Why the Dodgers probably won’t sign Torii Hunter.

Free-agent outfielder Torii Hunter said Monday in an appearance on the MLB Network that he’d like to make a decision on his future soon. On the surface, the Dodgers appear to be a bad fit. Torii  HunterLeft fielder Carl Crawford is expected to be healthy on opening day after having Tommy John surgery in August. Center fielder Matt Kemp should be ready following his shoulder procedure in September. Andre Ethier is healthy and entrenched in right field, and general manager Ned Colletti said Monday that he hasn’t talked to any teams about trading Ethier.

For Hunter, who can play both center and left — and did so while hitting .313/.365/.451 over 140 games last season in Anaheim — Dodger Stadium looks like a bad place to ply your trade.

But rumors gained steam last week when the Dodgers talked to Hunter’s agent at the GM meetings. There was no word how far those talks got, but I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point Hunter broached the subject with his pal, Kemp, too. Hunter lives in Southern California and plans stay once he retires. At age 37, that probably isn’t too far off.

Colletti has stated his interest in acquiring someone who can back up Kemp in center field — so why not Hunter? It’s not as if the Dodgers can’t afford him.

There’s one problem with that, manager Don Mattingly said Monday.

Continue reading

Dodgers announce 2013 coaching staff.

Mark McGwireThe Dodgers announced their 2013 coaching staff Tuesday. Aside from the previous announcement of Mark McGwire as hitting coach, the coaching staff contains a couple new additions.

Both the hitting coach and pitching coach duties will be split. John Valentin will assist McGwire while Ken Howell, the Dodgers’ bullpen coach from 2008-12, will assist pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. Chuck Crim takes over as the bullpen coach after two seasons as the pitching coach at Double-A Chattanooga.

Otherwise Don Mattingly’s staff looks the same: Davey Lopes (first base), Tim Wallach (third base), Trey Hillman (bench), Manny Mota (coach) and Steve Yeager (coach).

A couple thoughts:

Continue reading

Dodgers’ free-agent wish list starts with two pitchers.

Baseball’s annual general manager meetings are nearly wrapped up. Here’s what we know: The Dodgers’ free-agent wish list is headlined by a pair of right-handed starting pitchers. One is Hiroki Kuroda. According to CBSSports.com, the other is Anibal Sanchez.

Writes Jon Heyman:

This news should be of some comfort to the Angels, who internally have wondered whether their crosstown rival might try to blow them out of the water on (Zack) Greinke, who is clearly their far and away No. 1 winter goal.

The Dodgers are likely to at least look at Greinke, Kyle Lohse and others, as they are determined to land at least one starting pitcher — and maybe two

General manager Ned Colletti didn’t want to lose Kuroda as a free agent last winter. But due to the Dodgers’ shrinking budget, he opted instead to sign Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang at a discount — their combined 2012 salaries of $6 million were less than the $10 million Kuroda got from the New York Yankees.

Hiroki Kuroda
Given the opportunity, it makes sense why the Dodgers might want to bring back Kuroda. In three seasons in Los Angeles from 2008-11 he won 41 games while compiling a 3.45 earned-run average. Last season he led the Yankees with a 3.32 ERA and shared the staff lead in wins (16-11).

Sanchez has been consistently good the past three seasons. Shipped to Detroit at midseason in the Marlins’ semi-annual fire sale, he went 4-6 in 12 regular-season starts for the Tigers. Anibal SanchezBut Sanchez shined in the playoffs, posting a 1.77 ERA in three starts as Detroit advanced to the American League Championship Series. His six-pitch arsenal is anchored by a low-90s fastball. The 28-year-old from Venezuela is regarded as a ground-ball pitcher whose control has improved greatly in recent years.

Don’t expect either pitcher to sign anywhere this week. It’s a relatively thin market for starting pitchers and the best of them might not leave the board until December.

The general managers will reconvene Dec. 3-6 at the annual winter meetings in Nashville.

Poll: Who should win the National League Cy Young Award?

The voters have spoken and the three finalists for the National League Cy Young Award have been chosen. Now it’s your turn.

Simple question today: Who deserves the award? Here’s a bit more about Clayton Kershaw, R.A. Dickey and Gio Gonzalez with links to their stats.

BBWAA Awards: Kershaw among finalists for National League Cy Young Award.

Clayton Kershaw is among the top three vote-getters for the National League Cy Young Award, announced Wednesday by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The New York Mets’ R.A. Dickey and the Washington Nationals’ Gio Gonzalez are the other finalists.

Clayton KershawKershaw led the National League in ERA (2.53) and fell one short of Dickey for the strikeout title, with 229 in 227 2/3 innings. The 24-year-old led the NL in wins (21-5), strikeouts (248) and ERA (2.28) while winning the Cy Young Award in 2011.

Dickey is considered the favorite to win the award this year. The 37-year-old knuckleballer went 20-6 for a moribund Mets club, equaling his win total from the last three seasons combined.

Dodgers officially name Mark McGwire hitting coach.

Former St. Louis Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire has taken the same position with the Dodgers, the team announced Wednesday. The announcement had been anticipated for several days, since McGwire informed the Cardinals he intended to leave.

McGwire served as the Cards’ hitting coach for the past three seasons, when they led the National League in batting average (.269) and on-base percentage (.337), ranked second in runs (2,263), fourth in slugging percentage (.416) and third in OPS (.753). Mark McGwireDuring his time as hitting coach, the Cardinals batted a National League-best .274 with runners in scoring position.  McGwire’s tenure in St. Louis was highlighted by the Cardinals’ 2011 season, when St. Louis led the NL in batting average (.273), on-base percentage (.341), slugging percentage (.425, T-1st), OPS (.766) and runs scored (762), while striking out a National League-low 978 times en route to a World Series title.

In 2012 St. Louis led the league with a .338 on-base percentage and ranked among the NL leaders in runs (765, 2nd), hits (1526, T-1st), batting average (.271, 2nd), slugging percentage (.421, 4th) and OPS (.759, 3rd). St. Louis hitters tied for second in the NL with a .264 batting average with runners in scoring position. In the three seasons preceding McGwire’s hiring (2007-09), the Cardinals ranked eighth in the NL in runs scored.

Born in Pomona and raised in Claremont, McGwire now resides in Irvine with his wife, Stephanie, and their children, triplet girls Monet, Marlo and Monroe, and brothers Max and Mason. McGwire also has a 25-year-old son, Matt, from a previous marriage.

Poll: Mark McGwire, Dodgers’ hitting coach?

Mark McGwire is expected to be named the Dodgers’ hitting coach soon. As crazy as those words may have seemed, say, five years ago, the hire makes more sense now.

The former slugger was raised in Claremont, played baseball at Damien High School and USC, and now lives in Irvine with his wife and children. The Dodgers need a hitting coach, so why not bring in the man whose Cardinals teams have finished third, second and first in the National League in batting average the last three years?

Of course, McGwire is also the man who would not “talk about the past” in 2005, when he was summoned before Congress to talk about steroids in Major League Baseball. He’s since admitted to using steroids in his career, including when he broke the single-season home run record in 1998 — a time when PED testing was virtually non-existent in baseball. McGwire was far from alone during his era, and the Dodgers already have a former PED user on their coaching staff in Single-A pitching coach Matt Herges. Is the stigma still an issue?

We may find out soon. First, your opinion:

Dodgers add Pat Corrales to growing front office.

Growing up in the 1980s I collected baseball cards. I should have been more specific and just collected manager cards, because it seemed as if I got a disproportionate number of them, pack after pack of cards. Dick Howser. Russ Nixon. Joe Wathan. John Hart. If they managed a game in the 1980′s, I have their picture on a 2.5-by-3.5 piece of paper stock somewhere.Pat Corrales

Count Pat Corrales in that group.

Corrales today was named Special Assistant to general manager Ned Colletti. In nine years as a major-league manager, Corrales became the first major league manager of Mexican-American descent and the fourth to manage in both leagues in the same season (Philadelphia and Cleveland in 1983).

The 71-year-old went to the Atlanta Braves in 1990 as the team’s bench coach, a position he held for nine seasons, and again from 2007-09 and 2011 with the Washington Nationals. Stan Kasten was the team president in Atlanta and Washington during Corrales’ time in both cities.

Continue reading

Javy Guerra has shoulder surgery, expected to be ready for spring training.

Reliever Javy Guerra underwent a 25-minute arthroscopic procedure on his right shoulder today, according to a team spokesperson. Javy GuerraDr. Neal ElAttrache performed the surgery.

The procedure involved a cleanup of bursitis and the A-C joint that is at the top of the shoulder. Guerra will start his throwing program in six weeks and is expected to be competitive by spring training.

Guerra went 2-3 with eight saves and a 2.60 earned-run average last season. He lost his closer’s job to Kenley Jansen early in the season. Though often effective, Guerra was beset by a knee injury and an oblique injury that ultimately ended his season.

Poll: Which Dodger will have the biggest bounceback in 2013?

One of my favorite stats from 2012 was this: Eight major-league teams used 50 or more players last season. Most fell into the category of underachievers, or at least underdogs: Boston (56), Toronto (54), Chicago Cubs (53), San Diego (53), Baltimore (52), Houston (50), Oakland (50) …

… And then there were the Dodgers, clocking in at an even 50 players. It was a combination of trades and injuries that brought the Dodgers to 50, all of which factored into their falling short of the playoffs, and left several players hungry for a big bounceback in 2013.

Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Ted Lilly are coming back from surgery. Chad Billingsley is coming back from an injury, at least the team hopes. Juan Uribe is Juan Uribe.

Who will rebound the most?