September 2, 2014

Checking in on the Departed 2011 Dodgers: From Barajas, Blake and Brox to Carroll, Kuo and Kuroda

On the eve of Spring Training for the Dodgers. I thought it would be fun to check in on some of the 2011 Dodger players that departed Chavez Ravine for (hopefully) greener pastures in 2012.  As you will see, some of our old friends are embarking on new chapters, some are being reunited with old friends, while others are struggling to secure roster spots and keep their major league careers going:

Tom Singer from MLB.com takes a look at the new Pirates’ battery of A.J. Burnett and Rod Barajas, and why Barajas is thrilled to be reunited with his 2008 Toronto teammate.

Patrick Saunders and Troy Renck from the Denver Post touch on Casey Blake’s challenge in holding down third base for the Rockies.

The Associated Press looks at Jonathan Broxton’s new beginning in Kansas City as the set-up man to closer Joakim Soria, and why the Royals were the former closer’s first choice.

Jamey Carroll talks with Tyler Mason from FS North about being the Twins new starting shortstop at 38 years old.

Matthew Leach from MLB.com examines Rafael Furcal’s battle to show his power and ability to consistantly get on base for the Cardinals at 35 years old.

Paul Hoynes from The Plain Dealer states that Jon Garland’s physical with the Cleveland Indians didn’t happen today as planned, which is significant as the pitcher’s minor league contract is contingent on him passing the examination.

Larry Larue at the News Tribune examines the complexities of new Mariner reliever Hong-Chih Kuo.

Bryan Hoch talks with Russell Martin and Hiroki Kuroda about Kuroda’s transition to the Yankees, and how it compares to Kuroda’s arrival in Los Angeles from Japan.

Alex Speier from WEEI Sports Radio reports on Vicente Padilla’s legal challenges as he attempts to get to Spring Training on time to compete for a roster spo with the Red Sox.

 

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/ Los Angeles Dodgers 2011 

Post-Game Comments from Torre, Billingsley, Ellis and Blake

Here’s the feedback after tonight’s 6-0 loss to the Padres (particularly good stuff from Casey Blake).  Additionally, earlier this evening, the Dodgers were officially eliminated from playoff contention.

Joe Torre

On Clayton Richard’s complete game shutout:

“It just looked so easy for him.  We didn’t do a whole lot of damage.  We just couldn’t get anything going.  Up until that last inning, we didn’t really have a threat.  You have to give him credit, he works fast, he’s very aggressive in the strike zone and he certainly pitched well tonight.”

On being eliminated from the playoffs:

“We didn’t play well enough to be in a pennant race.  We thought in the first half that we would be able to contend.  Unfortunately the second half started off badly and we never really recovered from it.”

On Billingsley’s performance:

“It just didn’t look like he had command.  He’s been pitching so well, his stuff looked good, but he just wasn’t able to locate.  It sounds simple, and that’s probably a simple explanation, but as I said, I thought his stiff was good, but he just didn’t get the ball where he wanted to.  Plus we put pressure on him.  We don’t score, they score a couple of runs and you try and be perfect.  I think a lot of the pitchers have had to deal with a lot of that this year.”

Chad Billingsley

On his performance in tonight’s game:

“I just didn’t get the job done today.  I was battling those two innings and couldn’t find a way to get out of it.  I’ve just got to get ready for the next start.”

A.J. Ellis

On Chad Billingsley’s performance:

“They capitalized when we put their runners on base.  The walk or a hit by pitch, they capitalized on it.  When he was ahead in the count and throwing strikes, he was dominant as he normally is, putting guys away.  When you put guys on base it makes it that much harder on you.”

Casey Blake

On being officially eliminated from the playoffs:

“In order to be a championship team, obviously you’ve got to be playing well, but you’ve got to have a lot of things go your way.  It seems like neither of those happened for us.  Injuries didn’t help anything: Losing Manny, losing [Furcal], Padilla, just go down the line.  Andre for an extended period of time.  I was out five games and that really killed us [laughter].  Every team goes through adversity like that.  It’s disappointing.  You feel like a failure.  We’re not embarrassed, it’s just really disappointing for all the expectations and hope you have.  You make it to the playoffs a couple of years in a row and you just expect to do it.  When it doesn’t happen, it’s really, really tough to take.”

Blake Adding to his Brood

Josh Rawitch notes that Casey Blake isn’t in the lineup today as he and his wife are expecting their third child.  If it’s a boy, maybe he’ll name the kid after his pal Manny.  OK, on to the game today: Kuroda’s on the mound getting some confidence-building work in against the Royals as he works on a few last things before Opening Day arrives.

Welcome Casey Blake!

Cleveland Indians' Casey Blake, right, and Grady Sizemore celebrate after Blake's two-run home run against the Los Angeles Angels in the fifth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Monday, July 21, 2008.

Finally!  On Saturday morning, the Dodgers pulled the trigger and landed 3B Casey Blake from the Indians for a pair of lower-tier minor leaguers giving them a solid bat at one of the positions where one was desperately needed: third base.  He also gives the Dodgers a ton of flexibility, playing first base as well as in the outfield when needed.

Let’s first talk about Blake’s numbers: he’s hitting .289, 11 HR, 58 RBI.  Nice.  Sure, he’s a free agent after this season, but there’s no reason to think that Casey can’t re-sign with the Dodgers who will be looking for a replacement for Raffy Furcal.  Plus, this guy plays hard and the Dodgers need gamers.  I bet he and Jeff Kent are going to get along famously.

Plus the guy is a clutch hitter, hitting .398 with runners in scoring position (something the Dodgers most certainly are not this year).  If you want to get as psyched as we are about this trade, check out this article in yesterday’s Cleveland Plain Dealer: “The Mighty Casey: Blake Maintains Pace as Tribe’s Best in Clutch in ’08″

This year, the Tribe’s versatile third baseman entered Friday’s series opener with Minnesota hitting .402 with men in scoring position, .326 with runners on second or third with two out and .600 with the bases loaded. But he is hard-pressed to explain it.

“I’m not doing anything different. … I tried to keep the same approach [as 2007], and that’s why it’s so weird,” said Blake, who is hitting .287 (92-for-321) with 11 homers and 58 RBI. “It’s one of those things. I just try to hit the ball hard somewhere.”

Blake said he hopes that fans appreciate his blue-collar work ethic and said it is a privilege to roll up his sleeves everyday and go to work.

“I’m not real flashy … I don’t believe in that,” Blake said. “I show up every day ready to play hard. … I’ve had some tough times here [with the fans] but I’m glad they’re embracing me. It’s nice to have them on my side.”

In return, the Indians will receive Carlos Santana, a catcher in the Class A California League where he has 14 homers and is hitting .323.  Also acquired in the deal is AAA pitcher Jon Meloan who is 5-10, but is also a strikeout machine, racking up 335 in 262 innings.

Sure the Dodgers gave up some potential major league talent in this deal, but the NL West is ripe for the picking and the Dodgers managed to strike first in a big way while not giving up the farm in the process.  Nice job Ned, but you’re not done yet!