Needs More Free Agent Signings

From the official email:

LOS ANGELES – The National League West Division Champion Los Angeles Dodgers today have offered salary arbitration to outfielder Manny Ramirez, starting pitcher Derek Lowe, and infielder Casey Blake. General Manager Ned Colletti made the announcement. 
The three players have until 9:00 p.m. PST on December 7 to accept the offer and doing so would ensure their spot on the 2009 roster. As “Type A” free agents, if Ramirez and Lowe do not accept arbitration and choose to sign with another team, the Dodgers will receive two draft picks apiece from that club. Blake, a “Type B” free agent, would net the Dodgers a supplemental draft pick if he elects to sign elsewhere.
The Dodgers did not offer arbitration to the following free agents: Joe Beimel, Gary Bennett, Rafael Furcal, Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Johnson, Jeff Kent, Greg Maddux, Pablo Ozuna, Chan Ho Park, Brad Penny, and Mark Sweeney.

No-brainer decisions on Manny, Lowe, and Blake, for sure. Most of the guys who didn’t get offered aren’t really problematic either, and before you protest, Furcal doesn’t return any draft picks due to his being injured all year, and if the team really wanted Penny back, they’d have just picked up his option. (Which I still believe they should have). The one question I do have is on Joe Beimel. It’s rare that a non-closer reliever is able to pick up a multi-year contract, and all indications are that he’s going to pick up at least two years and possibly three from someone. That being the case, why not extend arbitration? The worst thing that could happen is that he accepts and you have to pay him a little more than you wanted, but it would only be for one year. Besides, we all know there was no way he was going to take it. Might as well take the free draft pick.

(I love that it was even theoretically possible that guys like Mark Sweeney and Pablo Ozuna could have been offered arbitration. What were they going to say? “No, no, we don’t need to have an independent arbiter! You really want to give me a job? I’ll take whatever you want! I’ll take the minimum! In pesos!”)

Seems like it’s time for a tour of the blogosphere…

* At Baseball Prospectus, Joe Sheehan pretends he’s the GM of the Dodgers. I assume this means he neglected to include the picture of himself with a mustache and cowboy boots. I won’t copy the whole article here, but let’s look at the takehome points…

Sign Derek Lowe for four years and $62 million. He’s the best fit for this team and this payroll, and there should be some value to Lowe in not having to relocate. If there’s not, ply him with additional money.

WeeksLove it. It’s unfortunate that Lowe’s already told just about everyone that he’s not interested in staying on the West Coast and sounds almost certain to end up back with the Red Sox, or at least another Eastern team.

Trade Xavier Paul and Victor Garate to the Brewers for Rickie Weeks; then make Weeks a center fielder. It’s a low bid, and honestly, I’m skeptical enough of DeJesus’ power and ability to play shortstop than I might deal him if that’s what it took to get Weeks.

First of all, the fact that the first name I see when I type in “Weeks” into baseball-reference is “Charlie Manlove” makes the twelve-year-old in me laugh endlessly. I’m not so sure about this one on two fronts, though. First of all, I’d have to think that Paul and Garate aren’t nearly enough to get Weeks; second of all, I’m just not sure how much I’d want him. Let’s just say you can turn him into a center fielder, which is of course questionable at best. I know he’s only 26, but his 2008 line (.234/.342/.398) and the fact that he basically got benched for Ray Durham are hardly positives in my eyes. I wouldn’t mind taking him, but I just don’t see enough productivity with the bat to bother making him learn a new position. He seems like a younger Juan Pierre with a little more power and a little less speed, and don’t we already have Juan Pierre? Speaking of Ray Durham, though…

Sign Ray Durham for two years, $8 million. The extra year is designed to get this over with quickly, as the falloff from Durham to the next option is steep enough to want to avoid the question. If Durham is done, this is an easy contract to eat. Speaking of which…

This is not actually as terrible of an idea as I would have thought. Though I’d prefer DeWitt at 2B since his bat plays better there than at 3B, there’s a lot fewer options at the hot corner than the keystone. Besides, despite his age, Durham can still hit. With the exception of his dreadful 2007, he hasn’t had a below-average OPS since 1997. Not that it was unfair to wonder if 2007 was the beginning of the end, with how bad he was. But anyone who can bounce back with a .380 OBP as he did this year has to have something going for him. Yeah, his range at 2B isn’t great anymore – though it’s hard not to be an improvement over what we saw with Jeff Kent.

Release Andruw Jones. Ideally, you could get him to agree to a buyout, where he takes 60 cents on the dollar and gets to hit the market again, choosing that ahead of a season in which he bats 125 times as the Dodgers’ fifth outfielder. There’s no place for him on this roster. A year ago, I loved this signing; I was very, very wrong.

Yes, yes, a million times YES! I know and you know that this will never happen, so I’m not even going to look at logically. There’s just so much YES in this idea.

Sign Javier Valentin. He starts 30-35 games against good right-handed pitchers and is a very good pinch-hitter the rest of the time.

Not bad, though the first step before needing a good backup catcher to spell Russell Martin is making sure Joe Torre will actually use a backup catcher. Valentin’s a switch-hitter who’s been pretty decent against righties and pretty awful against lefties in his career, meaning he’ll never be a starter, but could be a pretty good backup for a guy like Turtle who’s never sitting against a lefty anyway. It makes sense, so it’ll never happen.

Re-sign Takashi Saito. Offer him a high-upside deal. It’s not likely there’s much guaranteed money available for him, and he’s one of those “good or unavailable” guys

I’m not entirely convinced that he’s not either A) going back to Japan or B) going to need surgery, because you don’t just tough out a torn elbow ligament. That said, he’s got very little bargaining leverage because of the injury and the fact that he’s not a free agent, so the price should be right. I’d say it’s worth the $3m or so it’d probably cost.

Offer arbitration to Ramirez. I can’t fathom him taking it, and almost no team uses draft picks as well as the Dodgers do.

Done and done. However, while the Dodgers might use their picks correctly, you almost wonder if the McCourts are afraid of having too many picks, because then they’d have to pay them – and isn’t there something monumenally wrong with that?

Loretta* Via MLBtraderumors, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting that at least four teams are interested in Astros infielder Mark Loretta, and the Dodgers are one of them. The Santa Monica native is 37 and is what he is – an veteran whose decent on-base skills and little power add up to a slightly below-average hitter (dig the career 99 OPS+ and 7 different years with OPS scores between 89 and 95). He can play all four infield spots, and in 2008 was a below-average 2B and an above-average 3B. Considering he only made $2.75 million last year, I don’t have a problem with the Dodger interest – depending on what that interest is. As a starter at 2B or 3B? Oh, hell no. But as a veteran backup who can fill a lot of spots in the infield with a decent bat, there’s certainly value in that, especially considering he’s a righty hitter and James Loney and Blake DeWitt (assuming DeWitt starts somewhere) are lefties. Continuing in that thought, Loretta crushes lefties (.903 OPS in 2008; .390 OBP career) while being markedly weaker against righties, so that really could work. The only thing is, it would almost certainly mean the end of Nomar in Blue, because they’d be filling almost exactly the same role.

* Via BlueNotes, ESPN has a list of the most notable Scott Boras signings. To no one’s surprise, most of these didn’t work out too well for the teams. On the other hand, didn’t we all see the deals for Park and Zito (and the size of A-Rod’s deal) being bad ideas from the very start?

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg