Dodgers Add Baez, Garcia, Martin.. And Hey, Daniel Moskos!

garcia_yimi_aflVia press release, the Dodgers confirmed that Pedro Baez, Yimi Garcia, and Jarret Martin have been added to the 40-man roster. Garcia was a given and Baez seemed likely; Martin is somewhat of a surprise.

If anything, the mention of Martin allows me to revisit what is still one of my favorite unimportant trades in Dodger history, the fact that Ned Colletti actually got two living, breathing human beings for Dana Eveland:

I don’t expect Martin to ever amount to anything, but it hardly matters. A fringy prospect and a player to be named for Dana F’ing Eveland, who was likely to be non-tendered next week anyway? Hell yes, I’ll take that.

After several years spent as a starter, Martin switched to the bullpen this year, where he saw his strikeouts increase while still having enough control problems that he’s probably not more than an organizational arm. With the three additions and the still unexplained departure of Shawn Tolleson, the 40-man roster stands at 34.

Also included in the release are the confirmations of minor league signings J.C. Boscan, Clint Robinson, and Brendan Harris, which we already knew about, and another fun name: Daniel Moskos. In 2007, Pittsburgh selected Moskos with the #4 pick in the draft… ahead of Matt Wieters, Ross Detwiler, Madison Bumgarner, and Jason Heyward, among others, but Moskos stalled out in the minors, reaching the bigs for 31 games in 2011 and striking out only 11 in 24.1 innings. He spent the first half of 2013 with the White Sox’ Triple-A team in Charlotte, but was released in June and didn’t pitch again. That’s fun, at least, if nothing else.

Los Angeles Dodgers tickets

Deadline Nearing To Protect Prospects From Rule V Draft

garcia_yimi_aflAs we continue “November minor league minutiae” month, we come to “adding players to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule V draft.” Fun! Sort of! We went through this last year, remember, and ended up seeing Steve Ames & Matt Magill get added.

What always makes this tough each year is that there’s no set list of players to look at, and there’s always a few loopholes that make eligibility uncertain. What you can say for sure is that it’s not like the entire organization is up for grabs here, so no need to worry about Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, Zach Lee, and friends yet. The rule (with some exceptions, as always) is basically “high school draftees with five years experience and college draftees with four years experience,” so we’re talking about it’s high school players from the 2009 draft and college players from the 2010 draft this year, and anyone who was eligible in previous years. International signees who were 18 or younger when signed and have five years experience are also eligible.

Of course, you look at the 2009 high school draftees from the Dodgers, and there’s not a whole lot there worth discussing. Garrett Gould? Jon Garcia? Brandon Martinez? Yikes.

The 2010 college draftees aren’t that much better, partially because the top two picks — Leon Landry & Jake Lemmerman — were each traded (as was later pick Logan Bawcom), and third college pick Ryan Christenson hasn’t pitched since 2011 after blowing out his arm. The only real intriguing names there are Scott Schebler (the organization’s Minor League Hitter of the Year), Bobby Coyle, and Red Patterson, since Shawn Tolleson is already in the bigs and on the 40-man. (Okay, Yimy Queipo-Rodriguez is a fantastically interesting name, but he never made it out of rookie ball.)

It’s not as simple as just looking at those two lists, of course, because that ignores undrafted international signings as well as older players who went unselected in previous years. (Pedro Baez, a Dodger farmhand since 2007, is one good example.) As best as I can tell, the other semi-notable names in addition to the ones we’ve mentioned already would be Brian Cavazos-Galvez, Angelo Songco, J.T. Wise, Andres Santiago, Blake Smith, Red Patterson, Yimi Garcia, Jon Michael Redding, Jarret Martin, Griff EricksonChris Jacobs, & Aaron Miller.

The Dodgers currently have eight open spots on the 40-man, some of which they’ll certainly need for any new major league acquisitions, but do remember there’s some gamesmanship here. Since claimed Rule V players must stay in the bigs all season on their new team (hey, remember Carlos Monasterios?), it means that other clubs won’t take a total shot in the dark on talent if there’s no chance they can contribute next year. That means that even if a team likes, say, Schebler, coming off an impressive .296/.360/.581 season in the high offense California League, it’s not likely that they’ll be dying to bring a guy who had hit .260/.312/.388 in 2012 right to the bigs. You could add him to the 40-man to be overly safe, it’s just probably not the most effective use of a roster spot.

There’s some guys you could make arguments for here — Baez & Martin, probably — but the main one who really seems worth protecting to me right now is Garcia, partially because he might actually be ready to help the Dodger bullpen in 2014 after a nice showing in the AFL. In 249.2 minor league innings, the righty reliever has a 311/78 K/BB, and the bullpen is often the easiest place to stash a Rule V guy, so I imagine he’d be taken easily. Baez is potentially worth considering as well, because the converted third baseman has shown some skill in his long-awaited conversion to the mound.

The draft isn’t until December 12, but the deadline to add these players is Wednesday evening, so we’ll know who gets added by then.

Ned Colletti on “Clubhouse Confidential”

Yesterday, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti sat down with Brian Kenny of MLB Network for a chat as part of “Clubhouse Confidential”. Topics ranged from the huge rotation to the even huger budget, but most encouraging is hearing both how much he wants to retain Clayton Kershaw and how optimistic he is about Carl Crawford. That’s not exactly “news,” of course, because that’s exactly what you’d expect a general manager to say.

Giants
Dodgers
CF
Blanco
CF
Schumaker
2B
Tanaka
SS
Ramirez
LF
Torres
1B
Gonzalez
1B
Belt
RF
Ethier
SS
Crawford
3B
Cruz
RF
Kieschnick
2B
M.Ellis
DH
Pill
C
A.Ellis
C
Quiroz
LF
Moore
3B
Valdez
DH
Uribe

No TV for today’s game, sadly, though it will be broadcast on KLAC 570. Josh Beckett makes his spring debut, with Brandon League, Kenley Jansen, J.P. Howell, Gregory Infante, and Kelvin De La Cruz  Other than De La Cruz & Infante, each will be seeing their first action of the spring behind him.

One of the many odd quirks of spring — what, Juan Uribe hitting cleanup wasn’t odd enough? — is that the Dodgers will be utilizing the designated hitter while the Giants will not, instead opting to let Tim Lincecum swing the bat. I’m sure there’s a joke about the Giants not actually having enough major-league quality hitters in there somewhere, but what the hell, it’s February 26. Update: well, scratch that. The Giants put out an updated lineup that has Brett Pill in as the designated hitter.

Unrelated but still awesome:

Pedro Baez, whose pitching resume consisted of one inning in an instructional league game, is already being talked about for an appearance in a Spring Training contest after an eye-opening bullpen session with guru Sandy Koufax on Monday.

Baez showed Koufax a natural delivery, a fastball in the mid-90s and a curveball more advanced than many of his fellow Minor Leaguers who have been at this pitching thing for years. Koufax told other staff members he’d like to see Baez in a game this spring.

Just phenomenal. Really, really hoping we get to see him once — preferably in a game that’s actually televised.

Two Dodgers Make the Keith Law 100, Plus Chris Withrow & Pedro Baez Find New Homes

All sorts of news in the Dodger organization today…

*** Corey Seager & Zach Lee make the Keith Law Top 100 list.

Seager (#46) and Lee (#67) are the only two Dodgers who make the list. Seeing Seager that high is encouraging, but it also tells you a whole lot about how differently scouts can view prospects — last week, Jonathan Mayo put out his own Top 100 at MLB.com, and Seager wasn’t listed at all, while Yasiel Puig (#76) & Joc Pederson (#85) were. We’ll see how Baseball America‘s rankings, due out next week, see them.

21 year old Yasiel Puig, courtesy of EephusBlue

21 year old Yasiel Puig, courtesy of EephusBlue

In a chat today at ESPN.com, Law touched on why he didn’t include Puig or Pederson, noting that Puig’s short season and missed time due to the elbow infection makes any data on him extremely thin. He could, as Law noted, end up being very good, but it’s so difficult to know right now; he also included the somewhat odd note that “having shaken the man’s hand, he’s one of the oldest-looking 21-year-olds I’ve ever met”. As Justin D noted to me on Twitter, maybe that just means “Greg Oden disease”.

On Pederson, Law indicates that he still sees him as a fourth outfielder, and while that may be somewhat of a case of Pederson’s horrible AFL performance getting amplified since that’s where Law mainly saw him, that’s the general consensus I hear; Mayo seems to think more highly of him than most.

*** Chris Withrow is officially a reliever.

From Ken Gurnick’s report of last week’s “Young Guns” mini-camp:

Withrow, the Dodgers’ No. 1 pick in 2007, had early bouts with the yips and more recently chronic back problems. Withrow responded to a bullpen move late last year, and Honeycutt said it’s now permanent, hoping the role change can work Eric Gagne-like wonders for Withrow, whose electric arm is undisputed.

Maybe management recalls a hard-throwing second-rounder that struggled as a starter and was never tried as a reliever. Instead, the Dodgers let Joel Hanrahan leave as a free agent and he went on to be an All-Star closer. “Chris wanted the change,” Honeycutt said. “He likes attacking more. He reminds me a little of Gagne, somebody who might throw three or four innings as a starter but have one [bad] inning, and you can eliminate that if you’re only asking one inning of relief from him. Maybe one- or two-inning stints will be easier on his back. He’s got the arm.”

That’s unsurprising, and at this point it’s really a good thing. Even with the trades from last year thinning out the prospect depth, he’s still clearly fallen behind at least Lee & Matt Magill on the starting list. Withrow’s about to begin his fifth season in Double-A (most likely), and while he’s shown the big arm and the ability to miss bats (9.3 K/9), he’s never been able to harness his control or stay healthy. Allowing him to pitch in short stints might negate both somewhat, and Baseball Prospectus still ranked him as the #8 Dodger prospect in January, saying he “has the electric stuff to play up in short bursts out of the bullpen”.

*** Pedro Baez is officially a pitcher.

Hooray! We first heard an unconfirmed report of this in October — I was thrilled, noting that I’d been asking for it since at least 2010 — and from the same Gurnick article, it appears to be coming true.

Honeycutt mentioned Jansen, a transformed catcher, in reference to Baez, signed for $200,000 to be a power-hitting third baseman. Baez, a .247 hitter in six Minor League seasons, is starting over as a hard-throwing reliever a la Jansen, who came out from behind the plate to emerge as a bullpen strikeout king.

“They put him on the mound in instructional league and that fastball is really strong,” Honeycutt said of Baez, who turns 25 next month. “You talk about Kenley when you see the ball come out of his hand. He hasn’t been overwhelmed by thinking too much about pitching. He just sees the glove and throws it and that’s kind of refreshing.”

This is a move that’s long, long overdue because it was clear that Baez was absolutely never going to make it as a hitter — he even got demoted from Double-A back to High-A in 2012. Let’s temper those Jansen expectations, however, until we at least see the man on the mound in a professional game.

*** So long Chris Carpenter, but don’t get too excited.

Carpenter announced today that arm trouble will keep him out for the 2013 season, and from everything we heard it really sounded like this was a goodbye press conference that’s not officially being called a “retirement” so he doesn’t have to forfeit his 2013 salary. Obviously, many — myself included — noted that if the Cardinals need a starter, the Dodgers have more than one to offer. Still, it doesn’t seem that likely at the moment. Behind ace Adam Wainwright and veterans Jake Westbrook & Jaime Garcia, the Cards are loaded with young pitchers ready to step in to the rotation — guys like Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, & Joe Kelly. Even if they need to step outside, they could easily sign Kyle Lohse, who they know well and wouldn’t have to give up a pick to get. Not saying it’s impossible, but not likely; besides, it really sounds more and more like the Dodgers will keep their depth into camp to see how those returning from injury respond.

Dodgers Depth Chart Analysis: Can Anyone Play Third?

Editor’s note: Chris Jackson continues his look at the Dodger organizational depth with third base. Lord, I can’t wait until we get to the outfield and actually find some talent.

Recently, the good folks over at ESPN.com have noted how many good third basemen are playing throughout the Majors. While it is true that the Chase Headleys of the world are shining elsewhere, there are just as many teams rolling the dice at the hot corner from Chicago (Jeff Keppinger, Ian Stewart) to Minnesota (Trevor Plouffe) to Oakland (Josh Donaldson) to Atlanta (Juan Francisco) to Miami (the corpse of Placido Polanco) to Colorado (check back in a while on that mess).

For the Dodgers, third base is also a problem, in both present tense (Luis Cruz) and future tense. I won’t get into the whole “Hanley Ramirez should be at third” debate, because that’s been going for a while now and obviously Ned and co. are not going to change their minds until Ramirez is at 25 errors on Memorial Day. And even that might not get him shifted over to his right.

Going into the Dodgers’ stable of minor-league corner infielders, I found a logjam building up at first base between Double-A Chattanooga and Single-A Rancho Cucamonga (see the previous post in this series), while the organization remains pressed to find enough warm bodies to man third base throughout the system.

At third base, the lack of depth at the upper levels was clearly seen when the Dodgers signed two free agents with big-league experience and re-signed one of their own who had become a free agent. The wild card here, and elsewhere on the diamond, is Alex Castellanos, who finished last year at third for the Isotopes. For the purposes of these analyses, I am leaving him in the outfield, but if the Dodgers decide he should be a third baseman again, then throw out most everything you read below.

Barden with Round Rock in 2011. Hope he likes the PCL. (a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/madmiked/5760622536/">via)

Barden with Round Rock in 2011. Hope he likes the PCL. (via)

Dallas McPhersonBrian Barden: The two veterans, the former of whom played for the Isotopes in 2008 when they were a Marlins affiliate, will compete for playing time this spring. Both were signed as free agents; either could end up the starter in Albuquerque.

Elevys GonzalezOmar Luna: Gonzalez was acquired in the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 draft while Luna was signed as a free agent out of the Rays organization. Both Gonzalez and Luna are more utility players than everyday guys. Gonzalez will compete for a reserve spot with the Isotopes, while Luna will do the same with Chattanooga.

C.J. Retherford: The 27-year-old was originally signed by the White Sox as a non-drafted free agent out of Arizona State back in 2007. He tore through the system until 2010, when he hit a wall at Triple-A and was eventually released. After playing at Double-A for the Braves, Tigers and an independent team, Retherford signed with the Dodgers for 2012. He promptly hit .311/.366/.546 with 23 home runs and 92 RBI, mostly at Rancho and finishing at Chattanooga. Retherford should return to the Lookouts to start the upcoming season.

Pedro Baez: The biggest mystery among third basemen, Baez has underachieved throughout his career and was listed as a pitcher during instructional league this past fall. Always praised for his arm, Baez could move to the mound after batting just .247/.308/.391 for his career. Baez hit just .221/.306/.374 with 11 home runs and 59 RBI combined with Chattanooga and Rancho last season. If he is staying at third base, expect him to start for the Quakes.

Jesse Bosnik: A 13th-round pick back in 2010, the 24-year-old has done little with the bat, while playing two-thirds of his games at third base, the rest at first. Bosnick hit .239/.290/.360 with eight home runs, 44 RBI and 21 stolen bases at Great Lakes last year. He projects, at best, as a utility man, but is more likely just an organizational player who should move up to Rancho as a backup, or a starter if Baez’s days at third base are over.

Jeffrey Hunt: Purely a backup, the 22-year-old hit just .237/.295/.422 with six home runs for Great Lakes last season. He will either repeat the level or see his walking papers in March.

Alex Santana: The Dodgers’ second-round pick in 2011, Santana has yet to live up to expectations. The 19-year-old hit .254/.306/.365 with two home runs and 31 RBI between Ogden and the Arizona League last year. The son of former big-leaguer Rafael, this Santana was just 17 when he signed and very raw, both in terms of hitting and fielding. He should still push his way up the ladder and start for Great Lakes.

Bladimir Franco: He was signed out of the Dominican back in 2007. Now 22, Franco has hit just .233/.321/.381 with 27 home runs in 253 games, none above rookie level. While he put up decent numbers between the AZL and Ogden last summer — .269/.335/.448, 8 HR, 31 RBI — he is low on the depth chart and could return to the Raptors to start this upcoming season.

As anyone can see, the Dodgers are cursed by the same lack of viable third basemen as most teams. While folks tend to focus on catcher and shortstop as being too thin, the Dodgers’ lack of help at the hot corner stands out. It is not a problem unique to the organization, nor one that can be totally attributed to the McCourt era’s financial woes.

So in other words, if you want your kid to have a shot at the pros someday, put the tyke at third base and cross your fingers.