Welcome Back, Don Mattingly

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We first heard rumblings yesterday, and now we’re hearing this: Ramona Shelburne reports that the Dodgers have reached an extension agreement with Don Mattingly. No terms yet, though I can’t say I really care about manager salaries. (It reportedly will be for three seasons.)

This is probably going to ignite the same conversations we had months ago about whether Mattingly is the manager best equipped to run this team, but it really doesn’t matter. You almost never see a manager who takes his team to the League Championship Series not return — unless it’s Grady Little, and then the Dodgers just hire him anyway, and then… — and after Mattingly survived that bizarre post-season press conference with assertions that he “would be back,” his return has been something like a given anyway.

If anything, I’m just glad that it appears to be settled. No matter how you feel about Mattingly, nothing would have been worse than letting him go into the season as a lame duck again, after how that worked out last year. And even if you can’t stand him as a manager — I’m hardly defending the bunts — we weren’t getting Manny Acta, and there’s no evidence Tim Wallach would be better. At least there’s this: he’s not Dusty Baker.

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Yes, Ken Gurnick submitted a train wreck of a Hall of Fame ballot today. Yes, Twitter is up in arms over it, and rightfully so — I can’t defend the thought process that says Greg Maddux (and Mariano Rivera) shouldn’t get a vote, or that Jack Morris is somehow a guy who didn’t pitch “during the steroid era,” or that Gurnick’s radio explanation today makes any sense whatsoever. It’s probably the worst ballot I’ve seen so far, and that’s saying something when Murray Chass exists. But I have corresponded with Gurnick in the past, and I know people who speak of him with the utmost respect. I generally am satisfied with the job he does as the MLB.com beat writer, knowing the constraints that come with being employed by the league, and so I’m really not interested in bashing him as a person. I’m noting it here simply because it’s the story of the day.

If anything, it further convinces me that the Hall of Fame process is irreparably, irretrievably broken.

Josh Bailed

I’ve been suffering through another Internet blackout — thanks, Time Warner! — so excuse the lack of posts over the last few days. Well, it’s that, but it’s also due to the simple fact that there’s so little going on in this frigid first week of January. It’s so slow, in fact, that this counts as news: Josh Bell has signed with Korea’s LG Twins. This matters only in the sense that last month, it had been reported that he’d returned to the Dodgers, years after he’d been traded away to Baltimore for George Sherrill. Bell never really was going to be anything more than organizational depth this time around — if even that — though he’s now out of the mix for Albuquerque’s third base slot. This has been your “it’s ungodly cold and we need something to update with” post of the day.

(And, of course, it should go without saying to check out Jon Weisman’s new “Dodger Insider,” which launched today, has already been pumping out solid content, and should be considered atop your must-read list going forward.)

Dodgers Bring 15 Prospects To Development Camp This Week

Via press release:

Fifteen of the club’s top minor league prospects will be in Los Angeles for the event, which includes seminars with Dodger staffers and workouts that focus on fundamentals, strength training and conditioning. Throughout the week, Dodger prospects will familiarize themselves with the greater Los Angeles area through social events and a community service visit to A Place Called Home, a youth center in South Los Angeles. The program is highlighted by sessions with Don Mattingly, Tommy Lasorda, Don NewcombeMaury WillsEric KarrosShawn Green, Stan Kasten and Ned Colletti and the annual Legends Dinner with Dodger alumni.

The 15 players are:

90topps_mattmagillC — Pratt Maynard
C — Chris O’Brien
IF — Miguel Rojas
OF — Chili Buss
OF — Joc Pederson
OF — Scott Schebler
P — Pedro Baez
P — Jose Dominguez
P — Yimi Garcia
P — Zach Lee
P — Matt Magill
P — Jarret Martin
P — Chris Reed
P — Seth Rosin
P — Ross Stripling

Dominguez, Buss, and Magill all appeared for the Dodgers in 2013, and as the release notes, six of last year’s 11 participants made it to the bigs. (In addition to Magill, the other five from last year were Tim Federowicz, Onelki Garcia, Paco Rodriguez, Chris Withrow, and Yasiel Puig.)

 

Your Worst Nightmare

Like I could avoid using this picture. (via)

This has been a pretty productive offseason for the Dodgers, I think. We all liked the Dan Haren signing, we all accepted that Juan Uribe was the best option at third base, I’ve seen few complaints about J.P. Howell or Brian Wilson or Jamey Wright, and while Chris Perez is easily on the bottom of that list, it’s difficult to complain too much about a one-year deal for a few million guaranteed dollars.

All in all, it’s been a productive winter, with the exception of a lack of a backup infielder. And since the market there is so, so barren, that can mean only one thing: It’s the perfect opportunity to do something dumb. What kind of dumb? This counts:

For the record, I have absolutely no information or indication that the Dodgers are in on Betancourt. This is purely me seeing a tweet and having the wheels start turning, nothing more, and we should probably be honest that whether it’s Justin Turner or Alexi Casilla or Omar Quintanilla, we’re going to be underwhelmed by whomever comes in for the job — even if it’s just sticking with Dee Gordon.

Still, “four or five teams in” — and “more expected” (!) — from a reporter who has cornered the industry in terms of scoops on terrible or unknown players means that Betancourt is going to have a job next year, and that alone is unthinkable. In over 4,200 plate appearances over nine seasons, he’s been worth… -0.7 WAR. He can’t hit — .261/.285/.388 — and he can’t field (-74 DRS at shortstop). He’d be the perfect example of a replacement player, except for the fact that he never seems to get replaced. Really, I’m not sure that enough attention has been paid to the fact that he started 46 games for Milwaukee last year… at first base.

And yet, teams appear to be competing for him, because… well, this is one of those cases where our usual analytics don’t matter. I don’t need to recite stats, because they’re all terrible. Yet for some reason he keeps getting work, and when you look at a Ned Colletti-run team that needs a flexible backup infielder and has yet to do anything to infuriate us this offseason…

Again, I have no evidence the Dodgers are one of those teams. But would it really surprise you? Prepare yourselves.

2013 Dodgers in Review #46: RP Javy Guerra

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6.75 ERA / 3.99 FIP / 10.2 IP 10.13 K/9 5.06 BB/9 (inc.)

2013 in brief: Made it into just nine May games for the Dodgers before getting buried in Albuquerque, never to be seen again.

2014 status: Likely to get real familiar with New Mexico, though he is without a remaining option.

Previous: 2011 | 2012

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Everyone thank Kyle MacGregor for pitching in with a great job on reviewing Guerra. Thanks, Kyle.

Javy Guerra’s season reminds me a lot of the last Transformers movie. I know saw it, but I honestly don’t recall a single memorable moment that occurred throughout the entire thing. I can’t conjure any more hazy memories of Guerra taking the field with the words “Los Angeles” scrawled across his chest in 2013 than I can of the time I escaped the womb and tobogganed into the world.

He didn’t make the Opening Day roster. That was mostly due to the fact Ned Colletti spent the winter collecting pitchers like they’re Pokémon cards, which inevitably pushed surplus starters into the bullpen to start the year. Javy was eventually recalled on May 1, after Josh Wall was used as a sacrificial lamb at Coors Field in a distressing 62 pitch appearance.

Guerra proceeded to pitch 10.2 forgettable big league innings that were well worth forgetting. The former closer was all over the place, mixing in fair number of strikeouts (12) alongside way too many walks (6) and hits (15!). The results speak for themselves, but, still, that 1.99 WHIP is pretty gross.

It may not have been entirely his fault, though. Looking at that 3.99 FIP, a .400 BABIP, and the fact the Dodger defense was all kinds of atrocious in the early going; I’m inclined to believe he was just a tad unlucky. The team was in such a malaise during Javy’s time in Los Angeles. The Dodgers dropped an embarrassing 16 of 25 games between Guerra’s decent first appearance against the Rockies and lackluster final game in Anaheim. So, while he was still a far cry from good, to put it mildly, I’ll cut him a little slack. There was plenty of blame to go around in May.

Guerra was sent to the glue factory of Albuquerque on May 31, in part because of Peter Moylan’s impending opt-out clause, but also because he was kind of terrible. He didn’t fare much better in the Rocky Mountain air, posting a 3.66 ERA with a 4.57 FIP for the Isotopes on the year, whilst being unusually homer-prone.

Javy struggled mightily at the end of the AAA season, where he was pushed around to the tune of a .405 BAA in his final ten appearances. Perhaps it’s needless to say, but he didn’t receive an invite to join the Dodgers when rosters expanded in September.

Something tells me the trajectory of Guerra’s career isn’t going in the direction he’d hoped. Following his breakout (but totally unsustainable) season in 2011, he gave us a lot of heartburn in 2012 after a Brian McCann liner rearranged the contents of his skull (and injured his knee). Since then, he’s showed some of the promise that landed him a closer’s job along with plenty of awful.

I’m not sure the Pacific Coast League is the best place for a guy on the slide looking to rebuild confidence and his career, but that’s where Guerra figures to be for the foreseeable future.