Feb 10

Arbitration clock eight days and counting for James Loney

James Loney and the Dodgers will head to an arbitration hearing Feb. 18 if they can’t settle their salary disagreement beforehand, reports ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Tony Jackson, who also has a feature on Don Mattingly today.

Elsewhere …

  • Jayson Stark of ESPN.com mostly approves of the Dodger offseason, at least relative to the rest of the National League West.
  • The Dodgers have packed for Camelback Ranch, and Roberto Baly — the Carmen Sandiego of Dodgerdom — is on the scene. Check out his pics and video, including shots of 75-year-old James Hall, who has been driving the truck for 29 years.
  • Check out the photo archive of Sports Illustrated vet Hy Peskin, thanks to the link passed along by Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness.
  • Loved this video of Landry Fields working at a New York sporting goods store and trying in vain to sell his own jersey.
  • Nice story on ex-Chatsworth High ballplayer Matt Cassel by Eric Sondheimer of the Times.
  • Tweet of the day:”@jeffthiessen: Went to my local batting cage today and JAY GIBBONS of the #dodgers was hitting in my cage.. He said I have a nice swing!!”
Feb 09

Notes before sunset

“Oh, occasionally the early evening, but usually the late evening — or the mid-evening. Just the early evening, mid-evening and late evening. Occasionally, early afternoon, early mid-afternoon, or perhaps the late-mid-afternoon. Oh, sometimes the early-mid-late-early morning. …  But never at dusk! Never at dusk. I would never do that.”
— Steve Martin

* * *

  • I liked this piece by Bethany Heck at Notgraphs, identifying the types of grass at all the major-league parks.
  • Michael Arkush of Yahoo! Sports catches up with Maury Wills in this feature.
  • Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven is hunting down recordings by Brooklyn Dodger organist Gladys Goodding.
  • Eric Chavez could earn up to $5.5 million counting incentives from the Yankees. Details from Aaron Gleeman at Hardball Talk.
  • Former Jacksonville Suns play-by-play man Joe Block will join Josh Suchon as co-host of KABC AM 790 DodgerTalk, succeeding Ken Levine, who still might contribute from time to time when he’s not doing Seattle Mariners games.
  • In other radio news, a Portland, Oregon FM radio station will broadcast 75 to 90 Dodger games this season, writes Andy Giegerich of the Portland Business Journal (link via Rob Neyer).

    When pressed as to how the station decided to seek Dodger broadcasts, (programming director Brian) Jennings confessed.

    “I grew up a Dodgers fan,” he said. “I grew up in Spokane when the Indians were the (Dodgers) Triple-A team. I saw everyone from Koufax to Maury Wills to the Davises, Tommy and Willie, come through there.”

  • Ken Arneson wrote. That’s all you need to know to click.
Feb 09

Valenzuela to be inducted into Latino Baseball Hall of Fame

Former Dodger great Fernando Valenzuela is being inducted into the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame and is flying to the Dominican Republic for the ceremony Saturday.

Valenzuela is part of the LBHoF’s second class, and will be joined by Luis Tiant, Dennis Martinez, Manny Sanguillen, Edgar Martinez, Rico Carty and Andres Galarraga. Dodger broadcaster Jaime Jarrin was part of the inaugural class, while longtime Dodger scout Ralph Avila helped found the LBHoF.

Two days earlier, on Thursday, Dodger prospects from the team’s Campo Las Palmas training facility will play Yankees prospects in the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame Cup in La Romana. A statue of Valenzuela will be unveiled in La Romana on Friday as part of the “Paseo de los Inmortales del Salón de la Fama del Béisbol Latino.”

“I’m happy to make my first trip to the Dominican Republic, a country that has a long history with the Dodgers and where the club has placed a lot of importance in baseball development through Campo Las Palmas,” Valenzuela said in a statement. “I’m even more pleased that I’m here for such a grand occasion. It’s an honor to represent the Dodgers in the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame.”

The Steinbrenner family is receiving the Tommy Lasorda Award, an honor given by the LBHoF to non-Latinos that advance Latin-American interests in the game.

Dominican Republic president Dr. Leonel Fernandez Reyna will preside over the ceremony in La Romana.

Feb 09

Farewell, Tony Malinosky

Jae C. Hong/APTony Malinosky blows out candles as he celebrates his 100th birthday in Oxnard on Oct. 5, 2009.

We mentioned Tony Malinosky, the 1937 Brooklyn Dodger who was the major-leagues’ oldest-living player, in these parts last month. Sadly, the Dodgers have sent along word that Malinosky has passed on.

Tony Malinosky, the former Brooklyn Dodger who was the oldest-living major-leaguer, passed away Tuesday at age 101, the Los Angeles Dodgers said.

Malinosky played 35 games at third base and shortstop for Brooklyn in 1937, batting .228 in 79 at-bats. According to Baseball-Reference.com, his career-best performance was a 3-for-5 day against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Dodgers purchased his contract from the Pittsburgh Pirates the previous winter.

Born Oct. 7, 1909 in Collinsville, Ill., Malinosky attended Whittier College in California with Pres. Richard Nixon, according to the Dodgers, and served in the U.S. Army in World War II.

The Dodgers honored him at Dodger Stadium in 2009 on the occasion of his 100th birthday. He was living in Oxnard, Calif. when he passed away.

“Tony lived an incredibly full life, both on and off the field,” the Dodgers said in a statement. “He remained a Dodger fan his whole life and his visit to Dodger Stadium in 2009 gave the organization a great opportunity to celebrate not only his 100th birthday, but the Dodger chapter of his life that meant so much to him. He will be most certainly missed by all who knew him.”

For those who missed it the first time, here’s a link to Malinosky’s 2009 interview with KCLU.

Feb 08

Owner moaners

In case you ain’t heard, the New York Mets are having a wee bit of an ownership crisis of their own.  At MLB Trade Rumors, Howard Megdal offers a primer on what’s going on.

Around the horn …

  • Don Mattingly talked about the outfield situation with Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:

    … We’ll look at the matchups, because Marcus might be better against certain right-handers and Gibbons showed he hits lefties good,” said Mattingly.He said he will insist on better defense throughout the club, particularly Kemp and Ethier. Before Thames was acquired, there was talk of putting Gwynn in center, moving Kemp to right and Ethier to left, all because management was disappointed in the outfield play of Kemp and Ethier last year. Gwynn now figures to be primarily a late-inning defender in left field, unless his offense improves.

    “We want to put our best defense out there,” said Mattingly. “I’ve talked to Matt and Andre. For the most part, I don’t like moving everybody around. If everybody is playing defense the way they’re supposed to play, they’ll stay in their spots. But the defense has got to get better in the outfield. Not just Matt, but Andre also. Better positioning on counts, better jumps, paying better attention to the situations and the tendencies of the runners. We’ve got to get better defensively.”…

  • Albuquerque will host the Triple-A championship in 2011, writes Matt Eddy of Baseball America.
  • Get your first look at the post-Monster Truck, oh-so-sweet Dodger Stadium grass, thanks to Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven.
Feb 08

Baby, why you gotta treat me this way?

As Russell Martin remains on his “Even though I said I was trying the past two years, I really wasn’t — but now that I’m gone, I really am” tour … some notes:

Feb 08

Could the Giants be even better in 2011?

While determining who will succeed Rob Neyer in his national blogging spot at ESPN.com, members of the Sweet Spot blogging network are rotating through the mix. Today is my day, and I’m starting things off with … a post about the Giants.

Even the best teams usually need a lot of things to go their way to win the World Series, a run of good luck that can come to an abrupt end the following season, especially if you stand pat.

The San Francisco Giants mostly bring back the same team that won the title last fall. Although they no doubt peaked at the right time, there’s actually room for improvement from some key personnel. …

It could go either way for San Francisco, with health perhaps emerging as the biggest factor. Discussion of the Giants still begins with the pitching staff, but the rise of Buster Posey, the possible leap forward of Brandon Belt and the enigma that is Pablo Sandoval have made them much more interesting to me than in past years.

Feb 07

The Dodgers according to Ned Colletti


Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesNed Colletti is beginning his sixth season as Dodgers general manager. The team has averaged 86 regular-season victories during his tenure.

Ten days.

The Dodgers rose from the basement of the National League West in May to the best record in the league in June, then sat only two games out of first place in the division at the All-Star Break.

Yet as far as Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti was concerned, it was almost a mirage. During an interview at his Dodger Stadium office last week, Colletti fully acknowledged that the Dodgers’ second-half fade, as much as he and everyone else tried to reverse it, came as disturbingly little surprise to him.

Ten days. In Colletti’s view, that’s how long the Dodgers played championship-quality baseball in 2010.

“I think the second half, in a lot of ways, was the result of the first half and the spring,” Colletti said. “I can’t say I had more than a 10-day period where I thought we were truly playing as well as we could play. In ’09, we had a pretty good defense, and we executed, played well in clutch situations, found a way to win games. We really hadn’t done that very much in the first half of the season. And I think it caught up with us in the second half.

“And what I did last year wasn’t acceptable. How I prepared for last year didn’t meet the results that I have for myself.”

The Dodgers will arrive to spring training later this month, in many ways, a different team than a year ago, starting with a greater emphasis on starting pitching that represents Colletti’s most visceral response to his roster concerns from 2010. At the same time, Colletti said the experience the returning core gained from last year’s disappointment has the potential to play a significant, positive role in 2011.

“They’re professional, and this is their livelihood,” he said. “And you believe there’s enough pride and adjustment and education from this past year. A lot of guys haven’t gone through what they’ve gone through in the past year. That will put them in the right place coming in to know it’s got to be better and it’s got to be more focused.

“Because they’ve (succeeded) before, I’m confident. But then, last year was what it was. I’m cautious by nature. I take nothing for granted, at any point in my life at any stage. So I don’t take it for granted that it’s just gonna happen. I think it has to be prepared in order to happen.

Translated, Colletti believes the talent is there but the effort, focus and confidence need to return. He said the offseason preparation “is done to some point, and when you get to camp now it’s going to be up to Don [Mattingly] and his staff to have certain procedures in place and certain accountability set forth. And I obviously have to support that, and they have to buy into it.”

Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire
Matt Kemp had homered once in 31 games prior to hitting one out in each of his final five games of 2010.

Comeback kids?
Despite leading Dodgers regulars on offense, Andre Ethier never fully seemed to recover from the pinky injury he suffered in May and fed doubts about his long-term ability to hit left-handed pitchers (.625 OPS against them in 2010, .681 for his career). James Loney went from decent before the All-Star Break (.803) to disastrous after (.616). Jonathan Broxton’s second-half collapse is as well-documented as anyone’s, and Matt Kemp … well, let’s just say his season could have been the inspiration for what made Linda Blair’s head spin in “The Exorcist.”

The question, Colletti agreed, is which of the players will hit a hurdle in their development in 2010, and which have hit a wall. And it’s a question that’s due for an answer. Mulligans that were handed out last year won’t be found so easily or at all in 2011.

“In the past, I’ve been more patient than open-minded,” Colletti said. “I think that one of the toughest characteristics you have to have in these jobs is patience because everybody expects everything to turn overnight. … It doesn’t work that way. Everybody’s human; these guys are all human. They take maturation, physical maturation, all kinds of processes.

“I won’t be able to be just completely patient with it [this year]. We’re not an old team, but we’re not a team overwhelmed with rookies, either. We have experience, and a lot of our players have been to the postseason at least twice and sometimes three times in the last five years. So it’s there, it’s really kind of going back to that point and being focused about it and passionate about it and tough-minded about it.”

It might surprise people to learn that Colletti seems particularly bullish about Kemp, the target of a radio critique by Colletti in April.

“I think probably from middle of August on, things became a little bit more focused for him,” Colletti said. “He and I had a conversation, probably in August, that was really a man-to-man, heart-to-heart, one-on-one conversation. And I was trying to take some of the weight off. I think he understands it; I think he understands what transpired last year. I think from my conversations this winter, from the last month of the season and this winter, I think he understands more than he did a year ago about himself and about the game, about preparation. So I think he’s got a chance to really have a great year.”

It’s possible Colletti might have said the same thing about Russell Martin, except Martin is no longer around. The circumstances of the Dodgers’ decision to let Martin go rather than offer him salary arbitration weren’t discussed, but Martin’s recent offseason comments about “distractions” that affected him led to a broader comment from Colletti about the difficulty of playing in Los Angeles.

“Sometimes, it’s commitment, prioritization and commitment,” Colletti said. “I read what Russell said, but I don’t know what the true context was or what his underlying thoughts were as to why he said it. … There are a lot of distractions in this city. There’s a lot of different things to be doing, a lot of places your mind can wander off to, but if you’re a professional baseball player, if you’re a Dodger, you’ve got to figure out life. … And it’s not easy to do it.”

Without going into many specifics, Colletti indicated that the ability to play in Los Angeles is a factor in some trades of young players he has made. He called Carlos Santana the prospect he regrets parting with “probably more than anybody” before he added that there were a couple of other guys he would have to wait and see on.

“Again, Los Angeles isn’t for everybody,” Colletti said. “Sometimes we make a move on a player because we know in this environment here, they’re not going to be very good in it.”

Chris Williams/Icon SMI
Jonathan Broxton issued 25 of his 28 walks last season after June 23.

Pitching paradoxes
As for Broxton, count Colletti among those who see his second-half crumble as an issue of confidence, rather than health problems that might have been caused by his 48-pitch tar-and-feathering against the Yankees last June.

“He never complained,” Colletti said. “And at the end, he wasn’t thrilled with it, but I said, ‘Jonathan, I need you to take a complete physical — your arm, your shoulder, your elbow.’ A week to go in the season. And he said, ‘I feel great. I don’t need to do it.’ And I said, ‘I need you to do it.’ So he said, ‘I’ll do it,’ and everything came back clean.”

Colletti is aware of the volatility of relief pitchers, comparing them to great goaltenders who can go through “a month or two where they can’t stop anything.” But this awareness cuts both ways. It leads Colletti to give relievers who have performed in the past long leashes, and it compels him to have as many alternatives on hand as he can, as seen through the acquisitions of set-up men Matt Guerrier and Blake Hawksworth and oblique references to No. 6 starter Vicente Padilla’s potential to close games.

Again, however, Colletti believes that at rock bottom you can often find a trampoline. Look no further than Chad Billingsley, banished from the Dodgers’ starting rotation by the end of 2009 before rising anew last season.

“Most of our young players did not experience a lot of failure as young players, minor leagues [or] early in the big leagues,” Colletti said. “They really didn’t struggle. And when it finally hits you, and you do struggle for whatever reason and you’re doing it in front of 45,000 people in Los Angeles all the time, on television every day, that’s a tough time to struggle for the first time, for the really first time, and be able to come out of it.”

Interestingly, Colletti’s faith in failure recovery played a partial role in what many believe is the Dodgers’ greatest weakness heading into this season: the lack of a bona fide left fielder.

Angst in the outfield
This winter, the Dodgers didn’t bid on the two marquee outfield free agents, Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth, and you can safely conclude that was a reflection of their overall contract demands and the Dodgers’ budget. But when it came to alternatives, Colletti was wary of blocking two Dodgers outfield prospects who could each be major league ready a year from now, Trayvon Robinson and Jerry Sands, especially after the experience Robinson had in Jacksonville last summer.

“Robinson last year started off slow in Double-A, and we stayed with him and he figured it out,” Colletti said. “That to me was huge. Because he’s gonna have to figure that out. Because everybody struggles up here.”

There is the caveat that it’s not as if the current Dodgers never struggled in the majors or minors before 2010 – one could easily make the case that they did, but that their subsequent triumphs blotted out the memory. In any event, if he had found a signable veteran outfielder worthy of a multiyear deal, Colletti no doubt would have pulled the trigger. But he does feel optimistic over the long term about what he has.

“If I would have signed a left fielder for three years, who was again not one of those robust guys — I’m not sure there was a guy out there — then I’m really kind of blocking one of those two kids, and I’ve got faith in both of them,” he said. “Hopefully, not this year. Hopefully, it’s a year from now, but I have faith in both that they’ll be able to play and contribute. And actually I told them both that, too, in the fall — I told Trayvon way back in the summertime, ‘It’s important for me to know who you are and how you play. Because you know what, Manny’s not gonna be back next year. And I’ve got to make a decision whether I’m gonna go and tie up his spot for three or four years, or be patient and mix and match for a year and wait for you.’”

Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesCasey Blake had an .895 OPS against lefties last year, .663 against righties.

In the interim, Colletti is under no illusion that he has gold in the third outfield slot, so the Dodgers will essentially play it by ear in the outfield, with Mattingly looking at matchup opportunities for Tony Gwynn Jr., Marcus Thames, Jay Gibbons and Xavier Paul (if he makes the squad), and on an infrequent basis, Casey Blake or Jamey Carroll.

“Right now Matty’s the center fielder,” Colletti said. “Andre’s the right fielder. I want to see what Tony can do offensively. He’ll play as much as the offense allows him, I think … using the whole field, bunting more, figuring out ways to get on base, because his on-base percentage isn’t high even when he hits .270. See if he can become more disciplined at the plate, use his speed more to get on. I don’t expect power out of him. I don’t expect gap power out of him, but I would like to see him get on base a lot more, because if he does it perhaps changes the dynamics in the outfield.

“And in the meantime, I’ve got two guys that can hit, one from the left side and one from the right side — actually two from the left side with X. Paul and Gibbons, and then Thames. … And perhaps they’re five- or six-inning guys, and then you go defense later. But you’ve got two guys that might be able to hit 20 homers between them.”

Third base offers a secondary question for the Dodgers because, while Blake is sure to start against lefties and some righties, no one seems to be beating the drum for him to play 146 games like he did last season. With the Dodgers’ minor leagues fairly thin at second and third base, this time Colletti took the plunge on a multiyear stopgap in Juan Uribe.

“Our system’s produced a lot of guys,” Colletti said. “But except for really [Ivan] DeJesus, we don’t really have a second baseman that’s on the verge of being here. We have a shortstop coming probably in Dee Gordon and after him [Jake] Lemmerman, and right now third base is a bit of an open spot too — we had [Pedro] Baez in the Cal League last year. So Uribe, while the on-base percentage isn’t Moneyball-ish or whatever, the run production is still pretty good, in that he can play second, short or third, and we don’t have anybody that’s going to press him at third for a while, and really De Jesus is trying to transition to play second. I needed somebody I can run out there who’s a big league guy.”

Because of what he sees as a potential benefit to have Uribe play some at the hot corner, Colletti emphasized that De Jesus has a legitimate chance to make the Opening Day roster as a backup infielder. Obviously, someone like Carroll could also make several starts to allow Blake to rest.

In any case, Colletti is aware of how much a juggling act the Dodgers’ everyday lineup has become. Though he has in one sense traded last year’s lack of a fifth starter for this year’s lack of an everyday left fielder or third baseman, Colletti sees the two situations as apples and oranges.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Matt Guerrier, 31, has allowed 11.5 baserunners per nine innings in his career.

Never enough
“You really didn’t have in my mind many choices that were going to be able to play every day,” Colletti said. “We had to fix the pitching first, and we had to upgrade the bullpen if we could.

“You can’t finesse pitching. Maybe a day here or there, but you need to have it. And the list [of available pitchers], we were kind of picking near the top of the list, even though it isn’t sexy to say you signed Ted [Lilly] or Hiroki [Kuroda], it’s not necessarily ‘wow,’ but it’s solid. It gave us a little bit of depth. So we had to start there. The kid from Minnesota, Guerrier, is gonna be a good add for us. He’s pitched in a lot of big games; he’s always had positive results.

“It’s the most volatile group, but once [Joaquin] Benoit got three years and [$16.5 million], that’s what people expect to get … and if you really need a guy, sometimes you have to go the extra distance to go and get him.”

Add together the total commitments the Dodgers made to their free-agent signees of this past offseason, and you barely pass the total value of Adrian Beltre’s deal by itself, while falling short of the Crawford or Werth contracts. And like it or not, Colletti was not going to enter another season shy on pitching or dependent on unproven rookies such as James McDonald or Scott Elbert.

“I was apprehensive all winter long last year” Colletti said of the starting pitching. “I knew we were short going in; I knew we weren’t going to be able to rally it. In the spring, J-Mac and Scotty both struggled. We may have sent them both out early, in fact, because they couldn’t throw strikes; they were all over the board. So right from the beginning, I knew we were going to be short. I didn’t know how we were gonna mix and match, and we couldn’t afford an injury certainly.”

If there’s an ongoing concern on everyone’s minds, it’s how the Frank McCourt ownership crisis is affecting spending on the team on the field. You can argue that different owners might have allowed Colletti to sign one big-ticket free agent in addition to shoring up the pitching, but Colletti doesn’t contend that the divorce itself is having an impact on personnel.

He also makes the case, as McCourt did a year ago, that the Dodgers are aiming to spend more money to deepen their prospect population.

Farm aid
“We’ve had basically the same [major-league] payroll,” Colletti said. “Though we dipped a little bit last year, we’re coming back this year. It’s not really how much you have, it’s where you spend it. We do have to get better at international signings; we have to reinvest there. I think we’ve let Venezuela slip for a few years, and we’ve made some changes in the staffing.

“We’ve done a decent job in the D.R. [Dominican Republic] — not what we did 25 years ago, but with all due respect, 25 years ago there wasn’t 30 teams down there, either. So, it’s not like we could just cherry-pick the players we want like we probably did at the outset of the country opening up to having players signed. But we do have to get better at that to support our player development system. It’s been fruitful. Obviously, a lot of players are in the big leagues now that we drafted, but we have to keep flowing, and they have to keep getting better. I know we’ve hit a touchable lull right now and I think we’re probably a year or two away from having another group come forward.”

[+] EnlargeZach Lee

Chris Carlson/APLogan White escorts newly signed Zach Lee in his Dodger Stadium visit in August.

Colletti didn’t rule out the Dodgers’ top draft choice of 2010, Zach Lee — whose signing shocked most baseball observers — being part of the Dodgers’ graduating class of 2012. Amid the height of McCourt tensions, Lee received a $5.25 million signing bonus, a record for a Dodgers’ draft pick. The previous record-holder, Clayton Kershaw, reached the majors less than two calendar years after he was picked, and Lee could do the same.

“We really liked this kid,” Colletti said. “We really liked his makeup, his demeanor, his abilities, athleticism, his toughness. … Not only are the physical skills different than most kids you see, but the way his mind works is different … probably from playing at the highest levels at a couple of sports, including going to LSU for a summer and having that experience, which as long as he didn’t get hurt it didn’t bother me.”

Colletti’s hope is that the Dodgers’ minor league pitchers drafted in previous years allow Lee as much time as he needs to develop. There was an epidemic of setbacks among the farm system’s arms in 2010 — so many that if Colletti wants to see who can overcome hurdles, wish granted.

“It’s concerning to me,” he said. “Probably a lot of the guys that we could both probably name should be a year farther along than they are. They’ve all struggled with command. … Some are converted players, some weren’t pitchers necessarily in high school or college. So they’re still learning that.

Curing the epidemic
And to circle back to the beginning of our piece, in some ways, older players never stop learning and developing. Witness Colletti’s additional assessment of the contagion that struck the Dodgers’ offense in 2010:

“I think hitters sometimes without results start to get impatient, so they start to chase out of the zone,” he said. “They’re trying to build more offensive numbers in a quicker period of time and so they’re not as diligent to work the count, and all that stuff starts to compound through the course of it. … When people are starting to slump, sometimes it produces more guys that go in that direction than less. And that’s what started to happen. It started to spiral where one guy struggled and then two. And then the third guy saw the other two and then he struggled, and it continued to mount.”

Alex Gallardo/APDavey Lopes will switch to a Dodgers’ uniform for the first time since Game 6 of the 1981 World Series.

When you take Colletti’s view of what went wrong with the Dodgers last year and what’s needed to make it right, it makes sense that he sees one of the most promising offseason moves as one that even some jaded Dodgers fans embraced: the hiring of Davey Lopes as a coach.

“I’ve known him a long time and I’ve admired him,” Colletti said. “You know, I was with him in Chicago when he was still a player and I’ve certainly watched him from the other side of the field when he managed and when he was coaching. And I think what he brings here is — you’re talking about first — someone who was an iconic Dodger who understands Los Angeles and understands the Dodgers and was here during one of the greatest periods in our franchise’s history. That’s important.

“What he did in Philly with baserunning and defense and fine-tuning that position, the first-base coaching position, to make it a far more valuable position to the organization, is something we noticed. And I think he’s going to have a great impact on our club. I think there are some players that could turn their game up a notch with his instruction, with his thought process. I think, while it’s a coaching position, I think it’s a huge addition for this franchise.”

Will a new manager, new coaches, new players and new spirits be enough to right the Dodgers’ ship? It’s too soon to say, but if the Dodgers are to play more than 10 days of great baseball in 2011, Colletti will expect to see strong signs of it before Opening Day arrives.

Feb 05

Eric Chavez heads to Yankees

Eric Chavez won’t be the uncertain solution to the Dodgers’ uncertain third-base situation. The oft-injured vet is headed to the New York Yankees on a minor-league deal, as is former Dodger Ronnie Belliard.

* * *

Fairly safe to say that the most scrutinized 2011 Dodger heading into the season will be Matt Kemp.  Here’s more detailed analysis, from True Blue L.A. newbie Chad Moriyama,

Feb 04

Throwback throwdown

The Dodgers will wear throwback uniforms at six 12:10 p.m., half-price-on-food-and-drink weekday games this season. You can vote on your pick at the Dodgers’ website.

The choices:

The first of the three uniform options was worn by the Dodgers exactly 100 years ago. The 1911 road uniform features fine narrow pinstripes and the BROOKLYN name displayed vertically in small capital letters down the button panel. Known as the “Superbas,” the Brooklyn team wearing this uniform played its second-to-last season in 1911 at Washington Park.

The second option is the 1931 road uniform, which was the only variety of the 1930s uniform designs to sport a block capital “B” on the front of the jersey.

The third option is the 1940s “Satin” road uniform, which is blue and features the trim and DODGERS script in white. With the advent of night baseball at Ebbets Field in the 1940s, the original uniform used a highly reflective satin fabric to be more visible under the lights.

Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness has a photo of the satin uniform.

Which do you like?

Feb 04

Feel-good Friday

Health is this morning’s lead topic …

  • Injury prevention continues to offer potential as the next Moneyball (i.e., exploiting the undervalued) frontier. Will Carroll writes about the topic for SI.com (link via new SB Nation national baseball editor Rob Neyer, who has his own comment).
  • Neyer also links to Corey Hawkins’ new Baseball Injury Tool, a website that I suspect a lot of us will soon find indispensable.
  • Jim McLennan of AZ Snakepit studies the importance of starting pitching depth, noting among other things that even the most stable rotation in the National League, San Francisco’s, needed 19 starts outside of its main five pitchers.
  • Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News has completed his massive project, “The Tao of Vin Scully”: 21 sportscasters discussing what makes the Dodger legend great.
  • Before we leave the Daily News, I have to pass along Kevin Modesti’s “Where Are They Now” story on “Family Affair” boy Johnny Whitaker.
  • The ups and downs of James Loney’s professional career, dating back to draft day in 2002 (goodness), are reviewed by John Sickels at Minor League Ball.
  • David Young and I have had All-Something fever lately.  His latest at True Blue L.A.: The Los Angeles Dodgers All-Short Stuff Team.
  • Here’s a retrospective of the Dodgers’ Burt Shotton era, courtesy of Steven Booth and the Hardball Times.
  • The inimitable player/author/speaker Dirk Hayhurst offers his “Ten Commandments of Social Networking as a professional athlete” (via David Pinto’s Baseball Musings).
  • Baseball co-blogger David Newhan is lacin’ ‘em up again, signing a minor-league deal with the San Diego Padres.
  • If I could have had just half of Dee Gordon’s Thursday, I’d have been happy: “I swear I just had the best nap ever! My body is feeling it from these intense workouts!”
  • Update: Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com looks at the Dodger infield heading into the coming season.