WWYD (What Would YOU Do)?

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Money …

Some say it solves a lot of problems, many think it causes them, and even more still believe it’s the root of all that is evil. Meanwhile, everyone I know including myself tries like hell every day to earn enough to live, take care of our families and maybe occasionally have enough to do fun things, like go to a ballgame.

If there is something everyone is good at, however, it’s spending it. More specifically, spending other people’s cash, and even more specifically, the money owned by rich people. After all, wealthy people need help spending their dough. They certainly didn’t amass their fortunes by unloading it, so clearly, they haven’t mastered the fine art of reaching into their pockets for their wallets the way we common folk have.

In fact, as sports fans, we have broken it down to a science. Most of us probably believe we could teach a college course on spending billionaire bucks. We have good training, as well, on-the-job training in fact. It is called “fantasy sports ownership.” That’s right, we have deluded ourselves into thinking we not only know how to properly spend hundreds of millions of dollars, but that we also know how to combine the right talent of both star and role-playing athletes with the right mix of younger players and older veterans capable of becoming a dynasty. Royals, Rays and A’s fans don’t have it as good as we Dodgers fans do. When it comes to the Dodgers, Guggenheim’s money is like the bell to Pavlov’s Dog. We’re the dog, of course, and during the Hot Stove league, we salivate all over everything.

The Dodgers have needs (albeit some of their “needs” would be luxuries to most other teams). They also have money and a few good prospects. So in the spirit of every man’s God-given right to spend extravagant amounts of other people’s money and perform Yoda-like Jedi mind tricks on any current MLB general manager to fleece them for a pittance, I ask you, how would you solve the Dodgers’ “problems?”

We’d love to see your comments. Be creative. It can be based on a rumor you have heard or a rumor you would like to hear. It can be a realistic thought that you think might actually happen. We want to hear what you have to say, and we want you to explain your thinking about the moves you would make during this Dodgers offseason. We will read them all, and we will comment, as well. Remember, as always, keep it clean, be nice to your fellow posters and have fun with it!

Phil Stone

Clayton Kershaw named National League Outstanding Pitcher

This was during the Players’ Choice awards, which are given out by the players’ union and voted on by the players. As I said a few posts back a few days ago, there are way too many awards in baseball nowadays, and personally, I really only care about the big four of Most Valuable Player, Cy Young Award, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year, and Clayton Kershaw is a heavy favorite to land his second Cy in the past three years when that is announced in the next couple of weeks. Far as I can tell, Players’ Choice awards don’t even show up in the awards column on a player’s baseball-reference.com page.

Still, the fact those major awards are voted on by writers and the Players’ Choice awards are voted on by players probably gives the Players’ Choice special meaning, at least for the players who win them, because they were selected by their peers — who I’m sure spend hours poring over these ballots and giving them deep, critical thought before turning them in. It also comes with a contribution to the awarded player’s preferred charity or charities.

But anyway, here is an excellent post by Eric Stephen of TrueBlueLA.com detailing Kershaw’s N.L. Outstanding Pitcher award.

Dodgers lose Elian Herrera to waiver claim

Elian Herrera, whose entire stamp on Dodgers history will consist of 222 plate appearances over the past two seasons (all but eight of which came in 2012), was claimed off waivers today by the Milwaukee Brewers. A utility man who managed to log time at six different positions during his brief time in the majors, Herrera had a decent season this year at Triple-A Albuquerque, hitting .282 with a .367 on-base percentage, 13 doubles and seven home runs in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He has a lifetime major league average of .251, but he appeared in just four games over three brief callups in 2013, and it became apparent he wasn’t in the organization’s plans when he wasn’t included in the Dodgers’ September roster expansion despite the fact he was on the 40-man roster.

The move leaves 32 players on the 40-man roster, which means the Dodgers can use up to eight spots to protect minor league prospects in advance of next month’s Rule 5 draft. The deadline for adding those players to the 40-man is next Monday.

Fall Stars game recap from Surprise Stadium

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A few observations from the Arizona Fall League’s Fall Stars Game, mostly about highly touted Dodgers shortstop prospect Corey Seager:

For all the question marks about Seager’s defensive ability — and the speculation of whether the Dodgers eventually will move him to third base — he played a flawless shortstop. He didn’t really have any tough chances, though. Had two ground balls hit directly at him in the second inning and fielded them both in textbook fashion. And then, to finish off the top of the third, he took a perfect throw from Padres catching prospect Austin Hedges and laid down a perfect tag of Cardinals outfield prospect James Ramsey as he slid into second on a stolen-base attempt. But Hedges’ throw was so perfect and Ramsey’s jump so poor that Seager basically was standing there waiting for Ramsey with the ball in his glove, so that wasn’t especially challenging either. Seager later caught a pop-up in shallow left.

At the plate, the struggling Seager had a good at-bat in the second, looking at three straight pitches off the outside corner — he checked his swing on two of them, and the umpire ruled he went around on the first one, although from where I was sitting, it didn’t appear that he did. Seager then flied to center on the fourth pitch, a well-struck ball that didn’t carry much.

In his second at-bat, Seager stepped in with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the third and again showed plate discipline, taking three consecutive balls from Giants prospect Kyle Crick. Seager then looked at two strikes before hitting a bouncer to second and running hard enough up the first-base line to just beat the relay throw by a half-step, keeping the inning alive and giving himself an RBI, putting the West up 2-0.

Seager struck out in the fifth against hard-throwing Toronto right-hander Marcus Stroman, leaving him 0-for-3 for the night before he was lifted in the top of the sixth.

The only other Dodgers prospect to be named to this game, reliever Yimi Garcia, pitched the top of the eighth inning and gave up a run on two hits. Highly rated Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant led off the inning with a single, and Detroit’s Devon Travis hit a one-out triple off the top of the wall in right-center to drive in Bryant. Garcia, who likely will be added to the 40-man roster later this month, had no walks and no strikeouts.

By the way, the West (that’s the team Seager and Garcia were on, as members of the Glendale Desert Dogs) crushed the East 9-2. With the Desert Dogs’ move this year from dilapidated Phoenix Municipal Stadium to Camelback Ranch, the delineation between East and West is much more extreme. The West consists of Glendale, Peoria and Surprise. If you know metro Phoenix geography at all, those are all West of 75th Avenue. The East is Mesa, Scottsdale and Salt River, with all three teams playing East of Scottsdale Road. That leaves about a 30-mile chasm in between, and all six teams play all six teams, so some of the daily bus rides are up to an hour each way.

By the way, in a moment that perfectly symbolized the culture of the West Valley, play was momentarily delayed at the beginning of the ninth inning because a golf cart someone had parked just behind a chainlink portion of the leftfield wall, right next to the foul pole on the fair side, still had its headlights turned on so they could be seen in the peripheral vision of a left-handed batter. Just a couple of miles from Surprise Stadium is Sun City, where the median age is approximately 112 and it’s perfectly legal to drive a golf cart on a public street.

On a separate note, you may have read that the Dodgers signed free-agent right-handed reliever Fabio Martinez to a minor league contract. This is not the Fabio with the long hair who frequently graces the cover of romance novels while not wearing a shirt and who used to do those margarine commercials. But he might have a brighter future if he were. This Fabio is — how shall I put this? — not very good. He originally signed with the Angels in 2007 out of the Dominican. A year ago, the Cleveland Indians claimed him on waivers. This year, at Double-A Akron and then at Single-A Carolina (that’s a demotion, in case you didn’t know), he posted a combined ERA of 10.48 and, get this, WALKED 35 BATTERS IN 28 1/3 INNINGS. His WHIP was a horrid 2.082, but even if you take the H out of WHIP and make it just WIP, it was still 1.24. Throughout every team’s minor league system, there are a handful of guys who aren’t really prospects, who are just there to fill roster spots. I’m going to guess this is one of those guys.

ScribeWire Q & A Podcast #1

The very first of what we hope will be MANY Podcasts discussing Dodgers News, Hot Topics and your questions. To send a question email Phil at phil.stone@dodgerscribe.com. We read everything we get and if we like your question we’ll use it! No Question is off-limits!

NOTE: Please don’t leave questions you want Tony to discuss in the podcast in these comments. Be sure to email them to Phil!

This week we touch on The World Series, David Ortiz‘s Hall of Fame Credentials, The Dodgers’ Bullpen, Mark Ellis‘ future, Yasiel Puig‘s offseason plans and Tony’s TV watching habits!

Short pregame video from AFL Fall Stars Game

The East team must really want to win this thing badly, because these guys actually took INFIELD before the game. A little about tonight’s game: as I stated a few days ago here, it’s not an all-star game in the traditional sense. It’s a showcase game. The guys who are here aren’t here because they are having great seasons in the Arizona Fall League — some of them are, but some of them, like Dodgers shortstop prospect Corey Seager (.160 batting average, 18 strikeouts in 50 at-bats) aren’t. They are here because they presumably are the major league standouts of the future, and this is your chance to get an early look at them. If your cable provided provides the MLB Network, the game begins in less than an hour, at 5 p.m. Pacific. The other Dodgers player here is reliever Yimi Garcia, who actually is having a decent AFL campaign. He has made seven appearances, giving up three earned runs over 8 2/3 innings. Garcia has a chance to be in the majors sometime next season. Seager is probably at least a year away.

A trick-or-treat bag full of Dodgers notes

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Happy day after Halloween, everyone! I didn’t have a lot of trick-or-treaters at my house last night — and by not a lot, I mean zero. That means I have all this candy to eat over the next few weeks. Like a lot of Americans (and, one would suppose, Swiss and Belgians), I happen to prefer my chocolate chilled in the refrigerator, which is why you will notice in the photo that the candy is next to the eggs.

Got a great email from Gabriel Palomino, a loyal dodgerscribe.com reader, who has been using Pitch F/X to compile spreadsheets on how many pitches umpires miss and which team those missed calls favor. If you click here, you can see a chart he compiled from the National League Championship Series showing that those calls definitely favored the Cardinals in every game of that series except Game 1. Favored them slightly on a per-game basis, but favored them dramatically over the course of the entire series, with a net 15-pitch advantage for the Cardinals on missed calls by home-plate umpires, according to data Gabriel compiled using Pitch F/X. And keep in mind, in a six-game series, you get six different home-plate umpires.

A second notable oddsmaker, Bovada, has identified the Dodgers as favorites (7/1 odds) to win the 2014 World Series, putting them slightly ahead of the Detroit Tigers (9/1). All these oddsmakers must know something the rest of us don’t. Things like who is going to play third base next year. And whether the Dodgers are going to lose anything close to the more than 1,100 man days they lost to the disabled list this year.

Finally, the Dodgers have an N.L.-leading 16 nominees for something called the GIBBY awards. No, it has nothing to do with Kirk Gibson or Bob Gibson or even Debbie Gibson. It stands for Greatness in Baseball, and I have to say there are so many baseball player awards these days that the whole mess of them has been horribly watered down, IMHO, so wake me up when they announce the Most Valuable Player, Cy Young Award winner and Rookies of the Year. But if, unlike me, you’re interested in the GIBBYs, well, the great Ken Gurnick has a story on them here, so knock yourself out.

Dodgers decline options on Capuano, Ellis

Chris Capuano‘s option was $8 million for 2014, Mark Ellis‘ was $5.75 million. It’s a $1 million buyout for each.

I fully expect the Dodgers to at least TRY to re-sign Ellis at a lower amount, and maybe Capuano too. But both may want to test the open market. The Dodgers recently signed free-agent Cuban second baseman Alexander Guerrero, but it isn’t a given that he will be ready to take over by next spring, so the Dodgers would love to keep Ellis around as a hedge.

From the end of the World Series, the Dodgers now have a five-day exclusive window for negotiating with their own free agents, of which there now are 12 with these options having been declined. Even after that window closes, they can still re-sign those players, but they would have to compete against other teams.

“It … leaves you to face the fall alone”

That is a line from a sappy baseball poem written by the late Bart Giamatti, way before his brief stint as commissioner and probably even before he was National League president, I don’t know. But at any rate, it’s apropos this morning because baseball season officially ended last night. There will be no Game 7, thanks largely to the fact the St. Louis Cardinals apparently forgot to pack their bats when they left for Boston.

Although he doesn’t get the attention of some of his teammates like David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia and Shane Victorino, the guy I choose to focus on today from the 2013 World Series champion Boston Red Sox is catcher David Ross. The reason is that he was twice drafted by the Dodgers, once out of high school and later as a college junior, when he actually signed, and there was a time when he was viewed as the team’s catcher of the future, the heir apparent to Paul Lo Duca, although Russell Martin already was working his way up the Dodgers minor league ladder at that point.

But the day that sticks out in my mind was one of Ross’ last as a member of the Dodgers. It was spring training 2005, in Vero Beach, and in ’04, he had had a disappointing first full season in the majors offensively. He batted just .171, with a strikeout every 3.1 plate appearances, even though he had finished the year as the main guy after Lo Duca was traded to the Marlins at the deadline. And now, in spring training, Ross was having an even harder time, and honestly, it looked for all the world like he was done. Like he was a washout at 28. Like he didn’t have the first clue what to do when standing at home plate with a bat in his hand. It was obvious that he was wondering the same thing. Ross had always been a media-friendly guy, but suddenly, he had turned surly. And you could kind of tell that he was embarrassed at times by the fact that overnight, he just had stopped seeming capable of hitting at that level anymore.

This was the off-day — back in those days, teams got just one off-day in spring training, whereas now they get two — but somebody, I want to say it was Kazuhisa Ishii, was throwing a simulated game at Holman Stadium to stay on his normal rotation. Ross, who needed all the practice he could get as he tried to salvage his career, was one of the guys there to hit off him. May have been the only guy, far as I can remember.

But there were a handful of people in the stands that day, some fans who had wandered in — if you were ever at Dodgertown, you know how casual everything was there — and some team officials. Jim Tracy, the Dodgers manager at the time, was sitting on a folding chair over by the backstop, near the first-base dugout. Tommy Lasorda was in about the third row of the stands.

There was one point in the game when Ross made really solid contact with a ball. It wasn’t a home run or anything, but it was a hard hit up the middle, as I recall. At this point, Ross walked out of the batter’s box, and Lasorda walked down to the field. The conversation, as most conversations involving Lasorda are, was loud enough that anyone within about a hundred-foot radius could hear it, especially on a day when there weren’t many people around.

“Hey, Ross.”

“Hey, Tommy.”

“See what happens when you get behind the ball?”

“Yeah.”

Alas, that was about the closest Ross would come that spring to regaining his stroke. On March 20, the front office, realizing Ross no longer was a viable option as the team’s everyday catcher, acquired the immortal Jason Phillips from the New York Mets for Ishii. Ten days later, Ross was shipped to Pittsburgh for a small amount of cash, the Pirates willing to take a flier on him as long as they didn’t have to give up a player to do it.

Ross would split that season between the Pirates and San Diego, where he went in an insignificant trading-deadline deal, and he would hit .240 — not great, but 70 points higher than he had hit for the Dodgers the year before. From there, he went on to have a nice career for himself, one that is still going strong after 11 seasons. And last night, for the first time in that career, Ross became a world champion. More than eight years after it looked like he was going to have to find some other way to make a living.

Kind of a nice story, I’d have to say.

By the way, the Dodgers already have been installed as the favorites to win the 2014 World Series. But after you peruse these odds from pregame.com, make sure you read the fine print at the bottom, which explains that these odds aren’t always set based on who they think actually will win and that they can be affected by betting patterns.

Finally, here is a note Dylan Hernandez had in the Los Angeles Times yesterday about Dee Gordon playing the outfield for Licey in the Dominican Winter League, an apparent indication the Dodgers plan to move him there if they end up keeping him at all.

I have to say, though, this smacks of desperation. Look, I like Gordon, and I would love to see him succeed. But in all honesty, he doesn’t appear at this point to be a major league player. Certainly not offensively, and probably not defensively, either. The only tool he brings, really, is his speed, and with apologies to Herb Washington, it’s tough to believe a National League team can afford to give a precious 25-man roster spot to a guy who can’t do much other than pinch run — you know, like the Dodgers did in the playoffs.

Unless Gordon suddenly takes to the outfield like he were Willie Mays or something — remember, he did take some fly balls out there during batting practice late in the season and in the playoffs — it’s tough to imagine him being on the active major league roster next season or even really being a significant part of the Dodgers’ plans going forward.

One other note about the World Series: the Red Sox moved ahead of the Giants into sole possession of fourth place all-time with their eighth title, behind the Yankees (27), Cardinals (11) and A’s (nine). Right behind the Red Sox are the Giants (seven), the Dodgers (six) and the Pirates and Reds (five each). One thing I found interesting — but otherwise completely meaningless — was that in 109 World Series, this was the FIRST ONE that followed this exact sequence of wins and losses by the winning team:

Win Game 1 at home
Lose Game 2 at home

Lose Game 3 on the road
Win Game 4 on the road
Win Game 5 on the road

Win Game 6 at home

Yes, I’m a nerd when it comes to stuff like this.

No Gold Gloves for Dodgers in 2013

The Dodgers were completely shut out of Gold Glove awards for the second year in a row. They haven’t captured a Gold Glove since 2011, when pitcher Clayton Kershaw and outfielders Matt Kemp (CF) and Andre Ethier (RF) all won it.

National League
P Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
C Yadier Molina, St. Louis
1B Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
2B Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati
3B Nolan Arenado, Colorado
SS Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta
LF Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado
CF Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee
RF Gerardo Parra, Arizona

American League
P R.A. Dickey, Toronto
C Salvador Perez, Kansas City
1B Eric Hosmer, Kansas City
2B Dustin Pedroia, Boston
3B Manny Machado, Baltimore
SS J.J. Hardy, Baltimore
LF Alex Gordon, Kansas City
CF Adam Jones, Baltimore
RF Shane Victorino, Boston

Also, on another note, Dodgers third-base coach Tim Wallach is scheduled to interview for the Seattle Mariners managerial vacancy, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Wallach also interviewed last week for the same position with the Detroit Tigers.