Finally the Dodgers Rotation is Complete

For about the same money, the Dodgers will replace Hiroki Kuroda in their starting rotation with Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang. Harang will be paid $12 million over two years, while Capuano will receive $10 million over two years. Last year, Kuroda was paid $12 million (with $4 million deferred) for one year.

The "quantity over quality" moves give the Dodgers five proven starters entering spring training. It also allows 21-year-old rookie Nathan Eovaldi to begin the season as a long reliever and move into the rotation when the first inevitable injury occurs.

General manager Ned Colletti doesn't have a lot of money to spend this winter, and his moves aren't exciting to Dodgers fans, especially when the Angels are signing Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson on the same day. But he's providing much needed depth to the starting rotation.

A week earlier, the Dodgers had Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly in the rotation -- and then a lot of uncertainty.

There was Eovaldi, but he has six major league starts on his resume. There was journeyman Dana Eveland (traded the same day Harang was signed), the recently outrighted John Ely, and some other young arms that probably won't be ready by Opening Day.

Now, with Capuano and Harang signed, the Dodgers have five starters who combined for 971 innings last year.

From 2007 to 2010, the Dodgers went into spring training with four known starters, and a question mark in the fifth spot. The strategy of piecing together a fifth starter never worked any of those years.

Last year, the Dodgers entered the spring with six starters after signing Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla to accompany Kershaw, Billingsley, Lilly and Kuroda.

Injuries to Padilla and Garland blew up those plans, but the depth in the minor leagues of Rubby De La Rosa and Eovaldi ended up stabilizing the rotation. Still, neither of those pitchers was ready when the season began.

Likewise, the Dodgers like the futures of Eovaldi and Allen Webster going into 2012. But now they won't have to be rushed to the majors immediately. Also, De La Rosa will return from "Tommy John" surgery sometime in August.

Gwynn Signed to Two-Year Contract
The Dodgers signed outfielder Tony Gwynn, Jr. to a two-year contract. The versatile outfielder appeared in a career-high 136 games at all three outfield positions with the Dodgers last year in his first season with the club and posted a .907 zone rating, which tied for second among qualifying National League outfielders.

The 29-year-old ranked among the league leaders with a .993 fielding percentage, tying for ninth among NL outfielders with just one error in 677.0 innings, and tied for 15th on the circuit with eight outfield assists. Gwynn averaged 0.11 assists per 9.0 innings, which led National League outfielders.

At the plate, Gwynn batted .256 and posted career-best marks with 12 doubles, 22 stolen bases and 22 RBI. He also tied with Jamey Carroll for the team lead with a career high-tying six triples. The left-handed hitter batted .333 (8-for-24) in 27 appearances as a pinch-hitter, tying for the seventh-highest mark in the Majors, and has a .288 career batting average in that role.

Gwynn delivered in pressure situations for the Dodgers throughout the season, hitting a walk-off single to beat the Angels on June 26 and batting .286 (18-for-63) in close and late situations. He also preserved a pair of Dodger victories with ninth-inning diving catches in the field, doing so with two outs and the bases loaded on April 29 in a 3-2 win against the Padres and again on June 11 with the bases full to save an 11-7 win at Colorado.

Gwynn was originally selected by Milwaukee in the second round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft and traded to San Diego in exchange for outfielder Jody Gerut during the 2009 season. He attended San Diego State University, where he played for his father and Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, and graduated from Poway (CA) High School. His uncle, Chris, was the Dodgers' first-round selection in the 1985 draft and played parts of seven seasons in Los Angeles (1987-91 and 1994-95).  

If Milwaukee's Ryan Braun did, indeed, test positive for performance-enhancing drugs, it is the second time that the Dodgers have seen a Most Valuable Player Award disappear in a syringe. Adrian Beltré lost an MVP trophy to Barry Bonds in 2004. So both Beltré and Matt Kemp should receive some kind of award for their accomplishments in the non-steroid division.

--UT Jerry Hairston Jr. was pursued by the Dodgers many times over the last couple of years, via trades or free agency. Now he's a Dodger after signing a two-year contract that will pay him $2.25 million in 2012 and $3.75 million in 2013. The 35-year-old Hairston played five positions last year: second base, third base, shortstop, left field and center field. The Dodgers crave that versatility for their reserves.

--RHP Aaron Harang, after struggling in Cincinnati's hitter-friendly ballpark, resurrected his career by signing a one-year contract for the Padres and benefited from pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Now he's headed to another pitchers' park at Dodger Stadium. His overall 3.64 ERA broke down to 3.05 at Petco and 4.70 on the road. Harang pitched six scoreless innings in his only start at Dodger Stadium.

--LHP Chris Capuano, signed to join the Dodger rotation, threw 186 innings last year in 33 games (31 starts) for the Mets, compiling a 4.55 ERA. Capuano missed the entire 2008 and 2009 season because of Tommy John surgery. Most encouraging, Capuano's 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings last year was the highest total of his career since 8.2 in 2004. His contract breaks down to $3 million in 2012, $6 million in 2013, and a $1 million buyout against an $8 million mutual option for 2014.

-- The Dodgers are rumored to be interested in New York Mets' first baseman Daniel Murphy. An inside source has speculated that the Dodgers management is all set to make another run at Murphy despite being rejected by the Mets' organization at the annual Major League Baseball Winter Meeting last week. He has batted .320 along with six home-runs, 49 total RBIs and .362 on base percentage in 2011.

--OF Manny Ramirez might be interested in a comeback, but it won't be with the Dodgers. Team executives expressed no interest in signing the outfielder twice suspended for performance-enhancing drugs.

--The Dodgers signed 15 free agents with invitations to Major League Spring Training camp on Tuesday, including former Major League outfielder Cory Sullivan, left-handed relievers Wil Ledezma and Alberto Castillo and catcher Josh Bard. Sullivan, 32, played parts of six seasons with the Rockies, Mets and Astros. He hit .294 in his rookie season of 2005 but went backward from there and was released out of the Phillies' Triple-A club last May. Ledezma, 30, is the most accomplished of the pitching group and would seem to have a chance of making the 40-man roster as a situational lefty, especially if Hong-Chih Kuo does not return. Ledezma also spent most of 2011 in the Minor Leagues, with 11 games for Toronto. Castillo is a 35-year-old left-hander from Cuba who had a 2.31 ERA in 17 games in 2011 for the D-backs. He missed August with shoulder tendinitis. Bard, 33, has played with five teams and hit .210 in 26 games for Seattle in 2011, when he spent most of the season at Triple-A. The others are right-handed pitchers Angel Guzman, Fernando Nieve, Jose Ascanio, Ryan Tucker and Will Savage; left-handed pitchers Matt Chico and Scott Rice; infielders Jeff Baisley, Lance Zawadzki and Luis Cruz. --Rafael Furcal and the Cardinals agreed to a two-year deal worth about $14 million.

--OF Jamie Hoffmann, who has made brief cameos each of the last three years in the majors, was claimed off waivers by the Rockies. He was briefly lost in the Rule 5 draft last offseason when the Yankees drafted him, but he returned to the Dodgers. This time, he's gone for good. --Octavio Dotel, who pitched briefly and ineffectively for the Dodgers, has signed on with Detroit, setting a record for most major-league teams, with 13. --LHP Clayton Kershaw will return to Africa on Dec. 29 and stay for 11 days, along with the Arise Africa organization. Kershaw's participation and publicity easily allowed the organization to surpass its goal of $112,932 raised. The money will build a new home for orphans in Africa. --Logan White, the assistant general manager in charge of amateur scouting, interviewed for the Houston Astros vacant GM job. White has previously interviewed for the GM job with the Arizona Diamondbacks last year and the Astros job in 2007, when Ed Wade got the job.

Labor Law Contract Changes
Baseball's new labor contract includes more video replay, the chance for a longer All-Star break and a chance to get a private room instead of a roommate during spring training.

The Associated Press obtained the document that includes several changes, many starting next year. Among them:

• Allowing teams from the same division to meet in the playoffs before the league championship series.

• A ban on players getting tattoos with corporate logos.

• The possibility of players wearing microphones during games.

Also part of the deal: Any big leaguer who wants to change uniform numbers without switching teams better give eight months' notice unless he's willing to buy warehouses full of his overstocked jerseys.

MLB wants to expand replay to include fair-or-foul calls, "whether a fly ball or line drive was trapped" and fan interference all around the ballpark. Umpires still must give their approval and it's uncertain whether the extra replay will be in place by opening day.

The All-Star break will be expanded to four days, rather than the traditional three-day gap.

All players on 40-man rosters are assured of single rooms during spring training. They've had that perk during the regular season since 1997.

The deal also bans players and team officials from asking official scorers to reconsider decisions -- clubs must instead send video to MLB to appeal calls -- and increases punishments for slow-moving hitters and pitchers, raising pace-of-game fines up to $10,000 each for the sixth violation and beyond.

Provisions regarding players' conduct include:

• A ban on players betting with illegal bookies on any sport.

• New language allowing the commissioner to discipline players for violating federal, state or local law or for conduct "materially detrimental or materially prejudicial to the best interests of baseball."

• Possible suspensions for intentionally throwing a ball or equipment at non-uniformed personnel with the intention of causing bodily harm; for assaulting fans, media or umpires; or for making public statements that question the integrity of the game, the umpires, the commissioner or the commissioner's staff.

The agreement calls for nicknames written on equipment to "not reasonably likely to offend fans, business partners, players and others associated with the game."

Eliminating a practice of some teams, there is a prohibition on "taxi squads" -- calling up players from the minors and not activating them. Also, teams may only invite players to offseason minicamps if they are not yet eligible for salary arbitration.

The deal includes a new schedule format starting in 2013, when Houston moves into the American League West and there will be six five-team divisions, with no more than 20 interleague games per team. Teams will play 17 or 18 times against division opponents, with the exact format still to be worked out.

BY THE NUMBERS: 3 -- "Freeway Series" games against the Angels before the start of the 2012 regular season. It's a return to the traditional Freeway Series that used to kick off every season. Over the last decade, the teams have played once or twice in their home ballparks. As announced this week, the Dodgers and Angels will play in Anaheim on April 2, then at Dodger Stadium on April 3 and 4.

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