JAMEY CARROLL, 36, utility
Final 2010 stats: .291 batting average, no home runs, 23 RBI, 48 runs, 12 stolen bases, .379 on-base percentage, .339 slugging percentage in 351 at-bats.
Contract status: Signed for next season at $2.3 million.
The good: Ladies and gentleman, presenting the Dodgers’ very own Little Engine that Could. The 5-9 Carroll was generally considered the team’s MVP, which tells you both about his play and the Dodgers’. He was signed as a utility player, but with Rafael Furcal often injured, he started 64 games at shortstop. He also played 48 games at second, 11 at third and five in left. He ran everything out and played hard all the time.
The bad: Has zero power, but then he was never signed to put the ball over the fence. Of course, he wasn’t signed to start 64 games at short, either.
What’s next: The Dodgers were thrilled with his performance, but that’s not the same thing as being ready to make a commitment to him at second base. Ryan Theriot is a non-tender candidate, but even if he doesn’t return, it’s doubtful they’ll look at Carroll as their everyday starter at second. Particularly not at age 36. He excelled in the utility role he was signed for, he just got a lot more playing time than expected.
The take: Will return to his utility role next season, though the Dodgers won’t be shy about playing him plenty after last season. He’s a proven commodity now. Most weren’t exactly doing cartwheels when the Dodgers signed Carroll to a two-year deal, but it’s looking smart now.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Steve Dilbeck and The Times' Dodgers reporters
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JAMEY CARROLL, 36, utility
Well, now they have three-fifths of a rotation. Which is 20% more than they had Friday. That’s called progress.
Inking Ted Lilly is mostly nothing but good news, the only qualifier being he’ll be 35 to start next season and the Dodgers signed him to a three-year deal.
His agent had made it clear that Lilly wanted three years, and with such a sparse offering of free agent talent available this winter, the Dodgers knew he probably would get it, so they bit that bullet.
His fastball has begun to tail off, but it’s not like he was ever a power pitcher anyway. It would have been better to sign him for two years, but the market is what it is.
How much this is all going to cost the Dodgers, however, has yet to be revealed. Since they got this done quickly, and he was a local boy who wanted to return, just hope it was semi-reasonable.
Now at least, the Dodgers will have something to show for the trading of Blake DeWitt to the Cubbies. It’s not like DeWitt was tearing it up (.270, one homer, 30 RBI in 256 at-bats as a Dodger), but he is only 25 and showing modest improvement.
Lilly joins Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley in the 2011 rotation. And it’s still possible that Hiroki Kuroda and Vicente Padilla could return, though both are expected to test free agency.
Lilly won his first five decisions after coming to the Dodgers in a July 31 deadline deal with Ryan Theriot for DeWitt. He finished 7-4 with a 3.52 ERA in 12 starts.
With Kershaw (22) and Billingsley (26) still relatively young, it’s good to have at least one veteran in the rotation with Lilly.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Lose enough games and you’ll suffer your share of indignities. Moments that haunt or embarrass or humble.
The Dodgers have learned that all too well this season, yet Thursday in San Francisco produced a new candidate for their season’s ultimate indignity:
Pushing the archrival Giants back into first place.
The Dodgers were fairly manhandled by the Giants, who pushed them around for a 10-2 victory Thursday that left San Francisco a half-game ahead of the Padres in the National League West.
The Giants haven’t been in first place since May 6.
Apparently, they just needed another shot at the Dodgers. Alas, Thursday was their last meeting. Now the Giants will have to find someone else to pick on.
The Giants took two of three in the series, and the season series 10-8. The next time they meet will be April Fool's Day, when the Dodgers open next season. Ah, next season …
The Dodgers completed their longest trip of the season at 3-7, continuing to wilt down the stretch.
They could do little with Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez (11-8), who had a career-high 12 strikeouts in seven innings. He gave up four hits and did not walk a batter.
The Dodgers got an unearned run in the first and a solo home run by Russell Mitchell -- snapping his 0-15 streak to start his major league career -- in the fifth.
And that was it. Oh, and Ryan Theriot snapped his 0-for-27 streak.
Meanwhile, the Giants pounded the Dodgers, then pounded them some more. Then for fun, just a little more. Their 15 hits included three home runs, two triples and three doubles.
Ted Lilly was the only starter in the three-game series who wasn’t on his game.
Lilly (8-11, 5-3 as a Dodger) lasted just 3 1/3 innings, surrendering six runs on seven hits, including a pair of home runs in the Giants’ four-run third inning.
That put the Giants up 5-1, and the way the Dodgers' offense has been going, ended the fog-shrouded evening’s suspense.
Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey all took Lilly deep, and then Jose Guillen did the same off Jeff Weaver. It was a party in San Francisco.
The Giants added a couple more against rookie reliever Jon Link.
Then the first-place Giants called it a night, won a season series against their rivals for the first time in five years, and sadly waved goodbye to the Dodgers.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Dodgers catcher Rod Barajas heads to the mound to talk to starting pitcher Ted Lilly in the third inning on Thursday night. Credit: Kyle Terada / US Presswire
Amelia Earhart. Stonehenge. The tans of "Jersey Shore."
Some mysteries in life just weren’t meant to be understood.
To the long list, we can now add: The Dodgers' offense.
Wow, once they were great. Like last season, when they led the National League in hitting.
This season it’s like a bunch of off-the-Strip impersonators. Particularly in the second half. Really, those are the same guys? Those are the Dodgers?
In the famous words of Tommy Lasorda, they couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat. Zombies masquerading as the Boys in Blue.
Hey, wake up! You’re supposed to be trying to rip the hearts out of the Giants, not going through the motions. In the last two games against ’Frisco (I like to write that just knowing it ticks off everybody up there) they’ve managed a total of two runs and five hits.
Which, sadly, is only continuing their downward offensive spiral.
"It's really kind of confusing and frustrating," batting coach Don Mattingly told The Times’ Dylan Hernandez.
You think? It may not surpass the mystery of how they built the Great Pyramid, but I’m thinking it’s a close second.
Take a look at these offensive stats for the Dodgers comparing their first half to their second.
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
The Dodgers dropped their fifth consecutive game, lost to a pitcher making just his second major league start, lost 4-0 to the Padres on Wednesday night while managing just three hits.
The Dodgers were shut out for the 16th time this season, a major league high, and dropped 11 games back of the Padres in the National League West. They have 22 games remaining.
The Padres’ season was threatening to get away from them, their lead down to one game after losing 10 in a row.
Then the Dodgers came south, and they could hardly do a thing wrong.
The Dodgers lost the opener to an emergency starter, Tim Stauffer, the second game to ace Mat Latos, who was too sick to start the opener, and then Wednesday to rookie Cory Luebke, who spent most of the season at the double-A level.
Chad Billingsley pitched better than his numbers indicated (four runs in 5 1/3 innings), the victim of bunts and miscues, and the Dodgers’ nightly ineptness at the plate.
The Dodgers managed just two hits in the six innings Luebke pitched. They never really came close to scoring, which is becoming a familiar refrain. In their last four games, the Dodgers have scored three runs total.
The Padres opened the scoring with a run in the third after Dodger second baseman Ryan Theriot double-pumped on a routine grounder by Luis Durango, the speedy outfielder beating the throw for an infield hit.
Durango stole second and scored on single up the middle from Miguel Tejada.
It remained a 1-0 game until the Padres scored three more in the sixth.
Will Venable blooped a hit over shortstop Rafael Furcal, and when Everth Cabrera laid down a perfect bunt, Billingsley had nowhere to go with the throw. That looked good to pinch-hitter David Eckstein, who placed another perfect bunt down for a hit to load the bases.
Durango then sliced a single to left to score two and Adrian Gonzalez drove in one more with a sacrifice fly to center.
That ended the night for Billingsley (11-9), who allowed the four runs on six hits and five walks. He struck out six.
Luebke made his major league debut last week against the Rockies, going five innings and taking a 4-3 loss to the Rockies.
Against L.A., however, the 6-foot-4 left-hander might as well have been Randy Johnson. He walked one and struck out seven in his six shutout innings.
In the eighth inning, the Dodgers had runners at first and second with one out when John Lindsey was announced as a pinch hitter. Lindsey spent 16 years in the minors until being called up Sunday.
When the Padres switched to right-handed reliever Luke Gregerson, Lindsey was called back, his debut put off another day. Andre Ethier then hit his first pitch into an inning-ending double play.
And the spiral continued.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Still, there seemed something almost symbolic about the Dodgers' designating Ronnie Belliard for assignment Tuesday. That cleared a spot on the 40-man roster for outfielder Trent Oeltjen, called up from triple-A Albuquerque.
The Belliard move could be viewed simply as recognition of his failure this year (.216 batting average, .327 slugging percentage in 162 at-bats) . . . or that the Dodgers’ season is effectively over and it’s time to start looking toward next year.
If the former is the case, there are a lot of Dodgers who’d better start getting nervous.
Belliard was a trade-deadline acquisition a year ago, and played so well (.351, .636) he ultimately pushed Orlando Hudson out of the lineup and started in the playoffs.
This year, however, the second base job was given to Blake DeWitt, and then, after his trade, to Ryan Theriot.
Belliard became a utility player, behind Jamey Carroll, and never blossomed in the part-time role. He hit just .171 as a pinch-hitter.
At age 35, this is likely the end of Belliard as a Dodger. There’s no real reason to bring him back.
If he clears waivers -- they didn’t already send him through? -- the Dodgers can either release or trade him. The minor league season has ended, so he can’t be sent down.
Oeltjen, 27, played on the Australian Olympic team in 2004. He appeared in 24 games last season for the Diamondbacks. He started the season in the Brewers’ farm system, before exercising an out clause and then signing with Albuquerque. He hit .347 with five home runs and 33 RBIs in 119 at-bats for the Isotopes.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Dodgers second baseman Ryan Theriot was scratched from the starting lineup for a second day Wednesday due to a sore left knee, with Ronnie Belliard again taking his place.
Theriot "said it felt much better today, but I think with the off-day tomorrow . . . I’d just as soon sit him today," Manager Joe Torre said before the Dodgers closed their three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies in a noon game at Dodger Stadium.
Recently acquired from the Chicago Cubs, Theriot was hurt Monday night when the Phillies' Jayson Werth slid into him trying to break up an attempted double-play.
Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw (11-8) faces Phillies right-hander Roy Oswalt (9-13) in Wednesday's game. Here are the starting lineups:
-- Jim Peltz
Photo: Dodgers second baseman Ryan Theriot leaps over the Philadelphia Phillies' Jayson Werth on a force out in Monday night's game at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Kirby Lee / Image of Sport-US Presswire
The team had unloaded its lone marquee player, Manny Ramirez, in a salary dump. The Dodgers had fallen 6½ games out of the wild-card race. The divorcing owners had gone to court to determine exactly who owns the team. And they were facing the Phillies' ace, former Cy Young winner Roy Halladay.
Into this baseball murk stepped right-hander Hiroki Kuroda.
And suddenly, everything was golden. On the field, for one night, almost perfect.
Kuroda flirted with a no-hitter for 7 1/3 innings before Shane Victorino broke it up with clean single, the Dodgers going on to a much-needed 3-0 victory over Philadelphia and Halladay.
Kuroda struck out Carlos Ruiz after the Victorino hit and was then relieved by Hong-Chin Kuo. Kuo pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless ball to pick up his seventh save and complete the one-hitter.
Kuroda (10-11) was in complete command from the first pitch. He ended his night allowing the one hit, walking two and striking out seven in his 7 2/3 innings. He consistently threw in the mid-90s.
Until Victorino’s single, the Phillies hadn’t really even sniffed at a hit. Kuroda did not require any particularly strong defensive plays behind him. In the seventh, Placido Polanco sent a liner to right, but Andre Ethier was in perfect position to make the catch.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, gave Kuroda an early lead with which to work.
In the first inning, Ryan Theriot walked, went to second on Ethier’s infield hit and scored on a James Loney single.
In the third, Casey Blake led off with a hit and took third on Jamey Carroll’s single. Rod Barajas, in his first at-bat as a Dodger at Dodger Stadium, bounced into a double-play, but it was still good enough to score Blake from third.
Barajas made off a little better in his next at-bat, driving a Halladay offering over the left-field wall for his 15th home run of the season, and second since being picked up on waivers on Aug. 22.
Halladay, who earlier this season threw a perfect game, was less than at his best Monday. He gave up 10 hits in seven innings, with one walk and four strikeouts as his record fell to 16-10.
The victory pulled the Dodgers back to within 5½ games of the Phillies for the wild-card berth. The Phillies had just swept a three-game series from the Padres.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda works against the Phillies in the eighth inning Monday night at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times
Dodgers lose 10-5 to fall 6 1/2 back in wild-card race; Manny Ramirez pinch hits but ejected after one pitch
Can he stay in the game?
Ramirez, inexplicably benched for the fourth consecutive game Sunday, pinch-hit in the sixth inning, took one pitch called a strike, complained and was quickly ejected.
And that was your Manny Ramirez for the day.
Somehow symbolic for the Dodgers’ ultimately futile effort in a disheartening 10-5 loss to the Rockies.
After wining four consecutive games to give belated life to their playoff hopes, the Dodgers have now lost consecutive games and fallen 6½ back of the Phillies in the National League wild-card race.
The Dodgers open a key three-game series at Dodger Stadium against the Phillies on Monday.
The Dodgers could do precious little with Colorado right-hander Jason Hammel, who had boasted a 6.31 earned-run average in his last 12 starts.
Lilly was 5-0 in five starts with the Dodgers, but lasted only four innings Sunday.
He gave up seven runs on nine hits -- including two doubles, two triples and two home runs. He walked only one, however, and struck out eight.
All while the Dodgers were specializing on missing out on scoring chances.
In the fourth inning, they had runners on the corners with no outs and failed to score.
After scoring one run in the fifth on Jay Gibbons’ double, they loaded the bases with no outs but Andre Ethier failed to put the ball in play with one of his four strikeouts on the day.
And then in the sixth, after scoring once on doubles by Matt Kemp and James Loney, they loaded the bases with one out and called on Ramirez.
It was what you might call a quick at-bat. He took a first pitch that appeared outside that home-plate umpire Gary Cederstrom called a strike.
Manny, who almost never argues balls and strikes, turned to Cederstrom, complained about the call and was immediately ejected.
Manny argued a bit more before walking off, his day down to one pitch. Worse, Reed Johnson then hit for Ramirez and grounded into a double play.
Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez got a little more for his money, continuing to kill L.A. pitching. Gonzalez went three for four, including two home runs, scored twice and drove in three runs.
The Dodgers did score three times against the Colorado bullpen in the eighth, one on a Ronnie Belliard single and two on a Ryan Theriot hit. Either struck out again, and after a Kemp infield single loaded the bases, Loney grounded out.
They had won 10 consecutive series against the Rockies until dropping two of three over the weekend.
Photo: Dodgers pinch-hitter Manny Ramirez has some final words for home-plate umpire Gary Cederstrom after getting ejected in the sixth inning Sunday. Credit: Andrew Carpenean / US Presswire