Dodgers Now

Steve Dilbeck and The Times' Dodgers reporters
give you all the news on the boys in blue

Category: Ryan Theriot

Dodgers sign Aaron Miles to minor-league contract with non-roster invite to spring

I’m going with the positive theory -- because you know how I am -- that collect enough of these guys, one of them is bound to come through.

Aren’t they?

Thinking it won’t be light-hitting Aaron Miles, but it’s a very small roll of the dice. Unless you’re of that negative vein, and are concerned this is one more washed-up vet holding back another potential prospect (Ivan De Jesus Jr.?).

Miles is a second baseman, who dabbled a tad at short and third last season.

He was once a looked upon as a player with promise, albeit with almost a complete lack of power. He finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .293 for the Rockies in 2004.

He won a World Series with the Cardinals in 2006. He signed a two-year deal with the Cubs prior to the 2009 season but couldn’t beat out second baseman Mike Fontenot or -- are your ready? -- shortstop Ryan Theriot.

He ended up with the Reds a year ago, but was cut at the end of spring training. Miles re-signed with the Cardinals, went back to the minors and was a mid-summer call-up.

Last season he hit .281 in 139 at-bats, with zero power. He had a .311 on-base percentage and a feeble .317 slugging percentage. Also, he’s 34.

Returning to our positive-thinking routine, he’s a switch-hitter. Otherwise, he and Juan Castro could become fast friends.

Young infielders Dee Gordon and De Jesus are lurking, waiting for their opportunity. That doesn’t figure to come this season, but hopefully Miles won’t impede whatever opportunity they do have this spring. Not to be negative.

-- Steve Dilbeck


Dodgers' search for someone to hit second in lineup could have them thinking outside the box, though not the organization

There’s the old Abbott and Costello who’s-on-second bit, and the lesser-known but currently more relevant Dodgers’ who’s-batting-second routine.

Somebody has to hit second in the lineup. It’s in the rules and everything.

Only right now, the Dodgers have no ideal No. 2 hitter. Not even a resemblance of a No. 2 hitter.

Last season the one Dodger who batted second more than any other was -- Matt Kemp? It’s true. I loathed the idea from the get-go, not just because he’s a strikeout machine, but because I wanted one of the team’s few power bats in position to drive in more runs.

Kemp, however, hit 12 of his 28 home runs batting in the two spot, easily more than any other place he hit in the lineup, though over half of those came in April when he was on fire.

Trailing Kemp in the number of times batting second was Ryan Theriot, who’s outta here, and Russell Martin, ditto.

So who are the candidates next season?

Kemp, James Loney (ugh), Mystery Person in Left Field or ... Ivan DeJesus Jr.?

Now admittedly this is something of a reach, but one worth exploring. As of this moment, DeJesus does not figure to be on the 2011 club.

He did not even earn a September call-up, which, Dodgers.com's Ken Gurnick noted at the time, was a clear message. Gurnick said DeJesus was reportedly in the doghouse because he was struggling with the concept of teamwork.

And there’s another problem, though one we’ve seen before. DeJesus was drafted a shortstop but switched to second base last season and is still learning the nuances of the position. Similar comments were made a year ago with Blake DeWitt and he became their opening-day second baseman.

DeJesus, however, played for new manager Don Mattingly in the Arizona Fall League, and seemingly very well (.321 average, .411 on-base, .436 slugging). And during league play, he made it clear to mlb.com’s Danny Wild what his goal was for next season:

"I need to be ready in spring training and get that job at second base."

Since then, of course, the Dodgers have picked up a second baseman in newly signed Juan Uribe. Although, that appears a roadblock, it may not be.

One of the very good things about Uribe is his ability to play several infield positions, particularly third base. And as you may have noted, the Dodgers still do not have a starting left fielder, and possible free-agent candidates have dwindled down to a precious, if highly unspectacular, few.

So the Dodgers have to be considering moving Casey Blake from third to left, Uribe to third and starting DeJesus -- who has a career minor-league .369 on-base percentage -- at second and batting him in the No. 2 spot.

That’s a lot of movement, and rookies batting second are hardly ideal, but neither are any of the other current choices. Plus, Blake and his 17 home runs in left appear better than the remaining options.

That would also allow Andre Ethier, Kemp and Uribe to be featured in the middle of the lineup. Jay Gibbons could get some starts in left against right-handers, and the Dodgers get needed power in left with the Blake-Gibbons combo.

This requires that DeJesus step up in spring. He’ll still be a mostly young 24 in May, but his time should be coming.

DeJesus spent last season at triple-A Albuquerque, and considering he was returning from a leg injury that caused him to miss his 2009 season, had a reasonable year (.296, .369, .378).

That’s not to say he couldn’t benefit from another season at Albuquerque, but there should be an opportunity for more come spring. Because somebody has to bat second.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Zero hour approaches on the Dodgers' toughest off-season call -- Russell Martin

And now for the Dodgers’ toughest off-season call:

What to do about Russell Martin.

By 9 p.m. Thursday, they have to decide whether to tender him a contract. If not, he becomes a free agent.

There may not be a clearly correct decision here, but at the moment there is no way the Dodgers can be certain that Martin can recover from his hip injury to become a full-time catcher. It’s an unpleasant choice but the prudent one: If somehow they can’t sign or trade Martin before the deadline, they need to let him go.

If the team comes to a last-minute agreement with Martin, the lowest figure it can re-sign him for off his $5.05 million from last season is slightly over $4 million.

For $4 million and one year, the Dodgers can take the chance. He is only 27, and even though his production has fallen off the past two seasons, it’s still sadly reasonable for a catcher.

A one-year deal with some incentives and he can come back hungry and motivated. But if they go to arbitration, Martin would probably get over $6 mil, which is getting to be a pretty serious gamble.

They could try to deal him, and apparently the Red Sox have some interest, which would certainly be better than getting nothing in return. General Manager Ned Colletti managed to get a serviceable arm for Ryan Theriot, so it’s unlikely he’d settle for getting nothing in return for Martin.

Yet even if Colletti does re-sign Martin, that hardly settles the Dodgers’ catching situation. They simply cannot count on Martin being an everyday catcher, so they still have to try to sign a Rod Barajas or Miguel Olivo. Unless they’re really prepared to start A.J. Ellis, which given his strong finish, at least has to be a consideration.

The team's other arbitration decisions are simple. Reliever George Sherrill will not be tendered a contract. Chad Billlingsley, James Loney and Hong-Chih Kuo will.

Martin’s declining production at the plate and behind it, have made it easy for some to want him gone, but this might be a be-careful-what-you-wish-for scenario.

Productive, reliable catchers are hard to come by, and he’s still young enough to take a reasonable chance on. And defining reasonable is what they’re working on.

-- Steve Dilbeck

After signing Juan Uribe, Dodgers send Ryan Theriot to Cardinals for reliever

Minutes after the Dodgers officially announced the signing of infielder Juan Uribe, they sent Ryan Theriot to the Cardinals for right-hander Blake Hawksworth.

No tears were shed.

Theriot was going to be non-tendered after the signing of Uribe, so at least the Dodgers were able to get something for him.

Hawksworth went 4-8 with a 4.98 ERA for the Cardinals last season in 45 games (nine starts), and will turn 28 in March, so it’s not like he has some kind of exciting upside. But at least he’s someone who can eat up some middle innings and provide an emergency start, which, at this point, is more than you would have expected to get in return for Theriot.

Theriot came along with Ted Lilly from the Cubs for second baseman Blake DeWitt at the trading deadline, and continued an unimpressive season. In 54 games for the Dodgers, he hit an empty .242, with one homer, a .323 on-base percentage and a lowly .283 slugging percentage.

He had a little speed, was probably better defensively than anticipated and was good in the clubhouse, but he hurt the lineup and just wasn’t going to help the Dodgers win.

It made for a brief, unmemorable Dodger career. But right now, brief sounds good.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers close to signing infielder Juan Uribe to three-year deal

Uribe_640

The Dodgers are close to signing infielder Juan Uribe to a three-year deal. An announcement could come as soon as Tuesday. Multiple media outlets have reported the deal at $21 million.

Uribe’s signing also would likely mean the end to the brief, if unspectacular, run of Ryan Theriot at second base.

Uribe would certainly offer an upgrade at second for the Dodgers. He batted only .248 for the Giants last season but had a career-high 24 home runs and 85 RBI. That’s some pop the Dodgers could really use.

He falls short of that major bat the Dodgers need in the middle of the lineup, but on a power-challenged team, it’s a definite improvement over where the Dodgers were entering the offseason.

And then there’s the added bonus of taking those home runs and RBI away from the Giants.

Three years is a lot for the 31-year-old infielder, who can also play third and short, and longer than the Dodgers probably wanted to go.

At the end of next season, however, the contracts of third baseman Casey Blake and shortstop Rafael Furcal expire, so at least it gives the Dodgers some needed infield flexibility. And it’s a fairly weak winter for significant free agents.

Uribe has a career on-base percentage of only .300 -- that’s even worse than Theriot’s .348 -- so he’s far from the perfect addition.

But he is a run producer and a pretty clutch one. In the postseason, he had only six hits but drove in nine runs.

Uribe’s signing would continue an active offseason for the Dodgers, who previously signed starters Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda and Jon Garland.

Adding Uribe would still leave the Dodgers needing to fill holes in left field and at catcher, plus shoring up the bullpen.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Juan Uribe. Chris Carlson / Associated Press

Friendship with Will Clark led to Ryan Theriot hosting a charity golf tournament

When Ryan Theriot was approached by his agents a couple of years ago and told he might want to start a charity, he told them he wasn’t ready.

He said he had to find causes worth championing.

The Dodgers second baseman has since found some, which is why he hosted the Ryan Theriot Celebrity Golf Classic on Friday in Baton Rouge, La.

Theriot said his friendship with former San Francisco Giants star and fellow Louisiana native Will Clark led him to hosting the tournament.

Clark has an autistic son who attends a Baton Rouge school at which Theriot’s mother is the principal. Theriot and Clark have become friends.

The Greater Baton Rouge Chapter of the Autism Society of America will be one of three organizations to which tournament proceeds will go.

“It’s something that affects a lot of ballplayers,” Theriot said.

Theriot said he grew up idolizing Clark.

“I hunt with him,” Theriot said. “We got to be budidies.”

The event will also benefit the National Wildlife Foundation’s Gulf Oil Spill Restoration Fund and Fore! Kids Foundation, which exposes underprivileged children to golf.

-- Dylan Hernandez

Dodgers' Web musings: Don Mattingly and his new beginnings

Don Mattingly isn’t shying away from the small stuff or throwing himself completely into his new job as the Dodgers manager.

The Times’ Dylan Hernandez
has a terrific profile on Mattingly, who talks about everything from work habits to his recent personal trials to his faith.

Mattingly is currently managing in the Arizona Fall League, taking his first steps as the clubhouse leader. At his own request, he arrived early in its season.

-- LADodgerTalk.com’s Mark Timmons
was moved enough by the Hernandez piece that he’s decided to put aside his initial reservations about Mattingly’s hire.

Timmons logically reasons he is the Dodgers manager now and deserves a fair chance in the public eye.

-- ESPNLA.com’s Tony Jackson gives his try at determining the Dodgers’ potential postseason moves.

He said free-agent Hiroki Kuroda, 35, does not want to return to Japan but wants to spend one more season in the major leagues. And Jackson is big on signing Adam Dunn.

-- Dodgers.com’s Ken Gurnick talked to second baseman Ryan Theriot before his charity golf tournament in Louisiana, and the potential non-tender candidate said he wants to return to the Dodgers.

"I don't know the situation. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be there," he said. "Last year, arbitration [losing to the Cubs], that stunk. It's not very fun. I want to play ball. Actually, I just want to win. That's why I want to be in L.A."

-- MikeSciosciasTragicIllness.com’s Mike Petriello
gives an in-depth look at Tsuyoshi Nishioka, the Japanese infielder that Hernandez reported is interested in signing with the Dodgers.

-- VinScullyIsMyHomeboy.com has an update on the items Kirk Gibson is currently auctioning off, with his bat closing in on $100,000.

[UPDATE: From Toby Zwikel of Brenner Kwikel and Associates.

Leading bids as of 11:30 a.m. Wednesday (auction closes Saturday):

Gibson jersey - $129,690; Gibson bat - $126,377; Gibson helmet - $14,272; Gibson 1988 WS MVP Award - $42,875; Gibson 1988 World Series trophy - $15,000; Honus Wagner T206 card - $156,925.]

-- OaklandA’s.com Jane Lee has the A’s as the latest team dreaming of Matt Kemp.

-- New York Post’s Joel Sherman said Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman has flown to Arkansas to personally meet with left-hander Cliff Lee.

It’s not all about the money with the Yankees, who also demonstrate how to be aggressive in the pursuit of designated free-agent targets.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Source: Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka interested in playing for the Dodgers

Another Japanese player could be on his way to Los Angeles.

Middle infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka is likely to be made available to major league clubs by the Chiba Lotte Marines in the near future and the Dodgers are his preferred landing spot, according to a baseball source close to him who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Nishioka wants to play on the West Coast and is also interested in playing for the San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks, the source said.

The Dodgers are known to have scouted Nishioka, a 26-year-old switch-hitting shortstop who led Japan’s Pacific League in hitting this year with a .346 average. In the majors, Nishioka could be moved to second base, a position he played at the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

The Dodgers could use depth in the middle of their infield. Shortstop Rafael Furcal has a history of back problems and second baseman Ryan Theriot might not be tendered a contract.

It’s unknown whether the Dodgers have the necessary financial resources to land Nishioka.

If Nishioka is “posted” by the Marines, as multiple sources expect him to be, Major League Baseball will hold a four-day silent auction during which teams can submit sealed bids to win exclusive negotiating rights with him. The team with the winning bid will have a 30-day window to agree on a contract with the player. If a deal is reached, the Marines will receive the posting fee in exchange for him.

This week the Oakland A’s won the right to negotiate with Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma by submitting a posting bid of about $17 million, according to published reports. The Marines would let Nishioka go to the U.S. even if his posting fee is considerably less than that, one source said.

Nishioka has chosen the Beverly Hills Sports Council to represent him if he moves to the majors.

-- Dylan Hernandez

Ten free agents the Dodgers should consider signing

The Dodgers need help. On that, all can agree. They have holes in left field and at catcher, and they could use an upgrade at second base. They need two starting pitchers and bullpen help.

The free-agent signing period is underway, and for the Dodgers and the rest, it is a regrettably weak field. There’s nothing ready in the Dodgers' system that can make a difference, so they have to take a strong look at a thin market.

Here are 10 guys for the Dodgers to consider. Maybe they really target only one or two. And this doesn’t take into consideration what they might be able to pull in with a trade, but these are guys worth taking a look at, in no particular order:

1) Carl Crawford, outfielder: OK, I’m starting with the most unlikely signing. He’s going to pull in a $100-million deal, and it’s not like that was Frank McCourt’s specialty even pre-divorce trial.

But if you are holding out hope that McCourt is willing to do something dramatic to renew fans' faith, this is the best option. Crawford's middling power makes him less than an ideal fit, but he’s a badly needed run producer, he plays left field, he can bat second or third in the lineup, and he is reasonably young (29).

The Dodgers can’t just surrender him to the Yankees or Red Sox without at least making some kind of effort.

Continue reading »

Dodgers exercise half of mutual option on outfielder Scott Podsednik

Scott Podsednik, Dodger.

Contain your enthusiasm, might be time to get used to it.

The Dodgers exercised their half of a mutual option for the 2011 season on Podsednik Tuesday. He has until Thursday to decline or exercise his side of the option.

Podsednik came to the Dodgers in a late July trade from the Royals, essentially to be their backup outfielder. Only leg injuries to Manny Ramirez, and then his trade the next month, turned Podsednik into the regular left fielder.

Which is not the best of ideas.

Hopefully, the Dodgers have returned to looking at Podsednik as a backup, because if they’re planning on starting him, that’s trouble.

Podsednik will be 35 going into spring training, has no power, showed surprising awkwardness defensively and missed the final few weeks of the season with plantar fasciitis.

He is, however, reasonably priced. The option for next season is $2 million.

On the season, Podsednik hit .297 with 35 stolen bases and 63 runs in 595 at-bats. For the Dodgers, however, he slid. He hit .262 with five stolen bases and 17 runs in 149 at-bats. When Rafael Furcal was out injured, Podsednik hit in the leadoff spot but had only a .313 on-base percentage as a Dodger.

A Dodgers lineup with both Podsednik and Ryan Theriot (.321 OBP) struggled to score runs. And, of course, the last time we saw Podsednik he was in a walking boot.

If the Dodgers want to use the stoic Podsednik as a fourth outfielder, however, he certainly has uses. They can’t platoon him in left with Jay Gibbons, both being left-handed. They could with Casey Blake, should they acquire a third baseman, hopefully with some pop.

As a speedy, veteran backup and occasional spot starter in the outfield, he’s a positive addition. The Dodgers, however, need to add some power to their lineup, and at the moment, left field is the clearly open spot.

-- Steve Dilbeck

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