No, I didn’t miss Andruw Jones restructuring his deal to get the hell out of Dodge(rtown). After a long weekend away and a short coma at the shock of not having to see that fat sack of crap in a Dodgers uniform in 2009, I’m back and beyond thrilled. That said, I’m not going to dwell
on it too much right now – he’s not officially been dumped yet, everyone else in the world has already talked about it the last few days, and I made my feelings pretty well known last week right here.
Today, as much as I might want to discuss the minor league and/or non-guaranteed signings of Juan Castro (.268 OBP over 14 seasons! Yet he’ll still make the team over Chin-Lung Hu, won’t he?) and Claudio Vargas (not as terrible as you think, but still thoroughly inferior to Eric Stults), I’d like to talk about patience – and no, not the Guns N’ Roses epic. What I’m wondering is, Dodger fans get what’s going on, right? They see that between the economy and Scott Boras holding out, this is the slowest free agent market anyone can remember, don’t they? They understand that by waiting, you’re likely to get the players you want at a large discount? I feel like fans are smart enough to understand this, and know that the season doesn’t start for three more months.
All of which makes the latest article by Dodgers.com beat writer Ken Gurnick a little confusing…
LOS ANGELES — Less than three months ago, the Dodgers were three wins away from reaching the World Series.
But that was then. Now, six weeks from the opening of the Dodgers’ first Arizona-based Spring Training, their fans are having a restless winter.
We are? Oh sure, there’s people losing their jobs left and right. There’s the never-ending black hole the economy’s in. There’s war and poverty all around the world. But as for the Dodgers? It’s not been quite perfect yet, but snatching Rafael Furcal back when we’d all said goodbye to him and getting rid of Jones’ bloated corpse is pretty nice so far.
They are frustrated that the club has been in a negotiating standoff with outfielder Manny Ramirez, even though Ramirez ignored the club’s initial offer (and apparently the only one he’s received from any club so far).
Well, right, but we’re frustrated with Boras and Manny, who’ve apparently painted themselves into a corner. I don’t see too many of us blaming Ned Colletti (I know!), who has extended the only two confirmed offers (counting arbitration) that Manny has even received this offseason.
They don’t understand why 15 other free agents have left — including starting pitchers Derek Lowe, Brad Penny and Greg Maddux, relievers Takashi Saito, Joe Beimel and Chan Ho Park and infielders Jeff Kent and Nomar Garciaparra — while only utilityman Mark Loretta and pitcher Claudio Vargas — who was released twice last year — have been acquired.
We… don’t understand? I mean… look at the list. Maddux retired, while Kent and Nomar are likely to. Lowe, Saito, and Beimel, while unlikely to return in varying degrees, haven’t signed anywhere else yet. Besides, are we really bemoaning the losses of Pablo Ozuna, Mark Sweeney, Gary Bennett, and Angel Berroa?
Also, Ken, I have to say. If you’re going to count ex-Dodgers among those who’ve left, isn’t it a little disingenuous to discount the two biggest signings so far (Furcal and Casey Blake) simply because they were on the team last year? By that logic, your above paragraph wouldn’t change even if Manny were re-signed. Excellent work, there.
Nor why an impact pitcher hasn’t been added to a starting rotation that consists of Chad Billingsley and his broken leg, Hiroki Kuroda and his fickle shoulder, 20-year-old Clayton Kershaw and Jason Schmidt — if his arm holds up.
Impact pitchers who’ve signed so far: 1) CC Sabathia, for way more money than anyone other than the Yankees were willing to give. 2) AJ Burnett, who’s just as questionable as anyone on our staff, except about forty times as expensive. 3) Randy Johnson… maybe? He’s 45. The point is, there’s still plenty of pitchers who haven’t signed yet (see our review here) so let’s not pretend that this twisted game of musical chairs has stopped and left the Dodgers without a spot.
Also, please, be more fatalistic about the guys we have, would you? “Billingsley and his broken leg” makes it sound like he’s Barbaro, on the verge of being put down, when in reality he got his cast off over a month ago and is on track to be fine for spring training. “Hiroki Kuroda and his fickle shoulder” sounds like a bad horror-based J-pop band, but it also describes a guy who pitched about 200 innings last year (including playoffs), and was at his best down the stretch and in October. I have no comeback for Kershaw being 20, other than that doesn’t automatically make him moments away from having a stroke. Think about it - you could pick the top starters in baseball right now for your rotation, and this is how Ken Gurnick would frame it:
Nor why an impact pitcher hasn’t been added to a starting rotation that consists of CC Sabathia and his massive frame after being worked hard down the stretch, Johan Santana (who hails from Venezuela, where kidnappings of the rich and famous are commonplace), Tim Lincecum’s 160lbs of injury waiting to happen, and Jake Peavy – who spent time on the DL with an arm injury last year.
Ken Gurnick’s favorite song is “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”. His favorite saying? “I think I see a cloud behind that silver lining.”
The club’s biggest offseason moves have been to retain shortstop Rafael Furcal, who missed five months of the season, and third baseman Casey Blake with three-year contracts.
I won’t discount the injury risk of Furcal, but could we also maybe mention that he destroyed the ball before he got hurt? That’s got to count for something, right? I mean, for all the complaining in this article about how the Dodgers haven’t done anything yet, is no credit given for putting out some money to sign the entire left side of their infield?
With nearly $50 million in last year’s payroll shed through the departure of the free agents to this point, fans have been further annoyed by comments and indications from management that money matters. There is concern at Dodger Stadium, and throughout MLB for that matter, that the worldwide economic collapse will make a decrease in revenues unavoidable.
Hell no, I’m not going to defend Jamie McCourt just for the sake of disagreeing with Ken Gurnick. Though, if we do sign Manny, I would pay any amount of money for some Angelino to round up their local T-ball team to come to the press conference with signs saying “I guess we’re not getting fields, Jamie!” just for the entertainment value.
More to management’s point on the money, however, is that the commitment to youth is real. The successful arrivals of Billingsley, Andre Ethier, Russell Martin, Matt Kemp, James Loney, Jonathan Broxton and Cory Wade have emboldened the club to see if this nucleus can continue to improve. But that also means generally avoiding free agents with long-term contract demands.
“Emboldened”? Uh-oh. Maybe I shouldn’t be making fun of this, because I’m starting to get the feeling that Donald Rumsfeld is ghost-writing. Also, just out of curiosity… what’s wrong with avoiding long-term free agent contracts if you don’t have to give them out? They almost always end up benefiting the player more than the club.
Term of contract also is the dilemma with Ramirez, because he turns 37 in May and the Dodgers have no designated hitter role to offer as he approaches the big Four-O. The club is willing to pay him a huge salary for two years, while Ramirez wants no fewer than four. Negotiations, virtually non-existent since the Dodgers withdrew their two-year, $45 million offer six weeks ago, resumed last week.
So, wouldn’t the club being willing to offer big money over two years be seen as a good thing? Consistently, Ken, come on now. Besides, anyone who hasn’t just arrived on this planet from October 1st knows that there’s no way Manny’s getting the four guaranteed years he wants.
Meanwhile, general manager Ned Colletti enters the final year of his four-year contract trying to improve the pitching frugally, meaning he’s been focused on the Jon Garlands and Randy Wolfs instead of the CC Sabathias and A.J. Burnetts.
Most Dodger fans realized there was no way Sabathia was coming here. If Colletti would have signed Burnett, after what happened with Schmidt, he’d have first been tarred and feathered, and then someone would have found his head in a box like Brad Pitt did in se7en. I’m not sure what’s more noteworthy here – that Gurnick has an incredible ability to find the most negative view possible, or that he’s doing it while basically being paid to be a mouthpiece of the team on the official site?