Seventeen years ago today, the Dodgers signed Hideo Nomo out of Japan. Nomo won 81 games over two stints and seven years with the Dodgers between 1995-98 and 2002-04, winning the 1995 Rookie of the Year and finishing 4th in the Cy Young voting in each of his first two seasons. The year before Nomo arrived, Chan Ho Park made his first appearance with the team and stayed through 2001. Nomo returned and was joined by Kazuhisa Ishii for the next three years, and though they each left after 2004, Hong-Chih Kuo made his Dodger debut in 2005. With Kuo now in Seattle and Hiroki Kuroda off to the Yankees, the 2012 club looks like it will be the first edition of the Dodgers to not field any Asian players since 1993, a sad state for a team once seen to be on the forefront of international scouting.
Enough about the past, though: there’s plenty to talk about regarding the future, both in terms of prospects and in the ownership process.
* At ESPN, Keith Law ranks each farm system in baseball, and I have to admit, I’m somewhat surprised to see him place the Dodgers 12th:
If pitching wins championships, the Dodgers are in pretty good shape going forward, as their system is loaded with power arms but is relatively light on position players.
* Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts checks in with an interview with DeJon Watson, a lengthy and fascinating look at a variety of young Dodgers who should be seeing the big leagues within the next year or two. My favorite part:
With the six-pack of Eovaldi, De La Rosa, Lee, Gould, Webster and Withrow taking up so much conversation time, there was hardly time to discuss others — such as lefty Chris Reed, the 2011 first-round pick from Stanford who has impressed Watson — especially given the need to address other areas of the system.
We talk a lot about how the Dodgers are really lacking in offensive talent throughout the system, particularly in the infield, and while that’s a valid concern, perhaps we do allow it to overshadow just how solid the pitching coming through the pipeline really is. In addition to the seven names listed above, you’ve got Clayton Kershaw & Chad Billingsley in the big-league rotation, Javy Guerra, Kenley Jansen, Scott Elbert, & Josh Lindblom in the MLB bullpen, and Shawn Tolleson, Steven Ames, Angel Sanchez, Ethan Martin and others making their way up. Even assuming the standard rate of flameout for young pitchers – this one’s for you, Chuck Tiffany, Greg Miller, & Justin Orenduff – that’s a pretty deep list of arms that ought to help stock the staff for years to come.
* Throw another name in the ring as far as owners go…
Michael Heisley, the billionaire owner of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, has emerged as one of the remaining bidders for the Dodgers.
Heisley, 75, leads one of 11 bids that survived the initial cut in the Dodgers’ ownership derby. His bid, which had not previously surfaced publicly, was confirmed Wednesday by three people familiar with the sale process but not authorized to discuss it. (MSTI: Shaikin later tweeted that if Heisley were to get the Dodgers, “expect Jerry West to play some sort of role with team”.)
…and then take another one right out, because despite his own claims, Josh Macciello did not actually make it to the second round of the bidding. I think we all knew from the start that this was never going to be anything that would go anywhere – I believe I initially placed his odds at something along the lines of “less than Juan Uribe winning the MVP unanimously in each of the next twenty years” – but it’s not hard to see why his supposed rags-to-riches story really resonated with people. I have no idea if he’s really got the cash he claims that he does, but at this point it doesn’t matter – and he was never, ever going to get approved by Bud Selig anyway.
* Yesterday, Shaikin wrote that obscenely rich Patrick Soon-Shiong is all but certain to get involved but had yet to decide which group to partner with. Soon-Shiong is well-known to be a good friend of Magic Johnson, which is great news since Magic’s group is my preferred choice, though he did take a meeting with the Joe Torre group as well. This is really the massive wild card hanging over the proceedings, because not only does Soon-Shiong bring a massive amount of wealth, he’s also taking the time to choose the group he thinks has the best chance of winning. Whomever he joins has to be considered the overwhelming favorite… so lets hope he chooses wisely.