Feb 03

Report: Dodgers add lefty relief candidate in Ron Mahay

In the spirit of Jesse Orosco, the Dodgers have turned to an oldster in an attempt to add more lefty strength to their bullpen.

According to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com, Los Angeles has signed Ron Mahay — who will be 40 in June — to a non-roster deal.

Despite the age issues, this is no Merkin Valdez signing. Mahay, who has pitched in 514 career games, allowed only 41 baserunners in 34 innings with Minnesota last season. Against lefties, Mahay gave up 12 singles, a double, a homer and two walks in 68 plate appearances — a .520 OPS.

Mahay will give Scott Elbert, among others, a challenge in Spring Training, and it’s hard to say it’s not justified. It’s been these types of signings that have been among the brightest in general manager Ned Colletti’s tenure — low-risk moves with legitimate chance of reward.

Update: The Dodgers confirmed the signing at 3:30 p.m.

Feb 02

Dodgers avoid salary arbitration with Hong-Chih Kuo

Kelvin Kuo/US PresswireHong-Chih Kuo has averaged 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings in his major-league career. Believe it or not, Kuo turns 30 this summer.

The Dodgers have signed Hong-Chih Kuo to a one-year contract that pays $2.725 million plus incentives. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has details.

James Loney is the lone remaining potential 2011 salary arbitration case for Los Angeles.

Feb 02

Merkin 9 to 5: Valdez to toil in Dodger minor leagues

The  Dodgers have signed former San Francisco Giants and Toronto Blue Jays reliever Merkin Valdez to a minor-league contract, though without giving him an invitation to big-league camp at Spring Training. (Matt Eddy of Baseball America first reported the signing.)

Valdez is looking to rebuild his career. The 29-year-old righthander pitched 67 games for the Giants from 2004-2008 with a 5.24 ERA, allowing 115 baserunners in 67 innings while striking out 53. Last year, he allowed three runs in 1 1/3 innings for Toronto while spending most of the season with Triple-A Las Vegas, where he had a 7.91 ERA in 58 innings.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Valdez was originally signed by the Atlanta Braves in 1999, then came to the Giants in 2002 (with Damian Moss) in a trade for … Russ Ortiz.

Feb 02

Postseason pitching punishment

Most teams that reach the World Series suffer a falloff in team ERA the following year, writes Tim Kurkjian of ESPN.com. Whether the defending champion San Francisco Giants will succumb to the trend, however, remains to be seen.

… We looked at the World Series participants in the past 10 years, and the effect on the pitching staffs the following seasons to those 20 teams. Fourteen of the 20 — 70 percent — had an ERA increase the next season. Eight of the 20 — 40 percent — had an increase of least a half run, which is substantial. The 10 teams that won the World Series averaged an increase in ERA of .281. The 10 losing teams averaged an increase of .213. The Detroit Tigers went to the World Series in 2006 and compiled a 3.84 ERA, but had a 4.57 ERA the next year, a .73 increase. The St. Louis Cardinals won the 2006 World Series and had a 3.57 ERA, but it increased by 1.08 to 4.65 in 2007. The Chicago White Sox won the World Series in 2005; their team ERA the next year went from 3.61 to 4.61. …

There could be a number of reasons for an ERA increase the year after making it to the World Series. A bigger workload would represent only one of them. Some staffs are damaged by a loss in free agency (Cliff Lee?), or a trade. The ERA for the 2007 Cardinals increased dramatically in part because ace Chris Carpenter missed the season due to an arm injury.

“I believe our ERA went up in 2009 [by .53] because of an ineffective bullpen,” Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey said. “When the phone rang down there that year, no one knew who it was for. [Workload] is an issue, but I’d be interested to see about the teams that have been there [the World Series] over and over again, what that does to the ERA the next year. When we made it in 2008, it was the first time for most guys. If the Rays had made it in 2010, we would have been better off because we had been through it once.” …

The Giants and Rangers will need to recover. The Giants played 15 postseason games, a total of 135 innings. Ace Tim Lincecum threw 37 innings in the postseason, raising his season total to 249 1/3, a career high and 22 1/3 more innings than he had ever thrown in a season. Matt Cain pitched 21 1/3 innings in the playoffs, raising his total to 244 2/3, 27 more than he had ever thrown. Jonathan Sanchez threw 20 innings in the postseason, raising his total for the season to 213 1/3, 50 more than he had ever thrown. Madison Bumgarner pitched 20 2/3 innings in the playoffs, raising his total (major and minor leagues) to 214 1/3, 72 more than he had ever thrown in a season. And closer Brian Wilson appeared in 10 games in the postseason, totaling 80 for the season, 12 more than his career high. …

ERA changes for the Dodgers after their most recent World Series appearances:

1988: 2.96 ERA, 114 ERA+
1989: 2.95 ERA, 117 ERA+

1981: 3.01 ERA, 112 ERA+
1982: 3.26 ERA, 107 ERA+