Not all 12 will be back, but here’s an educated guess at the likelihood of each player returning to the Dodgers, ranked in order of least likely to most:
The World Series is over, making ringbearers of the Red Sox and free agents of dozens of players around baseball.
The Dodgers will have at least 10: Ricky Nolasco, Michael Young, Juan Uribe, Carlos Marmol, Jerry Hairston, Edinson Volquez, Skip Schumaker, Nick Punto, J.P. Howell and Brian Wilson. Per MLB rules, the Dodgers have exclusive negotiating rights with each player up until midnight Eastern Time Monday, after which all are free to sign with any club.
Sometime within the next five days, general manager Ned Colletti and staff must ultimately decide whether or not to extend these players a qualifying offer, a guaranteed contract for 2014 equal to the average salary of the highest-paid 125 players. This year, that’s $14.1 million.
The potential risk every team faces in extending a qualifying offer is that the player will accept the offer and receive more money than he would by testing the open market. The potential reward is twofold: 1, you might re-sign the player at a discount compared to his open-market value; 2, if the player doesn’t accept the qualifying offer and signs elsewhere, your team receives a first-round draft pick in 2014 from the team that does sign the player.
Of the Dodgers’ 10 free agents, Nolasco is the only viable candidate to receive a qualifying offer. He made $11.5 million last year. What’s another $2.6 million? That’s the, um, $2.6 million question that’s been floating around the front offices at Chavez Ravine this month. The answer should be an easy one: Since Nolasco didn’t begin the year with the Dodgers, they won’t receive any draft-pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.
More on him, and the other free agents, later today.
We should also note here that Chris Capuano and Mark Ellis have options for 2014 in their contracts. Capuano’s is a mutual option for $8 million with a $1 million buyout; Ellis’ is a $5.75 million club option with a $1 million buyout. If the team declines the option on both players, that’s a dirty dozen Dodgers destined to hit the free-agent market.
Matthew Kory, writing for SportsonEarth.com, makes a good point today: It’s hard to make sense of how pressure affects athletes. Specifically, in his piece, how the pressure of the Dodgers’ circumstances (expectations, payroll, proclamations from ownership) are affecting an underperforming team.
Most athletes get questions about pressure from us media types. Most say “there is pressure in every situation,” or some variation thereof, but we don’t know exactly how each player perceives the pressure in a situation. It’s foolish to assume that all athletes have the same perception of the pressure facing them or their team.
All we really know is that these guys are better than most of us at handling pressure. Even Brandon League was remarkably calm after getting pulled in the ninth inning yesterday, and remarkably calm again while talking to reporters less than an hour later. In between, he could have been exerting his emotions on any number of inanimate objects. I still maintain that his composure in the critical situations was impressive, even if his command of belt-high sinkers to Gerardo Parra and Martin Prado was not.
But the pressure is mounting.
After yesterday’s game, I asked Don Mattingly where the tipping point is — when a pitcher who’s blown four saves can no longer be trusted to save another.
“I’m not sitting here trying to defend Brandon at this point,” Mattingly said. “For the most part, Brandon has been saving games.”
Seems like it’s getting harder to defend a lot of things around this team, and that’s a consequence of pressure.
Onto the bullet points:
Yasiel Puig has arrived, literally:
Yasiel Puig has arrived at Dodger Stadium, welcome to the big leagues! pic.twitter.com/JdzMIl7fNb
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) June 3, 2013
I wrote last night about what it really means for Puig and for the Dodgers; in short, it means that the plan changed. The Dodgers didn’t plan on having Puig in the majors this soon. Maybe Puig isn’t here if Carl Crawford, the Dodgers’ only outfielder who presents a stolen base threat, is healthy. Power-hitting Alex Castellanos is in Triple-A and he’s the only logical alternative — in fact, he’s the only other natural outfielder on the 40-man roster available for recall.
Puig was hitting well in Double-A Chattanooga, but will he still be as rough around the edges as he was in spring training? Should be fun to find out.
You get the feeling that the Dodgers will have a new closer soon.
Brandon League didn’t blow a save Tuesday, but he added another shaky performance to a long list of them in 2013. League allowed a pair of runs in the ninth inning, both on a Paul Goldschmidt home run that lifted the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 5-3 win at Dodger Stadium.
The Goldschmidt home run came on a belt-high sinker over the middle of the plate, the last of 11 pitches that included five foul balls after the count went full.
“My plan was to get Goldschmidt to ground into a double play,” League said. “That’s an example of what happens when you throw a good hitter a (feces-infused) pitch.”
You got the sense that Josh Beckett could live with the smaller strike zone imposed by home plate umpire Larry Vanover tonight. Beckett could even live with the three runs he allowed in the first inning, maybe because he didn’t want to throw his shortstop, Hanley Ramirez, under the bus for committing an error that left him pitching out of the stretch one batter into the game.
No, there were other things happened tonight specifically, and this season in general, that Beckett has not made peace with.
It came as little surprise when the Dodgers recalled pitcher Javy Guerra from Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday.
Guerra was sent down late in spring training to pitch as a starter at Albuquerque. By his fourth start, he got stretched out to five innings and 75 pitches. The Dodgers needed a reliever who could pitch more than one inning after seeing Josh Wall — Albuquerque’s closer to begin the season — struggle in the long reliever role Monday.
Wall and Guerra swapped places Tuesday, and Guerra returned to a familiar building.
Well, mostly familiar. Once you walk down the tunnel leading into the home clubhouse area, things look a little different inside Dodger Stadium than they did last year.
“I got lost like three or four times,” Guerra said. “They told me ‘go to the weight room.’ It took me 10 minutes.”
For all the money the Dodgers have spent building their 2013 roster — about $230 million when the regular season began — they didn’t have a single pitcher available if last night’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers had gone to the 12th inning.
That’s not exactly unusual. If taxed enough, any bullpen will run out of arms. The Dodgers didn’t even get to the 10th inning yesterday, but manager Don Mattingly had to line up his possibilities when the Dodgers had runners on second and third base with two outs in the ninth inning.
“I’ve got to bring Josh (Wall) back out” for the 10th inning, Mattingly said. “I’ve got one (inning) with Kenley (Jansen). Then it’s Schu.”
Two members of the Dodgers’ 2011-12 relief corps, Josh Lindblom and Javy Guerrra, started against each other in a Triple-A game Friday night.
Lindblom allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings for the Round Rock Express and won. The right-hander, now a member of the Texas Rangers’ organization, has been converted to a starter.
Guerra allowed four runs (two earned) in five innings for the Albuquerque Isotopes and was the ‘Topes pitcher of record in the 4-3 loss. The box score is here.
The Dodgers don’t plan to convert Guerra exclusively to a starter’s role. General manager Ned Colletti said via text message Friday that they’re stretching him out and having him throw four pitches to give the team the option of using him as a starter, long man, or short reliever.
Full disclosure: I picked the Pittsburgh Pirates to finish third, ahead of St. Louis and Chicago, in the National League Central this year. Can’t take it back. It happened.
One week later, I found myself using the quality of the Dodgers’ weekend opponent as some sort of asterisk in a game story after the Bucs were swept out of Dodger Stadium. That’s what happens when you can recite stats like these:
Six games into the season, NL pitchers are hitting .138/.180/.198. The Pirates are hitting .119/.188/.159.
— YCPB (@cantpredictball) April 8, 2013
Adding to the Pirates’ woes: One local paper can’t even spell the name of their star player correctly (h/t @whygavs):