Offseason news and notes
Every couple of weeks during the offseason (or whenever it’s warranted), we’ll put out a news & notes press release with some updates on the team. We did that today, and it can usually be found at the bottom of the home page under the "official team releases."
It hasn’t been posted yet, so I’ve pasted it at the bottom of this post.
Other things to check regularly throughout the winter are the website for the Arizona Fall League which has several of our top prospects participating in it and currently has a headline featuring Dodger prospect Anthony Raglani and a "Beat the Streak" Fantasy game with Matt Kemp as the ad on the front of the site (he hit in 16 games last year in the AFL).
Also, for any of you who watch The Daily Show on Comedy Central and saw Jon Stewart bounce his first pitch at Shea Stadium on last night’s show, rest assured I’ve offered him the chance to come out to Dodger Stadium and redeem himself next year. We’ll see if he’s able to make it out to the left coast.
I’ll keep posting new stuff as I think of it and hope you’re enjoying the postseason (I’m guessing the person who posted early this season who was a big Jeff Weaver fan is happy these days and on a personal note, I am too, as he was always a good guy for me to deal with).
Also, I have to say that I was surprised to hear Tim McCarver talk about how the Dodger farm system teaches pitchers to throw at a hitter when they square around to squeeze and then point to Guillermo Mota as an example. He repeated it three times, but Mota spent a grand total of 20 games in our minor league system and 112 with the Expos’ organization. Just thought I’d clear that one up. That’s all for now.
SCHOOL’S IN SESSION– Dodger rookie closer Takashi Saito will visit Nishiyamato Gakuen (Nishiyamato Academy) of California in Lomita this Thursday, Oct. 19 from 11 a.m.-Noon. Saito will visit with the school’s K-9 students and faculty. The student body of Nishiyamato Academy is comprised primarily of Japanese citizens who make their home in Los Angeles. The academy is located at 2458 Lomita Blvd. in Lomita. For more information, please contact the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Public Relations Department at (323) 224-1301.
BREAKING IT DOWN– Dodger hurler Brett Tomko will join KTTV/ FOX 11 Sports Anchor Rick Garcia on FOX 11’s “Extra Innings” pre-game show during the World Series to serve as the in-studio analyst. Tomko played an integral role in the Dodgers’ success in 2006, posting an 8-7 record with a 4.73 ERA in 112.1 innings pitched. Tomko will draw on his 10 seasons of Major League experience and two postseason appearances to provide in-depth analysis of this year’s Fall Classic. Fox “Extra Innings,” an MLB wrap-up show, has been airing since 1999.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON– The Mexicali Aguilas of the Mexican Pacific League opened their season on October 10 and among the talented players listed on their roster are Fernando Valenzuela and Fernando Valenzuela Jr. This marks the first time that this father-son duo has played for the same team on a professional stage. Valenzuela, the former Dodger pitcher, rejoins the Aguilas for his third season with Mexicali and 14th season in the Mexican Pacific League. The National League Cy Young Award winner and Rookie of the Year in 1981 enjoyed 17 successful seasons in the Major Leagues including 11 seasons with the Los Angles Dodgers and he currently serves as the Dodgers’ color commentator for Spanish-radio broadcasts. Valenzuela compiled a 173-153 career record with a 3.54 ERA which included 113 complete games, 31 shutouts and two World Championships with Los Angeles. Fernando Jr. spent the 2006 regular season with the Mobile Bay Bears, the Double-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He just completed his fourth season of professional baseball and is participating in his first season of winterball. Through his first five games with Mexicali, Valenzuela Jr. is hitting .333 (6-for-18) with a double and three RBI. His father will don his familiar number 34. To date, Mexicali is tied for second place with a 3-2 record.
TOP OF THE CLASS – The Dodgers had three rookies ranked among Baseball America’s top 20 Rookies for the 2006 season: catcher Russell Martin (10th), closer Takashi Saito (15th) and outfielder Andre Ethier (17th). All three began the season as teammates at Triple-A Las Vegas. Other current Dodgers that were previously tabbed by Baseball America as the Top Rookie of the Year are: Nomar Garciaparra (1997) and Rafael Furcal (2000).
IN RUSS WE TRUST- Baseball America ranked the Dodgers’ rookie backstop, Russell Martin, 10th among the top 20 selections for Rookie of the Year. Martin made an immediate impact following his May 5 call-up as the team went 7-1 in his first eight starts and went on to post a 71-43 record when he started behind the plate. Martin finished the season hitting .282 with 10 home runs. He ranked among rookie leaders in the National League in batting average (.282, 9th), RBI (65, 7th), runs scored (65, 7th), total bases (181, 10th), stolen bases (10, T-5th), walks ( 45,7th), on-base percentage (.355, 8th) and extra-base hits (40, 9th). In 117 games, the Canada native posted a .993 fielding percentage behind the plate, committing only six errors and allowing five passed balls while cutting down 25 of 96 (.207) runners trying to steal against him. In addition, Martin led all NL catchers with 10 stolen bases. He launched himself into history, hitting the third in a quartet of consecutive home runs hit by Dodgers in the bottom of the ninth in what turned into an 11-10 extra-inning win on Sept. 18 against San Diego. Martin was signed in the 17th round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft out of Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Florida.
SLAMMIN’ SAMMY SAITO- Takashi Saito was ranked 15th by Baseball America in its 2006 top 20 Rookie rankings. The 36-year-old right-hander was invited to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee and opened the 2006 season with Triple-A Las Vegas before having his contract purchased on April 7. Saito posted a 6-2 record with a 2.07 ERA and 24 saves, which set a Dodger franchise rookie record surpassing Yhency Brazoban’s 21 saves in 2005. Saito became just the 12th Major League rookie to notch 24 saves since it became an official statistic in 1969. He ranked among National League rookie hurlers in saves (24, 1st), games (72, 2nd) and strikeouts (107, 6th). He led all NL relievers in opponent batting average with a .177 mark (minimum 200 batters faced). Prior to joining the Dodgers, Saito enjoyed a 14-year career with the Yokohama Baystars of the Japanese Central League. The four-time All-Star posted an 87-80 career mark in Japan with a 3.81 ERA.
ANDRE THE GIANT- In his fourth season in professional baseball, Andre Ethier broke into the Majors and was tabbed by Baseball America as the 17th best rookie of the 2006 class. Ethier finished the season hitting .308 with 11 home runs and 55 RBI. His .308 batting average ranked third among all Major League rookies. He also ranked among NL rookie league leaders in multi-hit games (33, 10th), hits (122, 10th), total bases (189, 9th), on-base percentage (.365, 3rd), slugging percentage (.477, 7th), extra-base hits (38, 10th) and outfield assists (8, 1st). His 16-game hitting streak (July 26-Aug. 12) tied him for the second-longest hitting streak among all Major League rookies. Ethier was acquired from the Oakland Athletics on Dec. 13, 2005 for outfielder Milton Bradley and infielder Antonio Perez.
LAND OF THE RISING SUN– Dodger All-Star shortstop Rafael Furcal will be on the roster of 27 Major League Baseball All-Stars traveling to Japan this November to play in a newly-formatted, best-of-five competition against their counterparts from Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in “All-Star Series 2006.” Presented by Yomiuri, “All-Star Series 2006” will consist of five games played in Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka between November 3 and November 8. While the first to win three games in this competition will be crowned champion, all five games scheduled will be played regardless of the outcome. Preceding the All-Star Series, the Major League Baseball All-Stars will go head-to-head against the Yomiuri Giants in Tokyo on Thursday, November 2. Furcal finished the 2006 season hitting .300 with 15 homers, 63 RBI and a team-leading 37 stolen bases. He ranked among league leaders in hits (196, T-5th), multi-hit games (62, 4th), at-bats (654, 4th), games played (159, T-6th), plate appearances (736, 4th), singles (140, 2nd), stolen bases (37, 7th), runs scored (133, 10th), home batting average (.333, 9th), bunt hits (9, 6th), average with runners in scoring position (.346, 8th) and was the ninth-hardest player to double up in the NL (one GIDP per 93.4 at-bats). Furcal was voted as the “Most Inspirational Dodger” by his teammates and coaches and received the inaugural Roy Campanella award.