Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Welcome to the Blue, Pablo Fernandez! And Hector Olivera, Too!

It had been a poorly held secret that the Dodgers had locked up slugging infielder Hector Oliver and relief prospect Pablo Fernandez.  Well, now it's official.  After recently attaining both a visa and coming to California to complete a team-physician physical they are now Dodgers.  With regards to Hernandez, via a Dodger press release:
Fernandez, 25, has a 32-30 career record with 40 saves and a 3.59 ERA in 177 games (21 starts) in seven seasons with Holguin (2007-14) and Matanzas (2012-13). The Cuban fan favorite has been a staple in the league's All-Star Game during his career, garnering the most All-Star votes in 2013-14 and earning both the win and MVP honors at the 2011-12 game.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder had his best season in 2011-12, earning recognition as the Series Nacional Pitcher of the Year with a league-leading 1.52 ERA and going 7-4 with a club-record 18 saves in 95.0 innings over 35 appearances with Holguin. That season, Fernandez closed out the first extra-inning no-hitter and third combined no-hitter in Cuban history with a 1-2-3 10th inning on March 13, 2012 to preserve a 1-0 win.

Fernandez last pitched during the 2013-14 season, posting an 8-8 record with six saves and a 2.83 ERA in 27 games (one start). He issued only 10 walks in 57.1 innings in 2013-14 and excluding intentional walks, he has issued only 87 walks in 414.0 career innings, less than five percent of his 1751 batters faced.
The Dodgers brass had this to say about the recent signings:
"We are excited to be adding two players to our organization that have consistently demonstrated their talent in Cuba as well as in international competition," said Dodger President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman. "We look forward to adding them to our organization and are confident they will be able to contribute to the Dodgers in the near future."
In celebration of Fernandez's signing with the Dodgers I made the above fantasy card for him.  I used a photograph grabbed online at CubaDebate.cu/Ricardo L√≥pez Hevia and the 1972 Topps Baseball card design.

Below are his career stats from Cuba, via Baseball-Reference:

Back in March I had made a "Welcome" post for Hector Olivera, so I'll link to that here.  There is a fantasy Baseball card I created, some background, links and videos of him.  I would also suggest checking out Jon Weisman's post on the trade here.

As you may know, Olivera is the big fish in this announcement.  He is thought to have signed a six-year contract worth over $60Million, and there were rumors of an affordable seventh year added on should any arm problems related to his elbow occur.  Fortunately, via Jon Heyman on twitter that doesn't appear to be the case.
What we should expect is that he'll likely find his way to Los Angeles before the season is over.  Whether that is sooner or later is dependent on how quickly he acclimates himself to the game.  I suspect they'll give him ample time to get his swing in order and plenty of work on the field to truly see what he can do.  If he ends up whacking the cover off the ball then someone is going to get traded to make room for him.

Per a Dodger press release:
Olivera, 30, has a .323 career batting average with 96 home runs and 433 RBI, appearing primarily at first base and second base, in 10 seasons with Santiago from 2003-2014. During the course of his career, Olivera has posted a .407 on-base percentage, while drawing more walks (367) than strikeouts (251). He stole a career-high 21 bases in 22 attempts in 2007-08 and has 55 steals in his career.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder has posted a batting average of better than .340 on three occasions, while hitting double-digit home runs in five consecutive seasons from 2007-08 through 2011-12. During the five-year period between 2006-11, Olivera was one of the most durable and productive players in Cuba, ranking among the league leaders in games played (432, 5th), runs (406, 2nd), hits (563, 4th), doubles (122, 1st) and total bases (899, 4th). In the 90-game Serie Nacional season, Olivera has recorded career-best marks with 17 home runs (in 60 games in 2011-12), 71 RBI (in 84 games in 2008-09) and a .353 batting average (in 84 games in 2007-08). He last played in 2013-14, hitting .316 with seven home runs and 38 RBI in 73 games.
Hopefully, he's as polished as his resume suggest. 

As you can see below I made another fantasy card for Olivera, but it's far from my best work.  Since I am pressed for time and far too busy, this will have to do. 

Below are his career stats from Cuba, via Baseball-Reference:

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It's Time For Dodgers Blackout - #ITFDB

This morning I was going through my news feed when I decided to take a moment to watch a couple of videos before trudging along through another day at work.  Oftentimes, I'll fill my head with useless minutia just to give me something to talk about at the water cooler.  Anyway, just before I got started YouTube put up one of those advertisements that I usually gloss over.  This time, however, I found myself a bit captivated.  Instead of a commercial about car insurance, I was regaled with an anti - SportsNet LA/Dodger/press/Blackout campaign. 

It's certainly is not your run-of-the-mill commercial.  In fact, it clearly is a fan made video, and said fan must have paid some money put it up on their advertising rotation.  Otherwise, I would never have seen it.  For that, I thought it was worth sharing.  Check it out below.

Video Link:

The guy above is Brian McDaniel and he is on twitter. 

I have no idea if McDaniel's campaign will lead to anything, but I love the determination.  BTW, McDaniel also calls for a fan "blackout" of not just the Dodgers but of the press/media/bloggers - who, in his mind, have not been the pressing the issue strong enough.  Of course, that includes this little blog, so I endeavor to do better.  (On a side note, I'm hardly read enough to cause a dent, though.)

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Blog Kiosk: 5/19/2015 - Dodger Links - Bolsinger, De Leon and Julio Urias

Initially, I was going to remark about the carefully wrapped hand that Roy Campanella appears to be systematically undoing.  Then I noticed the fellow overlooking the Hall of Fame catcher, and realized that it's longtime Dodger manager Walter Alston.  He just looks so young I barely recognized him. 

The United Press photo was taken during the early part of the 1954 season when Alston was a rookie manager for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  He could not have known at this time that he would eventually lead the club to their first championship the following season, so I imagine the concerned look on his face was filled with thoughts of a doomed rookie campaign. 

I'm sure he wondered, "how could the Dodgers manage without their star backstop?"

No worries though, his job would be safe as he guided the team to a 92-62 record.  Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to win the division, so they would have to wait 'til next year.

I found the photo on eBay.  Check out the auction here.  The caption on the reverse says:
 "MANAGER MULLS OVER MANGLED MITT.  New York: Walter Alston (left). Brooklyn Dodger Manger looks down at the injured catching hand of Roy Campanella, his number one backstop, in the dressing room before the start of the May 11 night game between Flatbush's Faithful and the Milwaukee Braves.  Campanella, whose hand was operated on last week, is in uniform to do some running exercises designed yo keep him in shape until the injured paw allows him to take up his catching chores again.  The National League's Most Valuable Player in 1953 is expected to return to duty in about two weeks."
Below are some more links to check out:
He loves to pitch, loves to learn about pitching, loves to theorize how he might be able to last with inferior velocity. He read about Greg Maddux taking ordinary catch sessions seriously, and so he started to, too.

In the bullpen before his starts, he used to do a standard warmup, and then he started feeling like he was getting in an inordinate amount of trouble early. This spring, he increased the intensity of those bullpens and liked how he felt when games began.
  • Via Eric Stephen at True Blue LA, "Jose De Leon promoted to Double-A Tulsa." 
  • Via Ken Gurnick at MLB.com, "Urias to have elective surgery with Dodgers' support."
"Obviously, one of our main intentions -- independent of the procedure -- is to protect Julio and limit his workload," said (Gabe) Kapler. "We're mindful of pitch and innings totals for every pitcher in our organization. Our aim is to take a long view approach to Julio's progression with laser sharp focus on long-term health. A blow midseason made sense to us."
Andrew Friedman: "For us, we don't have as many pure base-stealing threats, but we have a lot of depth up and down the lineup, so it's even more important for us not to run into outs. We have eight guys that can really handle the bat, so the risk-reward isn't there."

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