Dodgers hire Soboroff as vice chairman

In light of recent news that Dodgers owner Frank McCourt had to borrow $30 million from Fox in order to meet payroll obligations, this is an interesting move. Steve Soboroff will spearhead efforts to improve the fan experience and strengthen ties to the community.

How much Soboroff is getting paid remains to be seen. There’s also this: Soboroff plans to meet with fans to listen to their ideas for improving the experience at Dodger Stadium. Hmmm … where to start?

Press release from the Dodgers:

LOS ANGELES – Civic and business leader Steve Soboroff is joining the Los Angeles Dodgers as vice chairman with responsibility for leading efforts to improve the fan experience at the stadium, strengthening ties to the region’s community and philanthropic organizations, and expanding conservation and sustainability programs at Dodger Stadium. He will report directly to Dodger Owner Frank McCourt.

Soboroff, who begins in the new role today, will coordinate the implementation of recommendations from former Los Angeles Police Chief Bill Bratton’s team to enhance safety, security and the overall fan experience at Dodger Stadium. Soboroff will also step up efforts by the Dodger organization to expand the positive impacts of the Dodgers throughout Southern California.

“Steve understands this city as few others do, and his contributions have made Los Angeles a better place,” said McCourt. “Not only will he infuse great ideas and energy to the Dodger organization, but he will use his trademark ‘get-it-done’ approach to extend the Dodgers’ positive impact on Los Angeles. It starts with a quality fan experience in the stadium, and extends throughout the Southern California community.”

Soboroff is a former president of the City’s Recreation and Parks Commission, former CEO of the award-winning Playa Vista community, and currently board chairman of both the Weingart Foundation and the EXPO Center in Exposition Park. As senior advisor to former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, Soboroff played a lead role in putting together the Alameda Corridor project, and is widely regarded as the person who brought the Staples Center to Downtown Los Angeles.

“The fan experience starts with a safe, comfortable, family environment, and extends from there,” said Soboroff. “That’s the recipe for success in the city’s parks, at Playa Vista and in every neighborhood throughout Los Angeles. It is about having the right plan, and putting that plan into action. People throughout the city and country can expect their phone to ring from me, so be prepared to talk about innovative partnerships that help kids, advance sustainability, improve transportation to and from the ballpark, and create a second-to-none fan experience.”

Soboroff also plans to meet with fans and other Dodger stakeholders to hear their ideas for improving the Dodger experience. “You will see me in every section of the ballpark checking things out, listening to fans, and taking strong actions in a number of areas. And I’m in a hurry,” Soboroff said. “The Dodgers are one of the great professional sports franchises in the world, and an important civic institution in Southern California. Frank has empowered me to set a new standard when it comes to the fan experience and the Dodgers’ impact on the Los Angeles community.”

A lifelong Dodger fan, Soboroff lived in the San Fernando Valley as a teen. He and wife Patti raised their five children in Los Angeles.

Dodgers call up power-hitting prospect Jerry Sands

According to Ken Gurnick at MLB.com, outfield prospect Jerry Sands has been called up from Triple-A Albuquerque and Xavier Paul has been designated for assignment.

Sands, 23, is in the Dodgers’ starting lineup for tonight’s game against Atlanta, playing left field and batting seventh. He was hitting .400 (10 for 40) with five home runs and 17 RBIs at Albuquerque.

As the organization’s position player of the year last year, Sands hit 35 home runs between Class A Great Lakes and Double-A Chattanooga.

Paul, 26, was hitting .273 (3 for 11) with no home runs or RBIs while trying to find playing time behind Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Marcus Thames and Tony Gwynn Jr.

Furcal on the DL; De Jesus called up

Another season, another trip to the disabled list for Rafael Furcal.
The Dodgers shortstop has been placed on the 15-day disabled list after breaking his left thumb while sliding headfirst into third base during a 6-1 win over the San Francisco Giants
on Monday night.
Furcal, 33, is expected to miss about four to six weeks.
The Dodgers recalled rookie infielder Ivan De Jesus, who started the season in Los Angeles but went went 0 for 7 with five strikeouts, from Triple-A Albuquerque. De Jesus was sent down last Tuesday when third baseman Casey Blake came off the disabled list.
Furcal, who was batting just .192 from the leadoff spot, is returning to Los Angeles to get examined by a hand specialist.
He missed about two months last season with injuries to his lower back and right thigh.
Furcal, who is making $12 million this season, is in the final year of a three-year, $30 million contract. The Dodgers hold a $12 million option for next season, but it becomes guaranteed if Furcal reaches 600 plate appearances.

Is Manny a Hall of Famer?

Does Manny Ramirez belong in Cooperstown?
Or is his legacy tainted by what appears to be two positive drug tests?
Some of Ramirez’ numbers to consider:

  • His .312 batting average is 87th all-time.

  • His .411 on-base percentage ranks him 32nd.
  • He finishes ninth with a .585 slugging percentage.
  • What’s more, his .996 career OPS ranks ninth all-time.
  • He’s 14th all-time with 555 homers, 18th with 1,831 RBIs.
  • His 21 grand slams puts him just two behind leader Lou Gehrig.
  • No one has hit more postseason homers than his 29 shots.

So what say you? Comment away …

Manny just being Manny

According to The Associated Press, Tampa Bay slugger Manny Ramirez tested positive for a banned substance for the second time and informed Major League Baseball on Friday that he is retiring rather than face a 100-game suspension.
A person familiar with the events that led to the announcement confirmed to The Associated Press that Ramirez tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the nature of Ramirez’ issue with MLB’s drug policy was not publicly disclosed.
Less than two years ago, Ramirez served a 50-game suspension for violating the drug policy while with the Dodgers. At the time, Ramirez tested positive for human chorionic gonadotropin, a banned female fertility drug often used to mask steroid use.
Second-time violators get double that penalty, so Ramirez was probably looking at a 100-game sitdown.
“Major League Baseball recently notified Manny Ramirez of an issue under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” the commissioner’s office released in a statement. “Rather than continue with the process under the Program, Ramirez has informed MLB that he is retiring as an active player. If Ramirez seeks reinstatement in the future, the process under the Drug Program will be completed.”
MLB said it would have no further comment.
In 18-plus seasons, Ramirez was a .312 hitter with 555 home runs. Whether his recent troubles with positive drug tests will taint what was once an inevitable nomination to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown remains to be seen.

Dodgers’ 25-man roster set

The Dodgers have announced their Opening Day roster for the 2011 championship season. As far as injuries go, they placed catcher Dioner Navarro, third baseman Casey Bake and pitchers Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 22. Outfielder Jay Gibbons was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 26.

The Dodgers are carrying 11 position players — including three catchers — and 14 pitchers. A fifth starter won’t be needed until April 10, so look for a position player to probably get sent down by then.

As for today’s starting lineup against the World series champion San Francisco Giants, veteran Jamey Carroll will get the nod at second base after speculation all week that rookie Ivan De Jesus Jr. would start.

The 25-man roster, as broken down by position:

Pitchers (11):
Chad Billingsley
Jonathan Broxton
Lance Cormier
Matt Guerrier
Blake Hawksworth
Kenley Jansen
Clayton Kershaw (L)
Hong-Chih Kuo (L)
Hiroki Kuroda
Ted Lilly (L)
Mike MacDougal

Catchers (3):
Rod Barajas
A.J. Ellis
Hector Gimenez (S)

Infielders (6):
Jamey Carroll
Ivan De Jesus
Rafael Furcal (S)
Aaron Miles (S)
James Loney (L)
Juan Uribe

Outfielders (5):
Andre Ethier (L)
Tony Gwynn, Jr. (L)
Matt Kemp
Xavier Paul (L)
Marcus Thames

Dodgers trade for Ronnie Belliard

The Dodgers have acquired infielder Ronnie Belliard from the Nationals in exchange for minor leaguer Luis Garcia and a player to be named later.
Belliard, 34, has hit .346/.406/.600 in August while platooning at second base for the Nats.
Garcia, 22, has posted a 2.92 ERA in 34 relief appearances this season for the Class-A Great Lakes Loons.

Postgame: Dodgers 2, Cubs 0

The Dodgers beat the Cubs today 2-0 at Dodger Stadium. For a full recap and boxscore click here.

THE BARE ESSENTIALS:

Charlie Haeger simply shut the down the Cubs today, going 7+ scoreless innings and earning his first win with the Dodgers. He allowed only three hits and four walks.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ two runs came on solo jacks from Matt Kemp and Casey Blake. Kemp’s homer, a huge shot to left, came in the second inning, and Blake’s was in the fourth.

Interestingly, Jonathan Broxton — who’s posted a 3.86 ERA in August — pitched the eighth, and George Sherrill pitched the ninth. Sherrill was a bit shaky in the ninth, but got the job done in his first save opportunity as a Dodger. He’s still yet to give up a run since he was acquired.

ETC…ETC:

In the eighth inning, Matt Kemp lost a fly ball while playing right field. It was ruled a double, and it put runners on second and third with one out for Aramis Ramirez, but Broxton shut the door.

Haeger threw more fastballs today then the two he threw in his first start, but he still made his living with the knuckler. It’d be hard to not give him another go after that performance.

The Rockies and Giants play at 5 p.m. If Colorado wins, they’ll stay just 4.5 games back of the Dodgers.

ON DECK:

The Dodgers try to sweep the four-game set with the Cubs, sending Chad Billingsley (12-6, 3.70) against Ryan Dempster (6-7, 4.28).

Postgame: Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 3 (10 innings)

The Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers 4-3 tonight in 10 innings. For a full recap and boxscore click here.

THE BARE ESSENTIALS:

The big story for the Dodgers tonight was what happened to starter Hiroki Kuroda. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Arizona pinch-hitter Rusty Ryal lined a 2-2 pitch right back at Kuroda’s right temple, and the 34-year-old righthander went down immediately. He did move, however, and CAT scans taken after the game at St. Joseph’s Hospital were negative.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers held a 3-1 lead into the ninth but closer Jonathan Broxton allowed back-to-back homers — only his third and fourth homers allowed of the season — to blow the save.

The Blue couldn’t put anything together offensively in the tenth, and the D’Backs came back with a perfectly executed bottom half of the inning off of Ramon Troncoso to get the win. Augie Ojeda singled, Dan Haren bunted him to second, and after two walks, Gerardo Parra hit a walk-off single.

ETC…ETC

The Dodgers took a 3-0 lead, but Ryal’s hit — ruled a ground-rule double — sparked the first run for the D’Backs. From there, the L.A. offense wasn’t the same, with only two hits.

Hong-Chih Kuo and George Sherrill both feasted on an Arizona lineup that was incredibly left-handed in scoreless seventh and eighth innings. The 1-7 hitters in the D’Backs order were lefties.

Offensively, Brad Ausmus had an RBI single in the second, Doug Davis threw a pick-off away in the fifth to score Rafael Furcal, and Mark Loretta hit a sac fly to bring in Casey Blake in the sixth inning.

Matt Kemp didn’t have a hit but still wreaked havoc on the basepaths, reaching base via walk in the tenth inning and stealing second and third.

ON DECK:

Randy Wolf (6-6, 3.43) tries to salvage a game for the Dodgers against Arizona’s Yusmeiro Petit (2-6, 5.87) tomorrow at 1 p.m.