Jack Perconte


















Off Base


Naughty or Nice, Dodgers Need to Check Christmas List Twice

December 19, 7:02 p.m..

While we can that agree that the addition-by-subtraction method has some merit when applied to baseball, few among us would endorse the strategy as a plan for an entire offseason.

The Dodgers have jettisoned Ronald Belisario. OK, now that works, certainly. It works a lot, actually. Let’s give them that. And before we bid adieu to Beli once and for all, let’s recall the play the Mike Petriello once termed “the most Ronald Belisario play ever.” We’ll miss that kind of thing. The righty reliever was non-tendered by the club and subsequently landed on Chicago’s south side.

Chris Capuano was also let go, although there is still a chance of his re-signing before it’s all said and done. Scott Hairston called it a career, Skip Schumaker was lost to the Reds as a free agent, with Nick Punto signing a two-year deal to play in Oakland, the latter of which hurts a bit, especially with Mark Ellis going to St. Louis on a one-year make good deal.

The Dodgers have lost most of their bench and they need to get a move on if they want to go to war with something better than what’s being threatened now – castoffs Mike Baxter, Miguel Rojas (uh, who?) and Dee Gordon as super-sub, which is beyond frightening, because while a multi-positional utilityman might not be expected to be of Gold Glove caliber worth at one particular position, it sure helps if he is. And Gordon is pretty much the opposite of the description.

He plays no single position well, and in the case of shortstop, his “natural” spot, is downright awful. If you consider picking the baseball and throwing to first base significant skills for a middle infielder to possess, that is.

The Dodgers are also considering re-signing Michael Young for a bench role, and while I liked his acquisition late last season, the soon to be 37-year-old infielder really didn’t live up to his advance billing.

He was fine in the field in limited action, but didn’t hit a lick when it mattered – in the postseason – and showed zero of his former-self in the power department. And like Gordon, at this point in time he really doesn’t  play a single position well enough to warrant the role he’d be getting. At all.

The player I want in Blue is Ramon Santiago, late of the Detroit Tigers. This is not a Hall of Fame player we’re talking about here; not a star by any means. But a quality utilityman? Absolutely. Santiago is the Punto-piece of the Dodgers bench, 2014 edition, the best possible of the options on the free agent list, and I think there’s a good chance the team will sign him.

Like Punto, Santiago plays all over the infield, plays good defense and switch hits. In 2013 with the American League pennant winning Tigers, Santiago split his time in the field evenly, with 27 games at third base, another 27 at shortstop, and 33 at second base, which is the type of split the Dodgers need. It’s exactly the type of the split they need. He made a grand total of two errors in his 27 outings at shortstop (to give you an idea, Gordon made seven in his 27 games at the position) last season, while fielding a cool 1.000 at both second at third in his time there.

Santiago hit .224, which isn’t a ton, obviously, but he’s a .243/.311/.330 hitter lifetime, which is fine for the role he’d play in Los Angeles, and there’s no reason to think he can’t manage .240 in 2014. In the years of 2007 to 2011, Santiago hit a fine .284, .282, .267, .263, .260, with an .870 OPS in 2008.

He’ll contribute with the bat at times, much like Punto, give the team a little sock here and there, run the bases well, get down a bunt, etc. More importantly – much more importantly – he’ll fill in for Hanley Ramirez well when called upon, do the same for Juan Uribe as needed, and spell Alexander Guererro at second base, assuming the Cuban rookie even starts the season in the lineup.

If for whatever reason L.A. does not sign Santiago, Cesar Izturis works as a backup plan. Neither player will cost the team an arm and a leg, nor will he need a two-year deal for much money. We’re probably looking at a million or two, on a one-year deal. Chicken feed.

Tim Federowicz and Scott Van Slyke more than likely round out the bench. With Santiago (or Izturis) in the fold, the Dodgers can forget all about both Gordon and Young, which is a very good thing. Talk about your addition by subtraction.

Then perhaps we’re looking at one more bench piece and they're good to go. They’ll probably bring in one more relief man, and maybe just maybe another big-time starter, who quite possibly is a phenom out of Japan by the name of Tanaka.

We’ll find out soon enough. Check out your baseball betting options and be ready for another great season. We’ll see you at Spring Training, circa 2014.

And remember, glove conquers all...





The Steroid Zone








Dennis Gilbert Spring Baseball Classic, now through March 30

March 23, 2013, 2:49 p.m.

It’s the 4th Annual Dennis Gilbert Spring Baseball Classic, it’s going on now through March 30 at the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Compton, and you should support it if you possibly can.

The MLBYA is an MLB-run community space, with three main goals: to give kids a place to go – a good place to go – to stress academics, and to teach baseball. Additional academies have been built in Puerto Rico, Houston and New Orleans, with Cincinnati, Philadelphia and South Florida in the works.

Students from the following Los Angeles high schools are participating in the round-robin tournament: Dorsey, Eagle Rock, Fremont, Fulton Prep, Gardena, Hamilton, Hollywood, Jefferson, King-Drew, Maywood, Monroe, Roybal, Sotomayor, SOCES, South East, South Gate, Sylmar, University, Venice and Wilson. Wood bats are used.

You probably know Dennis Gilbert as baseball’s first “super-agent,” former Dodgers owner hopeful, and the guy who sits directly behind home plate at Dodger Stadium pretty much every night during the season. Here’s a bit more from the event press release:

“Gilbert played baseball at Gardena High School, Los Angeles City College and for four years in the minor leagues before launching a highly-successful career in the insurance business and as a sports agent. He is chairman and founder of the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation, which provides financial assistance to former baseball scouts in need. Gilbert also personally funded the baseball diamond at Los Angeles Southwest Community College, which has been used by the local program of Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities (RBI). He serves on Major League Baseball’s Salary Arbitration and Player Development committees, is special assistant to Chicago White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, and is an active board member and supporter of the MLB Urban Youth Academy.”

The tournament began Thursday, and my apologies for getting this to you late. The remaining schedule is below.

Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy, El Camino College, Compton Center (west of football field) 901 East Artesia Blvd. Compton, Calif. 90221, 310-763-3479.

Saturday, March 23

Hamilton vs. Sotomayor at Hamilton, 3 p.m.

University vs. Dorsey at Roybal, TBD

Venice vs. Roybal at Roybal, 3 p.m.

Monroe vs. Jefferson at UYA#1, 9 a.m.

South East vs. King-Drew at UYA#1, 11:45 a.m.

Maywood vs. Eagle Rock at UYA#1, 3:15 p.m.

Fremont vs. Fulton Prep at UYA#2, 12:15 p.m.

Wilson vs. University at UYA#2, 3:30

Monday, March 25

Hamilton vs. Jefferson at Hamilton, Noon

Eagle Rock vs. Fulton Prep at Hamilton, 3 p.m.

Wilson vs. Gardena at Roybal, 2:30 p.m.

South East vs. Roybal at Roybal, 6 p.m.

University vs. Dorsey at UYA#1, 9:30 a.m.

Maywood vs. Fremont at UYA#1, 12:15 p.m.

Venice vs. King-Drew at UYA#1, 3:30

Hollywood vs. Sylmar at Monroe, 10 a.m.

Monroe vs. Sotomayor at Monroe, 1 p.m.

Tuesday, March 26

SOCES vs. Hollywood at Hamilton, 10 a.m.

Hamilton vs. Monroe at Hamilton, 1 p.m.

Dorsey vs. Wilson at Roybal, Noon

King-Drew vs. Roybal at Roybal, 3 p.m.

Maywood vs. Fulton Prep at UYA#1, 9:30 a.m.

Gardena vs. University at UYA #1, 12:15 p.m.

Fremont vs. Eagle Rock at UYA#1, 3:30 p.m.

Jeferson vs. Sotomayor at Venice, 3 p.m.

South East vs. Venice at Venice, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 27

Quarterfinals and Consolation games

Hamilton 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Roybal, Noon and 3 p.m.

Sylmar, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

UYA#1, 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

UYA#2, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.”

Friday, March 29

Semifinals at MLB UYA#1, 10:30 a.m. and #2, 10 a.m.

Saturday, March 30

Championship game and all-star presentation at Southwest College, Dennis Gilbert Field, Noon.



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