Mailbag: Will Dodgers re-sign Furcal?
Beat reporter Ken Gurnick answers Dodgers fans' questions
Will the Dodgers re-sign Rafael Furcal?
-- Tony D., San Marino, Calif.
One likely scenario is for Furcal to sign an incentive-laden contract and remain with the Dodgers, but it's never a decision made by only one side. Furcal said the club hasn't talked about next year yet, but it's clear he doesn't want to leave.
"I love this city," Furcal said. "I love the fans. I love the staff and my teammates. You just never know what's going to happen. They want to see if I'm healthy and I understand that. Everybody wants to see me on the field this year. If I don't, I'll play winter ball in the Dominican Republic for the first time since 2003. I need to play and teams need to see me. The way I started the year, I thought this would be a big year for me. It's so disappointing."
I understand that players traded after the deadline must clear waivers. But when the Diamondbacks traded for David Eckstein, the Dodgers had a worse record, so they would've had the right to take Eckstein first. Since Jeff Kent was already injured, couldn't the Dodgers have blocked the deal?
-- Michael B., Westlake Village, Calif.
Yes, but when a club puts in a claim, it must be prepared to take the player and what's left of his salary if his original club lets him go, and the new club must move a player off its roster to make room for the new player. The Dodgers scouted Eckstein and decided against putting in a claim.
I saw Tanyon Sturtze in the bullpen this weekend. I thought he was taken off the roster. What's that about?
-- Sam F., San Fernando, Calif.
You're right, he was taken off the roster, and he was in the bullpen this weekend. Sturtze asked the club if there was a way he could remain in some role to help, and the club named him its third bullpen catcher, joining Rob Flippo and Mike Borzello, even though Sturtze has been a pitcher, not a catcher.
With the induction of Walter O'Malley into the Hall of Fame this year, is there any plan by the Dodgers to recognize him at Dodger Stadium?
-- Mac M., Westminster, Calif.
The club has made no announcement, but it's my understanding that O'Malley, as well as former Dodgers Hall of Famers that predated uniform numbers, will be included in the proposed club Hall of Fame that will be part of the stadium renovation. The other Dodgers Hall of Famers are recognized by the retired uniform numbers in the pavilions.
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Who are the Dodgers sending to the Arizona Fall League?
-- Bob W., Cucamonga, Calif.
Assigned to the Surprise Rafters are Dodgers pitchers Scott Elbert, Brent Leach, Justin Orenduff and Travis Schlichting; catchers Lucas May and Russell Mitchell; infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr. and outfielders Jamie Hoffman and Andrew Lambo.
Do the Dodgers have an official policy on hair length?
-- Bill W., Simi Valley, Calif.
According to manager Joe Torre, there is a written policy, although nobody has explained it. I doubt it was discussed when Manny Ramirez was acquired because, while unconventional styles might be very offensive to a segment of fans, in today's professional sports such things take a back seat in priority to performance. And the Dodgers are selling Manny dreadlock wigs at the concession stands, which sort of weakens the idea that there's anything wrong with his hair.
What's happened to our Minor League system? Four full-season clubs 49 games under .500? Is there any help in sight?
-- Van W., Cupertino, Calif.
Player development is the priority in the Minor Leagues, not team wins. Are there as many prospects in the Dodgers' system as there were three or four years ago? The club recently enjoyed a wave of top prospects reaching the Major Leagues in a short time frame. That's not easy to do, and to expect a constant wave of players year after year is unrealistic. The Draft is too much of a crapshoot. Clayton Kershaw arrived ahead of schedule this year, Elbert has come along quickly now that he's healthy and James McDonald could contend for a job next year. The better position players seem to be at the lower levels.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.