MSTI’s 2010 in Review: Relievers, Part 3

Kenley Jansen (A+)
0.67 ERA, 1.82 FIP, 13.7 K/9, 5.0 BB/9, 1.3 WAR

I didn’t really talk about Kenley Jansen much entering the season; though we all knew about his arm and conversion from catching, it didn’t figure that a guy who’d thrown just 11.2 innings in his life would figure that much into the big league club until at least 2012.

Uh, yeah. About that.

Jansen started out the year with High A Inland Empire, and made the overmatched kids look ridiculous – how’s a 14.0 K/9 ratio strike you? After just 11 games with the 66ers, he was promoted to AA Chattanooga and somehow struck out even more, pumping his K/9 up to an unreal 16.7 (that’s 50 K in 27.0 IP). That his walk rate rose to 5.7 in AA was worrisome, but when you’re only allowing 4.7 hits per nine and striking out people at that rate, you can live with it a little more easily.

So after 45 minor league innings this season, and only 56.2 total, Jansen was called up to the big leagues in late July. Lest you think he’d be eased into the back of the bullpen against lesser opponents, Jansen instead made his mark right away. The first six batters he faced were Angel Pagan, David Wright, & Carlos Beltran (7th inning, July 24), and Beltran, Jason Bay, and Ike Davis (9th inning of a 1-0 game, July 25). None reached, four struck out, and Jansen had picked up a save in just his second big league game – the first Dodger to do so since Alejandro Pena in 1981.

It didn’t stop there, and there’s few words to describe how jaw-dropping Jansen’s debut season really was. In 27 IP over 45 games, Jansen allowed just 2 ER while striking out 41. Batters managed only a .422 OPS against him, and his 13.67 K rate not only was 2nd in the majors (min. 25 IP), it was the 10th highest rate since 1900 among those who pitched as much as he did. Think about where he came from, and think about that.

The really scary part, though? Jansen did all that while relying almost exclusively on his fastball, which he threw nearly 87% of the time. He’s spending time in Arizona this offseason working with Ken Howell on developing another pitch and refining the other aspects of pitching, and I think this quote will inspire some confidence:

Howell said Jansen is working on holding runners, pickoff throws and refining secondary pitches, the slider and changeup. Another task is to get a better handle on managing the game, and he’s using a logical role model.

“Kenley’s favorite pitcher is Mariano Rivera, and I wanted Kenley to see how Rivera manages his business,” Howell said. “He never comes off the mound. He’s always ready to go. I picked Rivera because it’s somebody that will hold Kenley’s interest. I like the way he’s calm during the game; he controls his emotions and his mound presence.”

“I didn’t think I would be this good this fast, but I’m not there yet,” said Jansen, who had only 56 2/3 Minor League innings when he was called up to the Majors. “I’m working on throwing over to first, getting a slide step. I respect the hitters. They will adjust to me, and I have to adjust to them to stay ahead. That’s why I’m here. I want to get stronger, get in better shape, learn from Kenny on how to control the game.”

Hell and yes. Barring injury, the only concern for Jansen going forward is managing expectations. Could he be the closer next year? Could he be the next Rivera? Sure, why not. Just remember that he’s only 23 and barely one year into pitching. It’s important not to set your sights too high – at least not yet.

James McDonald (inc.)
8.22 ERA, 4.90 FIP, 8.2 K/9, 5.9 BB/9, -0.4 WAR

Obviously, there’s only one thing anyone wants to talk about regarding James McDonald‘s 2010, and that’s the horrendous and unnecessary trade that sent McDonald and Andrew Lambo to Pittsburgh. But McDonald had no control over that, and I’m going to save my disgust with that move for Ned Colletti’s review. Let’s focus on McDonald’s actual accomplishments here.

McDonald entered the year in the running for the #5 starter, but a poor spring first cost him a chance at the rotation, and then threatened to cost him a spot on the team entirely:

Yet at some point, you have to realize that James McDonald is rocking a 20.25 ERA – having allowed 19 runners in just 5.1 innings - and wonder how much of that stat line can be dismissed. When McDonald was knocked out of the 5th starter competition the other day, it didn’t bother me all that much; with the issues the bullpen is having and the limited number of starts the last rotation member gets, you could make the case he’d be needed more in the bullpen. But too many outings like yesterday’s…

…and you wonder whether he’s even going to make the roster at all. Remember, despite his failure as a starter last year, McDonald was excellent out of the bullpen (2.72 ERA, 48/20 K/BB ratio) so his inclusion on this year’s squad should have been a foregone conclusion. But McDonald has been so bad this spring (nothing is more troubling than the 2/5 K/BB ratio) and there’s so many other pitchers impressing that it’s going to be hard to look past his otherwise meaningless spring line.

That’s exactly what happened; McDonald started the year in the ABQ rotation, but missed time in April with a broken fingernail, had a 5.77 ERA as late as May 20, and missed much of June with a hamstring pull. Still, with the Dodger rotation in need, he was called up for a start in mid-July:

Let’s start off with the rotation, where James McDonald appears likely to get the Monday start in John Ely‘s place, and while that’s not confirmed, McDonald was scratched from his start today. McDonald missed over a month with a hamstring pull, and his three starts since his return have been mixed. Four shutout innings on July 1 was a nice start, but then he allowed four earned runs in 6.2 IP at Iowa on July 6. Then on the 11th, he allowed just one run over 6.1 at Omaha, but did so while walking four and striking out just two, so it’s hard to say what to expect. I’m not convinced that he’s any better than Ely is right now, but I’m glad to see him get a chance – and fortunately for him he gets to face the Giants.

The start wasn’t much to write home about – 4 ER in 5 IP – and he was sent to the bullpen for the rest of the month with Carlos Monasterios returning to the rotation. When I noted his new role on July 23, I made this chilling-in-retrospect statement:

At the very least, it’s the last time we’ll have to see him start, since we all know that by this time next week, the Dodgers will have traded Dee Gordon, Jerry Sands, & Kenley Jansen for Paul Maholm & Octavio Dotel.

Dotel, of course, did come to LA in the last seconds before the deadline for McDonald and Lambo. As I said, I’m not going to focus too much on that here, but as you remember, I hated it at the time, and it didn’t get better when I looked at national and Pittsburgh reactions.

The deal only looked worse when McDonald finally got a chance to pitch regularly in Pittsburgh and was immediately effective. He struck out 8 over 6 scoreless in his debut, had back-to-back scoreless outings of 7 and 8 IP in August, and ended the year by throwing 6 one-run innings in St. Louis. It wasn’t all domination, of course, but he ended up with a 3.52 ERA and a .678 OPS in 11 Pirate starts.

As McDonald excelled and Dotel imploded, it only twisted the knife further:

Just when you thought you couldn’t hate the James McDonald (and Andrew Lambo) for Octavio Dotel deal any more, McDonald tosses out yet another quality start for the Pirates, this time going eight shutout innings in New York. Needless to say, the internet is all over it…

Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts:

The fact remains, the Dodgers parted with their two-time minor league pitcher of the year and an effective member of their 2009 bullpen, earning a minimum salary, in order to acquire Octavio Dotel. They nurtured McDonald through eight years in the organization, and then gave up too soon.

Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

It appears to be an outstanding trade by Neal Huntington, even at this early stage, given that it will not take any time to know what the Dodgers have in Octavio Dotel at this stage of his career. James McDonald has been very good, and Andrew Lambo has shown promise while playing around that nagging shoulder injury.

Jack Moore at Fangraphs:

McDonald’s peripheral numbers are actually quite similar to those of hard throwing left handed pitcher David Price of the Rays. Both have K/9 rates around 8.0 and walk rates around 3.5. McDonald has allowed fewer HRs this year in his small sample, but that’s unlikely to continue, as Price has a ground ball percentage in the mid-40s. McDonald’s fastball averages 92.5 MPH to Price’s 94.5, and Price’s arsenal contains a slider whereas McDonald relies on the curveball and changeup as his offspeed pitches. Both draw similar amounts of swinging strikes, with Price at 9.0% on his career and McDonald at 8.8%

Eight starts is nowhere near enough to say that McDonald can be an ace or that he’s the next David Price. Still, he’s shown tremendous potential and has a minor league track record to back it up. The Pirates haven’t seen much in the way of starting pitching talent in a long time. It’s looking like James McDonald will be the first step for the Pirates in their quest to put together a playoff-quality starting rotation.

Meanwhile, Dotel has walked 5.6/9 as a Dodger before shuffling off into free agency, and right now, the #4 and #5 starters in the 2011 Dodger rotation appear to be Charlie Haeger and Orel Hershisher. Great trade.

After that post, Dotel was traded to Colorado for a player to be named. He didn’t even last two months as a Dodger. Great trade, indeed.

Jeff Weaver (D)
6.09 ERA, 4.79 FIP, 5.3 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, -0.8 WAR

In 2009, Jeff Weaver was a feel-good story, as a former Dodger who’d seen his career stall out only to return on a minor-league deal and offer value as a spot starter and bullpen arm.

That wasn’t enough to get him more than another non-roster invite for 2010, and it’s not looking great for a third go-round in 2011. That’s what tends to happen when your strikeout rate drops from 7.3 to 5.3, your walk rate increases from 3.8 to 4.1, and you’re constantly fighting injuries.

Weaver got off to a good enough start, allowing an earned run in just two of his first nine appearances. That was good enough to make him one of the more reliable relievers in the early going, but with a Joe Torre-run club, being a reliable bullpen arm is almost a curse:

I hate to ask, but I have to – particularly because I did on Twitter before it happened. Why, when you’re up 7 runs in a laugher of a game, did Joe Torre need to bring in Jeff Weaver in the 8th? Carlos Monasterios hadn’t pitched since Saturday, and it’s the perfect opportunity to allow him to eat up some low-pressure innings. But no, Torre had to go to Weaver for approximately the billionth time (okay, 9th), and Weaver made it through exactly one batter before straining what looked to be his hamstring. I get that managers don’t like Rule 5 picks, and prefer to avoid them at all costs, but if a 7-run lead in the 8th inning isn’t good enough, what is?

Weaver hit the DL for a few weeks, and was reasonably effective upon his return in May and June, allowing five earned runs in 18 innings. But things went downhill in July and August, where he had a 9.22 ERA in that time, culminating in a lousy 5 ER over 2 IP disaster against San Diego. That was the last we’d see of Weaver for weeks, and I’ll bet you’ve never heard a Dodger say this before:

Jeff Weaver was placed on the DL with left knee tendinitis, and – stop me if you’ve heard this before – had concealed the injury from coaches for about two weeks, which I’m sure had nothing to do with his allowing ten earned runs in his last five games.

When does that ever work? He returned in September, but was horrendous, particularly in allowing 6 ER in 1 IP against the Rockies on the 18th. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he picks up another NRI next year, but I have to think you can do better.

******

Next! George Sherrill falls apart! Ramon Troncoso gets worked to death! And Travis Schlichting gets a shot! It’s relievers, part 4!

Let’s Pack It In

Credit where credit is due: Ted Lilly was excellent last night. After allowing an early home run to Miguel Tejada, he retired twenty in a row and left having struck out five without issuing a walk. Now why, after just seven innings and 87 pitches, Joe Torre felt the need to replace him (once again, it’s not like Garret Anderson offers more at the plate than your standard pitcher) to squeeze another inning out of Hong-Chih Kuo is beyond me, but that’s pretty much par for the course, isn’t it?

So good for Lilly, and good for us. While I didn’t like the trade for a variety of reasons, none of them were because I thought Lilly was useless; he’s certainly an improvement on what Carlos Monasterios would have offered from that slot. Unfortunately, Lilly’s nice outing was somewhat obscured by all of the other bad news from yesterday, and there was quite a bit of it.

Injuries!

1) Jeff Weaver was placed on the DL with left knee tendinitis, and – stop me if you’ve heard this before – had concealed the injury from coaches for about two weeks, which I’m sure had nothing to do with his allowing ten earned runs in his last five games.

2) Manny Ramirez had what was termed “a setback” in his rehab, and no date has been set for his return. At this point, I’d be surprised to see him back before the end of August, which means those who advocate trading him should probably look for something else to do. Update: Buster Olney, via MLBTR,  notes that players on the DL cannot be passed through waivers. I’d say the chances of Manny moving at this point are maybe 5%.

3) Russell Martin felt pain in his hip on an awkward slide last night and is headed for an MRI. While I’d usually joke that his absence wouldn’t really hurt the lineup that much, he did have the only two RBI to back up Lilly.

4) Perhaps worst of all, Rafael Furcal strained his back in Monday night’s game and required an MRI as well. He’s hoping to avoid the DL for now, but won’t play tonight either. Let’s not speculate too hard here, but when you have ever heard news that Furcal’s back hurts and had it end well?

The offense!

If not for the injuries and Lilly (and Kuo and Jonathan Broxton), the bigger story here would be that the offense, once again, was non-existent. Scott Podsednik and Ryan Theriot combined to go 1-8, with Podsednik 4-24 and Theriot 1-12 as Dodgers. Boy, who could have seen that coming? It’s not just them, of course, since Matt Kemp and Casey Blake each went hitless (though each walked, and scored on Martin’s hit), but once again the offense contributed nothing in eight of the nine innings.

With Manny no closer to returning and now Furcal & Martin possibly on the shelf, things don’t look like they’re headed in the right direction on the offensive side. And Torre’s not helping, because apparently he’s learned nothing from the Juan Pierre experience – it doesn’t matter how fast Podsednik and Theriot are, you simply cannot bat them 1-2 in the lineup if you expect to score any runs.

I get, of course, that Furcal’s absence doesn’t help him fill out the lineup card. Still, no one had a higher OBP in yesterday’s lineup than Jamey Carroll, and it’s not particularly close. Since Carroll looks like he’s going to be playing for the foreseeable future, he has to be hitting higher in the lineup in order to give the middle of the order a prayer of having people to drive in.

Of course, when the bottom 3rd of the lineup could be Ausmus-Theriot-pitcher, and the only reliable threat (Furcal) has been subtracted, it’s hard to get excited about any part of the lineup.

The draft!

Remember back in June, when the Dodgers drafted highly touted high schooler Zach Lee, and the pick was widely panned because Lee had a commitment to LSU and was considered unsignable? Yeah, about that…

Dodgers no closer to signing top pick

LOS ANGELES — There haven’t been any conversations between the Dodgers and first-round Draft pick Zach Lee since shortly after Lee was selected, assistant general manager of scouting Logan White said on Tuesday.

Lee, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound right-handed pitcher from Texas, was considered to be a difficult sign going into the Draft because of a commitment to play quarterback at Louisiana State and reported bonus demands in excess of $3 million. A day after the Dodgers took Lee at No. 28 overall in June, LSU issued a statement reaffirming Lee’s desire to play college football.

“We had get-to-know-you dialogues when we first drafted him, and that’s it,” White said. “… He likes football, he likes baseball. He’s a good kid.”

Granted, most of these negotiations do tend to go right to the deadline; you’ll notice that most of the other first-rounders haven’t signed yet either. Still: wonderful.

Which all means…

Yesterday’s win aside, the Dodgers are still seven games out in the wild card, and any hopes they have for postseason play rest on them putting together a historic run. With the offensive performance and the injuries piling up, does anyone really have faith in that happening?

It’s hard to say this, but it’s time to be realistic. Lilly’s debut was nice, but it only covered up more offensive shortcomings, and now without Furcal, Martin and Manny this team really has no prayer. I never thought I’d say this three days after the trading deadline, but it’s time to sell. See what’s out there for guys like Lilly, Podsednik, Octavio Dotel – maybe even Vicente Padilla, Hiroki Kuroda, and Casey Blake, if you could get out from under his salary for next year. I’d rather finish ten games out with pieces for the future, than six games out with nothing to show for it.

******

Update: Found this on Olney’s blog today, and thought it was interesting. Former catcher (and ex-Dodger Brent Mayne) checks in from time to time with Olney about the finer points of catching, and today they were discussing Carlos Santana getting destroyed by Ryan Kalish while blocking the plate in Boston. Mayne was asked if he thinks catchers should block the plate at all, and, well, you’ll see the part that caught my eye.

“I think catchers should do it — BUT learn how to do it right. I believe if you make the play correctly (which Mayne goes into extensively in his book, ‘The Art of Catching’) you end up with some momentum going into the play (as opposed to being a sitting duck) and you end up as low as you can get without laying down. Which is super important because, if you’ve ever played football, you know the lowest guy usually wins. My technique also gets your knees into a safe position … a position that if you’ve hit the knee will bend in the direction God intended it to bend. Unfortunately for Santana, he did the goofy ‘hockey goalie, throw the leg out’ thing. You’ll also see Russell Martin making that same move and I’ll guarantee the same thing will happen to him as Santana one of these days. I actually don’t even consider that ‘blocking the plate’ … it’s more like just getting your leg in the way. And it’s a disaster waiting to happen.”

All Sorts of Moves

Talk about an active last 24 hours….

1) Travis Schlichting sent down, Charlie Haeger recalled. No surprise here, as we all knew Schlichting was gone as soon as he completed throwing four shutout innings in relief against Arizona on Wednesday. With the extra-inning games depleting the bullpen in the midst of a long stretch without a day off, you had to get a fresh arm up, and having a guy like Haeger makes sense.

Steve Dilbeck still hates it, though:

Almost sounds like they’re going to throw Haeger out there one last time to prove he cannot get it done. Somebody needs more evidence.

Haeger is a stand-up, competitive guy who would be the first to tell you he has pitched miserably. But he’s essentially a trick ball pitcher whose knuckleball hasn’t been tricky.

His time, I think, is running out.

…or maybe his rehab stint was coming to a close, and the Dodgers were forced to activate him or lose him, which is basically what Joe Torre said in that exact same article:

“We activated Haeger more out of necessity than really wanting to at this point,” Torre said. “I would feel a lot better if I was a little surer of his physical well-being, but after [Wednesday’s] game we’re kind of up against it.”

If the Dodgers were trying to “prove he cannot get it done”, wouldn’t you have just DFA’d him and brought up Jon Link? I can’t defend Haeger’s performance thus far, but if his foot injury was really a thing, he deserves a shot as the long man to see if he’s any better, especially in this time of bullpen need.

2) Josh Lindblom moves from the rotation to the bullpen. Chad is going to be thrilled, and I agree with him; Lindblom probably only has the stuff to be a mediocre starter, but he could be a solid reliever. It’s interesting what’s become of the ABQ starting rotation, though. Look what’s happened to the top five from the beginning of the year: McDonald (injured), Ely (promoted), Elbert (still there, but wild), Towers (released), and Lindblom (bullpen). There’s a few good relievers still there, but probably not a lot of help for the starting rotation unless we start getting into Seth Etherton and Tim Corcoran territory.

3) Jeff Weaver and Casey Blake move from the game to the bench. Weaver came into the game but left without throwing a pitch, thanks to a blister. Blake was scratched with back spasms. Neither seems serious.

4) James Loney moves… in exactly the same direction as always. Last winter in the Maple Street Press Dodgers Annual, I wrote that Loney’s 2009 was a season that “only a math major could love”, since he had exactly the same amount of plate appearances (651), homers (13), RBI (90), and steals (7) as he did in 2008. What’s he on pace for in 2010? 12 homers and 96 RBI. He’s like clockwork – though he does somehow already have 7 stolen bases, and I doubt he’s really going to hit his projected total of 21.

5) Manny Ramirez is moving… in completely the wrong direction. Since he returned from the disabled list on May 8, he’s hitting .188/.288/.304, with four extra base hits in almost a month. It’s starting to become worrisome. Everyone loves to yell “steroids!”, of course, but he’s also 38 years old. He’s a huge part of why the Dodger offense is struggling right now.

Tonight, Clayton Kershaw goes against Kenshin Kawakami, who’s having a pretty average season. His ERA is 4.66, his WHIP is 1.321, neither of which are great, but not terrible either. Yet his record is somehow 0-7. Prediction: he goes 6.1 innings, allowing 2 hits and a run.

Who Needs Pitching and Defense?

Okay, so maybe this team can’t pitch. Maybe they can’t field. Almost certainly, those weaknesses are going to come back to bite them in a big, stinking, painful way. There’s going to be plenty of time to discuss that, but tonight we’re going to focus on what just might be the most high-powered offense any of us have ever seen wearing the Dodger blue. It’s getting to absurd levels, and I mean that in the best way possible. Look at the lineup, and realize that 7 of the 8 regulars are carrying batting averages over .300. 7! And the one who isn’t – Blake DeWitt – merely has a .404 OBP.

Matt Kemp may be the single most dangerous hitter in baseball right now, to the point where I’m getting prettttty close to not issuing my standard “non-Pujols division” disclaimer. He’s tied for the MLB lead in homers, he leads MLB in RBI, and he’s one game short of having a hit on every single day of the season. (And even in that game, on April 9 in Florida, he had a walk and three deep flyballs.) He’s homered in 5 of the last 8 games, and his slugging percentage right now is .750. If that number doesn’t mean anything to you, just know that if he was able to keep it up throughout the season, it’d be tied for the 11th highest mark in baseball. Ever.

Here’s the thing, though. Kemp’s OPS is 1.141. That’s pretty damn good, good enough for 9th in baseball (and yes, I realize that small sample size bells are screaming in my ear. But you watch the pitching staff give up dingers and the defense make errors, and tell me I can’t enjoy this.) But 9th in baseball also makes him 3rd in his own outfield. Andre Ethier, slacking tonight with only 3 hits including a homer, is 7th on that list at 1.149. Manny Ramirez, who only got on base 8 times in a row, is 5th at 1.194. Again, I know it’s early, but Manny’s line right now is .421/.510/.684. Where are all the cries about how he’s no good after his suspension now? It’s almost like exactly what we all said had happened – that the ball he took off the hand from Homer Bailey had injured him – was true. Who’d have thought?

But it’s not just the outfield, which we all knew was going to be great. Russell Martin got two hits tonight, pushing his line to .317/.442/.439. Rafael Furcal, who many of us were worried had seen his best days, had 3 hits and 4 RBI tonight – he’s hitting .362/.439/.483. James Loney still hasn’t homered, but he’s at .306 after his 2 hit, 2 RBI night. And don’t forget Casey Blake, at .319/.373/.532.

The point is, this group is good. Real good - perhaps historically so. So while no, Manny’s not going to hit .421, and Kemp’s not going to keep up the 81-homer pace he’s currently on, we could be in for a hell of a season. At the very least, a lot of 4-hour, 12-8 games, since the pitching and defense will make us want to step in front of a bus.

*******

I hate to ask, but I have to – particularly because I did on Twitter before it happened. Why, when you’re up 7 runs in a laugher of a game, did Joe Torre need to bring in Jeff Weaver in the 8th? Carlos Monasterios hadn’t pitched since Saturday, and it’s the perfect opportunity to allow him to eat up some low-pressure innings. But no, Torre had to go to Weaver for approximately the billionth time (okay, 9th), and Weaver made it through exactly one batter before straining what looked to be his hamstring. I get that managers don’t like Rule 5 picks, and prefer to avoid them at all costs, but if a 7-run lead in the 8th inning isn’t good enough, what is?

Jeff Weaver Returns, But Where Does He Fit?

Jeff Weaver returns to the Dodgers on a minor-league deal, which in a vacuum, great! Weaver was a complete surprise and an invaluable piece of the bullpen last year, which is why he earned his well-deserved “A++” in our yearly review. I’m actually somewhat surprised that he couldn’t get even a sniff of a major-league deal after how useful he was last season, but good for us.

That said, I’m interested to see how the back end of the bullpen shakes out. If you bring in guys like Justin Miller, Francisco Felix, and Ramon Ortiz (who was also signed yesterday - he’s 37, hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2007, and has a career ERA of nearly 5. Hooray?) and they don’t make the squad, big deal. You send them to the minors or you dump them, and no one gives it a second thought.

But in Weaver’s case I would think he wouldn’t be too eager to return on a non-guaranteed deal if he didn’t think he’d have a really good chance at making the team, after his nice 2009.  Not that I’m suggesting there’s any handshake agreements, but you’d have to think he’s higher on the NRI pole than the cast of thousands the team has brought in so far. The thing is, the Dodger bullpen seems pretty set. Most expect the team to carry seven relievers, and barring injury, the top five spots are almost certainly guaranteed to Jonathan Broxton, George Sherrill, Hong-Chih Kuo, Ronald Belisario, and Ramon Troncoso.

That leaves two spots, and I expect one to be filled by the loser of the fifth starter derby, particularly James McDonald. While Eric Stults is unlikely to work out of the pen and you could make a case for sending Charlie Haeger and Scott Elbert back to the minors, McDonald proved himself as a quality reliever in the second half last year – he makes the team regardless.

So that leaves one spot, and it’d be hard enough if it was just Weaver vs. the other 5th starters vs. two hundred has-beens and never wases. But don’t forget that there’s an added level of difficulty here, and that’s that the Dodgers took not one but two Rule 5 picks, Carlos Monasterios and Armando Zerpa. If they don’t make the MLB team (or end up on the DL), they have to be offered back to their original club. The Dodgers don’t have room for both of them, but they also wouldn’t have bothered to make the claim if they didn’t plan on giving them every chance to make the club.

So it’s not going to be a simple path for Weaver. Still, if the Dodgers pitching staff is in such good shape that they can’t bother to carry a guy who was productive for them last year, all the better for us. And hey, at least they’re following the advice I gave out at the end of his 2009 review:

For next year, I won’t mind at all if he moves on. If he’s so intent on being a Dodger that he’ll come back for a non-guaranteed invite, then by all means, but he’s not worth giving any real money to.