Dodgers Report: R.A. Dickey

So far, Dodgers are chasing moving targets

December, 7, 2012
12/07/12
11:07
AM PT
While the Dodgers were working out a three-year contract extension with reliever Brandon League earlier this offseason, they started talking to lefty reliever Randy Choate about whether he, too, wanted to return.

The discussions with Choate dragged all the way into the early days of this week's winter meetings. The Dodgers finally declined when it became clear Choate wanted three years and about $2.5 million per season, a hefty price tag for a one-out lefty. Choate got that deal instead from the St. Louis Cardinals.

Simultaneously, the Dodgers began discussing a deal with the agent for prized right-handed pitcher Zack Greinke. They were also exchanging ideas with potential trade partners that could land them the top-of-the-rotation starter they want. They began hammering out parameters of a deal for Korean lefty Ryu Hyun-jin, trying to bridge a canyon-sized gap between their valuation and that of agent Scott Boras.

For several slow-paced weeks and four hectic days, there was plenty of motion. And no action.

If Dodgers fans are lamenting their team's lack of progress so far this offseason, though, they have company. Fans of virtually every other team have seen mostly marginal and, in some cases, baffling moves. The market remains stuck in a strange limbo for now, with teams and agents waiting for Greinke and Josh Hamilton to find homes and establish the market for the high-end talent.

So for now, the transactions involve names like Choate, Jeff Keppinger and Ben Revere -- not exactly sending fans scurrying for their season-ticket applications.

"It's ... how do I describe this?" said Boras, rarely at a loss for words. "A laissez-faire market. The way it works is, it's like putting on your pants. It starts bottom up."

While Dodgers fans haven't yet opened a present, there are still a bunch of big, sparkly toys left on the shelves. The Dodgers keep shopping. Maybe Greinke prefers to pitch elsewhere and he's just waiting for the Texas Rangers' offer to enter the same neighborhood as the Dodgers? Or maybe he's just waiting for Texas -- or somebody else -- to come up so he can leverage up a Dodgers' package?

The Dodgers aren't just sitting there, waiting for Greinke to call them. General manager Ned Colletti continues to work toward something with other teams and representatives. Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, R.A. Dickey, Ryu or James Shields might be consolation prizes (over the long term) compared to Greinke, but they would all help the Dodgers field a better team in 2013.

So stay tuned. The hot stove stays lit a little bit longer for Dodgers fans, and that's not a bad way to spend your Web-surfing time.

"There’s this artificial deadline that gets set at the end of the Rule 5 draft, like nothing else is ever going to happen," Colletti said. "Then, at the beginning of spring training -- nothing else is going to happen. Then, who’s going to make the Opening Day roster? Oh geez, is this the 25 guys we’re going to see for the next 162 games and six months?

"Everything’s fluid. It’s always fluid."

As many of the baseball people -- scouts, executives, agents and writers -- shuffled off to catch their flights at the Nashville airport Thursday evening, there was a duet strumming and singing to country music at one of the airport lounges. Most of the songs were about connections lost, but at least a couple of them had happy endings.

Dodgers make an offer, but have to wait

December, 4, 2012
12/04/12
6:25
PM PT


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- On Tuesday afternoon, Magic Johnson tweeted the following: "I hope my Dodgers will be able to acquire some pitchers at the winter meetings."

Sorry, Magic. Things aren't exactly sailing along in that regard.

General manager Ned Colletti described Tuesday as "very quiet," and even admitted it was a bit dreary in the Dodgers' executive suite. The only tangible progress, if you can call it that, was that the Dodgers made a formal offer to agent Scott Boras for Korean left-hander Ryu Hyun-jin. Colletti exchanged a couple of text messages with the agent for Zack Greinke.

In both cases, Colletti said the two sides are far apart.

"It appears that everybody we have some interest in is going to take a methodical path," Colletti said.

Typically, Asian players sign for somewhere in the neighborhood of the posting fee the team pays to negotiate with them. The latest example was Yu Darvish, who signed for $56 million with the Texas Rangers after the club posted $51 million to negotiate with him. Boras, however, appears to view Ryu's value on par with No. 3-caliber major league starters, who have been signing for far more than the $25 million the Dodgers bid for Ryu.

Of the initial offer, Colletti said, "Predictably, it fell a tad short."

The belief by many baseball people in the lobby of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel on Tuesday was that, once Greinke's agent has fielded other teams' offers, the Dodgers will come in with the highest bid. Colletti didn't sound in any particular hurry, saying, "We're patient."

If it doesn't happen, the Dodgers appear to have more fallback options than they did a few weeks ago. In addition to the glacial progress with Ryu, they learned that Chad Billingsley has begun his normal winter throwing program, raising hope that he could avoid Tommy John surgery.

"Him being able to begin a throwing program is a great sign," Colletti said. "Is it the sign that says, 'Hey, we can go home on Wednesday?' No."

The Dodgers have also had trade talks with other teams here, including some that involve multiple teams. The latest name to surface in trade rumors is the Mets' R.A. Dickey, the reigning Cy Young winner, but the Dodgers have also been linked to Tampa Bay's James Shields and Pittsburgh's Joel Hanrahan.

The Dodgers also would like to add a fourth outfielder and a left-handed reliever, but those aren't exactly at the top of their agenda at the moment.

"I think those will be slower," Colletti said. "Not that this is going at a rapid pace."

Other notes

The Dodgers, who have a roster filled with players from far-flung locales, could lose several players for a big chunk of spring training as they compete in the World Baseball Classic. But the name that would cause the most consternation in the team's offices if he pitches for Team USA is pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who missed a couple of starts late last year with a hip ailment.

Colletti said he wouldn't stand in Kershaw's way if he wants to pitch in the WBC.

“It depends on how he feels, both about doing it and how he feels physically," Colletti said.

Day 2 progress: Minimal.

Wish list: Starting pitcher or two, left-handed reliever, fourth outfielder.

Kershaw deserved more Cy Young votes

November, 14, 2012
11/14/12
5:53
PM PT
If you’re going to lose out on a prestigious award, you might as well lose it to the feel-good story of the year.

The Baseball Writers Association of America awarded R.A. Dickey the 2012 Cy Young award Wednesday, making Dickey the first knuckleballer ever to win it.

Was he a better pitcher than Clayton Kershaw, who was bidding for back-to-back Cy Youngs? Probably not. But it wasn’t the biggest robbery in the history of the trophy.

The absurdity of the vote was the breadth of Dickey’s victory. Dickey garnered 27 of the 32 first-place votes. That’s hardly indicative of his edge over the other finalists, especially Kershaw, who received just two first-place votes. Ridiculously, two of the 32 voters left Kershaw entirely off their ballot.

Kershaw led the National League in ERA (2.53) and WHIP (1.02) and finished second (by one) to Dickey in strikeouts (229). Many of Dickey’s edges were the result of accumulation, while Kershaw’s were the result of how dominating he was start to start.

Kershaw had the best WAR (wins above replacement) among NL pitchers, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

If the 30 major league GMs were asked who they'd rather have in their rotation for next season, 30 of them would probably say Kershaw over Dickey ... but that's not the same as saying he should have won the 2012 award.

Unlike the other two finalists for the award, Kershaw hasn’t reached the age when most pitchers are at their prime. He doesn’t turn 25 until March. Gio Gonzalez is 27. Dickey is 38.

If the Los Angeles Dodgers lock him up to a long-term deal, which seems like only a matter of time, who knows how many of these things he could win.

You can blame the voters for the result and justly so, but you also have to point the finger at Kershaw’s teammates. Due to low run support and some relief missteps, Kershaw won just 14 games. If he had won 20, I'm guessing he would have been thanking the voters live, via satellite, in his acceptance speech.

Had he taken the Cy Young, Kershaw would have done so with the lowest win total since Felix Hernandez won it with 13 in 2010. It would have been the lowest total for an NL Cy Young winner since Eric Gagne had two wins (and 55 saves) in 2003.

The only shame of the matter is that it deprives Kershaw of something to brag about over the man to whom he’s constantly compared. Sandy Koufax didn’t go back-to-back in the Cy Young until 1966, when he was three years older than Kershaw is now.

In those days, they only awarded one trophy for both leagues. Koufax was hurt for part of 1965 and the Angels’ Dean Chance broke up what might have been four straight Cy Youngs for Koufax.

Take heart, Clayton: There’s always next year (and the year after that).

3 up, 3 down: Mets 9, Dodgers 0

June, 29, 2012
6/29/12
10:29
PM PT


LOS ANGELES -- And after Thursday’s two-run barrage, we’re back at zeroes again after the Dodgers were shut out by the Mets, 9-0, on Friday night at Dodger Stadium.

The Good:

Instances of good fielding. The fifth inning featured a gem catch from Dee Gordon, who drifted back a long way to make an over-the-shoulder catch and rob Ike Davis of a shallow single. A single would have loaded the bases with one out, but Gordon’s defense instead offered pitcher Aaron Harang the chance to close the frame. Unfortunately, Harang promptly surrendered a double to Daniel Murphy on the next at-bat, but still, it was Gordon’s thought that counted. Bobby Abreu eventually ended the same inning by hustling all the way to the left field stands to grab a long pop fly from Kirk Neiwenhuis. Not bad for a 54-year old.

Kenley Jansen. Obviously, not the most pressure-filled situation, but one inning with no runs and two strikeouts is one inning with no runs and two strikeouts.

The bottom of the seventh inning. Two men actually reached base! ‘Twas a glorious inning, my friends! One you’ll share with your children, and your children’s children!

The Bad:

R.A. Dickey strikes again! Dickey has been really good this season. As in, “back-to-back one-hit complete games” good. As in, “five consecutive games with zero earned runs over at least 7.1 innings” good. As in, “hasn’t lost a game since April 18” good. Still, he entered this particular game on the heels of surrendering five earned runs to the Yankees, perhaps a sign the Dodgers were catching him in the midst of a bugaboo. Or not. Three hits were cobbled together over eight innings, and 10 batters struck out.
Obviously, there’s no shame in failing to tag a pitcher currently among baseball’s toughest. But given how dormant the bats have been of late, it sure could have provided a nice boost if they somehow pulled it off.

Harang scrapped ... and often lost. The righty’s night began in ominous fashion, with a leadoff walk delivered to Andres Torres, followed by a Ruben Tejada single sliced over Gordon’s head. Two outs were then punched, but just when you thought it was time for easy breathing, Lou Duda got a free pass to first, putting runners on the corners. Still, Harang got Murphy looking on a 1-2 fastball, and the inning yielded no runs. That was as good as things got when it came to wriggling out of trouble. Harang once again found himself with two on and nobody out in the third inning, and this time two runners crossed the plate. (More later on why that particular mess wasn’t entirely his.) With two on, two out, and force plays intentionally set up in the fifth, he was tagged for two more runs. (Again, perhaps not entirely his fault.) Finally came the sixth inning, where Harang got Tejada down 0-2 in the count with two outs ... then proceeded to plunk him. That was all she wrote for Harang. But hey, at least he got the first hit off Dickey. And if it makes Harang feel any better, Shawn Tolleson (1.1 inning, 43 pitches, five hits, four earned runs, one first pitch, 3-run dinger) was considerably worse.

Instances of bad fielding. Jerry Hairston made an error on a routine grounder in the third, and the man allowed eventually became an unearned run for Harang. Later in the fifth, Scott Van Slyke made the curious decision to bare hand a right field hit from Murphy rather than knock it down, and the ball went leaked past him. By the time Tony Gwynn Jr. fielded it, Murphy was on second and two runs had scored. The play was scored as a double, but still a poor idea that did Harang no favors. Then in the seventh, Gordon coughed up a playable grounder at short, later converted into an unearned run for Tolleson. A team struggling to hit can’t afford to serve up scoring opportunities on a silver platter for an opponent. Against an electric pitcher, it’s even worse.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Dee Gordon
BA HR RBI R
.365 1 6 5
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Gonzalez 5
RBIA. Gonzalez 15
RA. Gonzalez 11
OPSJ. Uribe .980
WZ. Greinke 3
ERAH. Ryu 1.93
SOZ. Greinke 29