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Category: Xavier Paul

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

Dodgers working on deal for Ted Lilly

On the eve of the non-waiver trade deadline, the Dodgers remain in talks with the Chicago Cubs about a deal for Ted Lilly, according to baseball sources.

The Dodgers and Cubs have also discussed infielder Ryan Theriot, according to one source.

Lilly, 34, is 3-8 but has a 3.69 earned-run average in 18 starts. He is in the final year of a four-year, $40-million deal.

-- Dylan Hernandez

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 scratch Andre Ethier against Padres due to illness

Andre Ethier was a late scratch from the Dodgers’ lineup before Monday’s opener in San Diego because of illness.

There was no other word about what had Ethier ailing, though he was seen before the game talking to Times columnist T.J. Simers.

Read into that what you will.

Xavier Paul replaced Ethier in right, moving over from left. Garret Anderson started in left, taking Ethier's spot in the lineup. With Manny Ramirez and Reed Johnson on the disabled list, the Dodgers have no other true outfielder available.

Utility infielder Jamey Carroll had to sub in left field during the Dodgers just-completed homestand.

Ethier was in a 1-for-29 skid until doubling on Sunday against the Mets.

-- 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' medical update: No DL planned for Manny Ramirez or Russell Martin

And on the day after, mostly good news?

Joe Torre told the media in St. Louis before Saturday’s game against the Cardinals that Manny Ramirez, who left Friday’s game in the first inning with right calf tightness, was available to pinch hit and should return to the field early next week.

That means the Dodgers think the injury isn’t as severe as his two previous right leg injuries that landed him on the disabled list. That’s the mostly good news part.

The other part, however, is that Torre cautioned that the 38-year-old Ramirez will be watched carefully the rest of the season. Torre was already resting him during day games.

How big can the kid gloves get with Ramirez?

He may not be the power slugger he was when coming to the Dodgers in 2008, but he is still a highly productive hitter when healthy (.317, eight homers, 39 RBI in 186 at-bats). And the Dodgers are clearly a better offensive team when he’s on. I said offensively.

"I think we have to keep an eye on Manny for the rest of the year," Torre said.

Torre said three muscles make up the calf, and this is not the same muscle that sidelined him previously.

Still, Manny’s looking alarmingly fragile. He’s become increasingly difficult to count upon. And you can only baby him so much.

Torre said the Dodgers will also play the next two games without catcher Russell Martin, who finally got around to admitting he injured his thumb at the beginning of the month in Phoenix.

I’m sorry, but this concealing injuries thing is not some great sign of manhood. That’s why teams have an army of trainers and physical therapists, to help deal with these things.

A.J. Ellis is starting for Martin, and Xavier Paul for Ramirez against the Cardinals. Torre said neither injured player is currently a candidate for the DL.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers again lose Manny Ramirez to leg injury

Manny_586

Wondered what it would be like next year for the Dodgers without Manny Ramirez?

You may not have to wonder any longer.

Manny left another game Friday with tightness in his right calf.

He had just come off the disabled list Thursday with a sore right hamstring. He also went on the disabled list in April with a right calf strain.

The Dodgers are giving him the old day-to-day prognosis for now, but it’s becoming increasingly clear the Dodgers may not be able to count on the 38-year-old outfielder even this season.

He started Friday’s game in St. Louis and drew a first-inning walk. He never advanced past first, though he did run hard to second when Casey Blake popped up  for the final out.

When the Dodgers took the field in the bottom of the first, Xavier Paul was in Ramirez’s position in left field.

Ramirez is in the last year of his contract, and at his age, it is understood he will sign next season with an American League team as a designated hitter.

The Dodgers, however, were counting on him being a key, productive part of their team this season. And he has been when he’s played.

Ramirez is batting .317, with eight home runs and 39 RBI in 186 at-bats. Matt Kemp leads the team with 353 at-bats.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Left fielder Manny Ramirez watches the Dodgers play the Diamondbacks on July 4. Credit: Nick Doan / EPA

The Dodgers' dilemma: searching for Ronnie Belliard

Belliard_300 Send out an APB on Ronnie Belliard.

Somebody help find this guy. He’s 5 feet 9, rounded, battles a weight problem (and pictured at left).

Was last seen batting .351 with five homers and 17 RBI in 24 games with the Dodgers the last two months of the 2009 season.

Rumored to have been with the Dodgers again this year, but that just can’t be, since that Ronnie Belliard is hitless in his last 20 at-bats and batting just .220 on the season.

Really? Yep, it's true.

Ranking just below the mysterious reversal of left-handed reliever George Sherrill this season is that of Belliard. Maybe it is the pod theory.

Belliard has been awful. No longer stings the ball. Too often, just looks overmatched. Just ahead of useless.

The only possible explanation is regular playing time, which has been in somewhat short supply with Blake DeWitt the everyday second baseman -- at least against right-handers -- and the somewhat surprisingly strong play of utility infielder Jamey Carroll.

Still, Belliard has 109 at-bats (Carroll has 179 and is starting Friday against St. Louis), so it’s not like Joe Torre has completely forgotten him.

The right-handed hitter is batting only .174 against left-handers (Carroll is at .260). And right now he’s in a miserable funk.

Mikesciosciastragicillness.com goes so far as to advocate waiving both Belliard and veteran outfielder Garret Anderson, while keeping young outfielder Xavier Paul in the majors and signing Russell Branyan.

One thing’s for certain, the Dodgers can’t afford for two of their bench players to be so completely unproductive. Belliard, who fortunately for him doesn’t have a Paul pushing him, needs to get it going.

Some facsimile of that 2009 Belliard has to be located.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo credit: Kirby Lee / US Presswire

Does Reed Johnson's DL stint only buy Garret Anderson a slight reprieve?

With George Sherrill placed on waivers, could Garret Anderson be next?

Joe Torre loves Anderson, but then it was only last Sunday he was saying of Sherrill: "I’m not going to give up on him."

I guess he meant, at least until Wednesday.

Anderson may have caught a slight reprieve Thursday when to make room for Manny Ramirez, the Dodgers placed Reed Johnson on the disabled list with a bad back.

Johnson hasn’t played since July 8, so assuming it’s retroactive -- the Dodgers’ announcement failed to say -- he could be activated July 24.

At that point, the Dodgers will have to determine whether to send down Xavier Paul (the easy answer) or waive Anderson (the right answer).

I love Anderson, too, think he’s great in the clubhouse and has that veteran ice in his veins.

Still, there’s no getting around his lack of production (.179 batting average, .276 slugging percentage). Paul isn’t exactly tearing it up (.259, .341), which might buy Anderson more time, but he’s more versatile and has an upside.

It’s the middle of July, and Anderson hasn’t proven the answer. Like with Sherrill, it’s time to face the facts.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Is the wonder gone from John Ely? He struggles again as Dodgers fall to Cubs, 7-3

And here you were, just starting to get a tad comfy with the Dodgers rotation.

That’s one of the things about baseball, today’s strong starting five can quickly turn into four reliable starters … and now what?

John Elyhas found a way to shorten his name, or at least eliminate that Elymania part.

There was plenty of understated excitement when Ely unexpectedly burst upon the scene, going 3-2 with a 2.54 ERA in his first seven starts.

Alas, Ely went 1-5 with a 7.49 ERA in his next seven starts, the latest trouble leading to the Dodgers’ 7-3 loss to the Cubs on Saturday afternoon.

For the second consecutive start, Ely could not pitch out of the third inning. He left after allowing six runs on five hits, three walks and a hit batter in just 2 1/3 innings.

Overall he is now 4-7 with a 4.63 ERA. He is pitching like someone who needs to be replaced, though there remains no one remotely obvious to replace him in the rotation, either here or at triple-A Albuquerque.

Ely only found himself in the Dodgers rotation because they had been in such dire straits to begin with. Ely had never pitched above double-A before this season.

There’s still no one down in Albuquerque pitching particularly well. Unless you’re all geared up for Charlie Haeger, Take Four.

Ely recorded a scoreless first, and then did nothing but struggle.

He gave up a run-scoring single to Starlin Castro in the second, which was immediately followed by a Geovany Soto two-run homer.

He got one out in the third, followed by two singles, a hit batter and a walk to force in a run. Which ended his afternoon.

Travis Schlichting followed, allowed a pair of singles and Ely was tagged for six earned runs.

That pretty much took the air out of Dodger Stadium. The rest of the warm afternoon seemed labored and made for one of the more dull games of the first half.

The Dodgers just couldn’t get much going against Cubs starter Tom Gorzelanny (4-5), who held the Dodgers scoreless until the fifth. And even then, the Dodgers needed a couple of breaks.

Xavier Paul was ruled safe on a close play at first, though replays showed Gorzelanny just beat him covering the bag.

Rafael Furcal singled and then Andre Ethier blooped a hit to left that was played awkwardly by Alfonso Soriano. The ball bounced past him for a hit to score Paul and was scooped up by Marlon Byrd.

Byrd fired to third to try to nab Furcal, but no one was there. Furcal scored on the error.

Ethier also singled in a run in the ninth.

Still, the Dodgers were left not only with a loss but with a seeming hole in their rotation. And maybe just a bit more pressure on general manager Ned Colletti to land another starter.

-- Steve Dilbeck
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