July 31, 2014

No Joke! DeWitt and Haeger Land Starting Jobs

To the delight of Dodgers fans everywhere, second baseman Blake DeWitt and knuckleball starting pitcher Charlie Haeger were named to the club’s 40 man roster for the start of the 2010 season.

Now DeWitt seems like an obvious choice.  The guy has been a monster with the bat throughout Spring Training hitting .339 with an amazing .975 OPS.  But his offense has never been the issue: it’s his fielding.  Yes, DeWitt made three errors this spring that he probably shouldn’t have, but not enough to dislodge him from second base.  Plus let’s remember it’s Spring Training, so ALL of these numbers I just cited need to be taken with a grain of salt.  If DeWitt falters, Ronnie Belliard and Jamey Carroll will be there to pick up the slack, but here’s hoping the kid can be productive and hold in to the job throughout the season.

Jon Weisman has the details on the particularly cruel way Ned Colletti and Joe Torre delivered the news today.  Per Joe Torre:

“We initially pulled the April Fools’ Day prank on Blake. We told him he was going down, but we didn’t keep him there long. He was joyed, relieved. That’s as emotional as I’ve seen him in a long time.”

Charlie Haeger will be the fifth starter when the Dodgers open the season, meaning he’ll open the season on the road against the Florida Marlins.  Personally (and for totally emotional reasons), I’m psyched the 26 year-old made the team.  Having a knuckleballer on the club is pretty unusual, and I think the fans will love seeing Haeger throw.  I had a chance to watch him during Spring Training in Arizona (where throwing a knuckleball is notoriously difficult) and it was a treat.  Clearly Haeger has learned a lot from Dodgers pitching instructor, and former knuckleballer, Charlie Hough.

Per Rhett Bolllinger at MLB.com:

“I feel like a little kid,” Haeger said. “I just feel happy. It’s like a dream come true. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this for a long time and it’s finally here.”

But do I think Haeger will be the fifth starter at the All-Star Break?  Doubtful.   Torre has plenty of options with the Ortiz “brothers” (Ramon and Russ) should Haeger struggle, to say nothing of McDonald, Stults, Weaver and potentially Towers.  In my opinion, McDonald and Stults have the most pure potential, but Haeger makes sense to start now based on what he did at Camelback Ranch.

* Editor’s Note: I picked this heading before noticing that MLB.com also shares my same sense of humor!

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2010 (DeWitt Photo)

Photo Credit: Chris Volk/Dodgerfan.net 2010 (Haeger Photo)

Dodgers Waive Goodbye to Stults and Repko

While it seemed inevitable in both cases, I was sad to hear of the sale of Eric Stults’ contract to the Hiroshima Carp of the Japan Central League and the release of Jason Repko.  Both players were solid, but just not great enough to crack the Dodgers’ roster and land any significant playing time once there.

As for Stults, he’s optimistic about the move to Japan, and stands to nearly double his salary while the Dodgers also recoup a few hundred thousand as well.  Stults was also out of options, so some sort of move was inevitable.  Stults talked to Ken Gurnick, who has a nice story on the pitcher’s state of mind before his overseas move:

“I enjoyed the Taiwan and China goodwill trips, but I’m a little more excited about this,” said Stults. “Japan is a lot more westernized, there are more Americans there. I talked with Hiroki Kuroda, who played for Hiroshima, and he told me some of the basics and said if I had any questions when I’m there, just to e-mail Kenji Nimura [Kuroda's interpreter] and he’d get back to me. He said they have a great stadium, great fans, a manager he respects and they treat the players well. I think I’ll enjoy it.”

As for Jason Repko, the 29 year-old outfielder was waived by the club today.  I was reading Steve Dilbeck’s column on the hard-charging outfielder, and hadn’t realized he had been with the Dodger organization for 11 years.  Pretty amazing stuff.  But given the arrival of Reed Johnson as the team’s #4 outfielder and the plethera of young talent waiting to replace Manny Ramirez next season, it just seemed like Repko no longer fit into the Dodgers plans, no matter how much they like him.  As Steve notes, there’s always a chance Repko could end up back with the Dodgers if he doesn’t catch on elsewhere, but I’m hoping he earns a slot on a major league roster – he deserves it.

Thanks Eric and Jason for all you gave to the Dodger organization and best luck in the season ahead!

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2010

The Sights of Spring: Images from Camelback Ranch

A sampling of new photos from today’s action at Camelback Ranch:

Legendary Dodgers pitcher (and Special Advisor to the Chairman) Don Newcombe speaks to the team prior to game against the Milwaukee Brewers

Joe Torre give Don Newcombe a hug

Ronnie Belliard and Chin-lung Hu warm up before the game

Manny Ramirez exults to the sky prior to the start of game

Blake DeWitt slides and scores!

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2010

March 22 Spring Training Photostream

Thanks to JonSooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers for providing some great images from the March 22 Spring Training game between the Dodgers and the Angels. The Angels won the game 4-2 in part due to a solid three innings of pitching from lefty Joe Saunders.

Scully’s Back in the Saddle at Camelback Ranch!

I think I speak for all Dodgers fans when I say it’s GREAT to see and hear Vin Scully back in action for the Dodgers.  Here are a few images of Vin’s 2010 debut, as well as a few others from today’s game at Camelback Ranch. Enjoy!

Photo credit: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2010