December 20, 2014

Ben Sheets a Future Dodger?

Ben Sheets

It’s actually not as much of a long shot as you might first think.  Here’s why:

1.) The free agent market for starting pitchers is pretty thin.

2.) Ned Colletti doesn’t like offering contracts longer than three years to anyone.

3.) Ned likes signing players that have something to prove and giving them an incentive-laden contract (Orlando Hudson).

Now the Dodgers, like many teams, also have a history of giving big money contracts to starting pitchers that flame-out in notorious fashion, leaving the team on the hook for tens of millions of dollars (Jason Schmidt – 10 wins over three years, Darren Dreifort).  I’m not saying that Ben Sheets is the next in this line, but all teams need to be cautious with his medical history.  That may play into the Dodgers’ thought process when considering premiere free agent starters like John Lackey.

From ESPN:

Agent Casey Close said that Sheets is doing “very well” in his rehab from flexor tendon surgery and plans to be 100 percent by the start of spring training. Close also anticipates no shortage of interest from clubs in the coming weeks.

“We have already heard from a number of teams inquiring about Ben’s health and availability for 2010,” Close said in an e-mail Friday to “I will tell you that he has a very good chance to be one of the most impactful free agents, without question.”

Now I’m a PR guy by trade, and that is classic agent-speak.  As Jerry Crasnick and his sources speculate in the article, I imagine Sheets will eventually sign late in the off-season when teams that don’t land some of the prominent free agents available come sniffing around, kicking the tires on Sheets and deciding how much of a gamble they’re willing to take on a rehabbing former All-Star. 

Given that Sheets’ injuries are known, I believe we’re looking at more of an Orlando Hudson contract situation, and think it’s totally plausible that he could end up a Dodger if he checks out medically and the deal is done late in the off-season.  Either way, it’s certainly going to be interesting!

Your Dodgers Home for Hot Stove League Action!

Well after a number of off-season vacations and a bout with a serious cough (which yours truly is still hanging on to), we’re back and ready to monitor and comment on all the the Hot Stove League activities and news surrounding your Los Angeles Dodgers.

A few weeks ago, Jon Weisman had a great post that summarizes some key considerations before emotionally responding to trade and free agent rumors in the months ahead, and it’s well worth taking the time to read.

And rather than go back and address old rumors, we’ll start fresh with the news of the day and our own thoughts on who would make the msot sense to add to the 2009-2010 roster, and at what price.  And of course, share your thoughts along the way!  Let’s make this a dialogue as we slowly make our way along the winding road to Spring Training.

Manny Ramirez: A Wanted Man?

photo: Ray Stubblebine/Reuters

Saw a tweet from Diamond Leung linking to Bob Keisser’s column in today’s Long Beach Press Telegram.  According to Bob, there apparently is some interest from one team in Manny Ramirez:

A baseball insider says the club has been contacted by an American League team that is interested in Manny Ramirez if the team will pay part of his $20 million salary for 2010.

It’s a team that plays in a very mediocre division, has a few team officials familiar with Ramirez, and always needs a bump in notoriety.

Hmm.  Now I know Manny Ramirez didn’t perform on the field as he did before his 50-game suspension this year, but he’s still a worthwhile piece in the Dodgers’ puzzle and can provide some pop in the cleanup spot that Juan Pierre cannot.  And remember, Manny always seems to perform at his best when he’s in a contract year and people are doubting him.  I also think he’s a valuable clubhouse presence in 2010 when these young Dodgers seek to get over the emotional hurdles from losing to the Phillies for two consecutive years in the NLCS.

All that said, I’m open to consideringmoving Manny, but to even consider this, Ned & Company will need to bring in a big bat to replace Manny’s slot in the lineup.  Hey, it’s always nice to have options, right?  My great fear is that the McCourt divorce saga could cause Frank to move Manny for bogus reasons (like moral grounds given Manny’s past transgressions…when has Frank ever showed that he cared about the morality behind Manny’s past mistakes?) when he’s really just looking to save some cash.  After all, Manny Ramirez is no Andruw Jones, and paying part of Ramirez’s salary while he’s on another team and then going back to an outfield of Kemp, Ethier and Pierre for 2010 is simply unacceptable.  Here’s hoping that I’m not jumping to inaccurate conclusions, but I don’t think it’s wrong to speculate at this point given the tumultuous off-season so far.

Now who is this mystery team?  Could it really be Ramirez’s original team, the Cleveland Indians?  A mediocre AL divison is obviously the AL Central and the Indians could use some help after the embarrasment of watching two of their former pitchers start Game 1 of the World Series. 

Froom MLB Trade Rumors:

Did the Twins, Tigers, White Sox, Indians, or Royals express interest in Manny?  Indians GM Mark Shapiro crossed paths with Ramirez.  The Tigers’ David Chadd worked for the Red Sox when Manny was there.  Do any of the other teams have officials familiar with the slugger?  In general, do you buy this rumor?

Not sure I do right now, but it’s an intriguing question as the Hot Stove League begins to simmer…

Photo Credit: Ray Stubblebine/Reuters

Jim Thome, Jon Garland Traded to Dodgers!

Jim Thome

Wow.  Was just watching tonight’s game when Vin Scully made the announcement: “The Dodgers have just announced that they have aquired Jim Thome for a player to be named later.  Big Jim with 23 home runs this year…wow, will he fit in.  Imagine the lineup with Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Jim Thome.  Whoa.”

This definitely was one move I  was not expecting the Dodgers to make.  I guess if you can’t get more starting pitching, the next best thing is add more power, right?  A free agent after this season, Thome must have waived his no trade clause.  Speaking of new Dodgers, Ronnie Belliard went deep in his first at bat as a Dodger (and fifth time this year!) while turning two double plays – very nice.

So where exactly is Thome (normally a DH) going to play?  It definitely sounds like more moves are coming…is Thome really a fourth or fifth outfielder?  A left hander off the bench?  Maybe.  Can  he play first base?  I doubt it…he hasn’t played in the field for nearly two full years.

UPDATE: Just learned that Jon Garland has also been traded to the Dodgers for a player to be named later.  Garland is 8-11 this year with a 4.29 ERA, but he is traditionally known as an “innings eater”, a guy who has won his last two starts and I believe is someone the Dodgers were considering making a run at before last season.  Interesting to note that Garland and Thome were teammates on the White Sox a few seasons ago.  Even more interesting to note that Garland was supposed to start against the Dodgers on Thursday, and now could start the same night against his old team that same night.

Ned Colletti on “Dodgers Live” after tonight’s game:

“Jim Thome is a great hitter, a home run hittter.  Is he in the twilight of his career?  No question…he’ll tell you the same thing.  He’s also a great leader and we felt that we needed as much leadership as you can have, especially late in the season.  He (Thome) called me about 8:30 tonight and said, ‘Look I wanted to call you.  I know you guys have interest and I want you to know that me playing first base is probably not going to be an option, but I’ll come off the bench and I’ll do everything I can to help this team win.’  I says, if you’re in, we’re in.  He says, ‘I’m all in.’  And I says, lets go do it.”

Well, say what you will about Ned, but he’s certainly going for it.  Frankly, he had to as the team in it’s composition yesterday was simply not good enough to advance far in the playoffs.  These moves were needed.  The Dodgers have only three pinch hit home runs all year, and craved power from the reserves.  Thome and Belliard are huge upgrades and veteran leadership.  Plus, what a DH the Dodgers have in Thome if they go to the World Series.

So what do you think?  Good moves for the post season or not the right moves?  Let’s hear your thoughts!

Dodgers Slump Puts Pitching Trade Rumors Front and Center

There’s no doubt that the Dodgers are slumping right now. The just lost three straight to the Braves and have dropped 11 out of their last 17 games. The general consensus is that they will pull out of it shortly but one has to wonder what the contributing factors are.

Certainly the lack of offense as of late is a concern – after all, the Dodgers have been inconsistent at the plate as of yet. However, the team can get hits when it needs them (remember Ethier’s recent heroics) – they just seem to need them more often.

Which brings us to the pitching woes – highlighted primarily by the starting roster and the high usage of the closers. Chad Billingsley’s nagging injury has caused the Dodgers to lean on their three remaining major-league starters while also calling up minor leaguer Eric Stults (who has had flashes of brilliance but is by no means rock-solid reliable). Kershaw has been doing his part to get as manny innings in the books as possible but opposing teams are getting their offense to work early and often in many cases.

Even Torre is concerned and recognizes the impact that pulling his starters in the first several innings is having on his relievers. “There is no question you’re pushing the envelope (on the bullpen) when you have to go get your starter in the fifth inning or before,” Torre said. “Because it’s really stretching the rubber band.”

Mota and Troncoso have appeared quite fallable as of late, and give up a combined 5 runs on Sunday in the top of the 9th. It’s no wonder that Joe Torre called an all-team meeting following the game on Sunday night to try and right the ship.

All of this has the trade rumors flying right now. John Smoltz and Vincente Padilla are the two most likely candidates – both have been designated for assignment by their respective teams and Smoltz is likely a “person of interest” for Joe Torre given his veteran status and Torre’s challenges with unproven minor league pitchers as of late. Assuming Stults were to stay up for Billingsley and cover any unforseen injuries to the starters between now and September, Torre would likely want someone who was tested and proven for the fifth starting spot.

We’ll keep an eye on things but expect Smoltz to be in the mix for the Dodgers…