Thursday, December 17, 2015

And Your 2016 Dodgers' Coaching Staff Are...

You have no doubt heard that the Dodgers have officially announced the coaching staff that will be backing up manager Dave Roberts this coming season, so I won't go into much more detail than what already has been said throughout the 'net.  Instead, I'll plainly show the graphic above (found at the Dodgers twitter account), relay portions of a press release and share a new fantasy Baseball card I have made for each one of them (the real purpose for this post).

I also want to take this moment to welcome them all to the family.  Of course, several of them have been with us for quite some time already, i.e. Honeycutt, Yeager, etc.  Most of them, though, are brand new members of the Dodger family.  A surprise to me on this list is the inclusion of former Dodger infielder Juan Castro to the list.  He will be serving as a "Quality Assurance Coach" - whatever that is. 

Bob Geren, 54, joins the Dodgers as bench coach following four seasons in the same position for the New York Mets. Prior to his time in New York, Geren spent 13 seasons in the Athletics’ organization, where he was a minor league manager for four years (1999-2002) before joining Oakland’s Major League staff as bullpen coach (2003-05) and bench coach (2006). In 2007, he was named the Athletics’ manager and guided the club to a 334-376 record (.470) over four seasons until June 9, 2011. Geren began his coaching career in 1995 as the manager of Boston’s Single-A Utica and has served seven seasons as a minor-league manager, compiling a 452-390 record (.537) and winning Single-A California League Manager of the Year honors in 1999 with Modesto.

Prior to joining the coaching ranks, Geren played 15 professional seasons as catcher in the Padres, Cardinals, Yankees and Red Sox organizations, including five big-league seasons with the Yankees (1988-91) and San Diego (1993). He was originally selected by the Padres in the first round (24th overall) in the 1979 draft.

Rick Honeycutt, 61, returns for an 11th season as Dodger pitching coach, with his tenure now extending to working under a fourth manager in Dave Roberts. Since he took the reins as pitching coach in 2006, the Dodgers lead all Major League teams in ERA (3.65), opponents’ batting average (.247), strikeouts (12,605) and WHIP (1.27). Honeycutt, who pitched 21 big-league seasons from 1977-1997, is the third-longest tenured pitching coach in Los Angeles history, behind only Ron Perranoski (1981-1994) and Red Adams (1969-1980). 

Turner Ward, 50, joins the Dodgers following eight seasons in the Arizona organization, including three years on the Diamondbacks’ Major League staff as hitting coach (2014-15) and assistant hitting coach (2013). Under Ward’s tutelage last season, Arizona produced two Silver Sluggers (first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and center fielder A.J. Pollock) and led the NL in hits (1,494), while ranking among the Senior Circuit’s best in runs (720, second), extra-base hits (491, second), batting average (.264, third), on-base percentage (.324, third) and slugging percentage (.414, second). Ward began his coaching career with two seasons in the Pirates organization in 2006-07 and has compiled a 216-190 record (.532) over four seasons managing in the minors: 2006 (Rookie-level GCL Pirates), 2007 (Single-A State College) and 2011-12, when he led Double-A Mobile to back-to-back Southern League championships and was named the league’s 2011 Manager of the Year.

Ward enjoyed a 12-year big league playing career (1990-2001) with the Indians (1990-91), Blue Jays (1991-93), Brewers (1994-96), Pirates (1997-99), D-backs (1999-2000) and Phillies (2001), combining to hit .251 with 39 home runs and 219 RBI in 626 games, following his selection by the Yankees in the 18th round of the 1986 draft. An outfielder, Ward played college ball at Faulkner State Junior College and the University of South Alabama.

George Lombard, who spent part of the 2008 season in the Dodger organization as a non-roster invitee and at Triple-A, returns to the club as first base coach following six seasons coaching in Boston’s minor-league system. For the last three seasons, Lombard was Boston’s minor-league outfield and baserunning coordinator after two years (2011-12) managing the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Red Sox. He joined the coaching ranks in 2010 as the hitting coach for Single-A Lowell.

Lombard’s playing career spanned 16 years from 1994-2009, with the outfielder reaching the Majors in 1998 and appearing in 144 big league games with the Braves (1998-2000), Tigers (2002), Rays (2003) and Nationals (2006). The Georgia native was originally selected by Atlanta in the second round of the 1994 draft.

Chris Woodward, 39, joins the Dodgers following two seasons as the Mariners’ first-base coach. He began his coaching career in 2013 as Seattle’s minor-league infield coordinator following 12 Major League seasons with the Blue Jays (1999-2004), Mets (2005-06), Braves (2007), Mariners (2009-10) and Red Sox (2009). Woodward, who also worked with the Mariners’ infielders during his time on the big-league staff, primarily appeared as a shortstop during his playing career, but saw time at every position besides pitcher and catcher at the Major League level.

A native of Covina, Woodward attended Northview High School before playing baseball collegiately at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, until he was selected by the Blue Jays in the 54th round of the 1994 draft.

Josh Bard, 37, enters the coaching ranks as the Dodgers’ bullpen coach following three years in the club’s front office as a special assistant (2013) and professional scout (2014-15). The former backstop played in 10 Major League seasons with the Indians (2002-05), Red Sox (2006), Padres (2006-08), Nationals (2009) and Mariners (2010-11) before finishing his career with the Dodger organization in 2012 as a non-roster invitee and at Triple-A. He was originally selected by the Rockies in the third round of the 1999 draft.  

Tim Hyers, 44, takes over as Los Angeles’ assistant hitting coach after three years as the Red Sox’s minor-league hitting coordinator. This appointment will mark Hyers’ first time on a permanent big-league staff, though he served as Boston’s interim hitting coach for part of the 2014 season while Greg Colbrunn took a medical leave of absence. Hyers also served as the hitting coach for the Tigers’ Single-A West Michigan club in 2002 and was a Red Sox area scout covering Georgia from 2009-12.

A first baseman/outfielder, Hyers played in four Major League seasons with the Padres (1994-95), Tigers (1996) and Marlins (1999) after being selected by the Blue Jays in the second round of the 1990 draft.

Juan Castro, who spent the last two seasons as the Dodgers’ minor-league infield coordinator, assumes the newly created role as the club’s quality assurance coach. The 43-year-old immediately joined the Dodgers’ front office as a special assistant following his retirement as a player on July 10, 2011, concluding a 17-year big league career with the Dodgers (1995-99, 2009, 2010, 2011), Reds (2000-04, 2006-08), Twins (2005-06), Orioles (2008) and Phillies (2010). The sure-handed infielder was originally signed by the Dodgers an amateur free agent out of Mexico on June 18, 1991.   

Steve Yeager, 67, enters his fifth season as the Dodgers’ catching instructor and will work with the club’s Major League backstops in both Spring Training and throughout the season. Known as a stellar defensive catcher during his 15-year big league career, including 14 years with the Dodgers, Yeager was a member of the 1981 World Series championship team and was named tri-MVP of the Fall Classic along with Ron Cey and Pedro Guerrero. Yeager was originally drafted by the Dodgers in the fourth round of the 1967 draft and has worked on the club’s behalf at many community events through the years.

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A Visual Checklist of Sandy Koufax Baseball Cards - 1964 to 1967 (and undated issues)

The Sandy Koufax list of cards and collectibles from his playing days has finally come to end.  After spending several hours researching and collecting photos of everything under the sun I bring to you the fourth and final edition to the Koufax checklist.  

This part covers the years 1965 to 1967 and includes several undated issues (at the very end) that are believed to be from his playing days.  BTW, I know that Koufax retired after the 1966 season.  Nevertheless, I decided to include items from the following year since he could still be found in several major issues.

You can check out Part I (1955-59) here.  Part II (1960 to 1962) here.  Part III (1963 to 1964) here.  Below is Part IV.  Click on any pic to embiggen.  If I am missing any card issues please let me know.

On a side note, I'm planning on putting together more checklist in the near future.  I haven't quite settled on who the next one will be, but I'm leaning towards Jackie Robinson... Maybe Campanella... Or Duke Snider... Don Drysdale?  If you have any suggestions please pass that along.


#8 - 1965 Topps - NL ERA Leaders

#300 - 1965 Topps

Blog Kiosk: 12/17/2015 - Dodger Links - Kershaw, Kiké and Mychal Thompson

So too was Clayton Kershaw with the contingent of MLB stars who came to Cuba as a part of a Goodwill Tour the other day.  He came out to experience and learn about the culture and the country that holds such high esteem for the game he plays.  So he did what came natural.  Kershaw was compelled to play a game of catch.  Via Alden Gonzalez at
He plucked Jose Cruz, the former outfielder who now works for the Major League Baseball Players Association, and together they went out back, to the patio section of the resort and in plain sight of all its occupants. With the sun setting behind him, and a swelling mob surrounding him, Kershaw lightly went through his distinctive delivery and fired fastballs into Cruz's borrowed glove.
Cruz could hear people weeping.

"It was a bit surreal," Cruz said. "It was beautiful."
... "It kind of put it in perspective, how important baseball is here," Kershaw said. "Just the passion that the Cuban people have for baseball, and then maybe the significance of this trip, too."
"They keep saying, 'Baseball's the way of life,' but you don't really know what that means," Kershaw said. "Then you come here and you kind of understand. It's so important, and it's so new, too, this whole trip and what the people here can experience and what we as players can do. It's just such new territory for us. I think the excitement of being here is infectious."
The photo above of Clayton having that catch is via @MLBPA on twitter.  Below are more links to check out:
Lee attacks hitters in the same manner you would would expect from a sinker-slider guy. He pitched to a 50-percent ground ball rate in Triple-A this season and limited both free passes and home runs. It’s hard to see him improving on his strikeout rate given his present stuff, but with improved pitchability with both his four-seam and change up, I think he could hold his major league K-rate around six per nine innings. While he pitched to a sparkling 4.2-percent walk rate (1.51 per nine innings) in Triple A, he will have to avoid the tendency of sinker-slider guys nibbling too much at the major league level to keep hitters off their middling stuff and just trust his overall repertoire.
  • It looks like former Major League outfielder George Lombard will be the Dodgers 1st base coach, via a tweet by Buster Olney. He had briefly played in the Dodgers minor league system in 2008, and worked as a hitting coach, manager and field coordinator for the Red Sox and Braves:

“Hopefully, sometime this year, Vin Scully will mention his name,” Thompson said.

The Dodgers view Trayce Thompson, who can play center field, as someone who could contribute in their major leagues in the upcoming season.

Mychal Thompson said he grew up a Dodgers fan in the Bahamas and that his brother Colin was in the organization’s farm system in the 1960s.

“I’m beyond thrilled,” he said.
“It’s definitely an exciting and kind of surreal moment for me,” he said. “It hasn’t sunk in completely yet … but to think about the possibility of playing in L.A. and playing in front of my parents a lot and family and friends, it’s definitely an opportunity I don’t want to take for granted.”
  • Panini America has shared a bunch of preview pics for the 2016 Donruss Baseball card set.  Check them out here.  It includes a bunch of Dodger players; including the Kershaw, Seager and Beltre (as a Dodger) cards below.  This will be arriving in early March.

* Please follow on twitter @ernestreyes *
* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *