MLB clarifies rule 7.13, and Don Mattingly appreciates it.

MLB executive and former Dodgers manager Joe Torre sent an email Tuesday clarifying how Rule 7.13 (restricting catchers from blocking home plate) would be applied.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has been an outspoken advocate for clarifying the controversial rule. Here’s what he had to say about the email today:

Daily Distractions: Dodgers to sign Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena, per reports.

The Dodgers are reportedly close to signing 23-year-old Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena.

Here’s what we know about the latest Cuban defector:

According to ESPN Deportes, Arruebarruena is a “defensive artist” who batted .320 in 2011-12 and .293 last season. Arruebarruena played for Cuba in the most recent World Baseball Classic. He went 6 for 16 (.375) with a stolen base in six games. Here’s a clip of his two-run single against Brazil.

Since Arruebarruena has six years’ experience in Cuba, the Dodgers aren’t limited by the spending restrictions placed on international amateurs. ESPN reported that most scouts believe Arruebarruena is capable of winning a Gold Glove but don’t consider him an “offensive force” in the majors. BaseballAmerica.com recently offered this scouting report:

At 6 feet, 195 pounds, Arruebarruena has clean hands, quick actions and good body control. He’s a below-average runner, but his quick first step and instincts give him good range. He has a quick transfer and a plus-plus arm with accuracy, which allows him to make throws from deep in the hole and turn 4-6-3 double plays with ease. His awareness in the field is advanced and he’s shown the ability to make the barehanded play look routine and make strong throws from different angles.

The video above certainly confirms the “clean hands.”

Knowing nothing else, Arruebarruena could be a valuable complement to offensive-minded shortstop Hanley Ramirez, if his defense is as good as advertised. But without any sterling offensive evaluations to point to, it’s not clear if Arruebarruena is major-league ready. It will be interesting to see what kind of a contract he commands.

Arruebarruena established residence in Haiti and displayed his talents for teams in the Dominican Republic.

His name is admittedly difficult to pronounce.

 

If it seems like the Dodgers practically have their choice of Cuban defectors, well, maybe they do.

Some bullet points for a Wednesday:
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Daily Distractions: IBWAA announces its end-of-season awards finalists.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Hyun-Jin Ryu (center) was honored at an awards gala in Korea yesterday. Lots of awards these days. (Photo by Jun Park/Asia Society)


The Internet Baseball Writers Association of America was founded here, in the awards capital of the world, so naturally the IBWAA gives out awards at the end of the season. This year there are “finalists” too, just like the BBWAA has “finalists” who really represent the top vote-getters in each category.

The IBWAA has more categories, and more Dodgers, than the BBWAA awards. Clayton Kershaw (National League Cy Young), Yasiel Puig and Hyun-Jin Ryu (NL rookie of the year), Don Mattingly (NL manager of the year), and Kenley Jansen (best NL reliever) are all in the running for the virtual awards.

Jose Fernandez and Adam Wainwright are the other Cy Young finalists, same as the BBWAA awards. Fernandez is the other rookie of the year finalist. Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel are the other finalists for best reliever. Fredi Gonzalez and Clint Hurdle are other manager of the year finalists, (same as the BBWAA.

Winners will be announced as follows:

Relief Pitcher, Friday, November 8, 2013, 11:00 a.m. PST.
Rookie, Monday, November 11, 2013, 11:00 a.m. PST.
Manager, Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 11:00 a.m. PST.
Cy Young, Wednesday, November 13, 2013, 11:00 a.m. PST.
MVP, Thursday, November 14, 2013, 11:00 a.m. PST.
Some bullet points for a Thursday afternoon:

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Daily Distractions: Minor-league awards honor Nick Buss as one Triple-A’s best outfielders in 2013.

Nick Buss

Nick Buss led the Pacific Coast League in RBIs, with 100. (Associated Press photo)

The Triple-A All-Star team, announced Tuesday by Minor League Baseball and the Topps Company, is a real motley crew.

The group includes a 30-year-old veteran of seven seasons of independent baseball (Chris Colabello), a first-round draft pick from 2001 (J.D. Martin) and Nick Buss, the former USC outfielder who made his major-league debut at age 27 with the Dodgers in September.

Buss had a .303/.363/.525 slash line at Triple-A Albuquerque before his call-up, when he collected 2 hits in 19 at-bats as a Dodger. He had 17 home runs and 21 stolen bases, and a PCL-leading 100 RBIs after spending all of 2012 at Double-A Chattanooga.

As the Dodgers’ 40-man roster stands now, Buss is one of three outfielders behind the four well-paid supertars (Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig). Mike Baxter and Scott Van Slyke are the others.

Some bullet points for a Guy Fawkes Day:
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Daily Distractions: Qualifying offers trickling in, Elian Herrera claimed by Milwaukee Brewers, etc.

Hiroki Kuroda

Former Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda received a qualifying offer worth $14.1 million from the New York Yankees today. (Getty Images)

It’s been a busy day for qualifying offers around the majors. Among the names reported today to have received the $14.1 million offers for 2014: Robinson Cano, Hiroki Kuroda, Curtis Granderson, Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli, Carlos Beltran, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brian McCann and Kendrys Morales.

All those players could be off the market by tomorrow if they accept the qualifying offer.

If they don’t, and certainly not all will, the Dodgers and 28 other teams are faced with a choice: Sign the player as a free agent, or sacrifice a 2014 first-round draft pick. For a team like the Dodgers, who have a handful of high-level prospects but not many more tradeable assets in their farm system, that’s a difficult and expensive signing to justify. Cano is arguably the only elite player on that list and the Dodgers aren’t expected to make a run at him.

The others — some of whom made my short list of players to watch — just made themselves a little less attractive to the Dodgers.

A few bullet points for a Panamanian Flag Day:
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Daily Distractions: Yasiel Puig arrives again; Vin Scully tweets; Manny Ramirez returns?

Yasiel Puig Yankees

Yasiel Puig, left, went 4 for 10 in Wednesday’s doubleheader split against the Yankees. (AP photo)

What’s that old saying?

“There’s nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it”?

Right. It’s commonly attributed to William James, the father of modern psychology.

There’s a newer saying, related to the first. One variation goes, “Nothing really puts a performer on the map like coming up big in New York.” Another contends, “a player hasn’t really proven what he can do until succeeding or failing under the bright lights of New York City.” Here’s one more: “the Bronx still provides the game’s greatest stage, and it is a place that helps make stars and bolster myths.” And when the New Yorker and Bleacher Report can agree on something, it must be true. Right?

If Yasiel Puig indeed thrived on a bigger stage Wednesday, the perception will be that he’s a bigger deal now than when he was belting pitches halfway to Eagle Rock as if he’d been playing in Dodger Stadium all his life. In reality, New York Yankees right-hander Adam Warren is the worst pitcher among Puig’s five home run victims (though the San Diego Padres’ Clayton Richard might object). His opposite-field home run in the Dodgers’ 6-0 victory bore no meaning on the outcome of the game, as did his 2-for-5 performance in the Dodgers’ 6-4 loss Wednesday morning.

But perception and reality don’t always line up. If you flipped to ESPN yesterday hoping to catch highlights of Lebron James and Tim Tebow, and saw Yasiel Puig go 4 for 10 against the Yankees, maybe your interest in baseball has been piqued by the ripped Cuban kid from L.A.

Consider the myth bolstered, the star made. Again.

Some bullet points for a Thursday morning:
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Coming to a ballpark near you: Goofy camera angles.

Joe Torre

Joe Torre was holding court in the Dodgers’ home dugout Tuesday afternoon in full uniform. In a way, it was like he never left — save the Team USA threads, the team of all-stars on the field, and the stakes of a World Baseball Classic exhibition game against the Chicago White Sox.

The range of topics he addressed with the media was befitting a man with one hand in Major League Baseball’s executive offices and another in the WBC. Torre is managing the United States entry in the international tournament, in uniform for the first time since he last managed the Dodgers in 2010. In the meantime, he’s worked out of MLB’s Manhattan offices as the league’s Executive Vice President, Business Operations, a job he briefly vacated to explore a purchase of the Dodgers.

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Sandy Koufax arrives, speaks, compliments Kershaw.

Sandy Koufax was a surprise visitor to Camelback Ranch today. A surprise, at least, to some in the media room.

Koufax — who rarely gives interviews –blind-sided this member of the media by giving a brief interview in the Dodgers’ clubhouse, so we’ll credit Eric Stephen of truebluela.com for providing these words from the great lefty’s mouth:

On the Dodgers’ impending change in ownership:

“You’re sad to see it going through this kind of change. Change is inevitable, but this is not the normal way it happens.”

On whether Clayton Kershaw (Koufax watched Kershaw’s bullpen session Friday) has a ceiling:

“No. How do you make up a ceiling? His only ceiling is time. How long he will play, you don’t know. But as far as talent is concerned, no.

“If he’s as good as I think he’s going to be, I’m honored.”

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Morning briefing

The New York media is already feasting on Manny Ramirez’s trip to the Big Apple.

The Daily News’ Roger Rubin and Times’ Chris Hine attended Joe Torre’s charity gold tournament Monday in Briarcliff Manor. They bring similar perspectives. Rubin’s piece discusses how, amidst the Manny madness, Torre himself will judge accomplishments from the steroid era; Hine’s focuses on how Torre has been able to navigate the Dodgers through the first half of the season. MLB.com’s Jared Diamond was there as well.

An interesting blurb from Ken Gurnick on the Dodgers’ get-out-the-vote effort for Matt Kemp: “The Dodgers are attempting to enlist two of Kemp’s NBA friends, Trevor Ariza and Sheldon Williams, via their Twitter accounts in hopes of enrolling all of their followers to vote for their buddy.”

In other news, the LAT’s Kevin Baxter has an interesting story on Manny’s stomping grounds.