Outfielder Tony Gwynn, Jr., signed for $675,000, passed his physical and is officially a Dodger. If the young man had a platoon problem last season. Despite being injured last year and batting only .204, he hit .325 off lefties and .185 against right-handers. Obviously that is sort of mixed-up but perhaps the perfect fit for the franchise.
They also re-signed free agent INF Juan Castro to a minor league contract, with an invitation to spring training and signed
GM Ned Colletti may be zeroing in on outfielder Bill Hall after the Red Sox declined his $9.25 million club option after the season. A right-handed batter, he seems to be a better fit than lefty Scott Podsednick who wouldn't fit in so well with Gwynn and Jay Gibbons. Hall, who turns 31 later this month, also is more versatile than Podsednik, a quality that will be hugely important on a 2011 team for which only four positions -- first base, shortstop, center field and right field -- have a clear-cut, everyday starter.
That means if the Dodgers do sign a left fielder or a reliever -- both of which Colletti has said he would like to add this winter, if possible -- someone will have to be pushed aside. The most likely candidate probably is first baseman John Lindsey, the Dodgers' feel-good story of an otherwise feel-bad 2010 season who finally got his first big league callup in September after 15 years in the minors.
From media reports, Russell Martin is being pursued by the Yankees who confirmed the team's interest, adding that the Bombers' GM is extremely high on the two-time All-Star and former National League Rookie of the Year. The Red Sox and Blue Jays are also in the mix, making his Dodger return very unlikely. There are many varying opinions about Martin and his ability. "Can't call a game,'' said one team official. "Love the enthusiasm he brings to the game, and he's not a bad receiver,"Navarro said another. One common theme is that he's a player who didn't get the most out of his athleticism. But at 27, "He still has a chance to be an important player in this game,'' said one of his former Dodger coaches. Despite all of this is it hard to see a team offering more than the $4.2 million with incentives he turned down from the Dodgers.
While on the matter of catching, you wonder how Dioner Never is an upgrade from A.J. Ellis. Navarro batted .194 batting average last year, .218 in 2009, with a sickly .261 on-base percentage. He batted .270 last season. The five offensive players the Dodgers have signed this offseason -- Juan Uribe, Jay Gibbons, Rod Barajas, Gwynn and Navarro combined to hit .233 with a .299 on-base percentage.
Navarro opened his rookie season as the Dodgers' starting catcher, but injured his wrist and quickly lost his job to Martin. Halfway through that season, Navarro was traded with Jae Seo to Tampa Bay for Toby Hall and Mark Hendrickson. Navarro was the starting catcher in Tampa Bay and was an All-Star in 2008 with a career-high .295 average and 54 RBIs, but then the wheels fell off. Tampa Bay didn't put him on the postseason r
Dodger Blue Notes --Coach Manny Mota was instrumental in recruiting Juan Uribe. The longtime Dodgers player and coach visited Uribe in the Dominican Republic and helped sell Uribe on the organization. --Steve Garvey is trying to gather investors to to buy the Dodgers but, of course, they are not for sale at this point. --Former Dodger scout Jerry Stephenson was honored posthumously with the Directors Award at this year's Scout of the Year honors. --Reliever George Sherrill agreed to a one-year, $1.2 million deal with Atlanta with $200,000 in incentives. -- The Dodgers lost three minor leaguers: infielder Jaime Ortiz went to Florida, catcher Fausto (Jesse) Mier went to Texas and right-hander Matthew Sartor went to San Francisco. -Free agent pitchers Wilkin de la Rosa and Abner Diaz were signed to a minor league contract. --Assistant general manager of scouting Logan White announced these changes: Manny Estrada was promoted to international coordinator; Paul Fryer has become global cross-checker; John Green is national cross-checker; Brian Stephenson is West Coast supervisor; and Gary Nichols is East Coast supervisor.
And to close with a non-Dodger item: the Red Sox signed 29-year-old left fielder Carl Crawford to a seven-year, $142 million contract. After nine major league seasons, all with Tampa Bay, he has a .296 batting average, a .337 on-base percentage and a slugging average of .444. He has led the American League seven times, all in the speed department -- three times in triples and four times in stolen bases. He has 104 homes runs (11.5 per year) and 592 runs batted in (66 per season). James Loney has a .288 average, averages 11 home runs a season and 70.6 runs batted in over his five full seasons, yet he has been "traded" by every Dodger blog from Nome to Australia. Go figure.
Tot's Thoughts on 12-13-11
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