Last June the Dodgers found themselves in last place, nine games out of first. The media had Don Mattingly on the Super Chief out of town and back home and was wondering how $200 million in payroll could result in such a dud of a team. Then all they did was go on a near-historic surge and win the NL West going away.
Fast forward to 11 days ago and the Dodgers were flailing again. They stood nine and a half games back of the Giants — who had the best record in baseball — and were once again subject to early obituaries in the press. Even Don Mattingly resumed his role as pessimist, telling reporters to ask the players why they stink because he didn’t know.
Since then, the Dodgers have won eight of 11. The Giants have lost eight of 11. In that time L.A. has gone from 9.5 games behind to 4 games back.
It’s like it’s Déjà Vu all over again.
First baseman Travis Ishikawa has agreed to a minor-league contract with the White Sox that includes an invitation to spring training.
Ishikawa was previously reported to have a minor-league deal with the Mariners last month, but the signing was never finalized. Now he joins the White Sox, who have Jose Abreu and Andy LaRoche ahead of him on the first base/designated hitter depth chart.
Ishikawa had some big moments for the Giants in the 2014 playoffs, but he’s a 32-year-old journeyman with a lifetime .255 batting average and .712 OPS in 488 games as a big leaguer.
It’s possible the White Sox could keep him around as a bench bat and backup first baseman/left fielder, but Ishikawa seems more likely to begin the season at Triple-A.
Right-hander Joel Peralta has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Mariners that includes an invitation to spring training.
Peralta spent last season with the Dodgers and was limited to 29 innings by neck and back problems, posting a 4.34 ERA and 24/8 K/BB ratio. Los Angeles declined his $2.5 million option, making him a free agent.
He was one of the most underrated relievers in baseball from 2010-2014, logging a total of 318 innings with a 3.34 ERA and 342 strikeouts, but at age 40 he’s shown signs of decline. Still, for a minor-league deal and no real commitment Peralta has a chance to be a nice pickup for Seattle’s bullpen.
Jerry Crasnick reports that the Chicago White Sox have signed Mat Latos.
Latos was pretty spiffy between 2010-2014, posting sub-3.50 ERAs each year. Then the injuries came and he fell apart. He pitched for three teams in 2015 — the Dodgers, Angels, and Marlins — with a combined 4.95 ERA in 113 innings. And he didn’t make friends on those clubs either, with reports of clubhouse strife left in his wake.
In Chicago he gets a fresh start. It doesn’t come in a park that will do him any favors — Latos and U.S. Cellular Field don’t seem like a great match — but at this point beggars can’t be choosers.
Veteran catcher Jason Castro and the Astros went through with an arbitration hearing over a difference of $250,000 and the three-person panel ruled in favor of the team.
That means Castro will make $5 million this season rather than his requested amount of $5.25 million. This is his final year of arbitration eligibility, so the 29-year-old catcher will be a free agent after the season.
Castro showed a lot of promise early on, including making the All-Star team at age 26 in 2013, but since then he’s hit just .217 with a .650 OPS in 230 games. His power and pitch-framing skills are a valuable combination even within sub par overall production, so 2016 will be a key year for the former first-round draft pick.