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Ronald Belisario Rumors
Dodgers right-hander Ronald Belisario's arrival at Spring Training has been delayed by visa problems for the third straight season. The reliever told Venezuelan newspaper Lider en Deportes (as passed on by Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times) that he had lost his passport and was working to get it replaced, but this news surprised Belisario's agent Paul Kinzer, who told Hernandez a day earlier that Belisario was unlikely to be approved to enter the United States and would probably have to miss the seaason.
Kinzer said on Wednesday that he was "not very optimistic" about Belisario pitching in the majors, and said the following day that Belisario's claim of a lost passport was "news to me." Kinzer also admitted that he hadn't heard from his client "in a few weeks." If Belisario isn't at Spring Training by February 26, Hernandez notes the Dodgers could remove him from the 40-man roster but still retain his rights by placing him on the restricted list.
Belisario posted a 2.04 ERA and an 8.2 K/9 rate in 69 relief appearances in his 2009 rookie year, but struggled both on the field (a 5.04 ERA in 59 games) and off (a month-long leave of absence from the team that was reportedly due to substance-abuse rehab) in 2010. ESPNLosAngeles.com's Tony Jackson hears from Kinzer that Belisario's problems in obtaining a visa are related to his off-the-field problems last summer.
Belisario was pitching extremely well in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason, but given these repeated problems, you wonder how long the Dodgers will tolerate him. The team's recent acquisitions of Juan Rincon and Lance Cormier — plus their interest in Jeff Weaver — indicates the Dodgers are already getting some right-handed options in place should Belisario indeed not be able to pitch.
As soon as he took over as D'Backs GM, Kevin Towers vowed to improve the Arizona bullpen. The team's relievers posted a 5.74 ERA last year, so Towers has a challenge ahead. The D'Backs play in Chase Field, a park so hitter-friendly the organization is considering ways to help pitchers. In particular, Chase Field is homer-friendly and has consistently been among the best launching pads in the game.
Towers will be looking for relievers this winter and he may be inclined to pick up pitchers who keep the ball on the ground. Here are some options the D'Backs may consider:
- Jamey Wright – The 35-year-old strikes out just 4.3 batters per nine innings, but his 62% ground ball rate placed him eighth among major league relievers with at least 20 innings pitched. Wright will be available as a free agent.
- Ronald Belisario – Belisario, who turns 28 in December, followed up his sensational rookie season (8.2 K/9, 2.04 ERA in 2009) with a disappointing year. He ran into personal problems and posted a 5.04 ERA. He still struck out twice as many batters as he walked and his 61% ground ball rate ranked tenth among big league relievers, so the D'Backs could have interest in trading for the promising righty.
- Bobby Jenks – Jenks is a non-tender candidate, so he could become a free agent within six weeks. The D'Backs coud use an ace reliever and Jenks boasts a 58% ground ball rate.
- Carlos Torres – A starter in the White Sox system, the right-hander just spent his third season at Triple-A. Torres, who turns 28 tomorrow, provides depth for the White Sox, but hasn't done much in two big league cameos. He limited opponents to 7.0 H/9 this year and posted a 48% ground ball rate.
- Chaz Roe – Roe, a 2005 first rounder, posted a 5.98 ERA at Triple-A and allowed 210 hits in 158 innings. The 24-year-old struggled as a starter, but the D'Backs could try to pry him away from the Rockies and hope that his 49% ground ball rate (14th in the PCL) translates to success in their 'pen.
Here's some news items from what might be baseball's most competitive division next season….
- ESPN.com's Rob Neyer says that despite John Bowker's big spring, he's not likely to get regular playing time in the majors unless there's an injury in San Francisco or unless "the Giants trade him to an American League team looking for a cheap DH."
- Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports that Giants infielder Emmanuel Burriss will be out until June due to foot surgery, leaving the team in need of a utility infielder. This tracks with the information reported yesterday about the Giants looking for such a player in exchange for Fred Lewis. If a deal isn't out there, San Fran might be best served to just hang onto Kevin Frandsen. He's no whiz with the glove (Fangraphs lists him with a career UZR/150 of -13.5 at shortstop, albeit over just 198 innings), but this might not be a problem in the short-term if the Giants just need him as a reserve SS until Freddy Sanchez is healthy and Juan Uribe can move into the reserve middle-infield role.
- Speaking of middle infielders, the Diamondbacks have a surplus of them and Augie Ojeda looks to be at the top of the trade list. MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reports that while the Snakes would like to make a move for pitching, their plans are complicated since they don't know how much time Brandon Webb will need to get healthy.
- Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com says that Ivan DeJesus has gone from being seen as a potential future starting shortstop to "perhaps trade bait" for the Dodgers.
- Ronald Belisario still hasn't arrived to spring training due to visa issues, reports MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. The fact that Belisario is out of options further complicates matters,
- Padres RHP Tim Stauffer is also out of options, but MLB.com's Corey Brock predicts that San Diego will be able to deal him to "a pitching-starved team" rather than putting him on waivers.
Some quick hits about L.A.'s blue team…
- Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reported that Manny Ramirez said he would play three more years in the majors and then two years in Japan. This came just a day after Ramirez hinted that 2010 would probably be his last year with the Dodgers and possibly his last year in baseball altogether. At this point, Ramirez could announce that he wants to play for Mr. Burns' softball team and nobody would bat an eye.
- Hernandez also reported that infielder Ronnie Belliard estimated his weight at "210 or 211 pounds" upon his arrival at the Dodgers' spring camp. If Belliard weighs in at 209 pounds or less at any point during the spring, the $825K contract he signed last month will become guaranteed.
- MLB.com's Ken Gurnick says that reliever Ronald Belisario hasn't arrived to spring training yet due to a visa problem in his native Venezuela. It shouldn't be a major issue (Hernandez tweeted earlier today that the pitcher is expected this week), but Gurnick noted that if Belisario is held up for too long past L.A.'s March 5 preseason opener, the Dodgers couldn't send him down to the minors without risking losing him to a waiver claim since Belisario is out of options.
- In a separate piece, Gurnick talks to Brian Giles, who is looking at his minor-league deal with the Dodgers as his "last shot" to see if he's healthy enough to continue playing.
Dodgers hot stove info courtesy of Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times…
- Why didn't the Dodgers offer arbitration to Type A free agent Randy Wolf? They feared he'd accept and get $15MM. Do you agree with that logic? The Dodgers were given one last chance to sign Wolf this morning, but GM Ned Colletti passed.
- Free agent possibilities at second base: Ronnie Belliard, Juan Uribe, Craig Counsell and Jamey Carroll.
- The Dodgers offered only a minor league deal to Juan Castro, so he went with the Phillies.
- The Mets have inquired on Dodgers relievers Ronald Belisario and Cory Wade.