Comes to Terms With Kemp, Billingsley

The Dodgers have signed center fielder Matt Kemp to a two-year contract for $10.95 million, pending his passing a physical. They also reached agreement with Chad Billingsley on a one-year contract for $3.85 million. Both players are represented by former Dodgers pitcher Dave Stewart.

Kemp, who will be 25 in 2010, won both a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award last season. He was the first arbitration-eligible Dodger to receive a multiyear contract since 2005. 

The agreements leave the Dodgers with six players eligible for salary arbitration -- Jonathan Broxton, Andre Ethier, Hong-Chih Kuo, James Loney, Russell Martin and George Sherrill. The club has talked about two-year contracts with Broxton, Ethier and Loney.

Kemp recorded career highs in homers (26), RBIs (101), runs scored (97), walks (52) and games played (159). He was third in the league with 34 steals and became the first Dodger in franchise history with at least 25 homers, 100 RBIs and 30 steals in the same season.

He hit .297 on the season, and his .362 average against left-handed pitching ranked sixth in the league. His 10 RBIs in extra innings was the most in the National League since Tim Wallach had 11 for Montreal in 1982.

Billingsley, also 25 in 2010, earned $475,000 last year. He suffered a broken tibia slipping on ice last winter but got off to a great 9-4 start with a 3.38 ERA over the first half of 2009 and was selected to the National League All-Star team.  

However in the second half he was 3-7, 5.20), going winless over his final seven starts (0-5, 5.08), partially because he received only six runs of support in those games. Billingsley, who twice encountered hamstring tightness, said late in the season that his struggles in the second half were the result of a mechanical flaw in his delivery.

He finished the regular season 12-11 with a 4.03 ERA, leading the team in victories and throwing 196.1 innings, second only to Randy Wolf. He was dropped from the rotation in the postseason, making only one appearance against Philadelphia in the National League Championship Series, allowing two runs in 3.1 innings.

The Dodgers rarely sign young players to multiyear deals, preferring to have a player prove his value each season until he reaches six years' service time.

The Dodgers have given multiyear deals to young players three times in the past decade -- Paul Lo Duca in 2002, Eric Gagné in 2005 and Cesar Izturis in 2005 -- all before general manager Ned Colletti took over. Lo Duca was traded before the contract was up, and Gagné and Izturis sustained serious injuries.

McCourt: Divorce won't affect Dodgers
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt was interviewed on the team's official Web site, the first interview he has granted since news broke three months ago of his on-going divorce.

  McCort said again said that his divorce was having no effect on the team's finances, that he remained committed to putting a winning team on the field and that he was certain he would emerge as the Dodgers' sole owner even though his wife is claiming an ownership stake in the club, an issue that is expected to be decided in a May 24 court hearing.

Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame Taps Demeter
Former Dodgers outfielder Don Demeter was inducted into the 2010 Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame class.

Don Demeter

Demeter signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1953, reached the Dodgers by 1956 and was in the big leagues to stay by 1958.

In 11 major league seasons, Demeter hit 163 home runs, including four straight years of at least 20. He hit 34 for the Dodgers from 1956-1961, including 18 in 1959 and three in one game.

With the Phillies in 1962 and 1963, Demeter received MVP votes; in '62, he hit 29 home runs and was seventh in the National League with 107 runs batted in. Demeter was traded to Detroit before the 1964 season, then traded at mid-season 1966 to Boston and at mid-season 1967 to Cleveland. Then with two young boys at home, he decided enough moving. Time to be a dad.

Don Demeter, now a Baptist minister, is a hero and mentor to many. He, too, left baseball because of his family. Almost 30 years after Don retired from the major leagues, his son remembered the words his dad used to explain the reason. "He saw two boys who needed a father," his son said.

When they build a Father's Hall of Fame, Demeter will be a first ballot inductee. For now, the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame will have to do.

Winter Development Program
The Winter Development Program is an intensive, ten-day program that helps prepare minor league players for the Major Leagues both on and off the field. It will run through Wednesday, January 20. Throughout the week, Dodger prospects will participate in workouts, community visits and informational seminars and will also visit different areas of Los Angeles.

The intensive ten-day program include workouts with coaches and major league players, seminars and visits from Dodger legends.

Chris at was one of the media in attendance and participants included pitchers Chris Withrow, Josh Lindblom, Javy Guerra, Kenley Jansen, Aaron Miller, Ethan Martin, Matt Wallach, Armando Zerpa, Carlos Monasterios, John Ely and John Link. 

Position players included catcher A.J. Ellis and Jesse Mier; infielders Russell Mitchell and Dee Gordon, as well as outfielders Andrew Lambo, Trayvon Robinson and Kyle Russell. Also working out were Major Leaguers Ramon Troncoso and Blake DeWitt.

Following the workout, he had a chance to catch up with a few of the team's top prospects, including shortstop Dee Gordon, pitcher Jon Link, converted pitcher Kenley Jansen and pitcher Ethan Martin.

Next week, program participants will take place in the Kingdom Day Parade in South Los Angeles on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, January 18. The parade kicks off at 10:30 a.m. at Western Ave. and Martin Luther King Blvd.  

Numerous "graduates" of the Winter Development Program have made it to the Major Leagues over the past few seasons, including Blake DeWitt, Clayton Kershaw, James McDonald and Ramon Troncoso.

Still Angry After All This Time
According to the New York Post, a baseball fan threatened to kill a stranger who was wearing a Los Angeles Dodger's hat in a Brooklyn diner recently. 38-year-old suspect Marcos Esteban — who was born 14 years after the Dodger's abandoned Brooklyn — menaced the Los Angeles fan with a boxcutter for wearing the wrong ballcap to the eatery, which is near the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Skillman Street.

The altercation occurred at around 12:30 am and when the LA fan told the suspect he would call 911, the perp vowed to kill him, according to the tabloid. That's when the man in the Dodger's hat fled from the eatery and called cops. Police arrived and arrested Esteban. He has been charged with menacing, harassment, and criminal possession of a weapon, and is being held in lieu of $750 bail.