Tag: Brendan Harris

Yasiel Puig

2014 Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers


Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2014 season. Next up: The Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Big Question: Can the deep-pocketed Dodgers be stopped?

After a midseason turnaround led to 92 wins and a trip to the NLCS last year, the Dodgers had a relatively quiet offseason, at least in terms of bringing in outside talent. Sure, they locked up 2013 NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw with a monster seven-year, $215 million extension to and re-signed Juan Uribe for two years and $15 million, but their two biggest additions were right-hander Dan Haren (one year, $10 million) and Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero (four years, $28 million). While they recently signed another Cuban infielder, Erisbel Arruebarrena, to a five-year, $25 million contract, he’s not expected to contribute in the majors right away. The truth is that they didn’t need to do much in the way of tweaking, because they were already in pretty good shape.

We heard rumors over the winter about the Dodgers potentially trading one of their outfielders, but they ended up hanging on to all of them. Given the injury histories of Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford, that’s probably for the best. The lineup has some potential weak spots between second base, third base, and catcher, but there are plenty of impact bats here. Hanley Ramirez was one of the best hitters in the game when healthy last year and Yasiel Puig was an absolute dynamo after his call-up. Adrian Gonzalez hasn’t surpassed 30 home runs since 2011, but he’s still a solid run producer.

Even though the Dodgers were unable to land Masahiro Tanaka, the rotation is looking potent once again with Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-Jin Ryu leading the way. Kenley Jansen has emerged as one of the best closers in the majors and bridge to the ninth inning should be stronger this year with full seasons from both Brian Wilson and Paco Rodriguez. Chris Withrow and J.P. Howell will be back in the bullpen and Chris Perez and Jamey Wright were both added to the fold over the winter. Oh, and Brandon League is still collecting a paycheck.

With a payroll well above $200 million, anything short of the World Series will likely be considered a disappointment. Who knows if the Dodgers can get there, as the playoffs are often a crapshoot, but all signs point to them being a forced to be reckoned with once again.

What else is going on?  

  • Matt Kemp is a big question mark as he makes his way back from ankle surgery. He was recently cleared to increase some baseball activities after an MRI showed proper healing, but he’s not expected to be ready for the start of the season and might not even make an appearance during Cactus League play. With Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, and Andre Ethier in place, the Dodgers don’t have to rush things. Still, a healthy and productive Kemp would make them even scarier.
  • The Dodgers would love for Alexander Guerrero to run away with the starting second base job, but he’s had some issues adjusting to the position and there’s some chatter that he could begin the season in the minors in order to get comfortable. However, if he keeps doing things like this, it’ll be tough to send him down. The possible alternatives at second base include Dee Gordon, Chone Figgins, Justin Turner, Miguel Rojas, and Brendan Harris, which makes the decision to let Mark Ellis walk a little questionable. The Dodgers certainly could have afforded him, even in an insurance role. He’s essentially doing the same thing for the Cardinals right now.
  • Josh Beckett was limited to just eight starts last year prior to undergoing surgery to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome, a procedure which involved having a rib removed to relieve pressure on a nerve which caused numbness in his arms and fingers. The good news is that he hasn’t had any issues this spring and projects to begin the season as the team’s No. 5 starter. The Dodgers have alternatives if things go wrong, as Paul Maholm was added over the winter for depth purposes and Chad Billingsley could be ready to return from Tommy John before the All-Star break.
  • What does Yasiel Puig have in store for an encore? With his all-out style and flair, the 23-year-old outfielder was the talk of baseball as a rookie last year, hitting .319/.391/.534 with 19 home runs, 42 RBI, and 11 stolen bases in 104 games. The Dodgers (and some opponents) would like to see him dial things back somewhat, but you take the good with the bat with this type of talent. Unfortunately, his style of play does put him at a greater risk for injury, which is something to watch this season.
  • Much was made of Don Mattingly’s job status last season and in the aftermath of their loss in the NLCS, but the situation should be less of a distraction now that he has received a contract extension through 2016. Of course, that could always change if the Dodgers flop.

Prediction: I could see the Giants, Diamondbacks, and Padres all competing for a Wild Card spot this season, but the Dodgers are the most well-rounded team here and they have the resources to upgrade as the season moves along. They deserve to be considered heavy favorites to win the division for a second straight year. No surprises here. First place, NL West.

Yankees ink Brendan Harris to minor league contract

brendan harris getty

From beat writer Bryan Hoch of MLB.com comes word that the Yankees have inked infielder Brendan Harris to a minor league contract. He has been sent to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he will function as organizational depth for the Yanks.

Harris was designated for assignment by the Angels last Saturday then elected to test the free agent waters after passing through waivers without a claim.

The 32-year-old former fifth-round pick of the Cubs was batting .206/.252/.355 with four home runs and nine RBI in 44 games this season for Anaheim. He is a .256/.314/.381 career hitter in the major leagues.

Erick Aybar will not be ready until next week

erick aybar getty

Angels shortstop Erick Aybar had been aiming to return from the disabled list on Thursday — the first day he is eligible. But that has now been ruled out.

According to beat writer Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Aybar has reported to extended spring training in Tempe, Arizona but is not yet appearing in games. So he won’t be activated this week, and probably isn’t going to be back in his normal playing shape until the middle of next week.

Aybar, 29, was batting .321/.333/.393 with one RBI and four runs scored in 31 plate appearances before suffering a severe heel contusion on April 9. Brendan Harris has been filling in at short for Anaheim.

Angels place Alberto Callaspo on disabled list with right calf tightness

Alberto Callapso Getty

Prior to last night’s game, the Angels placed third baseman Alberto Callapso on the 15-day disabled list with right calf tightness. Callaspo suffered the injury last Thursday against the Athletics and originally expected to only miss a few days, but he hasn’t made enough progress to return to the lineup. Reliever Michael Kohn was called up from Triple-A Salt Lake to take his place on the roster.

The Angels are also missing Erick Aybar due to a bruised left heel, so they are currently going with Brendan Harris as their primary shortstop and Luis Jimenez at third base. The hope is that both Callaspo and Aybar will be ready to return when they are first eligible later this month.

Callaspo is hitting .273 (9-for-33) with one home run, one double and three RBI in nine games this season. The 30-year-old batted .252/.331/.361 with 10 home runs, 53 RBI and a .692 OPS in 138 games in 2012.

UPDATE: Orioles re-sign Cesar Izturis following J.J. Hardy trade

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UPDATE: That was quick. Baltimore has re-signed Izturis to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million in base salary, so he’ll go from starting shortstop to backing up Hardy and second baseman Brian Roberts.


Yesterday the Orioles made a shrewd move to address their hole at shortstop, sending a pair of minor-league relievers to the Twins for J.J. Hardy, but that apparently won’t stop them from trying to re-sign 2010 starter Cesar Izturis as a utility man.

Along with Hardy the Orioles also acquired a potential utility man from the Twins in Brendan Harris, but according to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail “didn’t totally close the door on re-signing Izturis despite Harris’ inclusion in the trade.”

Of course, while Izturis and Harris would both technically be “utility men” in that they’d each be backup infielders, they’re completely different players. Izturis is a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop with good speed and a weak bat, while Harris lacks the range to be a regular at shortstop or second base, isn’t useful for much behind platooning versus left-handed pitching, and was included in the deal solely because the Twins wanted to dump his salary.