02/26/07 3:57 PM ET
Mailbag: Why was Martin overlooked?
Fans also ask about Kemp, uniform numbers, Dodgertown
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
-- Mike K., Mechanicsville, Va.
Martin didn't start the season in the Major Leagues, which is the biggest handicap, because his season statistics do not compare well with players that were in the Major Leagues the entire season. Hanley Ramirez, the winner, is a clear example, as he played 158 games. He also hit 17 home runs as a shortstop and was third in the league with 51 stolen bases. If you watched the impact Martin had on the Dodgers, you would appreciate his value. But the awards generally are based on statistics, because they are voted on by writers who don't get to watch every player all season and must rely to a large extent on stats. And statistically Martin had no chance compared to Ramirez, who had a fantastic season.
What are the Dodgers' plans for Justin Orenduff?
-- Brian W., Edmond, Okla.
Orenduff, who was in Major League camp last spring, had surgery on his shoulder last year but has begun throwing and could be ready for the start of the season.
Does the signing of Juan Pierre to a five-year contract and the recent Minor League signing of Choo Freeman mean the Dodgers have all but given up on Matt Kemp as a Major League center fielder?
-- Terry V., Takoma Park, Md.
The Dodgers consider Kemp a future franchise-type player and the signings of Pierre and Freeman have little impact on that. Pierre is a center fielder and Kemp will wind up in the corner outfield spots. Freeman is more likely to wind up at Triple-A.
Who are out of options that the club could lose by sending to the Minor Leagues?
-- Mike C., Las Vegas
The players out of options are Wilson Betemit and Wilson Valdez. Betemit is expected to be the starting third baseman, so sending him down is not a real consideration. Valdez is a different story, coming off an impressive Triple-A season. Barring an injury to Rafael Furcal, he does not figure to make the Dodgers' Opening Day roster. But being a shortstop, a position in which the Dodgers are not deep, he is not a player the Dodgers want to lose, which is why they added him to the 40-man roster.
What will happen to Dodgertown once the Dodgers move their Spring Training to Arizona?
-- George K., Avondale, La.
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Nobody is sure and there are a lot of unknown factors. The municipalities that own the land must decide whether to court a replacement team to occupy the existing facility or develop the property.
With Pierre set to wear jersey No. 9 this season, what number will Grady Little switch to?
-- Andy P., Valencia, Calif.
He will wear No. 22 this year.
After looking at a few Spring Training pictures, it looks like Brad Penny is in great shape, and has lost at least 15 pounds. Is it just my imagination?
-- Casey S., Riverside, Calif.
Penny and Derek Lowe both appear lighter and firmer than a year ago. For what it's worth, Penny's breakfasts now consist mostly of fruit.
Whatever happened to Kelly Wunsch?
-- Jackson S., Los Angeles
The left-handed reliever is in the Houston Astros Minor League camp, continuing to rehabilitate from shoulder surgery, which he required after returning from ankle and hip operations.
Is Randy Wolf's spot in the rotation locked up?
-- Ralph C., Ontario, Calif.
In a word, yes. The Dodgers didn't guarantee him $8 million to send him to the bullpen. Besides, so far, he's looked completely healthy and said his arm hasn't felt this sound since college.
What are the plans for Kemp this year?
-- Willie C., St. George, Utah
A lot can happen between now and April, but if the season were to open today, I'd guess that Kemp would be sent to Triple-A with orders to play so dominantly that he would force management to make room for him. Because there are doubts he's ready to play every day in the Major Leagues, the club signed Luis Gonzalez to be a placeholder in left field until Kemp forces his way into the lineup.
Which non-roster invitee has the best chance of making the final cut?
-- Russ T., Spokane, Wash.
Hard to say any of them have a real good chance, but some consideration might be given to Damian Jackson, Joe Mays and even Larry Bigbie. Jackson because he can play shortstop (as well as six other positions), Mays because he is a one-time 17-game winner who appears to be healthy again and Bigbie because he's left-handed and the bench is short in that area. On the other hand, most likely no non-roster players will make the final cut.
What is the big hurry in naming the Opening Day starting pitcher and who is going to be the leadoff hitter?
-- John S., Jacksonville, Fla.
There is serious interest in the Furcal/Pierre leadoff decision because of its impact on the offense. There hasn't been as much interest in the Opening Day starting pitcher, but it's a ceremonial honor. In addition to fans of the team who want to know every possible thing about their team, particularly fantasy fans are interested in knowing who will get the most starts, the most plate appearances, etc., because it has a direct impact on the way fantasy games are played and scored. The players also like to know their roles and what is expected of them. And for the continuity of the offense and strategy, it's usually preferred to practice the way you play. So, the longer the one-two hitters work together and get a feel for their tendencies and preferences, the quicker they are likely to work well together when it counts.