Joel Skinner added to list of candidates

Cleveland Indians third base coach Joel Skinner is the newest candidate to become the Dodgers' next manager. The Dodgers received permission from the Indians to contact Skinner and will interview him this week. Skinner is one of four candidates interviewing for the position this week.

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti met with Tampa Bay Devil Rays bench coach John McLaren on Monday and will interview New York Mets third-base coach Manny Acta today.

Dodgers spokesman Josh Rawitch said Tuesday that Little, Acta and Skinner will all be interviewed before Baseball's Winter Meetings begin next Monday in Dallas.

Former Boston Red Sox manager Grady Little is also scheduled to interview with the Dodgers this week. Former Angels, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays manager Jim Fregosi interviewed earlier this month.

Skinner, 44, is the son of former major-league outfielder and manager Bob Skinner. Joel Skinner has been on the Indians coaching staff the past five seasons and served as interim manager in 2002 after the firing of Charlie Manuel.

In six seasons as a minor-league manager, Skinner won Manager of the Year honors at the Class-A, Double-A and Triple-A levels.

Skinner's father, Bob, played in the big leagues for 12 seasons and later managed the Phillies and San Diego Padres.

"It took me by surprise that a team with such tradition as the Dodgers would consider me," Acta told the Associated Press in the Dominican Republic. "I'm going with an open mind as if the job was mine. The Dodgers are equal to baseball, so I feel proud to be considered to be their manager."

Meanwhile, on the player front, reported that the Dodgers would meet Tuesday night with the agent for free-agent shortstop Rafael Furcal. According to the report, Furcal has narrowed down the field of suitors to his original team, Atlanta, the Cubs and the Dodgers.

The Dodgers' Josh Rawitch said he couldn't confirm a report that Colletti was meeting with Furcal's agent Adam Katz on Tuesday night.

Furcal or his representatives have already met with the Braves and Cubs and he is expected to sign before the Winter Meetings begin Sunday in Dallas.

The Dodgers' interest in Furcal appears to be motivated mostly by the need for a leadoff hitter. However, while incumbent shortstop Cesar Izturis is an All-Star and former Gold Glove winner, he also is recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction and is expected to be sidelined until the All-Star break.

Dodgers should win in '06-- Dayn Perry of pointed out the 2005 Dodger model was a rare "harmonic convergence" of injuries and misfortune. This past season, the Dodgers' players made 22 trips to the disabled list.

"While some injuries could perhaps have been anticipated, no one could've guessed the Dodgers would be this banged up. In most of the epitaphs you'll read of the 2005 Dodgers, this fact is overlooked. The injuries the Dodgers suffered last season extend beyond the realm of poor planning and into the territory of blind and unforeseeable bad luck.

"In part, that's why the Dodgers are bound to improve in 2006 — there's simply no way they'll endure as many injuries and lose as many days to the DL. Going into next season, the Dodgers figure to be much healthier and possessed of a solid core.

"There's also the matter of the Dodgers' competition in the laughably underwhelming NL West. As you know, the Padres "won" the division with the worst mark ever for a playoff team. Behind San Diego, the rest of the division finished a cumulative 68 games under .500."

Perry then did a complete 180 and took a whack at the Dodgers' top minor league players. In an article titled, "Dodgers farm system good, not great," he wrote:

The Dodger system right now is long on name value but short on prospects who stand out as "can't miss" types. Consider a few of the bigger names and their native strengths and flaws ...

Chad Billingsley-- Billingsley's the best Dodger pitching prospect. In past seasons, he struggled badly with his control and he needs to prove his improved control is sustainable. He also shows fly-ball tendencies, which could really hurt him next season at hitter-friendly Las Vegas.

Joel Guzman-- Guzman is an outstanding power prospect, but he lacks plate discipline and his defense is such that he'll probably wind up at an outfield corner. He's the best prospect in the system, but he's not without his weaknesses.

Joel Hanrahan-- He's no longer much of a prospect. Hanrahan's battled shoulder problems in the past, and he's coming off a terrible 2005. At Vero Beach and Jacksonville, he showed poor control a in pitcher-friendly circuits. He has much to prove in the upcoming season.

Matt Kemp-- Kemp's coming off a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League, and so far he looks like an impressive power prospect. However, Kemp does need to improve his eye at the plate, and it's never wise to get too fired up about prospects who have yet to play in the high minors.

Andy LaRoche-- LaRoche put on an astounding power display in the Florida State League, but his numbers took a dive after a promotion to Jacksonville. While it's no indictment for a 21-year-old to semi-struggle for a half season in Double-A, it does mean LaRoche will have something to prove in 2006.

James Loney-- Loney's one of the most over-hyped hitting prospects to come along in quite a while. He hasn't flashed significant power since he was in the rookie-level Pioneer League, and he's endured a litany of injuries. Even in the event that Loney stays healthy and puts up monster numbers in 2006, you should still be skeptical of him.

Russell Martin-- Martin's numbers were wildly out of step with those Martin has posted in previous seasons, and he's shown little in the way of raw power. Don't be surprised if he regresses with the bat in 2006.

Greg Miller-- Miller is sort of the pitching version of Loney — jaw-dropping raw ability, vanilla record of performance, injury concerns. Miller has great stuff, but he missed the entire 2004 season with a shoulder injury and suffered a setback in the Arizona Fall League.

Chuck Tiffany-- profiles well with scouts, but he's got control problems, and he gives up too many homers. Considering those weaknesses, it's doubtful he'll fare too well in upper levels of the system.

"Overall, the Dodgers have a solid system, but it's not the top-tier crop of talents it's made out to be in some circles. It's not one that compares favorably to the systems of, say, the Angels, Diamondbacks, Braves or D-Rays. Good, not great — despite what you might be hearing."

Tuck this clipping away in your vest and we'll see how authentic it is in a couple years.