April 20, 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 

Dodgers Pick Up Jon Garland on Black Friday

Ned Colletti has surprised me on several ocassions during this offseason, and he did so again today by picking up RHP Jon Garland on a one-year, $5 million contract (kudos to the Times’ Dylan Hernandez for breaking the story on Twitter).

As Dodgers fans know, Garland has averaged 190+ innings per year over the past nine years and is about as stable and reliable as they come, going 14-12 with a 3.46 ERA over 33 starts and 200 innings in 2010.  The contract also includes a club option for 2012 for $8 million, along with an automatic kicker if Garland reaches 190 innings this season.

“We’re very pleased to have Jon join this group and give us five very strong starters going into Spring Training,” said General Manager Ned Colletti in a statement. “We saw what Jon was capable of down the stretch in 2009 and again last year within our division. Year after year, he takes the ball 30-plus times and gives his team a chance to win every time out.”

While I’m not totally surprised to see Garland back in Dodger Blue (he seemed to like it here in 2009), I am surprised to see him as the #5 starter on this team.  Before the signings of Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda, I could have seen the Dodgers trying to get Garland and sliding him into a #3 or #4 slot, but getting him at the #5 position is just fantastic news and gives the Dodgers a very, very solid  and impressive starting five…the best five starting pitchers we’ve seen in years in LA – certainly in the Frank McCourt era.

Per Ken Gurnick, the move also allows the Dodgers to shore up the bullpen a bit by sliding former #5 starters Carlos Monasterios back to the bullpen full-time while giving John Ely the chance to stay on the roster as the long-reliever (a role previously occupied by Jeff Weaver).

While the Dodgers recent spending spree in November has been impressive, at some point Ned & Co. need to turn their attention to the offense, and look for a power-hitting left-fielder and/or first baseman (if Loney is somehow traded).  My gut tells me that Ned will most likely work on shoring up the bullpen first, figuring out who is going to catch all of these new starters and then pulling in a few aging sluggers to act as part-time players in left field and maybe at first or third.  I just don’t see 2011 as the year that the Dodgers unload with a mega-contract for an Adam Dunn or a Carl Crawford, especially after the moves for Lilly, Kuroda and Garland.  But then again, Ned has been full of surprises so far this offseason, so maybe we will get a Christmas Miracle after all.

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2009

Post-Season Thoughts From Andre Ethier and Jon Garland

Andre Ethier speaks to the media on October 23, 2009

Andre Ethier speaks to the media on October 23, 2009

With the 2009 season at a close, the Dodgers opened up the clubhouse to the media.  Following are a few quotes from Andre Ethier and Jon Garland who were gracious enough to speak to the assembled media as they cleared out their lockers.

Andre Ethier

On not being considered a “kid” anymore:

“It’s nice to start to have the credit and acknowledgement that you’ve grown up and you’re part of this game.  At that same time, there isn’t much leniency for mistakes to be made, because you’re not kids anymore so you’re going to be held responsible a lot more and…[we need to] do things right the first time.  In that sense, it’s going to be a little bit more pressure to get things right , right away.”

On what Andre learned from the Game 5 loss to the Phillies:

“Just how special it is to be in that situation.  Those games are worth playing.  When you’re going through it, you don’t realize the magnitude or what it actually is and then watching the game last night, you see how big the game actually is.  It’s a learning process.”

On talk that the Dodgers need a #1 starter:

“We have one or two good candidates here that could definitely become that person…it takes not only the skill, but also the reputation and mindset to go out there and perform that way.  You can see the way a #1 can perform by that game last night for the Angels.  Go out there and get the job done when he’s [John Lackey] counted on and relied upon.  There are plenty of candidates here that can step up and fill that role.  Hopefully this off-season allows guys to want that and mature into that process a little bit more and be that #1, but we’ll definitely welcome a new guy here if that’s what we need and we can get.”

Jon Garland

On his interest in remaining a Dodger:

“I’ve always said that I want a chance to play the game that I love.  I love going out and competing.  I would love to [stay in LA], but if it didn’t work out and I’m somewhere else, I’m not going to be disappointed.”

On not pitching in the playoffs:

“It’s a little bit hard to sit and watch when the competitor in you wants to get out there and help the team out, but that was the choice that Joe made and I have to live with it.”

On what he would like to see happen to the Dodgers in the off-season:

“It depends if I’m on it or not.  If I’m on it, I’d love to win a World Series.  If I’m not, I don’t want to hurt anybody’s hearts, but I hope we beat ‘em. ”

On potential off-season acquisitions:

“I think this team has everything that it needs.  I don’t think there is much that you have to do.  The pieces are there.  It’s just a matter of putting them together.”

Additional comments from Ned Colletti and Joe Torre coming later tonight.  Finally, it was good to see Roberto from Vin Scully is My Homeboy representing at the media event today.  I also ran into “Steve Sax” from the Sons of Steve Garvey in the team’s gift shop…which begs the question: do the Sons EVER leave Dodger Stadium???