Daily Distractions: How relationships made a difference for Skip Schumaker, Dan Haren.

Brian Wilson

Skip Schumaker, left, and Nick Punto have fun after tearing the jersey off Brian Wilson after the Dodgers beat the Giants in September. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff photographer)

Skip Schumaker had never been a free agent before this year, and he wasn’t a free agent for long. Less than a month after the World Series ended, Schumaker signed a two-year contract with the Cincinnati Reds.

“I didn’t really want to wait because I felt so good about Cincinnati,” he said on a conference call Tuesday.

The idea of waiting in traffic on the way to Dodger Stadium didn’t appeal to Schumaker, either. His carpool buddy, Nick Punto, had just signed with the Oakland A’s on Nov. 13. That mattered.

“I didn’t know who was coming back,” Schumaker said. “I didn’t know what coaches were coming back, which players. My friends were signing elsewhere – especially Nick Punto – becoming free agents.”

Dan Haren had been a free agent before. This time, the pitcher had help from Zack Greinke, his teammate with the Angels late in the 2012 season.

“I kind of talked to (Greinke) throughout the whole process,” said Haren, who finalized a one-year deal with the Dodgers on Monday. “He said the team is amazing. … It’s nice coming into a situation where there’s a familiar guy.”

This principle is nothing new, but it was interesting to see it work both for and against the Dodgers in the span of two days.

Schumaker’s contract with the Cincinnati Reds was widely reported last week and became official Tuesday. Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reported that Schumaker will make $2 million in 2014, $2.5 million in 2015 and there is a $2.5 million club option for 2016 with a $500,000 buyout.

Apparently the Dodgers weren’t that interested in bringing him back.

“They had so many things going on initially,” Schumaker said, “I felt I was maybe on the back burner.”

Some bullet points for a Thanksgiving/Hanukkah weekend. These will be the last until Monday:
Continue reading

Share this post ...
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrEmail this to someonePrint this page

Daily Distractions: Nomo, Gagne, Lo Duca, Gonzalez, Kent, Maddux join Mattingly, McGwire on HOF ballot.

Mark McGwire

Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire is listed on the Hall of Fame ballot for the seventh time. (Associated Press photo)

The 2014 Hall of Fame ballot was announced today, and the window for eligibility has struck the Dodgers square in the 2000s. Hideo Nomo, Eric Gagne, Jeff Kent, Luis Gonzalez, Greg Maddux and Paul Lo Duca are all on the ballot for the first time.

They join Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, hitting coach Mark McGwire, former catcher Mike Piazza and several other holdovers on a crowded field. Only 10 players can be listed on a ballot. Voting results will be announced at 11 a.m. on Jan. 8, 2014, on MLB Network and the web sites of the Hall of Fame and the BBWAA.

Nomo was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1995 and no-hit the Colorado Rockies the following season at Coors Field. Gagne saved 161 games from 1999 to 2006 after converting to a reliever, including a record 84 in a row. Kent hit 75 home runs in a Dodgers uniform from 2005-08, finishing his career with 377 — 351 as a second baseman, an all-time record. Maddux made 19 starts as a Dodger in the twilight of a career that included 355 wins, eighth on baseball’s all-time list.

Lo Duca played seven of his 11 major-league seasons with the Dodgers, while Gonzalez spent one season (2007) in Los Angeles and was benched at midseason to make room for Matt Kemp.

Gagne and Lo Duca were both identified in the Mitchell Report as having been connected to performance-enhancing drug use. Their career numbers alone are enough to keep them out of the Hall, but the PED issue has proven impossible to overcome for even some of the best players on the ballot — McGwire, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa and possibly Piazza. They’ll need to be named on at least 5 percent of all ballots to remain eligible.

McGwire (listed on 16.9 percent of ballots last year) and Mattingly (13.2) are closer to 5 percent than the 75 percent needed for induction. Players can remain on the ballot for 15 years after their retirement, and this will be Mattingly’s 14th appearance.

MLB.com has Hall of Fame profiles on several of the top Hall candidates, including Mattingly, McGwire, Piazza and Kent.

Some bullet points for a Mongolian Independence Day:
Continue reading

Share this post ...
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrEmail this to someonePrint this page

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti on Juan Uribe, Alexander Guerrero, losing a first-round draft pick.

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti spoke with reporters Monday afternoon in conjunction with the signing of Dan Haren. The Dodgers gave the 33-year-old right-hander a one-year contract with a vesting option for 2015.

Some non-Haren things were addressed:

1. Colletti said that he is still in conversation with representatives for third baseman Juan Uribe. Uribe is reportedly seeking a 3-year deal and has drawn interest in a thin free agent class, notably from the Miami Marlins, according to one report.

2. Alexander Guerrero hasn’t played a game in the Dominican Winter League since Nov. 12. The infielder is nursing a left hamstring strain, Colletti said. “He needs to play this winter. He doesn’t need to lead the Dominican League in at-bats or games played, so we weren’t going to push it.”

3. Thirteen free agents received qualifying offers from their 2013 teams. One, catcher Brian McCann, has already signed with the New York Yankees. The other 12 are still on the market, and Colletti strongly downplayed the Dodgers’ interest in losing a first-round 2014 draft pick to sign them. “I don’t think we ever want to lose a pick … unless it really strikes our interest more than typically. Typically we would not want to sacrifice that pick.”

Share this post ...
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrEmail this to someonePrint this page

Daily Distractions: How the Dodgers might apply principles of chemistry and platooning to their $58.3 million outfield.

Carl Crawford Matt Kemp

Can Carl Crawford (left) and Matt Kemp (right) be happy under a four-man outfield platoon? The Dodgers might be counting on it. (Associated Press photo)

A couple opinions floating around today about what to do with the Dodgers’ four-outfielder conundrum: 1, Trading Andre Ethier is the most likely route; 2, Keeping everyone is the safest bet.

Maybe there’s another way we can look at the Dodgers stockpiling outfielders. It’s not unlike the strategy used a year ago by Oakland A’s, who entered last season with five viable starting outfielders (Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Seth Smith, Josh Reddick and Chris Young).

Since it was the A’s, this personnel strategy was dissected under the market-efficiency microscope, then praised when Young underperformed, Cespedes and Crisp went down with injuries in April, and Reddick took his turn on the DL in late May. None of them were owed the kind of money Ethier, Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig will earn in 2014 — $58.3 million, excluding any contract bonuses — but the A’s still won 96 games, four more than the Dodgers.

Don’t dismiss the integral role that club chemistry played in keeping the A’s outfielders happy with the platoon arrangement. Probably not coincidentally, Oakland recently signed former Dodgers infielder Nick Punto — a chemistry guy, a platoon guy.

With the Dodgers, the market-efficiency prism need not apply. That doesn’t mean that stockpiling outfielders (and starting pitchers, for that matter), hedging against the inevitable injuries, and counting on chemistry to abide in times of health, isn’t a wise personnel strategy worth the time of a team with a $215 million-plus budget.

The A’s walked into their situation more intentionally than the Dodgers, who probably didn’t count on the injuries that added up to 99 outfield starts for players other than their top four in 2013. Heck, general manager Ned Colletti might have traded Ethier, Kemp or Crawford by now if cost and health concerns were not enough to inhibit a rival GM from making a knock-me-down offer.

That hasn’t happened yet. It probably won’t. Whenever a reporter asks Colletti an outfield-related question that begins with “if everyone’s healthy…” his response usually begins with some variation of “do we know that everyone’s going to be healthy?”

So maybe the Dodgers backed into this desirable situation. That doesn’t make it undesirable.

Some bullet points for an Evacuation Day:
Continue reading

Share this post ...
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrEmail this to someonePrint this page

Reports: Dodgers sign Dan Haren for one year, $10 million.

According to multiple reports Sunday, the Dodgers will sign free-agent right-hander Dan Haren to a one-year, $10 million contract with an option for 2015 that vests at 180 innings, pending a physical. Terms of the contract were first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.

Haren, 33, went 10-14 with a 4.67 earned-run average in 30 starts last season for the Washington Nationals. Known as a fly-ball pitcher who pitches to contact, Haren is 2-3 with a 3.49 ERA in eight career starts at Dodger Stadium.

Haren has made at least 30 starts each of the last nine seasons, and his 297 starts since 2005 are tied for the most among all major-league pitchers.

The Monterey Park native was coming off a one-year, $13 million contract that he signed in Dec. 2012.

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis quickly chimed in with his opinion of the signing:

Continue reading

Share this post ...
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrEmail this to someonePrint this page