Jon Heyman States the Obvious

From his article today…

The Dodgers briefly tried to lock up Chad Billingsley this winter, and probably wish they had.

billingsleyvsmets.jpgThis is a topic that we’ve touched on a few times (most notably here) and it’s not going to get any better. I could understand the club having a slight hesitation after Billingsley’s offseason broken leg and subsequent surgery, but he’s clearly proven that’s not an issue. Even last night, when he was absolutely not at his best (5 walks, one sort-of intentional, and an RBI single to the opposing pitcher) he managed to keep the Dodgers in the game, and was rewarded with his NL-leading 6th win.

Look, the kid has done nothing but succeed since he first stepped foot in the majors in 2006, and he’s now becoming a bonafide ace. He’s 8th in the bigs in ERA, 7th in strikeouts - and he’s 18-4 in his last 22 decisions. He’s just 24 years old, and he’s already accomplished all that. Is there really doubt remaining that this is the type of player we’d like to see in Dodger blue for the next 10 years?

Heyman’s assertion that the Dodgers did “briefly” try to sign Billingsley this offseason is the first I’ve heard about possible discussion, and I’d love to know what transpired there. But know this: each time Billingsley goes out and gives the Dodgers a quality start (by which I mean, a “quality start”, not a Quality Start), that price is just going to go up and up.

So I’m just going to go out on a limb and say, let’s sign him. As soon as possible. 

In other news…

Hey Raffy… tonight’s a good night to get going. The Mets are throwing out the bloated corpse of Livan “Cheeseburger” Hernandez, and Furcal’s killed him over their careers. In 75 PA, Furcal’s hitting .333/.400/.591, with 4 HR and an 8/9 BB/K ratio. Raffy’s been brutal this year overall (his hitting problems are starting to affect his fielding as well), so if there’s ever a time for him to get some confidence back, I’d say tonight’s it.  

Joe Torre thinks Scott Proctor is stupid. From Newsday:

“There’s playing hurt, and then there’s playing stupid,” Torre said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with someone’s intelligence. If you can endure pain and still are able to do what you do, that’s one thing.”

“He doesn’t know what hurt is. The dumbest question I could ask him was: ‘Are you OK?’ Because I knew what the answer was going to be.”

Joe’s not wrong – it wouldn’t be the first time we’d been unhappy that a player didn’t disclose pain – but I have a feeling we’re all going to wish he’d said nothing at all here.

It’s time to give Andre Ethier a rest. Did you know that Ethier’s now grounded into 11 double plays, equaling his career high… and it’s not even June yet? No, I’m not off the Ethier train, nor am I ready to pronounce him only effective when Manny’s in the lineup (though it’s hard to ignore that Ethier had an OPS of .995 that day and has done just .319 since).

The fact is, he’s been brutal lately, regardless of why, and he’s known to be the type of guy who can’t let a bad game go easily. You’ve got Xavier Paul on the bench, who’s been very impressive in his short time up, and he’s even a lefty hitter too. Why not give Ethier tonight off, combined with tomorrow’s off day, and give him a chance to step back from this for a bit?

Or at the very least, can we please stop hitting him cleanup?

Finally, the obligatory Delwyn Young update. Hey, I know that the Dodgers have nothing if not talented outfielders right now, but it’s worth noting that he’s hitting .351/.415/.432 for the Pirates, and in starting three games in a row over the weekend, he collected 6 hits and 5 RBIs. Plus, there’s this from an anonymous scout (via Baseball Prospectus):

Pirates outfielder Delwyn Young: “He has his shortcomings defensively, but he can really rake with the bat, and I’d love to see Pittsburgh give him regular playing time to see exactly what he would do with it.”

Exactly what I’ve been saying for years…

 

Didn’t Think I’d Be Posting About Delwyn Young Again So Quickly…

…but now this is happening.

Dodgers utilityman Doug Mientkiewicz suffered a dislocated right shoulder diving into second base on a two-run pinch-hit double Thursday night and will be placed on the 15-day disabled list.

That’s a shame, because I actually like Eyechart, who seems like a good guy all around. But as I’ve said several times, I’ve felt he’s not the best fit for this team – we don’t really need a slick-fielding lefty-swinging backup first baseman as much as other teams might. So I can’t say I’m totally crushed by his loss, from a roster composition standpoint. But who takes his roster spot?

Candidates to replace Mientkiewicz are Blake DeWitt, who was sent to Triple-A Albuquerque Monday, and rookie Xavier Paul, who is batting .571 at Albuquerque. A decision will be made Friday.

Both DeWitt and Paul bat left-handed, as does Mientkiewicz. Delwyn Young would have been the likely replacement, but he was traded Monday night to the Pittsburgh Pirates for two players to be named.

eyecharthurt.jpgI’m mostly kidding, because obviously no one knew Eyechart was getting hurt ten minutes later, but this really illustrates my whole point from the other day: having to lose a player just so you can shoehorn mediocre veterans like Eyechart and Juan Castro on the roster is never a good idea. I just didn’t think it would come to be proven so quickly.

As for who comes up, it has to be Paul. Not only is he killing the ball in AAA, but he fits the roster needs better. If they thought DeWitt wasn’t getting enough playing time as the main infield backup, he’s surely not going to be doing so with Castro still around as the main backup shortstop. Besides, Eyechart was (in theory) the 5th outfielder, so unless we’re really putting Casey Blake out there, another outfielder is needed. And as Paul is a good defender with a strong arm, maybe we can finally stop seeing Juan Pierre as a defensive replacement!

So Long, Panda

Not that we didn’t all see this coming, but it’s finally happened – Delwyn Young has been traded to Pittsburgh, says Tony Jackson:

dodgers will get two players to be named later, presumably minor leaguers. I assume DY will be placed on the Pirates’ active big-league roster. This can only good for DY, who might not play every day but should at least get more playing time than he would with the Dodgers. Plus he and Andy LaRoche are good friends from their Dodgers days. Andy went to the Pirates as part of the Manny trade, which was a three-team deal with the Red Sox.

delwynyoung.jpgMy feelings on the subject are pretty well-known, as I’ve been on the Delwyn train around here nearly since the beginning of this blog back in 2007, and I really outlined his minor league feats in this post from last season. I know, I know; he hasn’t done much at the big league level. But what do you really expect from a guy forced to be merely a pinch-hitter? A guy with that kind of minor league track record should be a good major league hitter, if given the chance.

So I do think this is a mistake – but not in the way you might think, because if you know me, you probably thinking I’m going to bag on Juan Pierre for sucking up an outfield spot with his bloated contract and general uselessness. But that ship has sailed; we all know that Pierre is unmovable, and he’s going to be on this team for the foreseeable future no matter what. This isn’t Pierre’s fault. 

No, the mistake here is in allowing a talented young player to be pushed off the roster for the sake of keeping superfluous older veterans. Do we really think that Juan Castro and Doug Mientkiewicz are going to help this team more than Delwyn Young? And the thing is, I actually like Doug Mientkiewicz, but the fact is that he’s completely unneccessary on this team. It’s not just the two strikeouts in his three hitless at-bats, it’s the fact that he’s a good-fielding first baseman – something this team already has. It’s not even that important to have him around as a backup in case James Loney goes down, because you could simply move Casey Blake across the diamond and install Blake DeWitt at third base.

Now, you’re probably saying, “but he was never going to get a chance here, with how crowded the Dodgers outfield is,” and you probably wouldn’t be wrong. But I’m more interested in the Dodgers having the best available players than I am in seeing players be put in the best situations for them. Is that selfish? Sure it is, but I wouldn’t be a Delwyn Young fan if I wasn’t a Dodger fan first. So while I am happy for Young that he might get a better chance in Pittsburgh, I’m also disappointed for the Dodgers that he might become another Cody Ross somewhere else.

So good luck, Delwyn. After yesterday’s post, you’ve given me one more reason to pay attention to the Pirates, and be sure that we will.

Finally, let’s have some fun with this. According to Jackson, the Dodgers are going to get two players to be named later, likely minor leaguers. Other than big names like Pedro Alvarez, Andrew McCutchen, and Jose Tabata (who are surely not going to be moved), I don’t know a whole lot about the Pirates system, and I can’t imagine we’re seeing a topline return on Young. So I’m going to take a shot in the dark and almost literally throw some darts at the board: outfielder Eric Fry, if only because he reminds me of one of my favorite childhood books, Sideways Stories from Wayside School, and pitcher Yoon-Hee Nam, if only so I can make Big Lebowski jokes about his last name. Doesn’t get more scientific than that, does it? 

Hey, Maybe We Can Get Carlos Santana Back

mannyindians.jpgBecause according to USA Today (via MLBTR), Manny wants to go back to the Cleve:

Manny Ramirez will be back in Los Angeles Monday to renew his love affair with the city, but before his career ends he hopes to be reunited with his first love: the Cleveland Indians.

“I would like to play for Cleveland one more time, to go back where I started,” said Ramirez, with the Dodgers playing their home opener Monday against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium. “I have so many good memories there, why not?

“I think to go back where you started is everyone’s dream.”

I predict that the local media will start whining over this, with the usual bellowing of “we’re paying him how many millions and he doesn’t even want to be here?” The timing, I will admit, is not particularly great considering that the home opener is today, but you know what? This isn’t that bad. I don’t think anyone should expect that Manny’s ending his career in Dodger blue. He’s going to be here in 2009 and possibly 2010, pending his opt-out, and he’s going to have to end his career in the American League as at least a part-time DH. While I do wish he wasn’t talking about it so openly on April 13th, it’s not unreasonable to admit that he’s thought about it.

Speaking of players no longer being Dodgers, Tony Jackson says that Juan Castro is being added to the roster today and sort-of-but-not-really tells us how that’s going to happen:

He will have his contract purchased from Triple-A Albuquerque in the morning. No word on the corresponding roster move. I do have a pretty good idea of what it will be, but I’m also fairly sure the player who is going down hasn’t been told yet, so out of respect for that, I’m going to hold off on speculating. But I’m sure you can figure it out. As for clearing a 40-man spot, I’m guessing Delwyn Young has been traded for a sack of balls, probably to Cleveland, Pittsburgh or Philly, all of whom were scouting him on his rehab assignment. But again, that’s only a guess, and it’s also possible he will be DFA’d if no deal was reached.

We’ll save the Young farewell tour until it actually happens, though you can imagine what my reaction would be. (Shades of Cody Ross, I’m thinking). But for the active roster move, well, that has to be Blake DeWitt, doesn’t it? I’m sure the rationale will be “we want him to play every day”, and that’s very defensible. I just hate the idea that in this game of roster musical chairs, DeWitt might get farmed out, Young might get shipped out, and Juan Castro, the most inferior of the three, would end up with a spot. More on this as it actually occurs.

Update: as expected, DeWitt was sent down to AAA to make room for Castro. The blade is currently hanging over Delwyn Young’s head…

Update #2: according to a press release the club just sent out, Young has been designated for assigment. The Dodgers now have 10 days to trade or release him; I’ll save the ‘so long, Panda’ speech until that happens.

“25″ Man “Roster” Announced

So, this is the third time I’ve re-written this paragraph. Here’s what we know, now: this is the 25-man roster, but it’s clearly changing a ton. Claudio Vargas and Delwyn Young are almost certainly going to go to the DL, and Will Ohman and Eyechart are both likely going to be added before the first game. Plus, there’s only 24 names here. I guess I’m just not sure why Vargas and Young didn’t get announced as being added to the DL, when Jason Schmidt did. More to come on this, for sure.

The good news? Tanyon Sturtze gets sent down to the minors. YES.

Anyway, the roster that was just sent out:

Pitchers (11):
Chad Billingsley
Jonathan Broxton
Clayton Kershaw (L)
Hiroki Kuroda
Hong-Chih Kuo (L)
James McDonald
Guillermo Mota
Ramon Troncoso
Claudio Vargas
Cory Wade
Randy Wolf (L)
 
Catchers (2):
Brad Ausmus
Russell Martin
 
Infielders (6):
Casey Blake
Blake DeWitt
Rafael Furcal
Orlando Hudson
James Loney
Mark Loretta
 
Outfielders (5):
Andre Ethier
Matt Kemp
Juan Pierre
Manny Ramirez
Delwyn Young