May 06

Dodgers can only wonder, ‘What next?’


Getty Images
Stat o’ the Day: Just 27 games into the Dodgers’ 2010 season, Ramon Troncoso has already pitched in 11 losses.

It may be early, but the fans are going wild – and not in a good way.

Wednesday’s 11-3 loss to Milwaukee marked the one-month anniversary of a Dodger season that began with an 11-5 loss to Pittsburgh. Two days shy of one year since Manny Ramirez’s suspension, it’s remarkable to think back and realize: The Dodger community was probably in better spirits that sorry day than now.

The wreckage of the Dodgers’ start to 2010 fits perfectly with the narrative that began in the offseason, which foretold that the divorce of Frank and Jamie McCourt would have a domino effect that would leave the franchise in ruins. And while this isn’t exactly Carthage, it is last place in the National League West in May.

A different ownership situation might have bred a different start to the season, it’s true. No, a pair of happily married McCourts would not have turned the 2009-10 Dodger offseason into a wheeling-and-dealing free-for-all – not after reaching the National League Championship Series two straight years, certainly not after the Jason Schmidt and Andruw Jones debacles of recent offseasons. But Frank and Jamie surely wouldn’t have made fewer moves if they were still going steady.

But what’s sad about the 2010 Dodgers is that the doleful divorce has been only one of many, many, many other things that have gone wrong this season. Here begins “Lament: Why Even in Their Worst Nightmares, the Dodgers Couldn’t Fathom Being This Bad.”

Chapter the First: A Rotation Off Its Axis

Harry How/Getty Images
Mixed bag: The last 23 batters Chad Billingsley faced Wednesday did not score; the first four did.

Consider, if you will, that the Dodger starting rotation at the end of the 2009 season was made up of Randy Wolf (having something of a career year), a wounded Hiroki Kuroda, a staggering Chad Billingsley, a green Clayton Kershaw, and Vicente Padilla having, well, two great weeks.

Though spring training 2010 began with Wolf in a Milwaukee Brewers uniform, there was every reason to believe that at least 60 percent of that bunch would be better than they were – in contrast to Wolf, who you’d reasonably expect to decline after everything imaginable went right for him at age 33. And in fact, that’s exactly what happened with Kuroda, who has a 2.08 ERA while averaging 6.9 innings per start this year.

But though they have had their moments, Billingsley and Kershaw haven’t exactly been the equivalent of, say, Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez, who has pitched 41 1/3 innings with a 0.87 ERA and 44 strikeouts. The growing pains are still evident – more painfully in the case of Billingsley, who is only six months younger than the cherry-picked Jimenez, but more fable-busting for Kershaw, who was supposed to be the guy with the head on his shoulders but instead has walked a mind-boggling seven batters per nine innings in ’09. Both still have bright futures, but the need for more consistency remains. (Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles has more on Billingsley.)

Then there was Padilla, who had two fine starts in the postseason but otherwise had been a forgettable pitcher for most of the past five years or more. The Dodgers chose him in January over Jon Garland, a pitcher they thought enough of five months earlier that they traded infield prospect Tony Abreu for him. The 30-year-old Garland, who signed with San Diego for a guaranteed $5.9 million (including a potential 2011 $600,000 club buyout), has an ERA of 2.06 (adjusted ERA 184) over 35 innings in six starts. The 32-year-old Padilla, who signed with the Dodgers for a guaranteed $5.025 million plus incentives, has pulled a mini-Schmidt: 21 2/3 innings, 6.65 ERA (61 ERA+) and an indefinite stay on the disabled list. This wasn’t the divorce or the budget talking. The Dodgers made a pretty simple either-or choice, and at least to this point, they chose wrong. (And did so even with the character issues that are supposedly so important to Dodger general manager Ned Colletti being in Garland’s favor.)

The fifth spot in the Dodger starting rotation had a number of candidates, though ideally there should only have been two: James McDonald and Scott Elbert. McDonald was the 2008 and 2009 Dodger Minor League Pitcher of the Year who had a rough start in 2010 before finishing the year strong. Elbert is considered by many to be an even brighter prospect. However, neither came close to making any kind of case in spring training that they belonged in the rotation – though they were given little opportunity while manager Joe Torre quickly turned his focus to pitchers who had no more minor-league options, like perennial also-ran Eric Stults and knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, along with a cascade of scrapheap veterans like the Ortiz Unbrothers, Ramon and Russ. Honestly, it was reasonable to suspect that someone from McDonald, Elbert and frenemies could give the Dodgers inconsistent but useful enough output in the back of the rotation – and the Dodgers have certainly had their share of luck in this area in recent years – but it hasn’t come close to happening. That in turn made the Dodgers particularly ill-prepared, at least at this point, for an injury to one of their front four starters, even Padilla.

This brings us back to the four pitchers most talked about this Dodger offseason. One was Wolf, who had a 4.91 ERA after three starts this season but has since allowed two runs in his past 14 innings. Two was John Lackey, who signed a five-year, $82 million contract with the Red Sox and has a 3.89 ERA. Lackey figured to be a B version of the former Dodger with the famous seven-year contract itch, Kevin Brown – not quite as expensive but not quite as good and arguably every bit as likely to get injured for part of his contract. Lackey raises a good question: Do you pay big money for a pitcher even knowing that one of those years he’s likely to spend on the DL? I would have said no – and perhaps that’s ultimately a question for the accountants – but given the Dodgers’ current pitching desperation, many people would probably be inclined to say yes.

Pitchers three and four are Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, the most-discussed trade targets of the past year. Whatever efforts the Dodgers made to acquire them, the organization has ultimately had to bet that what they had in Kershaw and Billingsley (among other young players) in the long term would be worth more than what they would get out of Lee and Halladay in the short term – not a bad bet, but strictly as of May 2010, a losing bet.

So there you have it. We’ve discussed close to a dozen starting pitchers, and of that group, only Kuroda has given the Dodgers a happy beginning to 2010. Some of the misfortune the Dodgers brought upon themselves; some of it has been ill-fated – but when you add it all up, it’s almost a clean sweep for Murphy’s Law over Los Angeles.

Chapter the Second: The Blahpen

Kathy Willens/AP
George Sherrill: 0.65 ERA as a Dodger in 2009, 9.00 in 2010.

When your best reliever (Jonathan Broxton) hasn’t even pitched nine innings all year, when your next-best bullpen success story is a Rule 5 draftee (Carlos Monasterios) who remains on the roster, things have gone horribly wrong.

Maybe it all started with Ronald Belisario, for virtually all of spring training trapped in a distant land like a passenger crashing with Oceanic 815, his absence shifting the balance of the bullpen when the season began ever-so-slightly yet ever-so-significantly. His MIA act, accompanied by another ill-timed injury to lefty mesmerizer Hong-Chih Kuo and an almost complete reversal-of-fortune by 2009′s stellar set-up man, George Sherrill, turned a key Dodger strength into a disaster area. In the Dodgers’ first 15 games of 2010, the bullpen lost five – that alone made a huge difference between the Dodgers being 11-16 this morning as opposed to 16-11, of being 5 1/2 games out of first place as opposed to just half a game. And that doesn’t even count games like Wednesday’s, in which the bullpen was handed a one-run deficit and let it multiply by 800%.

What did the Dodgers do wrong with their relievers? Not a lot. Yeah, if money were no object, they could have outbid the Angels for a guy like Fernando Rodney, who signed for an exorbitant amount of money for a reliever: two years, $11 million. Or they could have spent $50,000 on a chaperone for Belisario. Beyond that, what they assembled was battle-tested and looked like one of the best bullpens in baseball. It just hasn’t worked out that way.

Chapter the Third: Defenestrate the defense

Danny Moloshok/AP
Charged with 10 errors last year, Casey Blake has made half that many this year.

Wednesday, Major League Baseball announced that a change by the official scorer gave James Loney a throwing error for a play that occurred against the Reds nearly two weeks before. It kind of fit: The Dodger defense has been so poor this year that it can pick up errors without even playing.

The defense had actually been on a modest streak of errorless games recently until Wednesday night against the Brewers, when Casey Blake threw in the dirt in the seventh inning of what at the time was a one-run game. Before the night was over, the team botched a rundown play and Blake made another error, his fifth in 24 games.

It felt very familiar. For most of the year, the defense has been toxic. The expected weak spots, such as Ramirez in left field, haven’t even been the story. There have been mistakes all over the field, to the extent that Matt Kemp’s 2009 Gold Glove in center field is being examined for “Dewey Defeats Truman” inaccuracies.

The defense broke the levee on the already cracking Dodger pitching, helping spoil what really was a true onslaught by the Dodger offense in the opening days of the year. The Dodgers averaged 6.5 runs in those first 15 games, but lost eight of them. And yet at seven of eight positions, this was the same defense that the Dodgers took to the NL playoffs last year. The mere aging of players Blake and Ramirez doesn’t begin to explain it. Did the Dodgers not prepare properly in spring training? Who knows? But this was another walk off the cliff that at least in part appeared out of nowhere.

Chapter the Fourth: Yes, Everyone Gets Injuries

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Manny Ramirez has a 1.159 OPS – but only 52 plate appearances.

… so we won’t cry too long over the Dodgers’ sick bay.  Losing Kuo was one thing, losing Jeff Weaver was barely anything, but losing Padilla was a problematic thing, and then Ramirez and Rafael Furcal going out almost simultaneously was a big thing. No one expected either Ramirez or Furcal to play 162 games, but in a better Dodger world, they would have at least made it through April. Heck, Ramirez made it into May last year before he was unceremoniously sidelined by what turned up in the lab.

In any case, it’s fair to say that the Dodgers knew in advance they would need a bench this year – and it’s no secret that Colletti has always liked to have depth. But again, some choices that had nothing to do with the divorce have gone awry. For example, on December 16, Jamey Carroll (36 in February) signed with the Dodgers for nearly $4 million over two years. Two weeks later, Kelly Johnson (28 in February) signed a cheaper contract in overall value with Arizona: one year, $2.35 million. Carroll has a .383 on-base percentage but just one extra-base hit. Johnson was just named NL Player of the Month after going 25 for 80 with eight doubles and nine home runs – a .404 on-base percentage and .750 slugging percentage.

Brad Ausmus and Garret Anderson have been wasted signings, albeit relatively inexpensive ones. You’re never going to get ‘em all right, and you can certainly argue that so far, Ronnie Belliard has been worth the $825,000 he lost weight to earn from the Dodgers, while Reed Johnson has been what you’d expect him to be. But those are the few breaks the Dodgers have caught, in a first month that exposed another nagging worry sooner than they would have hoped.

Chapter the Fifth: Five months to go

Wednesday, Billingsley gave up four runs in the first inning – then pitched five shutout innings and could have come out battling for a win in the seventh inning had Carroll, well, been able to hit his first three-run homer in 2,574 career plate appearances. Yep, this is when you bring out the unseemly disclaimer: It’s still early.

I haven’t even wanted to mention that the 2009 Colorado Rockies started with an 11-16 record at this time last year, exactly where the Dodgers are today – and then lost 12 of their next 19 before bouncing back with a months-long hot streak that scared the pajamas off every NL rival going into the playoffs. When John Ely, who was something like the Dodgers’ No. 14 starter entering spring training, is the guy you’re counting on for the second week in a row to prevent a series sweep, it’s not auspicious. If Kuroda goes down at some point this year, the Dodgers could give their 91-loss 2005 a run for its worthless money. But yes, it’s still early.

Maybe with happier owners, the Dodgers sign Wolf. Mainly with different owners, the Dodgers splurge for Lackey. Maybe there’s a parallel universe where the Dodgers make the big trade for Lee or convince Halladay that the West Coast ain’t so bad. But the Dodger problems in 2010 have been much more than the loss of one veteran pitcher.

And that’s with some things that people expected to go wrong not doing so at all. Kuroda wasn’t done as a pitcher. Ramirez wasn’t done as a hitter. Broxton has not been scarred by Jimmy Rollins’ game-winning double in the 2009 NLCS. Andre Ethier hasn’t regressed – he’s an early contender for the Triple Crown. James Loney is showing signs of life.

For that matter, Juan Pierre, the supposedly reborn savior from 2009 who was sent to the White Sox for 2010, is batting .226, with seven walks and 15 steals in 19 attempts but no extra-base hits.

It’s still early – but whether it’s early enough for a turnaround or just early in a miserable year, I don’t know. Even for a team playing ball both on the field and in divorce court, so much can change between May and October. After all, look at what’s happened to the Dodgers between October and May.

May 04

Rafael Furcal officially heads to disabled list


Steve Mitchell/US Presswire
Rafael Furcal

The Dodgers officially placed Rafael Furcal on the disabled list and chose to call up Nick Green instead of Chin-Lung Hu to take his place on the roster, according to their daily press notes. Furcal will be eligible to come off the DL on May 13. Cory Wade was moved to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Green on the 40-man roster.

Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness argues why Hu should have gotten the call.

Apr 23

Manny Ramirez DLed – Xavier Paul recalled


AP/US Presswire

At 1 p.m., the Dodgers announced that Manny Ramirez would be placed on the disabled list with a right calf strain and that Xavier Paul would be recalled to join the active roster.

Paul has a .409 on-base percentage and .574 slugging percentage in 66 plate appearances for Albuquerque this season.

Apr 22

Dodger errors and their consequences


Keith Srakocic/AP
Casey Blake has three errors in 11 starts, though none of his errors have affected the game’s outcome.

Here’s a quick rundown of the Dodger errors and their effects this season. In 14 games, the team has made 16 errors, leading to 12 unearned runs. Three of the errors have contributed directly to losses.

1) Russell Martin (1), April 5 at Pittsburgh (Game 1, second inning)
Error: Tied 2-2, with runners on first and second, Martin bobbled Zach Duke bunt in front of home plate.
Consequences: No runs, seven extra pitches thrown by Vicente Padilla.

2) Casey Blake (1), April 5 at Pittsburgh (Game 1, seventh inning)
Error: Down 8-5, with bases empty and one out, Blake flubbed Jeff Clement’s grounder.
Consequences: No runs, three extra pitches thrown by Russ Ortiz.

3) Blake DeWitt (1), April 7 at Pittsburgh (Game 2, 10th inning)
Error: Tied 3-3, first batter of the inning, DeWitt commits miscue on Lastings Milledge grounder.
Consequences: Milledge sacrificed to second and two batters later scores winning (unearned) run off Ramon Ortiz.

4) Ronnie Belliard (1), April 8 at Pittsburgh (Game 3, seventh inning)
Error: Leading 8-1, one out and bases empty, third baseman Belliard allows Andrew McCutchen to reach on a grounder.
Consequences: Ramon Troncoso induces 4-6-3 double play from next batter.

5) Ronnie Belliard (2), April 8 at Pittsburgh (Game 3, eighth inning)
Error: Leading 8-2, one out and runner on second, Adam LaRoche takes advantage of another Belliard mistake.
Consequences: Carlos Monasterios retires next two batters, two extra pitches required.

6) Casey Blake (2), April 9 at Florida (Game 4, fifth inning)
Error: Tied 0-0, leadoff batter Cody Ross reaches on Blake mistake.
Consequences: Hiroki Kuroda retires next three batters, one extra pitch required.

7) Russell Martin (2), April 9 at Florida (Game 4, sixth inning)
Error: Tied 0-0, Martin throws away Cameron Maybin bunt (single plus error).
Consequences: Kuroda allows one-out single to Jorge Cantu for unearned run. Needs three extra pitches to get out of inning.

8) Matt Kemp (1), April 11 at Florida (Game 6, sixth inning)
Error: Leading 5-3 with bases empty and two out, Kemp misreads shallow Ronny Paulino fly ball, dives for it but bobbles it for two-base error.
Consequences:
Charlie Haeger allows RBI single for unearned run, then a walk before getting a groundout to end inning. Nine extra pitches. Dodgers ultimately lose, 6-5.

9) Rafael Furcal (1), April 15 vs. Arizona (Game 9, second inning)
Error: Trailing 1-0 with runner on second and and two out, Furcal throws away Conor Jackson’s infield single.
Consequences:
Jon Hester comes around to score unearned run; Tony Abreu extends Kuroda for eight pitches before grounding out to end inning.

10) Casey Blake (3), April 15 vs. Arizona (Game 9, ninth inning)
Error: Arizona leads 4-3 with runners on first and third and one out when Blake mishandles Abreu grounder.
Consequences: Unearned run
scores. Dodger reliever Ramon Ortiz called in, needs four extra pitches to get out of inning. Dodgers tie game in bottom of the ninth thanks in great part to a Stephen Drew error, then win in 10th.

11) A.J. Ellis (1), April 17 vs. San Francisco (Game 11, third inning)
Error: Trailing 1-0, runner on first, Ellis throws ball away on Aubrey Huff steal attempt.
Consequences:
See next entry.

12) Jamey Carroll (1), April 17 vs. San Francisco (Game 11, third inning)
Error: With Huff on third, Carroll (playing shortstop) can’t handle Mark DeRosa grounder.
Consequences:
Four runs score in the inning — two unearned, thanks to the errors and an Ellis passed ball.

13) Chad Billingsley (1), April 20 at Cincinnati (Game 13, second inning)
Error: Tied 3-3 with no outs and runners on first and third, Billingsley throws away Homer Bailey’s sacrifice attempt.
Consequences:
Most disastrous defensive play of year to date. Of six runs Billingsley allows in inning, three are unearned. Billingsley needs nine extra pitches to exit inning. Dodgers lose, 11-9.

14) Russell Martin (3), April 20 at Cincinnati (Game 13, fourth inning)
Error: Trailing 7-3, runner on first and two out, Martin throw gets away on Drew Stubbs steal attempt.
Consequences:
The next batter, Joey Votto, homers off Ramon Ortiz. Runs are earned. Ortiz needs three extra pitches to end the inning.

15) Blake DeWitt (2), April 21 at Cincinnati (Game 14, fourth inning)
Error: Leading 4-3, runner on first and one out, DeWitt lets potential double-play grounder get past him.
Consequences:
One out and one Kuroda walk later, Aaron Harang knocks his controversial single just shy of Andre Ethier’s glove for unearned run.

16) Rafael Furcal (2), April 21 at Cincinnati (Game 14, fourth inning)
Error: Leading 9-4, runner on first and two out, an easy grounder to Furcal somehow gets through.
Consequences:
George Sherrill replaces Kuroda and gives up a single that scores two unearned runs. Sherrill uses three more pitches to end inning. Error forced the Dodgers to use an extra pitcher in the game.

* * *

Update: The Dodgers have activated Hong-Chih Kuo and placed Jeff Weaver on the disabled list.

Apr 18

Kershaw LIV: Kershaw the Frog


Mark J. Terrill/AP
Manny’s calf is still mooing.

Russ Ortiz has been designated for assignment by the Dodgers, who have called up righty Jon Link to replace him for the time being. Link has been hit pretty hard at Albuquerque this season – 10 baserunners against 13 outs – so at this point he might just be a different sort of mop-up man until Hong-Chih Kuo is activated.

  • Today marks the 60th anniverary of Vin Scully’s Dodger debut.
  • Saturday’s 20-inning Mets-Cardinals game was scoreless for the first 18 innings, the longest a game had been scoreless since Rick Dempsey’s 22nd-inning home run gave the Dodgers a 1-0 victory over Montreal in 1989.
  • Josh Towers pitched six innings of one-run, seven-baserunner ball for Albuquerque on Saturday, but the Isotopes suffered a 2-0 defeat.
  • Jerry Sands had two doubles and a triple in Great Lakes’ 4-2 loss Saturday. The 22-year-old is on-basing .465 and slugging .763 in 10 games this season, with seven extra-base hits in that time.
  • Babe Ruth was in a near-fatal car accident in 1938, when he was a Brooklyn Dodgers coach. Blue Heaven passes along photos of Ruth and a description of the wreck.
  • Video of Lefty Grove has been posted at Minor League Ball. Grove was held captive in the minors well past the point that he was major-league ready.
  • Nice recap of Ubaldo Jimenez’s no-hitter for Colorado – the first in Rockies history – from Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post.
  • According to the Dodger press notes, DodgerTalk with Ken Levine and Josh Suchon on KABC AM 710 will be soliciting callers for their best nicknames for Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp. Somebody better stick up for the Bison.
Apr 03

Dodgers’ Opening Day roster almost set

With Jeff Weaver, Ramon Ortiz and Garret Anderson added to the Opening Day roster Friday, the Dodgers have 23 of their 25.

Starting pitchers (5): Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda, Vicente Padilla, Charlie Haeger

Relief pitchers (5): Jonathan Broxton, George Sherrill, Ramon Troncoso, Jeff Weaver, Ramon Ortiz

Starting lineup (8): Russell Martin, James Loney, Blake DeWitt, Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake, Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier

Bench (5): Jamey Carroll, Ronnie Belliard, Brad Ausmus, Reed Johnson, Garret Anderson

Carlos Monasterios is all but a lock for a sixth bullpen spot, bringing the team to 24.

A.J. Ellis would sub in for either Martin or Ausmus should a last-minute health issue flare up, but otherwise is headed to Albuquerque, where Chin-Lung Hu (who made an ugly error to allow the winning run to score in Friday’s 4-3 loss to the Angels) and Xavier Paul will be among his teammates.

Luis Ayala and Justin Miller were sent to the minors Friday.

Barring a last-minute recovery by Hong-Chih Kuo, that leaves pitcher Russ Ortiz and infielder-turned-utility man Nick Green contending for the title of Mr. Irrevelant – the 25th man that no one actually wants to see in a game. (I’d be pretty happy to see Kuo on the roster, even if he’s only pitching once every week to 10 days, over Ortiz or Green.)

Normally, you’d expect a Joe Torre-managed Dodger team to go with at least 12 pitchers. But Torre seems curious about the possibility of knuckleballer Haeger serving as the seventh reliever in between starts, so it’s plausible that Ortiz would start the season in the minors. The Dodgers would then go with 11 pitchers until Ronald Belisario or Kuo were ready to be activated.

On the other hand, today’s start of Carroll at shortstop indicates that Torre is still entertaining the possibility of him being Rafael Furcal’s backup at that position.

In any case, I think we have to face up to the fact that Ortiz will be in a Dodger uniform at some point this season. I had predicted that he would be this year’s Shawn Estes, but he’s looking more like this year’s Weaver or Eric Milton.

For comparison, here are the changes (that we can be reasonably sure of) from the 2009 Opening Day roster:

Starting pitchers: Padilla and Haeger replace Randy Wolf and James McDonald.

Relief pitchers: Sherrill, Weaver, Ramon Ortiz and Monasterios replace Kuo, Guillermo Mota, Will Ohman and Cory Wade.

Starting lineup: DeWitt replaces Orlando Hudson.

Bench: Johnson, Anderson, Carroll and Belliard replace Juan Pierre, Mark Loretta, Doug Mientkiewicz and DeWitt.

Two members of the 2009 Opening Day bullpen, Wade and Ohman, ended up being non-factors for 2010 before April was done.

Mar 30

Dodgers expected to say ‘Sayonara’ to the underappreciated Eric Stults


Cary Edmondson/US Presswire
Eric Stults was banished from the Dodger starting rotation in 2008 despite a 3.18 ERA.

Whenever you think of players who were judged for what they weren’t instead of what they were, you can think of Eric Stults, whose eight years in the Dodger organization were poised to end today with an expected sale to a Japanese team. (Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has more details).

Stults didn’t have overwhelming stuff, and he couldn’t put together a string of lengthy starts. In his 24-start major-league career, beginning with his first appearance in September 2006, Stults never had three consecutive appearances of at least six innings.

But in Stults’ defense, the Dodgers never gave him much time to develop any kind of consistency. Until 2009, the most major-league starts he ever made in a single month was three. The worst instance of this was in 2008, when a 28-year-old Stults came into Colorado with a 2.67 ERA over five starts, averaging six innings per start. But given an 11-0 lead, Stults couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning. In Colorado. With that one ill-fated game, Stults didn’t make another appearance in a Dodger uniform for more than two months. Does that make any sense at all?

Last year, Stults got his most consistent usage with the Dodgers, and he responded with a 3.82 ERA over seven consecutive starts, averaging 5 1/3 innings — more than adequate for the Dodger rotation at that point. But in that seventh start, he hurt his thumb diving on a fielding play. He and the Dodgers then made the mistake of having him pitch with his bad hand in Colorado, where he gave up four runs in 4 1/3 innings. Another bad outing followed, and Stults was moved to the disabled list. He only made one more appearance for the Dodgers the rest of the season.

Stults is replaceable. But it’s disheartening the way the Dodgers treated his good starts as a fluke while simultaneously praying for fluke good starts in others. None of the remaining candidates for the Dodgers’ fifth rotation spot have the credentials from recent years that Stults has.

In the second game of his career, Stults threw six innings of one-run ball at Shea Stadium in a key September game. He shut down the Rockies on two runs over seven innings while striking out nine in 2007. He shut out the White Sox in 2008 and the Giants in 2009. Whatever his shortcomings, that’s the guy I’ll remember.

Feb 10

2009-10 Offseason Summary

Roster
Free-agent departures: Randy Wolf, Eric Milton, Jon Garland, Orlando Hudson, Guillermo Mota, Jim Thome, Juan Castro, Jason Schmidt and Mark Loretta

Free-agent returnees: Ronnie Belliard, Brad Ausmus, Vicente Padilla

2010 options exercised: Manny Ramirez

Free-agent signees: Jamey Carroll, Reed Johnson

Non-roster free-agent returnees: Doug Mientkiewicz, Jeff Weaver

Minor leaguers added to 40-man roster: Kenley Jansen, Ivan De Jesus, Jr., Trayvon Robinson, Javy Guerra

Non-roster free agents: Justin Miller, Josh Towers, Luis Ayala, Angel Berroa, Nick Green, John Lindsey, Scott Dohmann, Argenis Reyes, Brian Barton, Michael Restovich, Prentice Redman, Juan Perez, Russ Ortiz, Francisco Felix, Timo Perez, John Koronka, Justin Knoedler, Alfredo Amezaga, Ramon Ortiz, Brian Giles, JD Closser, Gabriel Gutierrez, Russ Mitchell

Rule 5 departures: Jamie Hoffmann

Rule 5 acquisitions: Carlos Monasterios (from Philadelphia via New York Mets) Armando Zerpa (from Boston via Tampa Bay)

Trades: Jon Link and John Ely acquired from Chicago White Sox for Juan Pierre.

In-house signings: Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Jonathan Broxton sign two-year contracts. James Loney, Chad Billingsley, Hong-Chih Kuo, Russell Martin, Jason Repko and George Sherrill sign one-year contracts.

Honors

  • Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp win Silver Slugger Awards.
  • Kemp and Hudson win Gold Glove Awards.
  • Mitch Jones wins Joe Bauman Award as top home-run hitter in minor leagues and named to AAA All-Star team.
  • Russ Mitchell wins Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award.
  • Dodger Midwest scouting supervisor Gary Nickels inducted into the Midwest Scouts Association Hall of Fame and the Mid-Atlantic Scouts Association Hall of Fame.
  • Dee Gordon named Topps Midwest League player of the year.
  • Brian Cavazos-Galvez named Topps Pioneer League player of the year.
  • Family of Manny Mota honored as Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation family of the year.
  • Paul Quantrill named to Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
  • Burt Hooton named to Texas Sports Hall of Fame

Coaching and management

  • Entire major-league coaching staff signed for 2010.
  • Minor league coaching assignments made.
  • Vance Lovelace promoted Tuesday to special advisor to general manager and director of pro scouting.
  • Ken Bracey named special assistant to general manager.
  • Bruce Hines named minor league field coordinator.
  • Dodgers president Dennis Mannion’s responsibilities expanded to include baseball operations.
  • Court commissioner denies Jamie McCourt’s bid to be reinstated as CEO. May trial date set to decide McCourts’ ownership stake.

Scheduling

  • Dodgers announce plans to play exhibition games in Taiwan March 13-14 and in Las Vegas March 31.
  • Dodger Stadium to host Dodgertown Classic college baseball doubleheader February 28.
Feb 07

Dodgers invite Brian Giles for some Camelback tea

Brian Giles was one of those guys the Dodgers always seemed interested in but never got until it was too late. Giles just received a minor-league contract and Camelback Ranch invitation, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

Giles’ .854 OPS in 2008 for San Diego slid to .548 last season.

* * *

Andrew T. Fisher of Purple Row reviews the starting pitching in the National League West from 2009. It’s almost like he knew the Rockies would fare well before he began the assignment …

* * *

Vin Scully, Chick Magnet. The Left Field Pavilion comes through with some Scully pictures I had never seen before.

Feb 04

El Camino Real alum gets minor-league shot with Dodgers

Three quick notes:

  • Will Savage, a 25-year-old El Camino Real High grad who had a 2.94 ERA in 125 1/3 innings (but only 3.5 strikeouts per nine innings) last season for Wichita in the independent American Association, signed a contract with the Dodgers and will get an opportunity to pitch in the minors for the organization, according to Our Sports Central. Savage, who was in the Phillies’ organization through 2008 after going to College of the Canyons and Oklahoma, pitched a no-hitter in June.
  • Jamie McCourt got $1.4 million in temporary spousal support, reports Bill Shaikin of The Times. Joshua Fisher discusses it at Dodger Divorce.
  • Steve Dilbeck of Dodgers Blog passes along a great Jackie Robinson story.
Feb 02

Rust never sleeps: Dodgers make late-night run for Ramon Ortiz

There will be two we can rebuild him Ortizes at Camelback Ranch this year. The Dodgers have signed former Angel Ramon Ortiz, who last pitched in the majors in 2007, to a minor-league contract, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

Ramon Ortiz, not to be confused with Russ Ortiz, pitched for the Giants’ AAA team last year, putting up decent numbers (3.05 ERA, 114 strikeouts against 158 baserunners in 129 2/3 innings) but never getting a callup.

Update: Tony Jackson has more on the signing of Ortiz and Alfredo Amezaga.

Feb 02

Report: Dodgers sign Alfredo Amezaga to minor-league deal

The 32-year-old no-hit, all-field Alfredo Amezaga has entered the Dodgers’ bench race with a non-guaranteed contract. (Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com was first with this showstopping news).

Amezaga has played at least five games at every position in the lineup but pitcher. Still, he becomes a candidate to take over Mark Loretta’s emergency moundsman role.

Meanwhile, twice-baked Dodger Guillermo Mota has a minor-league deal with the Giants.