Apr 06

Dodgers trade Aaron Harang for neither Ramon Martinez nor Carlos Hernandez



The Dodgers have traded Aaron Harang to the Colorado Rockies for, broadly speaking, the second coming of Rod Barajas – an old, slow catcher with perhaps some vestiges of power.

The acquisition of catcher Ramon Hernandez is much more like an NBA salary-cap maneuver than a traditional baseball trade, especially considering the Rockies immediately designated Harang for assignment. Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. parses the details.

… Hernandez has a salary of $3.2 million this season, and was designated for assignment on Mar. 29. Harang is due $7 million this season, and has an option for 2014 that could vest with at least 180⅓ innings pitched in 2013, or a buyout of $2 million.

The Rockies designated Harang for assignment immediately upon making the trade.

Counting Sunday, Mar. 31, six days of the 183-day season have lapsed. That means the Dodgers are on the hook for $3,095,082 of Hernandez’s salary, and the Rockies responsible for $6,770,492 for Harang, plus the $2 million buyout in 2014, though Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported the Dodgers would send $4.25 million to Colorado.

So, instead of having $9 million guaranteed to Harang, the Dodgers will instead pay approximately $7,574,590 ($3,095,082 for Hernandez, $229,508 for Harang, and $4.25 million to Colorado). Subtract the major league salary that would have been paid to Tim Federowicz and the Dodgers save approximately $2 million and upgraded their catching depth. …

Major League Baseball’s first Ramon Hernandez had a 3.03 ERA in 403 1/3 innings from 1967-77 (including 2.36 from 1971-75), peaking with a 1.67 ERA in 70 innings for the 1972 National League East champion Pirates.

This Ramon Hernandez has 166 home runs and a .744 OPS in 14 seasons, dipping sharply in 2012 when he had a .601 OPS in 196 plate appearances for Colorado (though he did go 3 for 4 against the Dodgers in a game last May). He turns 37 next month. Lucille IV, anyone?

Federowicz will probably remain on the Dodger roster until the team activates Chad Billingsley for his Wednesday start. It’s a sad but not altogether surprising turn for Federowicz, who essentially is enduring what current Dodger starter A.J. Ellis did in previous years – watching a veteran take the backup spot. The upside is that Federowicz, still only 25 and unlike Fernandez, the first of his name in the majors, can play regularly for Albuquerque.

I didn’t have the highest hopes for what the Dodgers would get for Harang, but I did dream that he might bring an actual bat off the bench instead of more filler. In a sense, that’s what Harang himself had become, despite the $12 million, two-year deal he signed in December 2011.

Harang leaves with two great Dodger Stadium memories – throwing six no-hit innings on July 9, 2011 and setting a team record with nine consecutive strikeouts 51 weeks ago today, on April 13, 2012.

Pirates at Dodgers, 6:10 p.m.
Kershaw CLI: Kershawrgo

Carl Crawford, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Andre Ethier, RF
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Justin Sellers, SS
Clayton Kershaw, P

Sep 05

Billingsley’s season is over

Padres at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Mark Ellis, 2B
Shane Victorino, LF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, CF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Andre Ethier, RF
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Aaron Harang, P

The Dodgers placed Chad Billingsley on the 60-day disabled list, ending his 2012 season after one of the hottest stretches of his career. He finishes with a 3.55 ERA (107 ERA+).

Coming to the team is left-handed reliever Steven Rodriguez from Double-A Chattanooga. Drafted just this past June from Florida, Rodriguez had 22 strikeouts against 14 baserunners in 13 2/3 innings.

* * *

First thing Thursday, I’m headed to the Toronto Film Festival, where I will be spending six days seeing movies, conducting interviews and writing for Variety. It’s going to be a murderous schedule, so rather than have this site go completely dormant, I’ve conscripted Bob Timmermann to take the reins. Enjoy, and here’s hoping things are looking bright for the Dodgers when I return.

Sep 01

September 1 game chat: Ely promoted

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 6:10 p.m.
Mark Ellis, 2B
Shane Victorino, LF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, CF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Andre Ethier, RF
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Josh Beckett, P

In addition to Tim Federowicz and Javy Guerra, John Ely has joined the big-league roster. Alfredo Silverio was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Ely.

If the Dodgers lose tonight, they will be 35-32 at home and on the road.

Aug 24

Why I’m hearing ‘Pedro-Delino’ in ‘Rubby-Adrian’

Adrian Gonzalez is just what the doctor ordered for the Dodgers, but at what cost?

* * *

Rubby De La Rosa has been optioned to the minors, enabling him to be traded as a player to be named later in the offseason.

James Loney was listed in the Dodger starting lineup tonight, then scratched. Adrian Gonzales has been scratched by Boston.

It’s happening. The blockbuster trade has the momentum of a Boston-to-Los Angeles freight train. From Gordon Edes of ESPN.com:

The Dodgers and Red Sox are closing in on a deal that would send Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to Los Angeles, though a few hurdles remain before it’s official, multiple baseball sources said Friday.

Pitcher Rubby De La Rosa will be headed back to Boston as the centerpiece of the deal, sources say. De La Rosa made his first major league appearance of the season Wednesday, having had Tommy John surgery about 13 months ago. Also included are first baseman James Loney and prospects Ivan De Jesus (infielder) and Jerry Sands (outfielder), according to sources, plus another top prospect that is still unknown. …

I understand the impulse to go for it — I want that World Series too — because I know how much Gonzalez might help the Dodgers. But losing De La Rosa is a huge one for me to swallow.

On Twitter, I’ve already gotten some amount of ridicule for daring to mention this trade in the same breath as the infamous Pedro Martinez-Delino DeShields trade from 1993. But I’m guessing most of those people doing so are using the benefit of hindsight.

Today, DeShields is held in contempt  by Dodger fans — he’s the historic equivalent of Juan Uribe or Andruw Jones as far as Dodger trade acquisitions go. But compare the following at the time of the transaction:

DeShields had also improved three consecutive seasons, from 1991-93. Gonzalez has started to decline over the past three consecutive seasons. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that DeShields, at the time of the transaction, was a more valuable player and had a brighter future than Gonzalez today.

As for De La Rosa … I’ll never forget the time I was in the Dodger dugout, interviewing Orel Hershiser before the 2011 season opener, and heard a key member of the Dodger staff compare De La Rosa to Martinez. It was the first time I heard the comparison — though not the last. De La Rosa’s arm is electric.

At the time of the 1993 trade, Martinez had already logged 115 innings of major-league ball (almost entirely in relief) at age 22 with a 2.58 ERA and 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings, which puts him ahead compared to De La Rosa, who has just now recovered from Tommy John surgery. But make no mistake — there were concerns about Martinez’s health too, to the point that Dr. Frank Jobe was concerned he would break down. As high as we were on him, we didn’t know Martinez was going to become a legend any more than we know what De La Rosa’s ultimate journey will be. And I can tell you for a fact that plenty were thrilled about DeShields coming to Los Angeles.

The chances of De La Rosa becoming one of the greatest pitchers of all time might be slim, but De La Rosa doesn’t have to become the second Pedro to represent a major loss for the Dodgers. He could just be really good, while Gonzalez apes DeShields’ decline.

Like I said, I’m hungry for a World Series title, and I’m not saying the risk of trading De La Rosa won’t be worth it. Don’t misunderstand me: The Dodgers need a player like Gonzalez, who boosts them at their weakest position. I even believe that a move back to his Southern California roots and away from the Red Sox maelstrom could revitalize him.

All I’m saying is, short of Clayton Kershaw, the trade of any other pitcher besides De La Rosa would have left me more comfortable.

Aug 21

Rubby De La Rosa is back

Giants at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Shane Victorino, LF
Adam Kennedy, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
James Loney, 1B
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Joe Blanton, P

Faster than a speeding Rubby De La Rosa fastball, the Dodgers have activated Rubby De La Rosa from the disabled list, 12 1/2 months after his Tommy John surgery. Javy Guerra will go to Albuquerque until rosters expand in September.

De La Rosa’s progress was evident, as we noted earlier Sunday, and the Dodgers’ main decision — once they became confident in his health — seemed to rest upon whether they wanted him to build up higher pitch counts in the minors or come help in the majors right away. It does seem fast, but it’s an exciting move.

Guerra is actually on a streak of 11 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings with 13 strikeouts, so he wasn’t exactly crying out to be optioned. He allowed 12 baserunners in that time and two out of five inherited runners to score. But it shows how highly the Dodgers think of Shawn Tolleson, who is unscored upon in his past 9 1/3 innings with two hits, five walks and five strikeouts. Tolleson has also allowed two of five inherited runners to score in that period.

And no, you don’t cut a Brandon League nor a Jamey Wright with 10 days until the rosters expand. On the other hand, the Dodgers could have found a way to go with a three-man bench …

Aug 20

A.J. Ellis waxes about changing teammates

Kent’s a ‘Survivor’

As had been previously rumored, former Dodger Jeff Kent has officially joined the cast of the upcoming season of CBS’ “Survivor” — along with former “The Facts of Life” star Lisa Whelchel.

Our pal A.J. Ellis has a first-person piece in place of a vacationing Buster Olney today for ESPN.com (behind the Insider wall), writing about what it was like to be on the Dodgers during the recent non-waiver trade deadline. An excerpt:

… On the morning of July 25, I woke up at our hotel in St. Louis and had a pair of new teammates; Hanley Ramirez, a three-time All-Star and former batting champ, and Randy Choate, a left-handed specialist who has dominated left-handed hitters for years, were now Dodgers. Here was our first move, and we get a middle-of-the order bat and added bullpen depth to strengthen our roster and, more importantly, let the rest of baseball know the Dodgers’ ownership meant business. Anything was possible.

Immediately, text messages and phone calls flowed between teammates. Clayton Kershaw texted me with only the word “Hanley,” followed by five exclamation points. Mark Ellis called me to break down what it meant and if we thought Hanley would stay at third or move back to his natural position of shortstop. The initial excitement of the trade and the fulfilled promise from our new ownership group sent energy throughout our team.

Even after we reloaded with Hanley and Choate, the rumor mill continued to swirl. The team returned home after a 7-3 road trip and took the field on July 30 with less than 24 hours to go before the trade deadline. That night, relief pitcher Josh Lindblom entered the game in the sixth and had a quick inning. He was scheduled to head back out for a second inning of work until the home dugout got a first-hand look at how the trade machine works.

Clubhouse manager Mitch Poole quickly paced across the dugout and tapped manager Don Mattingly on the shoulder, summoning him down to the tunnel below our dugout. Mattingly emerged and immediately went to pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, who hurried to the bullpen phone to have another pitcher warm-up. On the bench, we all knew this could mean only one thing: Josh had been traded. The game ended and we entered the clubhouse to learn about the trade, but it wasn’t the one we were anticipating. The Dodgers had acquired Seattle Mariners reliever Brandon League for a couple of minor leaguers at the lower levels. But what about Josh — was his removal a false alarm or was his trade still imminent? …

Read the entire piece here.

Aug 16

In praise of Rick Rhoden

Dodgers at Pirates, 1:05 p.m.
Shane Victorino, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
James Loney, 1B
Adam Kennedy, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Joe Blanton, P

Some morning notes before a mid-day game …

  • Vin Scully gave an interview this week to the SI.com Hot Clicks podcast.
  • Ryan O’Sullivan, a righty with a 3.05 ERA and 5.6 strikeouts per nine innings for two Single-A teams this year, has gone to Philadelphia to complete the Joe Blanton trade. O’Sullivan will turn 22 next month.
  • Boston Globe sportswriter Bob Ryan wrote a lovely farewell piece for the publication that he is (mostly) retiring from after 44 years.
  • Rubby De La Rosa has resumed his rehab, throwing three innings of shutout ball in an Arizona League game Monday.
  • Expressed Written Consent is a program that “brings non-traditional broadcasters into the booth to have a go at the pastime that’s evolved alongside the pastime: calling the game,” writes Jeremy Brisel for MLB.com.
  • Former Dodger pitcher Rick Rhoden — the subject of one of the two calls I made to sportstalk radio in the 1970s as a child — is the inspiration for Josh Wilker’s latest piece at Cardboard Gods. The last two paragraphs explain why …

Aug 06

Dodgers shed Gwynn, recall Sands

The Dodgers have parted ways with Tony Gwynn Jr., designating him for assignment while calling up Jerry Sands to add some power off the bench.

Gwynn, whose defensive skills were marginalized after Shane Victorino was acquired, had a .570 OPS this season and had a .209 on-base percentage in his past 110 plate appearances. In addition to his $850,000 salary this year, Gwynn is guaranteed $1.15 million in 2013.

Sands, in his past 23 games with Albuquerque, has a .438 on-base percentage and .733 slugging percentage.

Interestingly, this was not the only Sands news I received in the past 10 minutes. The following press release also arrived:

What do famous celebrities such as: Charlie Sheen, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Robert Downey Jr, Shaun White, Britney Spears, Ryan O’Neal and foreign royalty have in common with the rest of us? The obvious answer is not much, but the truth is that everyone has equal access to one of the most successful cosmetic dentist in the nation; Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist of choice, Dr. Kevin Sands. …

Update: There’s more, from the Times — “Justice Department investigates Las Vegas Sands Corp.”

Aug 03

Dodgers acquire Phillies pitcher … Joe Blanton

Joe Blanton, the 31-year-old Phillies righthander, has been acquired by the Dodgers for a player to be named later.

Averaging 6 2/3 innings per start in 2012, Blanton has a 4.59 ERA (88 ERA+) with 7.8 strikeouts and a National League-best 1.2 walks per nine innings. He has allowed 9.5 hits per nine innings and a career-worst 1.5 home runs per nine innings. He was limited to 41 1/3 innings in 2011.

Blanton’s becomes a free agent at the end of this season — his 2012 salary is $8.5 million.

At least until Ted Lilly returns from the disabled list, Blanton will replace Stephen Fife, whose 2.16 ERA belies his 1.500 WHIP and 3.8 strikeouts per nine innings.

Update: Ben Duorino of Fangraphs (via Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness) on Blanton’s weird 2012 season.

Aug 01

Nope – it’s Abreu

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 12:10 p.m.
Shane Victorino, LF
Andre Ethier, RF
Matt Kemp, CF
Hanley Ramirez, 3B
Juan Rivera, 1B
Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B
Luis Cruz, SS
A.J. Ellis, C
Stephen Fife, P

Well, I was wrong. The Dodgers have designated Bobby Abreu for assignment to make room on the roster for Shane Victorino.

Abreu OPSed .905 in his first 33 games as a Dodger, through June 11, but since then the outfielder has been 16 for 90 with 11 walks and two extra-base hits in 37 games for a .490 OPS.

I’m genuinely surprised. In this money-is-no-object era for the Dodgers, I still see more potential for Abreu to help in the stretch run than Juan Uribe.

* * *

  • Victorino will wear No. 8 with the Dodgers, with Don Mattingly switching to No. 12. The switch-hitting Victorino is wearing the same number as the switch-hitting Reggie Smith did as a Dodger in the 1970s. Smith took No. 8 because Steve Yeager already had the outfielder’s preferred No. 7.
  • Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus ranked the prospects traded at the deadline this week. Ethan Martin is 11th, Scott McGough 24th, Logan Bawcom 25th and Leon Landry 30th out of 43.
  • Goldstein also produced a new ranking of the top 50 prospects in baseball, with Zach Lee on the list at 47.
  • In the wake of Martin’s departure, the Dodgers promoted Andres Santiago to Double-A Chattanooga, reports Robert Emrich for MLB.com. The 22-year-old righty had a 1.76 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 41 innings for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga in July, while allowing only 21 hits and nine walks.
  • Jerry Hairston Jr. had an obscure but memorable throw, captured by Chad Moriyama.
  • Buster Olney names 10 leading August trade candidates in his column for ESPN.com.
  • This past weekend, I discussed Chad Billingsley’s season-long improvement in throwing strikes. At Fangraphs, Michael Barr delves deeper, noting that Billingsley is “going to his four seam fastball far more regularly and he’s almost abandoned his cutter.”
  • A year after it happened, the Trayvon Robinson trade gets a positive review from Scott Andes at Lasorda’s Lair.
  • Dodger Stadium cuisine was recently reviewed by Jeanne Fratello of the Jolly Tomato.
  • Former Dodger general manager Dan Evans had a post-deadline live chat today at Baseball Prospectus.
  • Houston finished July with a 3-24 record, the worst July any team has had in at least 50 years, notes David Pinto of Baseball Musings.
  • With no further introduction, a recent piece from Josh Wilker.
Jul 31

Preparing for a Shane Victorino trade

To paraphrase Sally Field, you might not like Shane Victorino. You might really, really not like him. Perhaps because of the 2008 playoffs. (If you can’t get the clip above to work, click here.) Perhaps for another reason.

But other than providing Victorino no honeymoon if the Dodgers complete a trade for him, none of that is going to matter. If and when he does well for the Dodgers, you’re going to be happy. If and when he doesn’t, you weren’t going to be happy anyway.

As I commented yesterday at Dodger Thoughts, if Sal Maglie, Juan Marichal and Jeff Kent can become Dodgers, it’s hard to say a more insignificant rival like Victorino can’t.

Victorino, who was drafted by the Dodgers in 1999 before leaving the organization twice in rule 5 drafts – the second time to the Phillies in 2004 – is having his poorest season in five years, with a .324 on-base percentage and .401 slugging percentage for Philadelphia. The situation is parallel to the Dodgers’ acquisition of Hanley Ramirez – even if Victorino continues at that sub-par level, his total package still is a step up from what the Dodgers have been getting out of their current left fielders, unless you’re a big fan of the outfield defense of Jerry Hairston Jr., Elian Herrera and Bobby Abreu.

With his speed (24 steals in 28 attempts) and defense, consider Victorino as Tony Gwynn Jr. with a better bat. The upside for a player like Victorino, who OPSed .847 in 2011 and was at times considered a Most Valuable Player candidate, is gravy.

The problem is that Victorino, despite being a switch-hitter, has a huge platoon disadvantage against right-handed pitching, as Jack Moore notes at Fangraphs. His OPS vs. righties this year is .649, and he has never broken .800 while batting left-handed.  Again, the Dodgers have seen worse, but given how much more often there’s a right-handed pitcher on the mound, Victorino likely gives the Dodgers a new offensive weapon in fewer than half their remaining games. He’s more a replacement for Juan Rivera (and Gwynn) than for James Loney.

Victorino is earning $9.5 million this season and can become a free agent this fall.

The reported cost will be Dodger reliever Josh Lindblom and a prospect. Lindblom, though slumping lately, has been one of the Dodgers’ top relievers this year, and he’s someone I like coming out of the bullpen, though that’s an area that’s easier to solve than the outfield. In general, the Dodgers are moving to solve their tremendous organizational imbalance of pitching vs. position players, and so this move would have that going for it.

How much of a difference Victorino might make as a Dodger, I don’t know. I can certainly think of players I’d rather have. But like him or not, if the Dodgers get him, it’ll be time to root for him.

Update: Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports reports that the deal is done, with Victorino coming to Los Angeles in exchange for Lindblom and Ethan Martin, the 2008 first-round draft pick who misses bats but has long had control issues. Martin has allowed 89 hits and 61 walks in 118 innings for Double-A Chattanooga this year, but with 112 strikeouts.

Update 2: Dave Cameron of Fangraphs likes the trade a bit for the Dodgers.

Update 3: The Giants have countered. Hunter Pence, who has a .784 OPS for the Phillies this year, is headed to San Francisco.

Update 4: The trade is official, with the Dodgers also sending Philadelphia a player to be named later or cash. (Or Ralston Cash.)

Update 5: More on the trade from Jonah Keri of Grantland, Cliff Corcoran of SI.com and Carson Cistulli of Fangraphs.

Update 6: The Dodgers have designated LHP Michael Antonini for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.

Update 7: The Baseball Prospectus take on the trade.

Jul 30

Dodgers lose game but win League

Aaron Harang had a 2.60 ERA in 11 starts since May 28, but he went down hard tonight, surrendering a three-run first-inning home run to Paul Goldschmidt and a fifth-inning grand slam to Chris Johnson in the Dodgers’ 7-2 loss to Arizona.

The result allowed the Diamondbacks to creep within 3 1/2 games of Los Angeles and within four of San Francisco, which was in extra innings against the New York Mets as of this writing.

However, while dropping a game in the National League sweepstakes, the Dodgers picked up a win for those who cared about the Brandon League sweepstakes. Announced officially shortly after 10:30 p.m., Los Angeles acquired the Seattle Mariners righty reliever for minor-leaguers Leon Landry and Logan Bawcom.

League, 29, has a 3.69 career ERA and 3.63 ERA in 2012. After striking out as many as 9.2 batters per nine innings in 2009, League is down to 5.4 this season, while allowing 67 baserunners in 44 2/3 innings. He made a name for himself by saving 37 games in 2011, but that’s already a bit of ancient history. So while the Dodgers might have a little anxiety about how reliable Ronald Belisario, Javy Guerra, Josh Lindblom, Shawn Tolleson or even a recovering Matt Guerrier might be down the stretch (or about replacing any of them if they are traded), League offers another option – but not exactly offer a guaranteed solution.

The price was 2010 third-round pick Landry, a 22-year-old outfielder with a .358 on-base percentage and .559 slugging (including 26 doubles and 15 triples) in the happy-hitting California League, and Bawcom, a 23-year-old righty picked in the 17th round the same year, who has a 2.60 ERA and 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings for Double-A Chattanooga.

I’m not sure either prospect wasn’t expendable in a pennant drive or expected to be a significant contributor to the Dodgers in the future, and you never know when a guy is going to have a two-month hot streak like George Sherrill in 2009, so the question I would have is less about who won tonight’s deal and more about whether Landry or Bawcom might have had a role in a potentially bigger deal for the Dodgers Tuesday or down the road.

Jul 25

Hanley Ramirez trade shakes baseball world

The earthquake before an earthquake — the Dodgers’ acquisition of Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate from Miami — is official. Here’s some of what’s been posted in the 10 hours since the news broke.

  • Overall, the main concern regarding the decline in Ramirez’s performance in the past two years is that he might never be what he was thanks to a 2010 shoulder injury. It sure would be great to get Stan Conte’s take on him.
  • It’s been a weird year for Ramirez, who has a .336 batting average on balls in play at home, .198 on the road. His batting average reflects the difference, even though his power production is almost even home and away.
  • The Dodgers were able to nab Ramirez, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (via Hardball Talk), mainly because they were willing to take on his full contract, while Oakland was not.
  • Chad Moriyama is apprehensive about the trade but sees the upside as a worthwhile gamble.
  • Cliff Corcoran of SI.com is a bit grimmer, noting that the only saving grace of the deal for the Dodgers is that it improves an area of the team from terrible to less terrible.
  • While the Dodgers were trading for Ramirez, the Yankees were losing Alex Rodriguez for a few weeks to a fractured hand. That puts New York in the infielder market, as Jay Jaffe of SI.com discusses.
  • Cole Hamels will not be putting on a Dodger uniform. Philadelphia signed him to a six-year contract extension worth $144 million, the second-biggest deal for a pitcher ever.
  • After seeming on the verge of acquiring Ryan Dempster from the Cubs, Atlanta has backed off, reports ESPNChicago.com. That leaves the Dodgers as the apparent leading suitor — thanks, apparently, to the friendship between Dempster and Ted Lilly.  But this saga has had too many turns to make confident predictions about.
  • Dodger prospect Tae Hyeok-Nam of Ogden hit for the cycle Tuesday. Robert Emrich has details for MLB.com. The last Ogden player to do so was former Dodger and current Ogden hitting coach Doug Mientkiewicz.
Jul 24

Report: Dodgers acquire Hanley Ramirez

The Dodgers made their first big move of the trade deadline, and it’s for former All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez.

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports report that the Marlins have traded Ramirez and Randy Chote to the Dodgers for Nathan Eovaldi and a minor-leaguer to be named.

Ramirez, 28, had a .410 on-base percentage and .543 slugging percentage as recently as 2009, when he finished second in the National League Most Valuable Player voting, but he has struggled in the past two years. In 2012, he has a .322 OBP and .430 slugging – far off his career totals, though still good enough at his worst to make him a central part of the shaky Dodger lineup. His 14 home runs this year top every Dodger save Matt Kemp.

Choate, who will be 37 in September, gives the Dodgers a second lefty reliever. He has a 2.16 ERA in 50 innings over the past two seasons, and left-handed batters in 2012 are 9 for 60 with three walks and 20 strikeouts against him.

At age 22, Eovaldi remains a pitcher with potential but an uncertain immediate future.  His ERA is a respectable 4.16, but he strikes out fewer than six batters per nine innings and allows more flies than grounders.

The trade won’t be ready for evaluation until the fourth player is named, but on the surface it seems sensible, offering from a position of relative depth for a position of desperate need (and using the Dodgers’ newfound cash reserves to make it happen by paying the remaining big salary owed on Ramirez’s contract, which runs through 2014). Ramirez can play shortstop, as he did until Jose Reyes joined the Marlins, or he can play third base, as he has this season. He happens to be the same age Rafael Furcal was when he came to Los Angeles.

Ramirez has been sidelined since July 20 with a hand infection that came after he punched a dugout fan.

To replace Eovaldi in the starting rotation, the Dodgers have short-term minor-league options, as well as their ongoing pursuit of such outsiders as Ryan Dempster and the imminent recovery of Ted Lilly, who is nearing a minor-league rehabilitation assignment. Next year, Rubby De La Rosa, whom I believe is the sole untouchable pitcher in the Dodger universe next to Clayton Kershaw, should be ready to step in to a starting slot as well.

Update: Rosenthal is now reporting that the other Dodger going to Miami is Scott McGough, a 22-year-old righty reliever who has a 3.88 ERA, 24 walks and 47 strikeouts in 46 1/3 innings with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.  It’s clear that the Marlins wanted to reconfigure themselves without the weight of Ramirez’s contract, which pays him $15.5 million in 2013 and $16 million in 2014, as well as the remainder of a $15 million 2012 salary.

“The Miami Marlins have identified infielder Hanley Ramirez as the core of their woes,” wrote Bob Nightengale for USA Today. “Ownership wants him gone. Manager Ozzie Guillen is tired of him. And the fans have grown indifferent.”

Update 2: Ramirez’s defense is an issue – so this is just speculation, but maybe Ramirez someday follows the Alfonso Soriano path to left field, or becomes the first baseman the Dodgers have been lacking …

Update 3: It appears that Ramirez will take Adam Kennedy’s roster spot. The reserve infielder is headed to the disabled list after aggravating a groin injury Tuesday, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

Choate will probably take Shawn Tolleson’s spot in the bullpen.

Jul 13

It’s official: Kemp, Ethier return

Padres at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Kershaw CXXXV: Kershawma Lama Ding Dong
Jerry Hairston Jr., LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Juan Uribe, 3B
Luis Cruz, SS
Clayton Kershaw, P

Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier will reappear tonight before a salivating Dodger fan base, with Scott Van Slyke and Elian Herrera going to Albuquerque.

On Sunday, we discussed the possibility of Herrera being optioned.

… He’s been 100 times more fun to watch than Uribe and his versatility is an asset, but once Kemp and Ethier are back in their starting roles, Mark Ellis is re-entrenched at second base and Bobby Abreu, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Juan Rivera are holding down left field, there’s going to be less call for Herrera to roam around the diamond. That’s not to say that he’s without a purpose, but with his own slump to a .326 on-base percentage and .335 slugging, the difference between him, Uribe and Kennedy (.315 OBP, .309 slugging) isn’t overwhelming.

By optioning Herrera, the Dodgers can put off making a final decision on Uribe or Kennedy, neither of whom can be sent down. …