Dec 17

‘Tis a high price to pay

News item: The Yankees and the Dodgers are the only teams which have to pay a luxury tax on their payroll for 2013. The threshold for this season is $178 million, the Dodgers’ payroll was $243 million, and they pay at a 17.5 percent rate and owe $11,415,959.

Checks are due in the Commissioner’s Office by January 21.

But what does all that money get used for? From Article XXIII of the Collective Bargaining Agreement:

(1) The first $2,375,400 of proceeds collected for each Contract Year shall be used to fund benefits to Players, as provided in the Major League Baseball Players Benefit Plan Agreements.

(2) 50% of the remaining proceeds collected for each Contract Year, with accrued interest, shall be used to fund benefits to Players, as provided in the Major League Baseball Players Benefit Plan Agreements.

(3) 25% of the remaining proceeds collected for each Contract Year shall be contributed to the Industry Growth Fund and, with accrued interest, used for the purposes set out in Article XXV.

(4) 25% of the remaining proceeds collected for each Contract Year, with accrued interest, shall be used to defray the Clubs’ funding obligations arising from the Major League Baseball Players Benefit Plan Agreements.

Okay, but what’s the “Industry Growth Fund?”

The objective of IGF is to promote the growth of baseball in the United States and Canada, as well as throughout the world. To this end, IGF will be operated jointly by Players and Clubs in furtherance of the following purposes:

(1)to enhance fan interest in the game;
(2)to increase baseball’s popularity; and
(3)to ensure industry growth into the 21st Century

(See Article XXV of the CBA, linked above.)

So now we’re smarter than we were several hours ago. Isn’t that a good thing, class?

Mar 31

Opening Day Roster finalized (for now)

Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers made several roster moves today to set their 25-man roster as the season begins tomorrow. They placed Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly on the 15-day disabled list and moved Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang to the bullpen. Hanley Ramirez and Scott Elbert are also on the DL. Billingsley’s placement on the list was backdated to March 22, so he’s eligible to come off no later than April 13. As Gurnick says, that means they’ll have to make another personnel decison on that date.

It looks as though Justin Sellers will start at shortstop for the start of the season, meaning Luis Cruz will likely be the starting third baseman. The two of them may rotate with Punto and Uribe (Yes, Uribe is still on the major league roster. The only reason I can think of is that he’s under contract and the team sees enough value in him not to release him outright and eat the last year of his deal).

The roster:

Pitchers — Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Josh Beckett, Zack Greinke, Brandon League, Kenley Jansen, Ronald Belisario, J.P. Howell, Paco Rodriguez, Matt Guerrier, Capuano, Harang

Catchers — A.J. Ellis, Tim Federowicz

Infielders — Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Ellis, Sellers, Cruz, Juan Uribe, Nick Punto

Outfielders — Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Skip Schumaker, Jerry Hairston

Mar 26

Option day

As Dale mentioned in the comments below, the Dodgers optioned Dee Gordon to Albuquerque today and sent Yasiel Puig to AA Chattanooga, saying both players need more time to play regularly.

In addition, the team announced that Hyun-Jin Ryu will start Game Two of the season on April 2 against the Giants. Kershaw will pitch Opening Day April 1st, Josh Beckett will pitch Game Three and Zack Greinke will pitch Game Four. Chad Billingsley will pitch a minor league game Friday, March 29 and will go into the rotation after the first four pitch. There’s an off day after each of the first two three-game series the Dodgers play, so there will be a slot for Billingsley in one of those six games.

Update: The Dodger Stadium Express shuttle will run from Union Station downtown to the stadium: “. . . for the first time, a dedicated bus lane on Sunset Boulevard has been established that should speed up the process. Game-day tickets will be honored as payment to ride the service and the shuttle operates 90 minutes before first pitch and 45 minutes after the game.”

Update: Jon posits that there are never too many starters on the staff, so the Dodgers shouldn’t be in a hurry to trade any of the current overabundance.

The last thing the Dodgers should do is rush into a low-value trade of one of their excess starting pitchers – Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang or Ted Lilly – just so they can make room for a Wall or Kevin Gregg in the back of their bullpen.

Absolutely. Better to keep the veterans up and the rookies down unless there’s a fantastic opportunity to fill a hole in the infield, and what are the odds any team in the majors has that much interest in any of these three serviceable but not spectacular pitchers?

Mar 18

Dodgers – D-Backs on Prime Ticket

I just realized it. The game started 45 minutes ago, and the D-Backs lead 3 – 0 in the third. Josh Wall started, went two innings and was relieved by Peter Moylan. Crawford is hitting leadoff and singled in the third.

In personnel news, the team reassigned Tony Gwynn and Wilkin Castillo to Albuquerque and released Ramon Castro.

Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley both were relieved of their starting assignments today and tomorrow respectively, Beckett with the flu and Billingsley with a bruised right index finger. Greinke is set to start on Wednesday.

Update: Chad Moriyama has injury updates on Hanley Ramirez, Greinke, Billingsley, Crawford, Beckett, Withrow and Gordon. The most serious of these may be Ramirez’s thumb, which he jammed playing in the title game of the WBC yesterday. He dove for a ground ball while playing third. He stayed in for another at-bat and even got a hit, but he came out after that. He’ll have an MRI today at Camelback Ranch.

Feb 14

Scully “slams” Piazza!

Steve Dilbeck at the LAT has dug up the incriminating KTLA interview Vin did with Mike Piazza before he was traded to Florida which Piazza has claimed permanently damaged Piazza’s reputation with the LA fans. I dunno, but I don’t hear Vin saying anything which Piazza objected to at the time, and certainly nothing which would have sent the fans into fits of outrage.

Update:

PRIME TICKET will televise games Feb. 25 against the Cubs, Feb. 28 against the Angels, March 7 against Texas and March 18 against Arizona. Scully will be at the microphone for all four games. The Dodgers previously announced that Scully would handle KCAL 9 games on March 17 against Milwaukee and March 26 against Colorado.

Jan 11

Spring training’s a month away

Here’s a video of Dodgers VP for planning and development Janet Marie Smith talking about the stadium renovations.

At ESPN LA Mark Saxon points out that on the day camp opens the Dodgers have six veteran relief pitchers, four utility/bench players, eight starting position players and seven starting pitchers. That’s a far cry from the last few years when there were deals for starting pitchers being done seemingly up to Opening Day. Presumably they’ll deal a starter, hopefully for a fourth outfielder. Saxon gets off a good line, noting that there are a bunch of players whose health is best described as “improving.”

Trainer Sue Falsone might have more interesting media sessions than manager Don Mattingly.

Should we start getting excited yet?

Update: ESPN has released the Sunday Night Baseball schedule through July 21, and the May 5 Dodgers – Giants game at AT&T Park is included on the list. As David Pinto points out, there’s only one Yankees – Red Sox game on the schedule, which is a welcome change as far as I’m concerned. The Angels have two games scheduled, at Texas and the White Sox.

Update: Jon has some parting thoughts about both Stan Musial and Earl Weaver at the old site.

Dec 08

Christmas is a little early, if. . .

If, that is, the stories in the press (USA Today earlier and Sports Illustrated now) are accurate, and the Dodgers have indeed come to an agreement with Zack Greinke on a six-year, $147M deal.

It is the highest average annual value for a pitcher ($24.5 million) and the highest total value for any right-handed pitcher ($147 million). The Dodgers become the first National League club to exceed a $200 million player payroll ($210 million and counting for active players next year, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts)

I wonder what value they’re going to put on Clayton Kershaw when he comes up for a new contract. His deal calls for an $11M salary this year, after which he’s arbitration-eligible in 2014 and a free agent in 2015. Kershaw might say to himself (or to management) “Hey, I’m the ace of this staff and I’m only making half what the new guy’s getting. That’s not right.”

These extraordinarily deep pockets have to run dry at some point, don’t they?

Update: There appears to be some interest on the part of some teams in the American League in acquiring Andre Ethier. According to Ken Rosenthal at Fox,

the talks about Ethier originated from inquiries by two American League clubs, and that the Dodgers are not actively pursuing a deal.

The official adds that the renewed interest in Ethier stems from the shrinking pool of available hitters on both the free-agent and trade markets

The Dodgers have “zero intention” of trading Ethier, the official said, but will listen to offers. The discussions, to this point, have failed to progress.

Huh. Can’t see it, not after extending his contract for five years earlier this year.

Update: Elymania is no more. The young (26) pitcher has been traded to the Astros for left-handed Minor League pitcher Rob Rasmussen.

Rasmussen, 23, a native of Arcadia, Calif., and a former standout at UCLA, was the Marlins’ second-round pick in 2010. The Astros acquired him on July 4, 2012, as part of the deal that sent Carlos Lee to Miami. Rasmussen went 4-4 with a 4.80 ERA in 11 games, including 10 starts, at Double-A Corpus Christi in 2012, and is 20-21 with a 3.88 ERA in 60 career games, including 53 starts.

It could be called a case of the Dodgers finally getting their man. Los Angeles selected Rasmussen out of Polytechnic High School in Pasadena, Calif., in the 27th round of the 2007 Draft, but he opted to go to UCLA.

Nov 22

Happy Thanksgiving, Dodgers fans!

I hope you’re all enjoying your turkey/ham/prime rib dinner and giving appropriate thanks for the blessings of the year just past, not least of which was the sale of our favorite team to owners far more committed to winning championships than the previous group was.

Update: Here’s MSTI on the prospective TV deal Fox may be about to offer the Dodgers. Suffice to say (and you should read the whole thing) it could pay off the purchase price of the team several times over. Here’s Mike:

In six months, the Guggenheim group would have turned a $2.15 billion investment into a cash cow which pays three times that over the next twenty years – without selling a single ticket, parking spot, beer, or replica jersey.

That is startling, at least to me. We all knew the potential for that deal was big, given the size of the Southern California market and its value to a TV network, but still. “Between $6 billion and $7 billion over 25 years?” Wowsers.

Update: The Dodgers announced several front office personnel moves, mostly promotions from within. Here’s the paragraph that struck me, though:

Josh Bard, previously announced as a new special assistant for player development, joins Aaron Sele, Jose Vizcaino and Juan Castro in that role.

Do you supppose that position is now the entry-level front office position for newly-retired major leaguers who earned reputations as good guys during long careers?

Nov 10

Open thread #1

Update:Kuroda resigns with Yankees.

Update: R.A. Dickey wins NL Cy Young Award, Kershaw finishes second, 113 points back.

Let’s start a new thread for personnel speculation and anything else which gets our attention.

From the comments in the last thread we learn that the Dodgers have spoken to Torii Hunter about a two-year deal, or so says Mark Saxon at ESPN LA, citing an unnamed source.

Well, maybe. I can’t see a need for him. The Dodgers have Ethier in right, Kemp in center, and Crawford in left, with Hairston and possibly Tony Gwynn as backups. Why would they need a relatively expensive 37-year old, even one who just had an excellent year?

Saxon also reports that the Dodgers have paid $25.7M for the right to offer a contract to a 25-year-old Korean pitcher named Ryu Hyun-jin.

Who? Well . . .

Ryu was 98-52 with a 2.80 career ERA during seven seasons in South Korea. He pitched for his country on teams that won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and reached the championship game of the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

The $25.7 million fee will be paid to the Eagles only if Ryu signs with the major league team.

The Dodgers have 30 days to get a deal done with the young man and his agent, who happens to be Scott Boras.

Oct 30

Nice catch

Via Jon W. on Facebook, we learn that AJ Ellis’s wife gave birth to their third child on the way to the hospital.

Yikes.

Update: The Dodgers signed Brandon League to a three-year deal. Even though League can both close and come in in the seventh or eighth, I’m not sure a three-year contract is a great idea.

Update: The Dodgers’ clubhouse in the bowels of Dodger Stadium undergoes major renovations starting next week, and Lasorda, Yeager, Cey and Lou Johnson reminisced about it before its rehab.

Update: In slightly older news, the Dodgers declined club options on Juan Rivera, Todd Coffey and Matt Treanor. I wonder if that means they plan to bring FedEx up as a backup catcher next year, or perhaps even to have him compete with AJ for the starting job.

Update: Via Roberto at Vin Scully is My Homeboy comes this rather startling news: Mark McGwire may take the hitting coach job with the Dodgers.

Mark McGwire, who has served as Cardinals hitting coach for three seasons under two managers, has informed the club that he intends to accept a similar position with the Los Angeles Dodgers, sources familiar with the situation told the Post-Dispatch this afternoon.

Though a deal between the Dodgers and McGwire is not considered final, McGwire has told the Cardinals that he does not anticipate accepting their offer of a contract extension.

Apparently McGwire’s family lives in Orange County and he’d prefer to work closer to home. He’s been on the Cardinals’ staff for three years; the conventional wisdom seems to be that he’s done a good job while there.

Update: Oh fer . . . now Guerra has had arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder ” to clean up bursitis and the acromioclavicular joint, where the top of the scapula meets the collarbone.” The team expects him to be “competitive” by the time Spring Training rolls around.

Update: Jay Jaffe suggests free agent David Ross is the Practically Perfect Backup Catcher. If the Dodgers conclude that FedEx needs another year of seasoning in the minors, maybe Ross would be a sensible acquisition.