Dodgers Now

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

Category: Tim Federowicz

Count on the Dodgers for these early rites of spring

Dodgers pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring-training camp Tuesday morning, and I am positively certain each one of these things will transpire:

-- Ronald Belisario will not only be there on time, he’ll proudly be wearing a lanyard around his neck holding his visa.

-- Catcher Ted Federowicz will arrive without sporting that 1970s-style mustache. Actually, I have no idea if this is true, I just hope it is.

-- The hearts of every hitter in the National League will skip a beat when Clayton Kershaw announces he has been working with Fernando Valenzuela to develop a screwball.

-- Manager Don Mattingly will have to take 267 razzings for good-naturedly wearing a dress for a charity performance of the "Nutcracker." In the first two hours.

-- Rubby De La Rosa will announce he’s at least two months ahead of schedule in his return from Tommy John surgery.

-- Catcher A.J. Ellis will tweet that Chad Billingsley already looks like he’s in midseason form.

-- Ted Lilly’s fastball will appear another 2 mph slower, and he will somehow manage to use it to his advantage.

-- John Grabow will go around the locker room and shake hands with every player, coach and media member, just to remind them he’s left-handed.

-- Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt will explain to some first-time camper how he was actually the only pitcher to beat the Dodgers in the 1988 World Series.

-- In his first time on the mound, Kenley Jansen will throw absolute smoke.

-- Mike MacDougal will again claim to be 185 pounds.

-- Mattingly will say he’s crazy about his rotation and in love with his bullpen. Heartbreak arrives with the hitters Feb. 27.

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Profit at Dodgers' spring home drops 65% in two years

-- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers sign Matt Treanor as their backup catcher

Matt3
Turns out, the Dodgers aren’t going all that young behind the plate.

The Dodgers have signed veteran free agent catcher Matt Treanor to a one-year contract that The Times’ Dylan Hernandez reports is worth $1 million. He will receive $850,000 next season. There is an option for 2013 at $950,00 with a $150,000 buyout.

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti told The Times’ Mike DiGiovanna he expects Treanor to play between 50-60 games.

Treanor is pretty much a miserable hitter – the seven-year veteran has a .225 career batting average and a .307 slugging percentage – but is well regarded behind the plate.

His signing follows Tuesday’s earlier news that the Dodgers had signed second baseman Mark Ellis, another excellent defensive player.

"We got a real good defensive second baseman, and we wanted to be as strong up the middle defensively as we could,’’ Colletti said. ``He's a good catch and throw guy, he has a good feel for leading a pitching staff, and he can help teach our younger guys, A.J. (Ellis) and Tim (Federowicz)."

Continue reading »

Rod Barajas takes his talents to Pittsburgh

Rod3
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.

Continue reading »

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.

Continue reading »

Meet the new Dodgers, same as the old Dodgers?

Dodgers_600

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

Rod3
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.

Continue reading »

Finding reasons to appreciate the Dodgers 2011 season

Matt-kemp_600

They’re having fan appreciation day for the Dodgers on Sunday, which is curious for a couple of reasons. They still have three more games to play here and, of course, what exactly is there to appreciate in the worst season in organizational history?

That’s why we’re here to help:

  • No traffic problems getting to the game.

  • Matt Kemp played like the Matt Kemp everyone always thought was there, and not like the one who was here last season.

  • Vin Scully remained perfect, even when he wasn't. And he’s coming back.

  • Don Mattingly earned his stripes.

  • Steve Soboroff came and then went.

  • The suspense that is Eugenio Velez.

  • Buy a nose-bleed seat, walk down to the better seat of your choice.

  • Clayton Kershaw arrived as an ace.

  • Tim Federowicz shaved his mustache.

  • Young arms boded well for future.

  • No one uncovered another Vladimir Shpunt, as if that’s possible.

  • Josh Rawitch is leaving (kidding).

  • Kenley Jansen was sick.

  • Tickets available on-line for $1.85.

  • Frank McCourt disappeared from his look-at-me seat.

  • McCourt sold one of his mansions. Hurry, only seven left!

  • Teammates nicknamed heavily tatted Justin Sellers "Cell Block."

  • Dodger Dogs. Real, grilled Dodger Dogs.

  • No traffic problems leaving the game.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp gets set in the batter's box. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

James Loney, home-run machine, powers Dodgers past Pirates, 6-1

Dodgers-loney_600 The thrill was gone, but apparently not the will.

The Dodgers were officially eliminated from the postseason Saturday before ever stepping on the field, Atlanta’s 1-0 afternoon victory over the Mets ending all possibility of capturing a wild-card berth.

That’s two consecutive years without making the playoffs.

Still, the bankrupt team put it aside and went out and downed the Pirates, 6-1, behind a strong start by Ted Lilly and another home run by James Loney before an announced crowd of 32,514.

Lilly went seven innings, holding the Pirates to one run and four hits. He walked two and struck out seven.

After a series of difficult starts, Lilly (10-14) is finishing the season well. In his last 10 starts, he has a 2.67 earned-run average.

And that finish is nothing compared to that of Loney, who after a miserable second half last season and a poor first half in 2011 is on the roll of a lifetime.

Continue reading »

Could Federowicz be next season's main catcher? Seems a reach.

Fed_240 Twelve games left and so many decisions to make about young players and next season.

Can Dee Gordon be the everyday shortstop? Is Jerry Sands ready to be a major league starter and, if so, at what position?

And what about catcher?

Do they bring back 36-year-old Rod Barajas and pair him with A.J. Ellis? Is Ellis, at age 30, ready to stick and play regularly? Do they actually try to sign someone else after the Dioner Navarro fiasco?

Then there is the young Tim Federowicz, the prospect acquired in the trade of outfielder Trayvon Robinson on July 31.

Federowicz made his first major league start Thursday night against the Pirates, and collected his first hit with a single in the fifth inning. Also, he was hit by a pitch for the first time. And walked for the first time. If nothing else, he currently has an impressive .600 on-base percentage.

"Not bad," said Manager Don Mattingly. "Had some good at-bats. He handled himself back there and blocked some balls. He looked all right."

Not exactly effusive praise, but it was one night. Which also included a passed ball.

The 5-foot-10, 200-pound Federowicz said he was initially nervous Thursday, but by the end of the first inning it had passed. It has been a remarkable couple of months for Federowicz, who back in July was playing double-A ball in the Red Sox organization and blocked by their top hitting prospect, Ryan Lavarnway. At least until the trade.

"At first I really didn’t know what to think about it," Federowicz said. "It was exciting to learn I was going another level up. But the Red Sox treated me well. I had a lot of friends, and that was probably the toughest part, leaving guys I came up with through the organization. But I’m in a better place with a lot better opportunity here."

General Manager Ned Colletti said the Dodgers had no bright, young catching prospect. Federowicz, 24, was deemed an answer.

Now how quickly can he be a major league catcher? The need is immediate, but he’s only spent a month of ball at triple-A Albuquerque, where he hit .325 with six homers and 17 RBIs.

"He’s like a lot of young guys, you have to ease him in there and let him play," Mattingly said.

"We have to let him grow up, see what things he can do. He’ll let you know. We’ll see how he handles things the rest of the way and where we’re at."

Mattingly is going to be careful not to throw too much, too soon at Federowicz. He won’t catch Hiroki Kuroda and his six different pitches Friday, but figures to start more frequently the last two weeks.

Right now, it still seems a reach to think he could be the team’s main catcher next season, at least at the start. Which is not to say he won’t try to win the spot next spring.

"That’s hard to say," Federowicz said. There are a lot of things that could go down that could work into that," he said. "You never know what’s going to happen, if they’re going to sign a guy or re-sign Rod [Barajas]. There are a lot of things that have to align for me to make the team next year.

"Hopefully it happens, but I’m not going to go in there looking for that. I’m going to go in there and try to learn my staff again and learn the team, and put together a good spring, and hopefully I could break in."

MORE:

Dodgers-Pirates box score

Hiroki Kuroda has MRI on next, will start Friday

Dodgers ask whether ownership is affecting season-ticket renewal

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Ross Ohlendorf, center, leaves the batter's box on a three-run home run as Dodgers starting pitcher Dana Eveland, left, and catcher Tim Federowicz look on during the second inning on Sept. 15. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press.

Pirates' 6-2 win officially eliminates Dodgers from N.L. West

Matt Kemp slides into second base on a steal attempt against the Pirates

And that’s what a game in late September between two disappointing teams looks like.

Uneventful, long, slow, watched by precious few and filled with plenty of players who started this season in the minors.

For the Dodgers, it added up to a 6-2 loss Thursday night to the Pittsburgh Pirates, a defeat that officially eliminated them from the National League West Division race.

So much for those great comeback hopes.

The game was watched by an announced crowd of 25,381, the lowest official crowd of the season, though there have certainly been games with fewer actually in the seats.

Six of the nine Dodgers who started Thursday began their 2011 baseball journey in the minors. This is the time when you look at the kids, of course, when you’re out of the race and playing another team with nothing on the line.

The game did mark the first major-league start for Tim Federowicz, the catcher the Dodgers acquired in the Trayvon Robinson deal in August. In his first at-bat, he was welcomed to the majors by getting hit with a pitch. He did single in his second at-bat.

The pitcher the Dodgers couldn’t handle, on the mound or at the plate, was the unheralded Ross Ohlendorf.

Ohlendorf had won one game in his last 32 starts. He entered the night with an 8.03 earned-run average. In his last start, he gave up six runs on 10 hits in two innings to the Florida Marlins.

Against these Dodgers on Thursday night, he was an entirely different pitcher. He went seven innings, holding the Dodgers to two runs on four hits. He was a model of efficiency, not walking a batter and throwing only 72 pitches.

He had another out-of-body experience in the second inning, when he hit a three-run homer off Dana Eveland. In 100 career at-bats in the majors, he had never had an extra-base hit or driven in a run.

Eveland (2-1), the soft-throwing left-hander who had consecutive strong outings since being called up at the beginning of the month, never looked particularly sharp Thursday. He lasted five innings, surrendering four runs on eight hits and a walk.

MORE:

Dodgers-Pirates box score

Hiroki Kuroda has MRI on next, will start Friday

Dodgers ask whether ownership is affecting season-ticket renewal

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Pirates second baseman Neil Walker takes the throw as Matt Kemp slides into second base on a steal attempt in the sixth inning. Walker would make the tag in time. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

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