As expected, the BBWAA completely spit the bit by failing to induct even a single candidate from a field that arguably had 10-12 electable candidates. Nicely done, gents. Nicely done.
But enough of that, because we have other things to attend to. First of all, I made my debut at ESPN this morning, writing about the perception of how the Texas Rangers had a disappointing offseason. It’s Insider-only — sorry, but I do like being paid — and I should hopefully be appearing there every few weeks throughout the season.
Secondly, we have four new Dodger non-roster invites, thanks to the team’s PR account, and all four have prior big-league experience. I shouldn’t have to remind you at this point that every team brings in a ton of these guys every year for depth and camp bodies, and so none have glowing resumes, but I still feel like I do. They are…
RHP Matt Palmer. Palmer, 34 in March, was briefly notable for going 11-2 for the 2009 Angels, pitching in 40 games (13 starts) in his age-30 season despite having only made his big league debut with three games for the 2008 Giants the season before after seven minor-league seasons. As you might have expected, he was in no way as good as the win/loss record might have indicated, since the not-even-that-great 3.93 ERA was definitely not backed up by a 4.77 FIP. He started just four games for Anaheim over the next two seasons, missing most of 2010 with a right shoulder strain, and last year he made it into just two innings for the Padres. Having pitched for Fresno, Salt Lake, & Tuscon in the past, Palmer is almost sure to continue his tour of the PCL by joining the Albuquerque rotation, which badly needs starters.
C Eliezer Alfonzo. Alfonzo turns 33 in a month and saw time with the Giants, Padres, Mariners, & Rockies between 2006-11, hitting .240/.241/.377 in 624 plate appearances. He played only in Mexico last year, and… well, hang on a second, because Alfonzo is actually interesting. Not in a baseball sense, because he’s of course terrible, but because these are two of the primary stories about him. He’s been suspended twice for PED usage, first for 50 games in 2008 and then again for 100 games last year, but he only had to serve the first 48 games of it before having the rest overturned on the same procedural grounds that saved Ryan Braun.
Then there’s this, from pal Eno Sarris back in 2011:
All those years in all those parks, and Alfonzo has developed quite the pre-game ritual. Once he settles down just a little from his usual loud and jovial self, Alfonzo begins his preparation for action. Pull on the uniform, one step at a time. Pull on the cleats. Check the catching gear. Once the sliding shorts are up to the armpits, there’s one last thing before he heads out of the locker room.
That’s when Alfonso pulls out his glass bottle with semi-clear liquid. Floating near the bottom is a large dead snake. Not a garter snake. Not a worm. An impressively large, very dead snake.
“Snake Juice time!” he declares to the room whether or not they care. This time, a staffer nearly vomits. Justin Smoak spits “that’s f*ing gross” into his glove. No-one moves closer. No-one wants a taste. A few people hold their noses, literally.
But Eliezer Alfonso is not fazed, and his smile does not fade. A few strong swigs of the potion and one more proclamation — “Ahhhh, Snake Juice gives me power!” Then the journeyman heads out the door.
No word on whether Alfonso tested positive for Snake Juice.
C Ramon Castro. While Alfonso is probably just another camp backstop for pitchers to throw to, Castro is pretty much the definition of “veteran guy who comes in to ostensibly challenge Tim Federowicz but almost certainly ends up hanging in New Mexico with Wilkin Castillo and maybe Matt Wallach.”
In addition to having one of my favorite official headshots of all time (seen at right), the soon-to-be 37-year-old Castro has experience in parts of 13 big-league seasons with the Marlins, Mets, & White Sox, dating back to the 1999 Marlins. He actually caught Josh Beckett 8 times back in 2002 & 2004, and could hit a little as far as backup catchers go, putting up a career .237/.310/.424 (91 OPS+) line. But Castro didn’t play in 2012 after breaking his hand the season before, and there’s a lot of mileage on these tires — after all, he was a first-round pick of the Astros in 1994. Still, there’s an International Brotherhood of Backup Catchers for a reason, and every team needs to stash guys like in case of emergency. He can’t be worse than Matt Treanor, right?
IF Brian Barden. Not to be confused with Brian Barton, another ex-Cardinal the Dodgers had in camp in 2010, the infielder has experience in parts of four seasons for Arizona, St. Louis, and Florida between 2007-10. He played in Japan in 2011 and I can’t find any record of him having played in 2012. He’s played mainly on the left side of the infield, and while I have no problem with more depth, I have absolutely no idea where he fits in to what is an absurdly overcrowded potential Isotopes roster. I’m not even going to add him to the depth chart at this point.
The quartet makes for 14 non-roster invites, according to the Dodgers, though I believe Tony Gwynn will be included as well.
C Eliezer Alfonzo
C Wilkin Castillo
C Ramon Castro
1B Nick Evans
SS Osvaldo Martinez
3B Dallas McPherson
IF Alfredo Amezaga
IF Brian Barden
IF Omar Luna
OF Jeremy Moore
RHP Juan Abreu
LHP Kelvin De La Cruz
RHP Gregory Infante
RHP Matt Palmer