08/25/08 11:30 AM ET
Mailbag: Should Broxton close?
Beat reporter Ken Gurnick answers Dodgers fans' questions
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
-- Ron P., Cerritos, Calif.
If not Broxton, then who? Broxton is getting the acid test with Saito out. Last year, Broxton collapsed in September with a 6.75 ERA, and he was only being asked to set up. Barring a miraculous comeback by Saito, the job is Broxton's to lose for the rest of this season. He's the only healthy Dodgers reliever that can throw 100 mph. After blowing Sunday's save, he's converted nine of his first 11 save opportunities since Saito went down.
There doesn't seem to be a better option. Hong-Chih Kuo is the most likely alternative, but he has an elbow history that makes him an unlikely choice. Yhency Brazoban once was the closer, but he can't stay healthy. Brad Penny is an intriguing possibility, but his health is uncertain as well. Derek Lowe has done it with Boston, but he's needed to start. Two Minor Leaguers from the most recent Draft to watch for the future are second-round pick Josh Lindblom and 11th-rounder Nathan Eovaldi. Lindblom has been starting for Great Lakes since signing. Left-hander Brent Leach has been closing at Jacksonville, but without an overpowering pitch could also become a situational lefty.
With Nomar Garciaparra eligible for free agency, is it possible that the Dodgers would want to re-sign him as a clutch pinch-hitter, keeping him off the field and keeping him healthy?
-- Aaron A., Nipomo, Calif.
On the Dodgers part? Sure. On Garciaparra's part? Almost impossible. Garciaparra has been an everyday player since his rookie season. He's earned more than $75 million in the game. You would be asking him to take about a 90 percent pay cut to be a pinch-hitter and accept a job sitting around when he believes that he's shown he can still play the infield on a daily basis. If you mean more of a utility role, where he could play all over the infield, get 300-plus at-bats and be paid accordingly, that's a role for which many feel Garciaparra would be ideally suited.
Who figures on being the Dodgers' September callups?
-- Ted M., Willow Street, Pa.
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Probably James McDonald, Blake DeWitt, Chin-lung Hu and Jason Repko. They'll also need a third catcher and it could be Lucas May, who is on the 40-man roster, or A.J. Ellis, who is not. One player they wanted to call up, but who is not on the 40-man roster, is left-handed pitcher Scott Elbert. Anyone expecting the Dodgers to call up a boatload of young players just to see them in a Major League uniform will be very disappointed. The current Dodgers management utilizes every loophole in the book to work around the 40-man roster limit and retain a surplus of players, most often by placing injured players on the 60-day disabled list, where they don't count against the 40-man roster. Current Dodgers on that list are Tony Abreu, Jason Schmidt, Rafael Furcal, Gary Bennett, Scott Proctor and Brazoban. To activate any of them, a corresponding player must be taken off the 40-man roster.
It seems like opposing teams are stealing bases against the Dodgers at an alarming rate. Is that true?
-- Ted R., Chatsworth, Calif.
Very true. It hasn't been pretty, as Dodgers catchers are erasing basestealers at a dreadful rate of 15.9 percent on the season, which is on target to be the worst for the franchise since 1996 (14.9 percent) when Mike Piazza was the catcher. With Gold Glove catcher Russell Martin getting the bulk of the action, much of it rests on him. He has thrown out runners at a 15.5 percent clip -- last in the league and barely half of his 29.3 percent last year. It's a wonder clubs aren't running more on the Dodgers to exploit the situation.
Who are the surviving members of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers?
Bill H., Macungie, Pa.
Duke Snider, Don Zimmer, George Shuba, Bob Borkowski, Don Newcombe, Carl Erskine, Billy Loes, Ed Roebuck, Roger Craig, Sandy Koufax and Tom Lasorda.