How Do You Spell Relief? Quantity

The quantity of relievers in the Dodgers bullpen is definitely improved. Whether the quality is there remains to be seen. Relief pitchers are the hardest to judge from season to season because their sample size is so small, but the Dodgers have assembled a variety of arms in their 'pen.

Right-hander Matt Guerrier, who has spent his entire seven-year career with the Twins, is the latest addition. Guerrier was set to sign a three-year contract for $12 million.

Guerrier joins Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, Kenley Jansen, Blake Hawksworth, Vicente Padilla, Ronald Belisario and Ramon Troncoco in the bullpen.

That's already one more arm than the seven needed, so it forces Belisario to arrive in training camp on time and forces Troncoso to earn his way back to the majors after a disappointing 2010 season.

Younger pitchers still in the mix for the bullpen include Jon Link, Scott Elbert, Brent Leach and Travis Schlichting. John Ely and Carlos Monasterios, who started and relieved last year, are likely headed back to Triple-A Albuquerque to start.

As for the specific roles, new manager Don Mattingly and general manager Ned Colletti say Broxton will begin the year as the closer. There's no question he'll have a shorter leash, though.

Kuo is first in line to reclaim the role he ended the season with, but he hasn't been ready on Opening Day the last two years and his four-time surgically removed elbow must be monitored closely.

Jansen is a future closer who handled the role, by necessity, a few times last season. Because he has options left, it's conceivable he doesn't make the Opening Day roster. More likely, he'll be in the back end, along with Guerrier.

Padilla and Hawksworth could slide into the rotation, if there's an injury, or pitch in long relief. Padilla is also viewed as a potential closer if needed.

Guerrier, 32, doesn't strikeout many hitters these days (5.5 and 5.3 strikeouts per nine innings the last two years). But he doesn't allow many walks or hits (1.10 WHIP last year, 0.97 in 2009). He has appeared in 73 or more games four straight years, mostly one inning per game, as a seventh- or eighth-inning reliever.

NOTES, QUOTES
--C Russell Martin
, non-tendered by the Dodgers, signed with the Yankees for a slightly lower base salary than what the Dodgers offered. The Dodgers offered $4.2 million, plus $1.1 million based on games started at catcher. The Yankees plan on making Martin their everyday starter, with Jorge Posada becoming the designated hitter. The numbers are a $4 million base and $1.4 million in incentives (if he appears in 120 games behind the plate).

--RHP Matt Guerrier's signing won't cost the Dodgers a second-round draft pick. The Twins declined to offer him arbitration, even though he was a Type-A free agent, because they didn't want to get struck paying a high arbitration number if Guerrier accepted it.

--OF/INF Bill Hall, once a target of the Dodgers to sign and be the primary starter in left field signed elswhere.

--1B John Lindsey is a candidate to get designated for assignment sometime in the next couple of weeks. The Dodgers' 40-man roster is full, and they will need room if they sign another outfielder.

--C Dioner Navarro passed a physical and his signing was officially announced -- a one-year contract for $1 million. Navarro will compete with A.J. Ellis for the backup catching duties behind starter Rod Barajas.

--INF Juan Castro, C JD Closser and INF/OF Eugenio Velez were signed to minor league deals with invites to spring training. All will provide minor league depth. It's Castro's fourth time in the organization. Closser is fourth on the catching depth chart. Velez, the former Giant, provides speed and lots of versatility.

--Radio play-by-play announcer Charlie Steiner was delivered the commencement address at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., on Dec. 18 at the Universityís mid-year commencement. Steiner received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

BY THE NUMBERS: 302 -- Appearances by newly signed reliever Matt Guerrier, over the last four years. The only pitcher with more games pitched in that time is Pedro Feliciano, who is mostly a lefty-on-lefty specialist.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He is a lot more experienced than he was when he was here before. He was an All-Star catcher who was a full-time player when (the Rays) went to the World Series. He is still a young man, his opportunity here is strong, and his ability to stay here for a while is up to him at this point. We had a really good conversation, and I'm pleased we were able to get both him and Barajas." -- General manager Ned Colletti, on the signing of catcher Dioner Navarro.

ROSTER REPORT
The Dodgers' days of throwing money at the best free agents appear to be over, and there's very little help at the upper levels of the minor leagues ready to contribute.

BIGGEST NEEDS: The Dodgers are adding spare parts at this point. The roster is pretty much set.

ARRIVALS: RHP Matt Guerrier (free agent from Twins), INF Juan Uribe (free agent from Giants), RHP Blake Hawksworth (trade with Cardinals), RHP Jon Garland (free agent from Padres), C Dioner Navarro (free agent from Rays), OF Tony Gwynn (free agent from Padres).

DEPARTURES: C Russell Martin (free agent, signed with Yankees), LHP George Sherrill (free agent, signed with Braves), INF Ryan Theriot (traded to Cardinals), C Brad Ausmus (retired).

FREE AGENTS: RHP Jeff Weaver, OF Reed Johnson, OF Scott Podsednik. Johnson is unlikely to return. Podsednik declined an option year and 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.

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 change 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).

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