Los Angeles Dodgers: Flurry of Moves Highlights Wild End to August

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst ISeptember 1, 2009

Acquiring Jim Thome and Jon Garland in the 11th Hour

Jim Thome was acquired in exchange for minor league IF Justin Fuller; the Dodgers also received cash considerations from Chicago.

Currently, Thome is hitting .252 (.375 OBP) with 23 homers—already good enough for second on the Dodgers behind Andre Ethier.

Fuller was batting just .254 in Class-A, so the Dodgers gave up virtually nothing in exchange for the slugger.

Knowing the kind of professionalism he brings to the table, I would expect nothing less than for Thome to embrace the role he is given and excel in it. 

Los Angeles now has Loretta (RH) and Thome (LH) to always come off the bench in the late innings. Now instead of watching James Loney bounce a slow roller to second base in the ninth inning of a close game, Thome can come in and try to do some damage.

They also traded infielder Tony Abreu, who has spent most of the season in triple-A, for Jon Garland.

The former All-Star Garland was 8-11 with a 4.29 ERA this season. 

Arizona will pay the remainder of Garland’s salary this season and will also be on the hook for his buyout option in 2010.

Garland will be plugged in for Charlie Haeger in the rotation and Vicente Padilla will continue to make his scheduled starts.

"Jon has been a consistent winner in the big leagues for eight consecutive seasons and we're excited about how this deepens our starting rotation," said general manager Ned Colletti. "He also demonstrated a few years ago that he knows how to pitch when the stakes are high."

Garland is penciled in to start on Thursday—against his former team, the Diamondbacks. 

Hiroki Kuroda appears to be nearly ready to return to the Dodgers. He will make a start at Class-A Inland Empire today, and Torre says that he may start on Sunday.

This will also leave the Boys in Blue with six starters but only five slots. 

However, Torre says, "Jon Garland is going to get the ball every five days, and if we have six starters, so be it."

I’m still worried about Kuroda’s return, and not because I think he will be pitching scared, but because I think he might make a change in his mechanics to allow for better reactions once the ball is delivered.

He might want to square himself up better to the plate, which could cause his motion to be disturbed and throw his release point out of whack.

However, I will remain optimistic about Kuroda until he proves otherwise. The guy has a lot of guts getting on the hill so soon after such a frightening moment.

Additionally, the rosters expand today and Doug Mientkiewicz will be activated after going on the disabled list April 17 with a dislocated shoulder.

A.J. Ellis will also join club as the third catcher, along with Scott Elbert and Jason Repko. 

Elbert is 2-0 with a 4.80 ERA with the Dodgers this season, and Ellis has appeared in three games this season going 0-for-4 at the plate.

Repko will be making his first stint with the Dodgers. He batted .277 with 16 homers, 47 RBI, and 24 stolen bases with Albuquerque. 

The triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes clinched a division title and will be headed to the Pacific Coast League playoffs, so call-ups may be limited until their postseason concludes.


Belliard Goes Deep in First Dodger AB

Starting at second base on his first day as a Dodger, Ronnie Belliard launched a solo home run in his first plate appearance with the club.

"I'm happy to come to this ballclub, a lot of tradition here," said Belliard, who started at second base on Monday. "Now my mind is set up to win some ballgames to try and help them go to the postseason."

Belliard won a ring with St. Louis in 2006 and will serve as another valuable veteran on the bench.


Furcal's Home Almost Burns

Speaking of frightening, a dangerous and extremely serious situation has been developing over the past six days in Los Angeles County, and Rafael Furcal found his family in the middle of the mess.

The Station Fire has burned over 120,000 acres and it continues to threaten many homes.

Furcal lives in Flintridge and received a nervous call from his wife while the team was in Colorado about an ordered evacuation for his family.

"The fire was coming all the way down," he said. "It was as close to my house as home plate to first base. Very close.”

Furcal's family made it out safely and his home was saved by the courageous firefighters.

Torre gave Furcal a rest on Monday night, starting Juan Castro, as the Dodgers’ shortstop had spent the whole day tending to important issues on the home front and probably was not in the best mental state to take the field.

This time-lapse (courtesy of the LA Times website) shows the ridiculous mass of the blaze. 



Just a little reminder that baseball isn't everything. 

Of course, my prayers go out to everyone and everything in the path of the inferno.


PJ Ross is a Featured Columnist for the Los Angeles Dodgers