Today's news conference

Just finished a great event with Kuroda and everything went very well. At the end of the day, he told me how impressed he was with the entire organization and all that we did to make him feel at home (actually, he said this to the interpreter who passed it along to me).

I really think that the Dodgers’ history in Japan paid huge dividends with this signing. It actually made me think about Alfonso Soriano from last winter and how he ultimately decided that he didn’t want to move all the way to California from his home in the Dominican Republic. Sometimes your location works against you and sometimes, like with Kuroda, it works in your favor. Having a huge Japanese population in Los Angeles certainly helped sway him, as did our aggressive pursuit of him with numerous members of the front office. Among those Frank and Ned credited today were Acey Kohrogi, Keiichi Kojima, Scott Akasaki, Curtis Jung, Logan White and Paul Fryer.

After the news conference, we walked Kuroda down to the field where he took the mound for the first time. Then he got a chance to talk to Russell Martin on the cell phone from on the field, which was a cool moment.

I know we’ve got a lot of work to do before March 31, but I echo the comments from the last post by Roberto – I wish Opening Day was tomorrow.

60 Comments

Thanks Josh.

I think that the hugh Japanese population and his friendship with Takashi Saito were the biggest reasons Hiroki Kuroda choosed the Dodgers, because especially right after his arrival the biggest comfort for him will be speaking to people in his own language. I enjoyed the live coverage of the introduction and as I said on the previous thread it was the first time I watched anything live on my P.C. Like Roberto & youself I can’t wait for Opening Day either, but I’ve never enjoyed an off-season quite like this and I’m looking forward to the next move, although I would like to go into spring training with this team exactly the way it stands now.

I’m SOOOOOOO excited about next season. The NL west race will surely be a great one.

Many kudos are due to Mr. Colletti for the excellent way he has performed his duties during this off season. Last off season was entirely different, and I believe he learned from that and this year did not yield to the pressure of the moment in making deals that were not in the best interest of the Dodgers. The way he retained his young talent despite pressure from the media and some of the fans is really commendable. Well done, Ned! And thank you! I am excited about this team and believe that the Dodgers will be a power to reckon with for years to come.

The only concern that I have left is that Ethier be retained as the regular LF. Trading Bradley for Ethier was one of Ned’s best moves, and I think it will pay dividends for years to come. So please don’t trade Ethier now. But it isn’t fair to him or Pierre to platoon them. Young would be fine as a fourth outfielder and pinch-hitter. Pierre is a great guy, but his skills are not what the Dodgers need now. To retain him will only continue to create problems rather than be a depth strength. If Ned can trade Pierre as his next move, he will have completed at A+++ off season!

I was suprised that Ken Gurnick said in tonight’s column that the fans want a veteran 3B. I don’t think he read that on this blog. I really don’t see any problem with our bullpen and I wish it’s left alone, but I’m sure they will want to tinker with it just for something to do. I say bring back the same bench. The youth are better off in Las Vegas staying active and ready everyday to be called up when needed. Nomar & LaRoche and Ethier & Kemp, I’m sure will get alot of work from Torre. I think the best way to solve the Pierre situation is to keep a close eye on him in the field. I remember over hearing a supervisor tell another worker that I would eventually get myself fired, I got my pension before anything like that happened. Let’s see if Juan Pierre can follow Joe Pierre in that manner. Finally I’d like to say that Colletti & Co is doing a very satisfactory Job.

Notable section from Dodgers.com:

Colletti signed Kuroda without seeing him pitch in person. He left that to the scouting experts. Logan White, the assistant general manager who made his name through talent evaluation, saw enough tape of Kuroda and watched him in person enough to give the thumbs up.

“I put my reputation on the guy,” said White. “He’s legit.”

Here’s White’s scouting report:

“He has a very good delivery, an easy arm motion. He throws from a three-quarters angle. He runs his fastball anywhere from 89-95 miles per hour and stays around 93. He has a slider/cutter at 89 that has a lot of sharp, crisp bite. His out pitch is what he calls a forkball that has real diving, late action at the right-handed hitter.

“He’s a strike thrower, and he’s very athletic, a Gold Glove-like fielder. The biggest thing, for me, is that with runners on base, he buckles down. He really is a warrior.”

Also, check out the photo gallery of Kuroda’s press conference, excellent work as always by Jon SooHoo. I love the Kuroda bobblehead!

GO DODGERS!

My letter to Ken Gurnick:

Ken,

In today’s article you wrote, “While fans clamor for a new third baseman like Scott Rolen …” I communicate with Dodgers fans all the time both in person and on such blogs as Dodger Thoughts, InsideTheDodgers and others. If you mean that a small minority of Dodgers fans “clamor” for a new third baseman, I guess that would be accurate.

But your article is written in such a way as to suggest that there is a popular outcry for a new third baseman. This is patently untrue as the vast majority of Dodgers fans support giving Andy LaRoche a full chance to win the job, giving Nomar the job, or letting Andy and Nomar fight for the job. This is easily verified by reading and listening to the fans.

I feel that you have misrepresented Dodgers fans as a group (and by extension me individually) and I really don’t appreciate it. If you want to use the generic “fans” as a source, please quote them (us) accurately.

Thank You,

jungar if you are out there, I accept the terms of your truce….

Go Dodgers. Go Tommy!! Go whoever the 3rd base man is…

Go LaRoche. Go away Pierre.

jhall – I’m fixin’ to go fishin’ ’cause you keep opening up a can of worms :)

You made me laugh though!!!

Yea, I thought we needed a little humor. LOL

Jhall, you just could not stop yourself could you….but it was funny

Couldn’t help it. I needed a laugh.

Jhall – you were the kinda kid that kept picking at the scab too weren’t ya!?!

gota watch it bleed

Stop my bleeding Ned, please!!

That’s OK – you pick away buddy! – I got your back!!

Thanks Enchanted.

i think the dodgers have done a geat job this off-season. the only concern i have is having pierre on the roster. even though he is a good guy.. i really do not see him fitting in this line-up this point in time.

I actually had a dream last night that we traded Ethier to the Reds for a very good relief pitcher and a starter.That was all it said in the dream….

Sounds more like a nightmare ewk!!

Amen Germandurazo!!!!

Yep Ewk, that was a nightmare.

lets get something stright about LaRoche-

(LaRoche stats for ’07, Loney for ’06, Abreu for ’07)

PA’s- Andy 115 James 111 Abreu 178

PA’s batting 8th- Andy 40 James 30 Abreu 77

Ok, so first off, less than half of LaRoche’s PA’s were batting 8th. So how did he do batting in other places in the order? (9th generally being a PH role, where they want to pitch to you rather than get back to the top of the line up)

Andy batting 3-7,9th (75PA’s)- .230 BA 9BB 16SO 4RBI

Loney batting 8th (30) – .500 BA 4BB 2SO 12RBI

Abreu batting 8th (77)- .257 6BB 11 SO 4RBI

(total PA’s)

% of swinging strikes

andy 24% james 12% abreu 13%

% of contact made on swings

andy 69% james 84% abreu 83%

batting w/ RISP

player PA’s BA RBI XBH’s

andy 36 .250 8 2

james 32 .345 16 7

abreu 38 .286 14 5

So… everyone’s excuse that LaRoche did poorly was because he was batting 8th. But Loney and Abreu did better batting 8th than LaRoche did batting 3-7&9th, and they did a betting job of making contact, hitting with runners in scoring position, etc. There is a reason they were looking at 3rd baseman this winter. He might be great based on his minor league stats… MIGHT being the optimal word, because so far he isn’t doing nearly as well as his fellow infielders have done.

Interesting data Atomikkid, nice post. Looks like Abreu could be an option at 3rd if LaRoche and Nomar tank. All the more reason to stand pat and see what happens in Spring Training, April, and May. One of those three will rise to the top and secure the position.

Atomikkid:

Nothing new about your post. Everyone here knows Andy hasn’t preformed well in the bigs thus far. The only real question is whether he’s gotten a legit shot a preforming. In my opinion 115 pa’s worth of sporadic playing time is not a fair opportunity.

Giving up on him at this point would be no different than when we gave up on Konerko (after 151 ab’s) 10 years ago, and we all know how that turned out.

We are in great position to give the kid a shot to succeed. Every other position (save LF) is pretty much set. If he doesn’t hack it by the all-star break you can make a trade or hand the job back to Nomar.

All we’re asking is that the kid gets a fair shot, his minor league numbers certainly warrant that much.

ONE BIG CONCERN:

We can’t go into the season with all RIGHT handed pitching..We need a good left

hander…that’s why Ned should have never picked up Loiaza and he could have used that money for Wolf..I don’t like our rotation even with Kuroda if we have NO left hander in there….Anyone else agree?

Player X

1. 75 Abs in first season .204/.241/.204/.445

2. 142 Abs in 2nd season: .232/.264/.408/.672

3. 600Abs 3rd seasons .358/.414/.631/1.045

.226/.365/.312/.677 LaRoche in 93 ABs

The top player also happens to be the guy with a 275 million dollar contract.

Moral of the story:

a. we all have to start somehere

b. give him a chance

Disclaimer: it’s not to say LaRoche will be nearly as good, but just to say that many of you would have traded away A-rod already or at best case stunted his develeopment due to being impatient.

Hey guys. Does anyone know if andy laroche was injured when he came up for his big league stint this year?

I agree to a certain extent but it doesn’t really concern me. Good pitching is good pitching wether it’s left handed or fight handed. The thing I look at the most is match-ups. That’s why I was pushing for Silva. I’m satisified with Kuroda as long as he isn’t higher than a #4 guy in our rotation. I don’t think he’s proven capable of beating everybody’s #3 guy. They say he’s a step below Dice-K. Dice-K was the #3 for the Sox and he put up average numbers. That throws a caution flag out there for me on Kuroda but I think he’ll finish the season about 11-9 with a 3.75 ERA. That’s good enough to be a #4.

He had just come off of an injury.

They can even give the job to Nomar to start the year…just don’t trade our best hitting prospect!!

ok thanks. I just wanted to note that before I start comparing his stats.

Well thankfully Kuroda is throwing vs the NL. That AL east is pretty tough to throw against, let alone the rest of the league with the DH etc…Also, I think playing in the bigger parks out west will help make Kuroda seem better than Dice K. 15 starts in DS versus Fenway alone should help…

And i’d like a lefty too..

Guess we should’ve traded away Kemp after his first stint in the majors – only hit .253 and K’d 53 times out of 154 ABs.

There’s pleny of time before the trade deadline to let LaRoche have his shot before looking elsewhere. Even then I’d like to give him a full season before making any judgements.

Patience everyone, patience.

I am all for getting Miggy or A-rod to displace LaRoche, don’t get me wrong….But we have Nomar who could put up numbers similar to any 3b we could go trade or sign as a FA now..I have no problem with Nomar starting as of now on a short leash…

I agree Jungar. If LaRoche doesn’t win the job in spring training, I think Nomar will do a respectable job. Heck, if we get .275/15HR/70-80rbi out of the position with decent defense it will be a huge improvement from last year. I think Nomar/Laroche are more than capable of that.

While third base is our biggest question mark, it is not one without a possible answer, maybe a very good answer (In fact two or three: LaRoche, Nomar, Abreu). But we don’t know what the season will bring elsewhere, and we may want to use some of our prospects come the July trading deadline.

For instance, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that the production of 40-year-old Jeff Kent will steeply decline as his body gives way to age; that one or more players will suffer season-ending injuries; or that one or more of our pitchers will underperfom.

Further, we may decide that a prime potential 2009 free agent who becomes available this July is just what we need to take the club up another notch. For instance Johan Santana remains available and Carl Crawford is also due for free agency in ’09.

Our best move at this point is to enter the 2008 season with the team basically as is (add a backup catcher and maybe a pinch-hitter, I’ll forego Pierre remarks)and in July use some prospects to either replace any missing parts and/or upgrade where the opportunity exists.

Nice observations MarLoK,
If Kent gets injured or declines rapidly, Abreu can step right in and I believe will do well. Santana could very well be available as a free agent at the trade deadline and for much less. Regardless, in July, we will have a much better handle on what we really need to address.

Don’t say the “P” word. ****

Opening Day can’t come soon enough.

We have a better manager to manage a better lineup and better rotation, and all the young kids we want to turn into superstars.

I’m more excited than a donkey eating a waffle.

Here’s to a healthy Furcal, Schmidt, Nomar, et al.

Just curious why no discussion in the posted Dodger Toaster article about Kemp and his attitude/paranoia.Are we keeping a cry baby that will cause problems later?Or is he justified in saying the world is out to get him personally?

Here’s the aforementioned Kemp article, he’s got a good head on his shoulders for sure, without a doubt in my mind the media blew his ‘attitude’ out of proportion:

The Collected Wisdom of Matt Kemp

Interviews by Matt Patterson

The Oklahoman

Former Midwest City star Matt Kemp has packed a lot of life experience into his 23 years.

As a Bomber, Kemp helped Midwest City to a state championship in basketball, but he also saw two teammates, Shelden Williams and De’Angelo Alexander, investigated on charges of sexual assault. Kemp was also questioned by police as a witness. Charges were never filed, but it’s an experience that sticks with Kemp to this day.

In his debut year with the Dodgers, Kemp hit .342 last season. He talks about life in LA, trade rumors and his feud with teammate Jeff Kent. Through it all, Kemp has called on his Oklahoma roots to stay grounded.

I really didn’t know that I wanted to play baseball until I got to rookie ball. My first year in rookie ball I wasn’t into playing baseball. I wanted to go back home and play basketball. I didn’t know if I made the right decision, but I stuck with it and it’s something I really grew to love and I’ll never regret.

Getting into a groove just happens. The ball looks like a beach ball. I’m not going to say it’s easy, but things just happen. When you get in that groove, you don’t want to get out of it. Sometimes you can feel yourself getting out of it, but working before games in the cage is important.

It didn’t take too long to get used to LA. There are always people coming into the locker room. Adam Sandler…. I’ve seen Toby Keith a million times. You kind of get used to it after awhile. You see a lot of movie stars at the games. There’s not really one guy that I wanted to meet. I’ve met a lot of baseball players that I’ve wanted to meet. Barry Bonds and Ozzie Smith. I don’t get too star struck. I get star struck from players I watched growing up.

Things happen. You could be in the wrong places at the wrong time. It was an unfortunate situation. Nothing happened. You learn you have to be careful. Somebody could take all your accomplishments away from you by saying something that’s not true. You have to be careful. It’s a dangerous world.

Money is another thing. You get paid pretty good being in the big leagues. Once you get it, you can get it taken away real quick. I’m still learning about how to take care of my money. I reward myself if I have a good week. I’ll go get some clothes. I like clothes and shoes, that’s probably the big thing. I haven’t really splurged too much.

You have to stay focused and not get away from what it is you need to do to get where you need to be. Being in the big leagues there’s a lot of distractions. The night life in LA is crazy. Don’t get too comfortable because people are out to get you, especially if they see you doing good things. They want to ruin that so you can be on the same level as them.

The trade stuff is a little crazier this year. You hear a lot of teams going after me. There’s no other place I’d rather be than LA. I don’t want to leave there. I’d be disappointed if I got traded. It’s hard to have that hanging over your head because you think about it all the time. You can get that call, a random number and that could be it. I don’t know who calls you, I’ve never been traded. But I’m always looking at my phone when it rings and sometimes I’m kind of nervous.

Jeff had said some things. Everyone was frustrated. We were losing and we weren’t going to the playoffs. It was a team thing. It’s unfortunate the papers got hold of some stuff and blew a little thing out of proportion. That’s what papers do sometimes, but we settled it.

He’s (Junior Spivey) the one who took my game to the next level. He brought me out to Arizona and we worked out. He’s one of the hardest working guys I’ve ever associated with. I’ve learned a lot from him.

I think he (Barry Bonds) did what he did. You know, it’s hard. Nobody knows if he did steroids. They haven’t proved it. He’s one of the best players ever to play the game. You still have to put the bat on the ball. The things that he did, nobody knows but even if he did you still have to play every day.

Also, we have our rent a catcher for the season:

From Tony Jackson:

Dodgers just signed him to a one-year, $825,000 contract, which is $325,000 less than Mike Lieberthal made as last year’s backup catcher but still probably slightly above what Russell Martin will make as a third-year big leaguer — despite the fact Martin is an All-Star and probably will start at least 135 games. What a system. Anyway, just talked to Ned, and he said it was made clear to Bennett in the negotiating process that he won’t be playing much — although he’ll play more than Lieberthal did if the rest of the lineup is more productive. The fact it wasn’t productive last year is the reason Grady couldn’t sit Russ very often, because they had to have his bat in there.

Bennett, a career backup who will turn 36 in April, batted .252 while catching 52 games for St. Louis this season, striking out just 16 times in 155 at-bats.

Kemp will mature and do well with Torre/Mattingly/Bowa.

why couldn’t we just resign lieberthal…anyone? anyone? bueller? we waste plenty of money here anyways.

Hopefully, Liebs will play more often than last year. He can be a goof backup and pinch hitter. Marty needs to take a break at least once a week.

Correction Bennett.

Being Russell Martin’s backup is probably the easiest active job in baseball. I don’t care who it is and every time we don’t see Martin’s name in the lineup we’re going to get upset. Some may even call the game ‘a giveaway’. There will be 17-20 games without him there for obvious reasons. Russell Martin is incredible and throughout this entire offseason we’ve talked little about our ‘rock’ known as Russell Martin. I expect big things from him because he expects big things from himself. That’s what I look for in a player. He’s the best and our heart and soul.

Hopefully Torre and his coaching staff will explore the matchups and rest Marty once a week when it is favorable to the team and Martin.

I’ll give the devil his due, Ned’s gone out and brought in a lot of pieces. Its up to Torre & Co. now to make them work.

Lieberthal was a class act and I wish him the best wherever his next home may be. I think Bennett admitted to using ‘roids after he was named in the mitchell report. If that is true… I would have brought somebody else in to back up Russ if I was Neddy.

If Bennett can bat .250-.260, play solid defense, and be content with limited playing time he will be a good signing.

I agree Swood,
Liebs was/is a class act and should do well. At least Bennett admnitted it. I believe that many more players were juicing and it is a sad fact of the times. I don’t think we will ever know the true extent of the infraction. It is time to move on and label the era for what it was. History will judge the Bonds/Clemens players more harshly than they will be dealt with presently.

I just don’t understand why they wouldn’t resign Liebs. He’s a more quality backup. The worse the backup the more martin will be played most likely. Just doesn’t make any sense. I don’t care about the steroids.

Probably the money Jspelk.

Maybe Lieberthal wants to play a little?

Could be, Jungar.

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