Much Ado About Nothing

Manny’s coming. Manny’s going. Manny’s napping. Manny’s making a tuna fish sandwich. Manny’s visiting San Francisco. Oh, wait, that was just Manny watching Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Manny’s considering wearing Spock ears when he plays. Manny might go to Japan. Manny might just go to P.F. Chang’s instead.

Think we haven’t had enough of that yet? Just replace the name “Manny” in that sentence with “Randy Wolf”, and that’s basically the two things we’ve been living with around here. Constantly, endlessly, eternally. So lets ignore the both of them and catch up some of the other things, minor though they may be, affecting the 2009 pitching staff.

jamesmcdonald.jpg * James McDonald’s going to be a reliever! So says Rick Honeycutt to Ken Gurnick. In the vacuum of “James McDonald”, I don’t really have a problem with this for his development. It helps keep his innings down, it’ll give him a low-pressure way to ease into the majors, the jump in his velocity as a reliever last year has been well-documented, and – as Honeycutt mentions – it worked out well for Chad Billingsley. Besides, the thought of McDonald/Kuo/Wade/Broxton in the pen is pretty slick, and we haven’t even discussed Troncoso or Elbert yet. But the problem I do have with this is that the starting rotation is hardly overflowing with options, so I’m not quite sold on the idea of removing one of them. Assuming that Wolf or Looper does end up signed, that means that the #5 slot is… Jason Schmidt? Claudo Vargas? That said, Billingsley barely made it through half the season before he was pushed into the rotation (ironically, when Schmidt was injured the first time). Don’t be surprised when the same thing happens here.

* No one has to suffer through Jon Garland! Thanks to him signing in Arizona for one year and a mutual option for a second. Now, it’s true that I did say I’d prefer Garland over Wolf and Looper the other day. But don’t mistake that for meaning that I really wanted Garland on the team. For the price and durability, it’s a good deal, but the freefalling strikeout rates are an enormous concern – if it falls any further, the fact that you’ll get 200 innings out of him won’t matter if he’s allowing six runs per nine. I wouldn’t have minded having him; but I’m hardly crushed to have missed out. 

* Tanyon Sturtze is back! Uh, great? Our intense distaste for the never-really-that-good Sturtze was well detailed here last year, but I particularly enjoyed this take from Giambi Mustache Squad:

Sturtze, a favorite of Torre’s when he was managing the Yankees, is a right-handed reliever whose specialty is coming into close games and immediately letting up home runs.  He is a desirable asset to Torre’s pitching staff because his versatility allows him to serve as an ineffective spot starter as well.  

That sounds about right. Assuming that Sturtze’s Medicaid doesn’t expire before March, he’ll be… what? Can I even say “competing for a spot in the bullpen?” There’s already five locks to make the roster in Broxton, Kuo, Wade, Mota, and McDonald, plus Troncoso and Elbert kicking around, plus the possibility that a 5th starter loser like Schmdit or Vargas ends up here, plus the fact that Colletti’s said he still wants to sign another reliever. What is it, would you say, you do here, Tanyon? 

* Knuckleball knuckleball knuckleball! Signings don’t get much more minor than picking up a guy that the Padres just non-tendered, but still: I’m firmly rooting for Charlie Haeger. How could you not love a knuckleballer? The Dodgers haven’t had one since Tom Candiotti nearly twenty years ago, and have one of the best knuckleteachers around in Charlie Hough. Haeger’s only 25, anyway, so he’s still got time to put in twenty years as the next Tim Wakefield. Until he goes to Albuquerque and gives up eleven homers in his first start. Charlie Haeger: favorite MSTI minor league signing in years.

* It’s still cool to read if it’s about baseball! Finally, congrats to Dr. Weisman and his new book, 100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. Check it out.