Gas Is Down, and So Is Manny

Holy crap, is there a lot going on today. I hardly even know where to begin! Trust me on this, you’re going to want to read to the end – we’re saving the best for last.

* I am crushed for Scott Boras right now. Buster Olney, hit me.

Executives around baseball wonder if that will change in the next few days, because they are having a difficult time envisioning how Ramirez would make more in salary in 2009 than if he accepted arbitration. He made $20 million last season — although the present-day value was just a little more than $17 million — and following a historic performance in which Ramirez hit .396 for the Dodgers in two months, driving in 53 runs in 53 games, his arbitration award would be breathtaking. Boras would be in position to set a new and stunning standard through that process, and could ask for A-Rod money.

But accepting arbitration would represent a staggering surrender for Ramirez, who had hoped for a nine-figure contract, and for Boras, who has been talking a deal for as long as six years for the 36-year-old outfielder. One year for $28 million is a long way from four years for $100 million, or six years for $150 million. Some friends of Ramirez do not believe that he will allow Boras to take arbitration, as tempting as it may be. “This is not going to be an easy time for Scott,” a friend of Ramirez said.

Admit it. The thought of Scott Boras getting embarrassed warms your heart just a little, doesn’t it? You know, Buster Olney makes a lot of good points here about how with the economy in such a tailspin, that there’s no way Manny’s getting the huge deal that Boras wants – not that we haven’t been saying that since day one. The question now is… what’s the best possible outcome for the Dodgers here? If Manny accepts arbitration, the Dodgers get him on a one-year deal and motivated for another trip through free agency… but they’d also be paying him a completely ridiculous salary for 2009 that would dwarf anything he could get anywhere else, and if Frank McCourt is forced to shoehorn $28 million into the payroll, we might be looking at nothing but AAAA players making the minimum.

On the other hand, if he’s forced to settle for a two- or three- year deal at a significantly lower salary than he’d hoped, he might be Unhappy Manny Being Manny, and that’s just not going to be good for anyone. So I suppose I’m rooting for him to accept arbitration… but it doesn’t matter since we all know that there’s absolutely no way that’s going to happen.

Moving on to better news about players we never wanted to see in LA in the first place:

* Thanks for staying away, Andy! Joe Torre apparently called Pettitte to gauge his interest in coming to Los Angeles, and it sounds like it’s not really going to happen. Now I said a few weeks ago that I wasn’t all that interested in Pettitte coming out, so this is good news. But here’s the quote from the Newsday story that makes this all the more hilarious:

Pettitte, nevertheless, has refused to agree to a $10 million salary for 2009, after making $16 million each of the last two seasons.

Really, Andy? You’re going to be 37 years old. You were awful most of last year. And the economy is driving down prices for everyone. Yet ten million dollars isn’t enough money for you? Especially when at this point, you should consider yourself lucky to even claim a roster spot somewhere. Sixteen million dollars for the rotting corpse of Andy Pettitte. Unbelievable.

* Everything you know is wrong. I usually have a good deal of respect for Tony Jackson of the LA Daily News, although I suppose when you’re going up against Plaschke and Simers every day it’s hard not to look good. But I have got to wonder about this update from his blog today:

Just found out there is nothing to the Wilson story, that the Dodgers haven’t talked to the Pirates about him in months.

Months? How is that even possible – we’ve been hearing “Wilson-to-the-Dodgers” stories every day for weeks, even so far as to hear possible names going back to Pittsburgh (Hu and D.Young). Now all of a sudden, there’s been no contact for months? There has to be more going on here than we know. That said, I could care less whether they communicate through carrier pigeons or smoke signals, as long as it doesn’t end up with Wilson in LA.

* You did not see this coming. Baseball Prospectus just put out their yearly top ten list of Dodger prospects, and before you click, just think to yourself, who would you think would be number one? It’s a little different now that guys like Loney, Kershaw, Billingsley, and LaRoche are no longer eligible, of course. So maybe you think James McDonald. Maybe Ivan DeJesus, Jr. Hell, why not Joel Guzman? That was a fun couple of years. Prepare to be shocked:

ethanmartin.jpgFour-Star Prospects
1. Ethan Martin, RHP
2. Ivan De Jesus Jr., SS/2B
3. James McDonald, RHP
4. Scott Elbert, LHP
5. Andrew Lambo, LF
Three-Star Prospects
6. Josh Lindblom, RHP
7. Devaris Gordon, SS
8. Josh Bell, 3B
Two-Star Prospects
9. Pedro Baez, 3B
10. Kyle Russell, RF
11. Xavier Paul, CF

You’d think a guy who really stepped up in the playoffs like McDonald would get some love over the kid who’s yet to throw his first professional pitch, but hell, whatever. If that list doesn’t get you too jazzed, this one will:

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (as of Opening Day 2009)

1. Chad Billingsley, RHP
2. Clayton Kershaw, LHP
3. Matt Kemp, OF
4. James Loney, 1B
5. Jonathan Broxton, RHP
6. Ethan Martin, RHP
7. Blake DeWitt, 2B/3B
8. Ivan De Jesus Jr., SS/2B
9. James McDonald, RHP
10. Scott Elbert, LHP

Now that’s a list of talent.

Got that right. After all that talent, we need to even it out by checking in with the worst player in baseball, non-Andruw Jones division. Dear god… could it be….

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick talked to Mark Sweeney‘s agent Barry Axelrod, who says his client will probably only play next year if a Major League deal is offered.  Sweeney, 39, hit .130/.250/.163 in 108 plate appearances for the Dodgers while earning $600K plus incentives.