jamey Carroll and Aaron Miles, pitchers Jonathan Broxton, Jon Garland, Hiroki Kuroda, Mike MacDougal and Vicente Padilla, and outfielder Juan Rivera.

Any could return, but it’s hard to have a firm offseason plan when ownership and a true budget is uncertain.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Outfielder Juan Rivera connects for a two-run double in a Dodgers victory over the Pirates in September. Credit: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images

Daily Dodger in review: A.J. Ellis should stick at catcher

Ellis
A.J. Ellis, 30, catcher

2011 statistics: .271 batting average, two home runs, 11 runs batted in, .392 on-base percentage in 85 at-bats, threw out 27% of would-be base-stealers.

Contract status: Final year under team control.

The good: Solid, reliable, all-around catcher. He is never going to be Johnny Bench but actually showed a flash of power. Hit two home runs with the Dodgers and three at triple-A Albuquerque. Before that outburst, he had not hit a home run at any level in almost three years.

He gets on base. Works well behind the plate and with pitchers. Was called up three times last season before he was brought up for good when the Dodgers finally wised up and released Dioner Navarro. Great in the clubhouse.

The bad: Has an average arm and, despite the home runs, hits mostly flares. He comes with limitations, but they're livable at an incredibly weak position baseball-wide.

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Meet the new Dodgers, same as the old Dodgers?

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Hope you really, really believe in that Dodgers team that finished the 2011 season on a nice roll.

Because the more I think about, the more I expect it to return largely unchanged.

That wouldn’t be much of a stretch given the bankrupt Dodgers’ ever-uncertain ownership situation. Hard to spend a significant amount of money when you don’t have much and it's not clear who can spend it.

But the more closely you look at a lengthy interview that General Manager Ned Colletti gave to ESPN's Jim Bowden, the more it looks like you’d best get out the 2012 welcome mat for the 2011 Dodgers.

Yeah, he wants to add an impact bat. So do about 29 other teams. Yet despite how much sense it makes, no one really expects the team in the second-largest market in the country to make a serious run at either Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols. After that, a serious drop-off. Hey, he could always sign Carlos Beltran. He’s an ex-Giant and everything!

Not signing a free agent leaves trading for a big bat, and the Dodgers have precious little to offer in return. Unless, you know, you want to unload this Clayton Kershaw kid.

So the odds are exceedingly poor that a bat of significance will be brought in, and then there are Colletti’s comments to Bowden where he pretty much has everyone coming back from 2010 save for catcher Rod Barajas.

Which means you’d best get ready for this sales pitch: The Dodgers will significantly upgrade their lineup simply by adding a healthy Juan Uribe and Andre Ethier to it.

Ooooh, when do pitchers and catchers report again?

Assuming health for Uribe (sports hernia surgery) and Ethier (minor knee surgery), and the return of James Loney at first, the Dodgers’ lineup holes would be at second, left and catcher.

And Colletti flat out said, "Behind the plate, we'll probably let Tim Federowicz and A.J. Ellis handle the duties." He also said: "We need to figure out left field as well, but we're leaning towards Jerry Sands, especially after the way he finished this season with us." At second base he noted that Jamey Carroll and Aaron Miles were free agents and said: "Right now we have the two young players in [Justin] Sellers and Ivan DeJesus that we might let compete for that job next year."

Believe that last one if you feel so inclined, but the Dodgers GM –- as he needs to –- clearly has his Plan B in place if he's unable to acquire a big bat.

The same ol' even extends to the rotation, where Colletti at least sounds hopeful that Hiroki Kuroda will re-sign, citing the fact that Kuroda bought a home here and his children go to school here. That would leave a familiar rotation of Kershaw, Kuroda, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly and Nathan Eovaldi.

The bullpen evolved into a young strength, though Colletti would like to add another veteran.

Sounds remarkably like your 2011 Dodgers. The Dodgers were 25-10 in the last five-plus weeks of the season. That's encouraging, but the season is six months long. Keeping that group mostly intact places a lot of hope on a team that excelled for five weeks.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Juan Rivera, who might be returning to play left field, is congratulated by first baseman James Loney after bringing in Andre Ethier, left, and Matt Kemp with a three-run home run against the Phillies on Aug. 10 at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Dodgers signal they won't bring back Rod Barajas

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Sounds like that's it for Rod Barajas, Dodgers hometown catcher.

The Dodgers opened their arms to youth last season, and it mostly paid off. Now they apparently are ready to go young behind the plate.

In a lengthy Q&A with Jim Bowden posted on ESPN.com, General Manager Ned Colletti said:

"Behind the plate, we'll probably let Tim Federowicz and A.J. Ellis handle the duties. They are both good catch-and-throw receivers. If Federowicz can hit .240 with some power, he can be an everyday catcher. He calls a really good game and has a strong arm. The free-agent catching market is very thin, but we'll look there as well just in case."

That would be a serious roll of the dice. Federowicz was at double A when the Dodgers picked him up before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline. Ellis has looked very capable in stretches the last two seasons as the backup.

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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.

Clayton Kershaw makes his Cy Young closing statement in 6-2 win

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Clayton Kershaw did his part. Laid it all out there, left his great numbers to stand like small monuments to his memorable season.

Kershaw won his final start of the season Sunday afternoon, as the Dodgers beat the Padres, 6-2, in San Diego. Kershaw all but clinched the pitching triple crown, and very likely the Cy Young award.

The victory left him 21-5 on the season, with a 2.28 earned-run average and 248 strikeouts. The ERA and strikeout total lead the National League, and the 21 victories tie Kershaw for the lead with the Arizona Diamondbacks' Ian Kennedy.

The 11 previous winners of the pitching triple crown all won the Cy Young award.

Kershaw, 23, went 7 1/3 innings against the Padres, holding them to two runs on four hits and a walk and striking out six.

Kershaw's main challengers for the Cy Young award are Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee of the Philadelphia Phillies, and Kennedy.

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Was that a last chance to bid adieu to half the Dodgers?

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So did you wave goodbye? Blow a few kisses, you know, just in case.

Bid a fond farewell to the nine Dodgers who can become free agents at the end of the season? The five Dodgers who are arbitration eligible and could be non-tendered? The two whom the Dodgers hold options on that they’re not expected to pick up?

That’s almost half of the 38 Dodgers currently in uniform or on the disabled list. Some will be back; some won’t. But which, and in what roles?

The free agent list: Aaron Miles, Jamey Carroll, Rod Barajas, Juan Rivera, Hiroki Kuroda, Vicente Padilla, Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo and Mike MacDougal.

The arbitration five: James Loney, Tony Gwynn Jr., Eugenio Velez, Blake Hawksworth and Dana Eveland.

The options not expected to be picked up: Casey Blake and Jon Garland.

That’s a lot of moving parts. For sure, several appeared on the field at Dodger Stadium for the last time Thursday in the Dodgers’ final home game of the season.

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