Amidst the flurry of international signings and spending, the Dodgers quietly said goodbye to Brandon League and designated him for assignment on Thursday. There is currently no place for Brandon League in the Dodger bullpen, and they couldn’t extend his rehab any longer. League had pitched in 10 rehab games where he allowed three runs (only one earned) on 10 hits with eight strikeouts and two walks in 10 2/3 innings of rehab work.
League landed on the disabled list, and subsequently moved to the 60-day D.L. after suffering a shoulder impingement during Spring Training. League has the right to refuse assignment, so his Dodger career could be over even if he were to clear waivers.
With the emergence of Yimi Garcia, Adam Liberatore as well as the acquisitions of Joel Peralta and Juan Nicasio, League wasn’t able to knock one of the aforementioned arms out of the Dodger bullpen at this time.
I have very mixed feelings on the departure of League. Strange feelings. I actually feel that League pitched well for the Dodgers last season, and I also think he could be valuable to the bullpen in some capacity if he was effective in inducing the high amount of groundballs he did last year.
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The new front office does gravitate toward these groundball type pitchers as evident in their signing of baby faced Trevor Cahill on Thursday who will pitch in Oklahoma City at least for now. The problem is Brandon League was a Ned Colletti contract which has been flamed and cited as a horrible free agent signing during his tenure as General Manager. In 2012, League pitched well when Kenley Jansen was out, and that convinced Ned Colletti to sign him for 3 years and $22.5 million.
Signing volatile relief pitchers to lucrative and long deals never seems like a good option, and the situation with League only supported my feelings on the subject after the right-hander’s awful 2013. I don’t think I’ve seen such an internet backlash against a struggling Dodger or a particular deal than the flack League received on Twitter and online.
Brandon League seemed to stay cool during the online onslaught, and I respect his laid back Hawaiian heritage and style.
Much like Juan Uribe, I too was extremely frustrated with League’s performance in 2013 during his first part of time with the Dodgers after the new contract, but I grew to sort of kind of like him? Rick Honeycutt worked his magic, and League was inducing groundballs at an amazing rate in 2014. I’m not sure if he would ever be worth $22.5 million for any length of time, but League still has an effective arm if healthy and in control.
Even though the Dodger bullpen has some exciting young arms which have been for the most part effective during the first half, there’s been some growing pains for young hurlers like Yimi Garcia and even some bumps in the road for veterans like Joel Peralta. League, when he is sharp, is a very valuable tool in the effort to bridge to Kenley. The Dodgers also have a solid infield behind him which they didn’t have last year with Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, and many of the hits against League were of the infield variety last year.
Batters hit 0.92 against League when the ball was hit to the infield (55 games) in 2014. The last time we saw League pitch in a game was during the postseason versus the Cardinals.
"“What a difference a year makes. If you had told me Brandon League would be inducing a key double play in a Dodger playoff game allowing the stage to be set for one of the greatest Dodger postseason homeruns in franchise history by Matt Kemp, I would have thought you were crazy. It is rare that I commend Brandon League or write an entire post about the long-haired Hawaiian reliever, but then again baseball is so unpredictable.”"
Feelings are unpredictable too, and I feel bad that League won’t be able to make a Dodger comeback. Like Uribe, League worked back to find a place on the team and endured a lot of ridicule in the process. Good luck to Brandon in his career whether or not it is in Blue.