Dodger Thoughts: Ron Mahay


ESPN's Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser and Bobby Valentine recap the Dodgers' win over the Giants. Note in the video that Matt Kemp is already standing on third base in the sixth inning when Buster Posey's throw is just coming into the picture.


A final thought about airplanes flying banners. When I see them high above the Pacific Ocean at the beach, advertising this or that, they pretty much have no impact on me. It's hard for me to believe it was any different with the banners (as pictured on Vin Scully Is My Homeboy) flew over Dodger Stadium on Thursday.

Elsewhere ...
  • Dave Cameron of Fangraphs is pretty much in awe of Clayton Kershaw at this point. Colleague Dave Allen has more on Kershaw's hard slider.
  • Dodger fans offer Frank McCourt advice, via Molly Knight of ESPN the Magazine.
  • Here's one more installment of the LADodgerTalk interview series with Logan White. Lots of Rubby De La Rosa discussion.
  • Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post writes about Ron Mahay, whose release by the Dodgers might mark the last we see of replacement players from the 1994-95 strike.
  • Eric Nusbaum's profile on former Dodger talkcaster Ken Levine is in the Seattle Weekly.
  • After 1,759 career hits, Randy Winn retired, bucking some expectations by never playing for Ned Colletti in Los Angeles.
  • How Justine Siegel almost threw batting practice for the Dodgers last month. Maybe it will still work out at some point.
  • Greg Simons of the Hardball Times takes a turn on the annual "Five questions" feature on the Dodgers.

Jake Roth/US PresswireDespite a 7.23 ERA last year with St. Louis, Mike MacDougal has taken advantage of Dodger injuries to carve out a chance at a roster spot.
On the last off day before the start of the season, this seems like a good time to check in on how the Dodger 25-man Opening Day roster is shaping up.

On track (18):

Starting pitchers (4): Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Ted Lilly

Relief pitchers (5): Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, Matt Guerrier, Blake Hawksworth, Kenley Jansen

Catchers (1): Rod Barajas

Infielders (4): James Loney, Juan Uribe, Rafael Furcal, Jamey Carroll

Outfielders (4): Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Tony Gwynn Jr., Marcus Thames

Likely (3):

1) Casey Blake, 3B: The latest news on Blake sounds about as good as one might have expected – inflammation with no evidence of a muscle strain. So while anything could happen, we won't assume that he'll be on the disabled list March 31.

2) Mike MacDougal, RP: A 0.00 spring ERA, veteran's moxie and all the positive things people are saying about him in the press make MacDougal this year's most likely prize off the scrap heap.

3) Dioner Navarro, C: A.J. Ellis can still be optioned to the minors, so we'll put him aside. Though Hector Gimenez presents an alternative, Navarro seems safe.

Roster spot battles (4):


Norm Hall/Getty ImagesAn .847 spring OPS has helped make Hector Gimenez a longshot as opposed to a no-shot.

1) Jay Gibbons vs. Xavier Paul vs. Trent Oeltjen, OF, vs. Hector Gimenez, C/1B: Gibbons' spring has been a nightmare, to the extent that Tony Gwynn Jr. might already have passed him in the pecking order for playing time. Xavier Paul, seemingly healthy and performing better as the month goes on, is now adding to the pressure while the eyesight-plagued Gibbons tries to solve his vision problems. A third-party candidate is Trent Oeltjen, who has been hitting all spring – and we'll even leave open the possibility that Gimenez could take this spot instead of a sixth outfielder. Chances: Gibbons 45%, Paul 35%, Oeltjen 10%, Gimenez 10%.

2) Aaron Miles vs. Ivan De Jesus Jr. vs. Justin Sellers vs. Juan Castro, IF: A veteran has the automatic edge when you're talking backup infielder, so it seems safe to knock out De Jesus and Sellers, neither of whom have seized the day. Miles has had a better spring than Castro and is also centuries younger. Castro has that Brad Ausmus-like zen quality that Ned Colletti admires, but Miles has sufficient experience to fill the role. Chances: Miles 80%, Castro 10%, De Jesus 5%, Sellers 5%.

3) + 4) Ron Mahay vs. Scott Elbert vs. Ramon Troncoso vs. Lance Cormier, RP, vs. John Ely vs. Tim Redding, SP, vs. position player: These two final spots seem very much up for grabs at this point, compounded by the uncertainty over whether the Dodgers will start the year with four or five starting pitchers, and whether they'll start with 11 pitchers overall or 12.

If they keep a fifth starter, it's still an open battle. Both Redding and Ely can be sent to the minors, though the difference is if Redding is placed on the major-league roster, he would then have to clear waivers before he could go to Albuquerque (once, say, Vicente Padilla or Jon Garland was healthy). The Dodgers can yank Ely up and down this year at will.

Both Ely and Redding started the spring excellently, then faltered (like every other Dodger starter in the past week). Ely is on the upside of his career but with something to prove; Redding is on the downside of his career with something to prove. My guess is that even if Ely wins the job, the Dodgers won't want him to lose his rhythm by pitching in long relief during the opening days of the season – meaning he would start the season in the minors and then come up April 12 when he is needed. I'm not sure they'd have those reservations with Redding.

Among the lefthanders, Mahay finally had a decent inning Tuesday, though the four batters he faced had 19 career major-league homers. Still, it's hard to imagine that, short of a 180-degree turnaround, the Dodgers are ready to rely on Elbert, who has walked nine of 20 batters he has faced this spring.

Troncoso has outpitched both lefties, though I'm not sure the Dodgers are convinced he's all the way back from his 2010 struggles. If he were, he and MacDougal would exchange places. Lance Cormier has gotten little attention while throwing four innings and allowing seven hits while striking out one, but he remains in the running.

And then there's the chance the Dodgers go with an 11-man staff and keep six guys on the bench. Gimenez, anyone?

If the Dodgers were making their final cuts today, I'd predict they keep two relievers at the outset and fly Ely to San Francisco on April 12. Chances: Troncoso 45%, Mahay 45%, Cormier 30%, Ely 30%, Redding 25%, position player 20%, Elbert 5%.
In the spirit of Jesse Orosco, the Dodgers have turned to an oldster in an attempt to add more lefty strength to their bullpen.

According to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com, Los Angeles has signed Ron Mahay — who will be 40 in June — to a non-roster deal.

Despite the age issues, this is no Merkin Valdez signing. Mahay, who has pitched in 514 career games, allowed only 41 baserunners in 34 innings with Minnesota last season. Against lefties, Mahay gave up 12 singles, a double, a homer and two walks in 68 plate appearances — a .520 OPS.

Mahay will give Scott Elbert, among others, a challenge in Spring Training, and it's hard to say it's not justified. It's been these types of signings that have been among the brightest in general manager Ned Colletti's tenure — low-risk moves with legitimate chance of reward.

Update: The Dodgers confirmed the signing at 3:30 p.m.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Yasiel Puig
BA HR RBI R
.296 16 69 92
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Gonzalez 27
RBIA. Gonzalez 116
RY. Puig 92
OPSY. Puig .863
WC. Kershaw 21
ERAC. Kershaw 1.77
SOC. Kershaw 239