Unable to silence Phillies bats, Dodgers go down quietly

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The rotation provided one quality start in five games. The bullpen allowed 14 runs in 21 innings.
The Dodgers really never gave their offense a shot. It seemed like Joe Torre pushed all of the right buttons in the sweep of the Cardinals. This time, he mostly sat and watched. His one clear error was leaving Clayton Kershaw in too long in Game 1. Game 2 was the lone victory, and nothing could have made Game 3 winnable with Cliff Lee on the mound. In Game 4, he made the right calls and his best reliever got beat.
Game 5 featured seven homers, but most of the excitement was drained by the constant pitching changes, leading to very long innings. The Dodgers used three pitchers in the fourth, and the Phillies used three in the fifth. In the end, talent won out. Vicente Padilla was supposed to get hit hard by the Phillies’ left-handers in the series, but it was actually the righties that pounded him Wednesday night. Shane Victorino’s stunning homer off Kershaw in the sixth qualified as the finishing blow. The Dodgers did put together a big threat in the eighth, but James Loney, Russell Martin and Casey Blake all came up empty with the bases loaded. Philadelphia’s offense scored in six of eight innings and won 10-4.
While the Phillies can start preparing to play the Yanke… the ALCS winner, the Dodgers head home with a bunch of questions. Padilla, Randy Wolf and Jon Garland are all free agents, leaving the team with only Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda and Chad Billingsley guaranteed rotation spots. If GM Ned Colletti decides a makeover is necessary to reach the next level, then Billingsley, Martin and Loney are possibilities to be dealt. Juan Pierre could also go. There’d be a whole lot more flexibility if Manny Ramirez chooses to depart, but odds are that he’ll exercise his $20 million option and stick around. With the sudden uncertainty in the ownership situation and so many of the team’s youngsters due healthy raises in arbitration, there might not be as much room for improvement as fans would like.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

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Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.