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Dodgers Dugout: Are the Dodgers going to make any big offseason moves?

Joc Pederson and his daughter Poppy Jett celebrate on the field after the Dodges beat the Braves 4-3 in Game 7 of the NLCS.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and another Dodger has packed his bags and left town.

Joc Pederson signed a one-year, $7-million deal with the Chicago Cubs, joining Pedro Báez, Kiké Hernández and Alex Wood as free agents from the 2020 Dodgers who will not be returning next season.

Pederson never delivered on his early potential with the team, and cratered last season, hitting .190/.285/.397 in 43 games. He was always a streaky hitter who could never hit left-handers (.191/.266/.310 in 385 plate appearances) and struck out a lot. However, he was good in the postseason, hitting .272/.349/.503 with nine homers in 64 postseason games.

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Two things I will remember the most about Pederson: His robust cheerleading in the dugout for his teammates and his excruciatingly bad post-game interviews, where the robust cheerleader is mysteriously replaced by a robotic monolith with a vocabulary of about 10 words. Of course, there was also his bizarre pre-at-bat ritual he had for a short while of leaning back from the waist and grabbing his crotch. Kids, please leave the room when Mr. Pederson is batting.

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All of these free agents leaving for other teams has made some Dodger fans a bit anxious over what the team is actually doing this offseason. So far they have signed some relievers coming off Tommy John surgery, but haven’t done much else. Time is running out!

Actually, it isn’t. The Dodgers didn’t trade for Mookie Betts until Feb. 10 last year. That was really their only major offseason move, other than signing a bunch of pitchers coming off injuries and/or bad years (Blake Treinen, Alex Wood).

With Nolan Arenado now off the board (he was traded to St. Louis), attention really centers on bringing back Justin Turner to play third base. Kris Bryant of the Cubs is apparently available, but the feeling is still that Turner and the Dodgers will reach an agreement.

Which is why I believe there will be some sort of trade or signing made before the season starts. Seems unlikely that the Dodgers would basically stand pat while other teams improved themselves this offseason. Don’t get me wrong, even if they do nothing, the Dodgers would remain a formidable team and the favorites to win the World Series again.

Oh, and as far as Trevor Bauer goes: If he’s really seeking $30 million a year like some say, then he will be way overpaid and the Dodgers don’t need him.
He was great last season, but he has been in the majors nine season and had an ERA below four only twice.

Alanna Rizzo departs

Alanna Rizzo, who was the in-game reporter on Sportsnet LA for seven seasons and a host of the pre- and post-game shows, announced that she is leaving.


I hope the new reporter will be as adept at avoiding the postgame sports drink bath as Rizzo was, who saw it coming and escaped almost every time.

Hernández says goodbye to Dodgers fans

Kiké Hernández also took to Twitter to say goodbye to Dodgers fans:

Felipe Ruiz, Lasorda fan for life

Bill Plaschke wrote a column on Felipe Ruiz that I highly recommend for any Dodger fan. Ruiz was Lasorda’s assistant for the last few years of his life. Here’s an excerpt from the column, which you can read here:

This unlikeliest of partnerships began, appropriately, as a joke.

“A total joke,” Ruiz said.

In the summer of 2015, Ruiz was installing a security system in a modest Fullerton house when [Tommy] Lasorda came home. Ruiz, a former junior college baseball player who was born in Torrance and had Dodgers season tickets, was star-struck.

“I couldn’t believe I was actually standing in his house and that this was actually him,” Ruiz said.

The old manager was impressed with the security setup and asked the dazed kid a bunch of questions. Before the dazed kid left, he handed Lasorda his business card and impulsively made a crazy offer.

“I told him I lived in Fullerton and had season tickets and if he ever needed a ride to Dodger Stadium, just call,” Ruiz recounted. “I said it for fun. I never dreamed he’d ever call.”

A week later, Lasorda called. He needed a ride to a game. Ruiz ran out of work and drove him to Dodger Stadium in the company minivan. A few days after that, Lasorda called again. He needed a ride to the doctor. Ruiz left work again and drove him.

For the next six months, as many as three times a week, Ruiz drove Lasorda all over Southern California. He did it for free. Frank Sinatra would be blaring from the dashboard, Lasorda would be telling stories from the backseat, and that was compensation enough.

“Are you kidding me?” Ruiz said. “I was living my dream.”

Little did Ruiz know, Lasorda was in the process of changing executive assistants, and one day he put his prospective employee to the test.

Ruiz picked up Lasorda in Fullerton at 7 a.m., drove him to breakfast, drove him to his Dodger Stadium office to answer fan mail, drove him down to Manhattan Beach for lunch and an appearance, drove him to Ontario to hang out with friends, stayed there with him during a long and late Italian dinner, and was finally driving him back to Fullerton at 2:30 a.m. when a question was shouted from the backseat.

“Lemme ask you something,” Lasorda said. “Are you tired?”

“Yeah Tommy, we’ve been going all day, I’m pretty beat,” Ruiz said.

“Damn it, at your age I was never tired!” boomed Lasorda.

A few minutes later Lasorda asked the question again. This time, Ruiz was ready.

“No, Tommy, I’m not tired, because we don’t get tired!” Ruiz hollered.

Test passed. Relationship forged. At the start of spring training in 2016, at Lasorda’s insistence, Ruiz was given a full-time job by the Dodgers and accompanied Lasorda to Camelback Ranch.

“It’s amazing that Tommy took a chance on me,” Ruiz said. “I wasn’t some famous former ballplayer or somebody with connections. All I had to offer him was loyalty and love.”

For Lasorda, that was always enough, and thus began the ride of Felipe Ruiz’s life.

Your first Dodgers memory

Since I still have a lot of these, “Your first Dodgers memory” returns this season. If you haven’t already, I’d still love for you to send me your first Dodgers memory, and it might run in an upcoming Dodgers Dugout. Include your name and where you live. And don’t send only a sentence. Tell why that memory sticks out in your mind. You can email me your memory at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. Thanks.

Michael Edgerle: My first Dodger memory is sitting way up in the reserved section -- with my dad, uncle and grandpa for one of the World Series games at Dodger Stadium versus the Yankees in 1977. I was just 5-years-old. I don’t recall too much of the game, other than my uncle accidentally stepped on my pennant and broke the stick when I was trying to pick it up, and the Dodgers lost that game and eventually the series (and I haven’t liked the Yankees ever since). That was just the first of many games that I attended with my dad and grandpa at Dodger Stadium. Forty years later, in 2017, I’d have the opportunity to go back to the World Series with my Grandpa, who was 99 years old. We attended Game 6 at Dodger Stadium versus the Astros. The Dodgers won the game, and who knows if we may have been able to celebrate a championship at the stadium that night if the Astros didn’t cheat. Unfortunately, grandpa passed away at age 101 in 2019, prior to the Dodgers winning it all again last year, but I know both he and my dad had a great view.

Janice Markauskas: It was July 18, 1966 and I had just turned age 10 on the 13th. For my birthday my Uncle Steve who lived in Philadelphia took us to Connie Mack Stadium to see the Dodgers play the Phillies. For the Dodgers the starting pitcher was Sandy Koufax. Unfortunately the Dodgers lost that game 4–0, but Sandy did get one of the Dodgers hits in that game. This was my first Major League game. It was a memory that I never forgot.

And finally

Tommy Lasorda and Don Rickles. Watch it here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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