Dodgers Key Players Are Signed for 2010

For the second consecutive season, the Dodgers couldn't hit, they couldn't pitch and they couldn't survive the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Season. The Dodgers can still head into the offseason with confidence. The Dodgers might have 15 free agents this winter, but every key player is locked into a contract for 2010.

Their biggest area of need will be at second base, where Orlando Hudson's one-year contract expired and his late-season replacement, Ronnie Belliard, also is a free agent. Setup man George Sherrill will be on the market as well.

Manny Ramirez can also opt out of his $20 million option for next season, but he would be hard-pressed to pull in more on the open market, even if it was for multiple years.

Ramirez was hardly a factor in the NLCS. He batted .263 with two RBIs and the only home run he hit came in Game 1 immediately after teammate Jim Thome took him into the indoor batting cage for some advice one inning before he went deep.

Pitching -- both starting and in relief -- was a strength for the Dodgers during the regular season, but the Phillies hit 10 home runs in the series and scored 35 runs. Closer Jonathan Broxton must now show he can recover after falling apart in Game 4 of each series the last two years.

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has fired his estranged wife Jamie from her position as the team's chief executive, triggering what her attorney said would be an imminent legal response. "Jamie is disappointed and saddened by her termination," attorney Dennis Wasser said this afternoon. "As co-owner of the Dodgers, she will address this and all other issues in the courtroom."

It is not clear whether Frank McCourt waited to act until the Dodgers had concluded their season. The Dodgers were eliminated from the National League Championship Series. The Dodgers announced last week that the couple had separated, setting the stage for a vigorous legal battle over control of the team.

Frank McCourt has pressed ahead with the business of the team, including Wednesday's announcement of a long-term contract extension for General Manager Ned Colletti.

Jamie McCourt is believed to be lining up investors for a possible effort to buy out her husband and gain sole control of the team. In addition, she is believed to have started calling prominent baseball figures, with the intention of arranging meetings to discuss the direction of the team.

Marshall Grossman, the attorney for Frank McCourt, would not confirm the firing. "The Dodgers' policy is not to comment on any personnel issues," Grossman said.

--LF Manny Ramirez came nowhere close to matching his NLCS production from a season ago. Ramirez batted .533 (8-for-15) in last year's NLCS, but batted just .263 (5-for-19) this time around. He posted a .294 batting average (10-for-34) in eight postseason games this year, which sounds fine until compared to his .520 average (13-for-25) last year.

--SS Rafael Furcal hurt the Dodgers with his inability to produce out of the leadoff spot in the NLCS. Furcal batted .143 (3-for-21) in five NLCS games, didn't score a run, and failed to build on a strong close to the regular season. After Sept. 1, Furcal batted .330 (37-for-112) heading into the playoffs.

--General manager Ned Colletti has been given a "long-term" contract extension, the Dodgers announced Oct. 20. Team officials refused to divulge how many years are included.

-- The combined ERA of the four Dodgers starting pitchers that went to the mound in the five games of the NLCS. Void of a true staff ace, none of the four Dodgers starters gave up less than four earned runs. Two starters -- Hiroki Kuroda and Vicente Padilla -- gave up six earned runs in a single start. Their commitment to shore up their rotation means they could be serious bidders for free agents such as John Lackey or Rich Harden.

The Dodgers' strengths in the regular season became exposed as glaring weaknesses in the NL Championship Series. The starting rotation yielded a 12.59 ERA. including a 9.45 ERA by ace Clayton Kershaw. Three times their starters failed to pitch into the sixth inning, yielding a 12.59 ERA.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre, after the Dodgers were eliminated by the Philadelphia Phillies for the second consecutive season in Game 5 of the NLCS: "There's a lot going on in that clubhouse. There's a lot going on in their stomachs, which is good. They care a great deal. I don't think the Phillies wanted it more than us, it was just that they were able to do it."

"We'll start with Kershaw and Billngsley. ,"We've got some real good pitchers here, but we've got to get better at it. I think our bullpen is fine. But we're going to have to improve the starting pitching. At the same time, when you watch Philadelphia play, you watch how they approach every at-bat, they're not giving much away. They're not giving many pitches away. They're not giving many opportunities away. We've still got to get to that level. We're gaining on it, but we're not going to the World Series, so we're not there yet." Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said of the rotation.

"So describes the journey of the 2009 Dodgers, which ended Wednesday in a recognizably battered heap in the darkest part of a familiar dead end. Again, it was the Philadelphia Phillies dancing on the grass. Again, it was the Dodgers staring from the dugout. Again, it was three wins and three light years short of a World Series. 'The playoffs are a whole different animal,' said Ryan Howard, the Phillies series MVP. 'You've got to step your game up.' Given this lineup and payroll, two years of learning should have been enough. For the Dodgers to fulfill that promise, the first bit of education must occur in the front office, which needs to realize something that everyone from here to Nicaragua now understands. They need an ace, or they will continue to be NLCS jokers. The fact that they had to start castoff Vicente Padilla in Wednesday's critical game makes one sort of statement. The fact that Padilla was a complete wreck, giving up six runs in three innings, just confirms that statement. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times.

--3B Casey Blake was nothing more than an automatic out for the Dodgers this postseason. Blake batted .105 (2-for-19) in the NLCS with no extra-base hits. He also batted .167 (5-for-30) in eight games of the playoffs, scoring just one run while driving in just two.

--RHP Vicente Padilla gave up more runs in three innings of Game 5 on Wednesday than he did in his last four outings combined. In two prior starts in the playoffs, Padilla gave up just one run in 14.1 innings. He gave up four to the Phillies on Wednesday, including a three-run home run in the first inning to Jayson Werth after pitching around Ryan Howard.

--RF Andre Ethier snapped an 0-for-10 stretch in the NLCS when he hit a home run in the first inning Thursday off Cole Hamels. Ethier last had a hit in the eighth inning of Game 1. He was 9-for-17 in his first four games of the playoffs, but just 2-for-18 over his last four.

--2B Orlando Hudson, who was replaced in the post-season, say he would not return.

RHP Hiroki Kuroda (neck stiffness) was scratched from his Oct. 3 start, and he was left off the NL Division Series roster. He started Game 3 of the NL Championship Series.

RHP Jason Schmidt (strained right shoulder) went on the 15-disabled list retroactive to Aug. 6, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 27.

OF Xavier Paul (staph infection) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 21, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 27. His recovery was slowed in July by a microfracture in his left ankle.

LHP Eric Milton (lower back strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 28, and he was transferred to the 60-day disabled list July 20. He had surgery July 14, and missed the remainder of the season.

LHP Will Ohman (sore left shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list May 29, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 30. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Inland Empire on June 16, but he was shut down June 24 due to an ailing elbow. He had season-ending shoulder surgery Sept. 29 and will not be re-signed.

LHP Travis Schlichting (back) was recalled from the minors and placed on the 60-day disabled list Sept. 1.

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