Podsednick Says 'No' - Gibbons Says 'Yes'

Rejected by one potential backup outfielder from last year's team, the Dodgers quickly signed another who is thrilled to be playing baseball after the other 29 teams kept rejecting him. Scott Podsednik declined his portion of a $2 million mutual option for 2011, thereby becoming a free agent, after the Dodgers decided to pick up the option.

Less than an hour after announcing the Podsednik move, the Dodgers signed outfielder Jay Gibbons to a one-year contract for $400,000 plus incentives. Gibbons resurrected his career this year after being out of the majors for two years. He had an impressive 4 1/2 months in the minors and 1 1/2 months in the majors.

The 33-year-old returns to Los Angeles, where he batted .280 with five home runs and 17 RBI in 37 games following his August 8 promotion from Triple-A Albuquerque. Gibbons batted .360 (9-for-25) in his first month with the club and ranked among the team leaders in home runs (T-3rd), RBI (5th) and slugging percentage (.507, 2nd) during his time with the Dodgers. He appeared in 19 games in the field, including 13 starts in left field and two starts at first base.  

Gibbons originally signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers on December 22, 2009 and was assigned to Triple-A Albuquerque to begin the 2010 season. In 95 games with the Isotopes, he earned Pacific Coast League All-Star Team honors and ranked among the league leaders in batting average (.347, 3rd), RBI (83, 5th), slugging percentage (.594, 5th) and home runs (19, T-9th) at the time of his promotion.  

The eight-year Major League veteran began his career as a 14th-round selection of the Blue Jays in the 1998 First-Year Player Draft and made his Major League debut on April 6, 2001 with the Orioles after the club selected him in the Rule 5 Draft. Gibbons batted .260 with 121 home runs and 405 RBI in 779 games during his seven seasons in Baltimore and was named Most Valuable Oriole in 2003, when he led the club with 80 runs, 173 hits and 39 doubles and 100 RBI in 160 games.  

Gibbons played college baseball at California State University, Los Angeles from 1996-98 after graduating from Mayfair High School in Lakewood. He resides in Westlake Village with his wife Laura and their three children; Gavin, Grayer and Giada.

The roster moves were good news for most Dodgers fans. They never warmed to Podsednik after his trade from the Royals in late July, while they embraced Gibbons for his power and underdog story.

Gibbons' exile from baseball resulted from the combination of getting named in the Mitchell Report and coming off a poor, injury-filled year. He played in the independent Atlantic Leagues in 2009 and then winter ball to earn a minor league job from the Dodgers.

He tore up the Class AAA Pacific Coast League but didn't get called up to the majors until mid-August, when manager Joe Torre finally agreed to release unproductive Garret Anderson.

In the last six weeks, Gibbons hit .280/.313/.507 with five home runs and 17 RBI.

Gibbons potentially could be the starter in left field, but with the offseason just under way, there's way too much time to forecast that. The Dodgers could look for a proven major-leaguer at that position, or they could try to mix and match with Gibbons, Xavier Paul, Trent Oeltjen and Russ Mitchell until top power prospect Jerry Sands is ready for the majors.

Podsednik, 34, hit .262 with a home run and seven RBI in 39 games after getting acquired for catcher Lucas May and pitcher Jesus Pimentel. Overall, he batted .297 with 35 steals, 63 runs and 51 RBI. He missed the last three weeks of the season with plantar fasciitis of his left foot, which did not require surgery.

Obviously, the Dodgers weren't worried about the injury, and neither was Podsednik since he became a free agent. Podsednik still wants to be an everyday player, and he knew that wasn't guaranteed with the Dodgers, who need more power from left field because they get so little power from their infielders.

NOTES, QUOTES
--INF Dee Gordon was off to a torrid start in winter ball. The son of former pitcher Tom "Flash" Gordon went 18-for-38 (.474) with two doubles and a triple to begin his time with the Gigantes de Carolina in Puerto Rico. Since Gordon finished last year at Class AA (and skipped high Class A ball), he's probably a year away from the majors.

--OF Trayvon Robinson, 23, is still a year away from the majors, but the late bloomer continues to impress the organization. Playing for new manager Don Mattingly in the Arizona Fall League, Robinson's slash line was .263/.400/.368 after 16 games. Robinson is working on taking more pitches, evidenced by 17 strikeouts and 12 walks in 69 plate appearances.

--INF Ivan De Jesus Jr. put up a slash line of .302/.388/.442 through 11 games in the Arizona Fall League for the Phoenix Desert Dogs. De Jesus was once a shortstop, but he has been mostly a second baseman after a gruesome leg injury in spring training 2009 cost him the whole year. He should compete for an infield job with the Dodgers next spring.

--John Moses, who was the hitting coach at Class AAA Albuquerque, will not return to the organization. Moses said he was told the Dodgers weren't happy with the development of OF Xavier Paul, especially on defense, as part of the reason they let him go.

--RHP Ronald Belisario, RHP Carlos Monasterios and RHP Ramon Troncoso are three relievers from last year's team who are playing winter ball. Troncoso is in his native Dominican Republic, while the other two are in Venezuela.

BY THE NUMBERS: 83-- Career base-stealing percentage of Davey Lopes during his playing days. Late in his career, Lopes helped a young Rickey Henderson with the A's. Lopes was instrumental in helping the Phillies become an efficient and smart team at stealing bases and running the bases. The Dodgers will try bringing the local legend back to Los Angeles as a coach.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think it would be a good situation for the Dodgers and myself. I would love to finish where I started." -- Davey Lopes, to the Los Angeles Times, about returning to his original organization as a coach.

ROSTER REPORT
The Dodgers need a starting outfielder, three starting pitchers and a catcher for sure. The days of throwing money at the best free agents appear to be over. There's very little help at the upper levels of the minor leagues ready to contribute. As a result, GM Ned Colletti will need to be very creative. In order to fill the open roster spots, he might have to make trades that create other holes.

BIGGEST NEEDS: The Dodgers could use a right-handed power bat in the middle of the order, preferably in left field. That's what Manny Ramirez was supposed to be. But those hitters are rare and expensive, which makes it unlikely they will find one. Even so, all the runs won't matter if there's no pitching. Three-fifths of the rotation consists of free agents, so that area needs to be addressed. The bullpen needs an overhaul. Catcher, first base and third base need more production.

FREE AGENTS:
RHP Hiroki Kuroda, RHP Vicente Padilla, RHP Jeff Weaver, C Rod Barajas, C Brad Ausmus, OF Reed Johnson, OF Scott Podsednik.

Ausmus will retire. Johnson is unlikely to return. Barajas would be cheap to bring back and is a solid role player. Podsednik declined an option year, as he will seek an everyday job elsewhere. Weaver wants to play one more season, and while he was more injury-prone and inconsistent this year, he's a cheap bullpen arm. The real questions are Kuroda and Padilla. Both had good years and are needed, but they could make more money elsewhere.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE:
1B James Loney, 2B Ryan Theriot, C Russell Martin, RHP Chad Billingsley, LHP George Sherrill, LHP Hong-Chih Kuo.

Sherrill is a likely non-tender, based on a terrible year and the $4.5 million he made last year. Martin is a possible non-tender, based on a hip injury, a bad year and the $5.05 million he made. Theriot has a slight chance of getting non-tendered.

IN LIMBO: RHP Jonathan Broxton, 3B Casey Blake, 1B James Loney, RHP Ronald Belisario.

New manager Don Mattingly said he would go into spring training with Broxton his closer, despite Broxton's terrible final three months. Broxton's salary jumps to $7 million in 2011, and a chance of scenery could do him well, but the Dodgers would have trouble getting value for him. Loney is always in limbo because he doesn't hit for the power needed (10 home runs last year) at first base. Blake looked his age (36) in 2010, and all signs point to him transitioning to a platoon or reserve role.

Belisario wasn't as effective in 2010 and twice was on the restricted list (the second time reportedly for substance abuse).

MEDICAL WATCH:
--C Russell Martin (right hip labral tear) won't need surgery, but the timetable for the rehab was uncertain. As of late October, he was healing fine, but it will be months before it's known if he can squat or handle the physical demands of catching.

--1B John Lindsey (broken left hand) will need surgery to insert a pin. He probably won't be able to play winter ball, but he should be ready for spring training.

--OF Scott Podsednik (plantar fasciitis in left foot) should be healed in time for spring training.

--RHP Travis Schlichting (right shoulder pain) should be ready in time for spring training.

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