November 2007

On top of the world…

Jonathan Mayo over at MLB.com (and MiLB.com, the minor league site) has his Top 50 prospects in baseball revealed and the best pitcher in baseball and fourth-best prospect overall is none other than Dodger lefty Clayton Kershaw. Andy LaRoche checks in at No. 33 and Scott Elbert, despite his injury, is at No. 36.

Of course, lists like this are clearly subjective — sometimes the projections come to fruition and sometimes they don’t. We’ve seen plenty of examples of both in the past, but nonetheless it’s a nice honor for Clayton to take with him as he heads into Spring Training. He’ll turn 20 a few days after reporting to Dodgertown…

Mayo adds two more stories on the topic: Breaking Down the Prospects and Sometimes the Prospects "Catch On." Both are interesting reads and Mayo has been a dedicated minor league follower for about a decade, so I do tend to value his opinion and those of the scouts he talks to more than most.

Holiday Gift Ideas

As I just purchased the first couple holiday gifts for my friends and family today, I figured I’d throw out a few ideas for all of you given that you’re all big Dodger fans and probably know big Dodger fans.

Who knows, maybe you’re all buying gifts for each other?

And of course, a very, very happy birthday to Vin Scully!

Extra, extra

First off, for those who have asked for information on Coliseum tickets, there’s a link now set up to get you the information as it first comes out so check it out.

Also, two guys have signed minor league contracts with invites to big league camp. Rene Rivera and Terry Tiffee will be among those coming to Vero Beach looking to be this year’s Olmedo Saenz/Ramon Martinez/Larry Bigbie, etc. While I can’t say I know much about either of these two guys, the Dodgers have had tremendous success over the past several years finding non-roster invitees who wind up contributing at the big league level including Rudy Seanez, Aaron Sele, Olmedo, Ramon, Scott Erickson, Wilson Alvarez, Giovanni Carrara, Jose Lima and Kelly Wusch, among others.

Obviously some have had a greater and longer-lasting impact than others, but often times players like this are the least heralded and yet, can push a team over the top in three to five games during the season that make a huge difference.

Return to the Coliseum

Just got back from the morning press conference at the Coliseum and I don’t know about all of you, but this has me really, really excited. I’ve been hearing about the games that were played there for years and years, as my father was fortunate enough to be at the Campanella game, and I’ve always wondered what it would be like to see a baseball game played there.

March 29 we’ll be playing the Red Sox there and the net proceeds are benefiting ThinkCure, which is really something special. Wouldn’t it be cool if we can break the all-time record for attendance at a baseball game? It would take 94,000 people willing to come out to the game, but for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I think it’s a possibility.

Ticket information is forthcoming so stay tuned.

Not much else to report on the baseball front at the very moment. I do see that most of the comments are geared towards the rumor mill, which is great. I just caution everyone to remember to take everything they read with a grain of salt.

I have no doubt that we’re talking with tons of teams about trades and tons of agents about their free agent clients, but just because a guy’s name is attached to the Dodgers doesn’t mean that they’re our top target (or even a target at all). Remember, it benefits the agent to have their client linked to as many teams as possible to create a better market for them, which is why this information comes out in the first place. I can assure you it’s not the Dodgers who are sharing our wish list with the media on a daily basis.

I hope everyone had a great holiday and congrats to jungar on his new addition.

Roses and Rosters

Spent the morning at the press conference to unveil our float for the Rose Parade and got a nice suprise on the drive over, as Nomar called to say he will be joining the former and current Dodgers riding on the float. You can read about all those who will be in attendance in this story and the mockup of the float is on the front of dodgers.com. It’s a great way to kick off the 50th anniversary celebration and as I’ve mentioned before, there will be plenty of other exciting news coming in the weeks ahead.

On a baseball note, this afternoon we added seven players to the 40-man roster. They were:

Xavier Paul

Lucas May

James McDonald

Ramon Troncoso

Justin Orenduff

Mario Alvarez

Cory Wade

Also, Mike Megrew was outrighted and we still have two spots left on the 40-man roster.

And finally, right now at the entrance to Dodger Stadium, Tommy Lasorda, Bobby Castillo and "Sweet" Lou Johnson are joining by local elected officials in handing out Thanksgiving turkeys to about 600 preselected families in need.

That’s about all the news for today and I don’t expect much more over the holiday, so this could be the last post for a few days.

On behalf of everyone at the Dodger organization, I hope you all have a safe holiday with your family and friends and look forward to catching up again next week.

Spring Training breaks ground

Earlier today in Glendale, AZ, the groundbreaking ceremony took place for the new Spring Training site that will open there in 2009. I was back here in Los Angeles manning the fort, but I’ve been told it was a very cool event with Dodger fans showing up to welcome the team to Arizona. I continue to have problems posting photos to this blog, but there should be a photo gallery up shortly on dodgers.com with the highlights.

Tomorrow we’ll have another press conference, this one in Pasadena, to unveil the look of the Dodger float that will be in the Rose Parade. We’ll have several of the people who will be riding the float on hand with plenty more still to announce about the 50th anniversary celebration.

Also, our hearty congrats go out to Andy LaRoche, Delwyn Young and the rest of Team USA, which took home the gold over the weekend. You can read more on the USA Baseball website.

In addition, I caught up with Manny Mota earlier today from the Dominican Republic and he told me how excited he is about the 2008 season and for this Thursday, when he’ll be hosting 1,000 children at a Thanksgiving dinner in Santo Domingo through the Manny Mota International Foundation.

We should all be thankful for what we have at every time during the year but it’s this time of year that we’re reminded of it so regularly. 

Coaching Staff Announced

In a short while, we’ll be sending out the release on our coaching staff for next season. In addition to Bowa and Mattingly, Mariano Duncan will return as the first base coach, Rick Honeycutt returns as the pitching coach and Ken Howell will be promoted from Triple-A to serve as the bullpen coach. Bob Schaefer, who was the bench coach for Oakland last season, will take over that role for the Dodgers and Joe Torre next season.

Also, on the medical front, Jason Schmidt was in Los Angeles yesterday to see Dr. ElAttrache and everything is going well with his rehab. He’s been cleared to start tossing next week in Arizona and while this is a positive step in the right direction, it’s basically just another hurdle he’s cleared on the road to returning.

There are a few more things I want to post in a bit but for now, I figured I’d out this out and will update later today.

UPDATE:

I agree with you all that there have not been enough updates about our players currently playing overseas in Taiwan. Andy LaRoche and Delwyn Young have both played incredibly for that team and in the comments section, someone posted the most recent article. It seems info is hard to get from there right now, but I do know that our baseball ops people are watching those games with great interest.

Also, a hearty congrats go out to another Dodger scout, Clair Rierson, who will receive the Mid Atlantic Scout Association Scout of the Year award this weekend in Maryland. On the heels of a great honor for Lon Joyce, it’s nice to see our scouts getting their due respect. As I’ve said many times, it’s not all about one person in this organization – tons of people contribute to the success of those you hear about in the mainstream media.

There were some questions about Manny Mota and we are fully expecting he’ll be back, as will Rob Flippo. That was the first thing Ned said on the conference call with the reporters, but in this instance it made more sense to speak with Manny first before putting his name in the announcement and he’s been out of reach in the D.R. for a while. But I know they got a hold of him earlier today and all is well on that front.

And finally, to try and soothe the fears of everyone who reads the rumors, while I’m not the GM, I can assure you that everyone here understands the value of our young players and the ridiculous asking prices that are usually out there at the beginning of the offseason. Everything in baseball is a negotiation and the initial requests or numbers are rarely the final ones. Just think about the $350 million that suddenly became $275 this week.

One of the first things Ned said on the call is that one of the difficult things is that our "prospects" aren’t really prospects anymore. They’re legitimate Major Leaguers and everyone seems to understand that. Any trade that would be made would be made with that in mind.

Have a nice weekend…

Industry Meetings

I arrived last night in Orlando for our Fall Business Meetings, which take place every other year and are a great way to find out what some of the good business practices of other teams might be.

This morning we heard from the No. 2 person at baseball, Bob Dupuy, about where we are heading as an industry and what we’ve seen take place since we all convened a couple years ago. The rest of the time we’ll break out into session that are more relevant to our specific fields, which in my case is Public Relations and Broadcasting.

Believe it or not, I just sat in a 75-minute session with all the other league PR directors and numerous others about new emerging media. While there is plenty to discuss on that front, in reality almost the entire session was dedicated to blogging. There are so many interesting ways out there to spread the word about the Dodgers and for you all to get to share your opinions and I’m proud that we were one of the first teams to start this kind of a forum to interact with all of you. From what we’re told, 23 teams currently have someone in the organization – broadcaster, player, front office exec, etc. – sharing their thoughts back and forth with the fans.

I probably won’t be able to post much for the three days I’m here but rest assured it’s only the business side people who are here with me in Orlando. Ned Colletti, Joe Torre and their entire baseball operations staff hasn’t stopped working towards putting together next year’s coaching staff and adding talent to the team on the field.

More honors for Russ and congrats to Lon Joyce

It was just announced that Russell Martin has also taken home a Silver Slugger Award, which completes his clean sweep. Starting catcher at the All-Star Game, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. Wow. What more can be said about this kid?

Our congratulations go out to him and to all of the people in the Dodger organization (past and present) who have helped make him who he is today – from the scout who signed him, Clarence Johns, to those in player development and scouting on his way up the ladder (Jon Debus, Terry Collins, Steve Yeager, Kim Ng, Logan White, Chris Haydock), to his minor league managers (Luis Salazar, Dann Bilardello, Travis Barbary, Scott Little, John Shoemaker, Jerry Royster). 

It seems unfair to try and list all of these people because of course there will be someone left out who was involved in his development but the point is simply this – that players at the Major League level interact with so many people in an organization from the time they are drafted as teenagers until the time they see Dodger Stadium, there are so many people who deserve credit. Especially when you talk about a guy who was taken in the 16th round because obviously our scouts, cross checkers and supervisors saw something in this young Canadian that has helped and will continue to help the Dodgers for years to come.

Along those same lines, our sincere congratulations go out to Dodger scout Lon Joyce, who earned the annual Distinguished Scouts Award for 2007 at the Professional Baseball Representatives annual banquet last night in Whispering Pines, NC. Lon has helped find tons of talent over the years and two big league names that comes to mind are Edwin Jackson and Reggie Abercrombie, as well as current Dodger minor leaguers Brian Akin and Russell Mitchell and 2007 draftees Alex Garabedian (8th round catcher) and Franklin Jacobs (17th round first baseman), among others.

In the news…

A few stories likely to hit the wires soon…

Chan Ho Park could be rejoining the Dodgers as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training. No deal is done yet, but it looks like it could really happen. It’s hard to believe, but no Dodger has won 17 games since Park won 18 back in 2000 so hopefully, if he does come to LA, there will be a comfortability level that will allow him to return to the type of pitcher he was during his first stint here.

Also, we just got off a conference call with our reporters, Larry Bowa and Don Mattingly, so be on the lookout for lots of coverage about them later today or tomorrow.

Larry Bowa commented on the news today that base coaches will now be wearing helmets in response to the awful death of the Rockies minor league coach earlier this season. Larry said he was fine with doing this, as long as it doesn’t have the earflaps that would impede their vision rather than help them. I haven’t spoken to Vin Scully yet about it, but I’d imagine he’s going to be very happy, as he’s been an advocate of this for years.

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