Winter Meetings, Day 3 (Updated)

Yesterday, I was stuck in a work meeting for two hours and then was out of touch with “real life” obligations for about three hours. Based on my history, I half expected to come back and find that James Loney and Jamie McCourt had been traded to Miami for LeBron James and Ricky Nolasco.

Instead, we got Tony Gwynn, Jr. Hmmph.

Let’s kick off the third day of the winter meetings with a roundup of a few things from yesterday. As I have all this week, I’ll update this post with rumors and news as they happen.

Update, 9:31am PST:

Jayson Stark with some disheartening news about Matt Diaz

Matt Diaz turned down more $ from #Dodgers than he got from #Pirates because he wanted to stay on east coast & train in Florida.

Not a whole lot you can do about the “prefers East coast and Florida” thing, and I suppose it’s good that the Dodgers at least put a dela out there. Just crazy to imagine that a player chose less money in Pittsburgh than more money in Los Angeles.

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Original post:

Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts with an interesting thought about Gwynn’s one good aspect, his defense…

Defensively, Gwynn’s another story, as he was arguably the best center fielder in the National League last season.

So if the Dodgers plan on using Gwynn as more than a fifth outfielder, should they not play him in center field, either moving Matt Kemp to left field or Kemp to right and Andre Ethier to left?

Just as you shouldn’t bat a great offensive player eighth, shouldn’t you avoid minimizing the impact of a fine defensive player?

The Dodgers’ 2011 lineup may be the most OBP-challenged we’ve seen in Los Angeles in some time. If the plan is to win with pitching and defense, while hoping that Kemp, Ethier and others hit a few home runs along the way, the Dodgers should seriously consider using Gwynn in center.

This makes all the sense in the world, honestly, and it will of course be Gwynn in the middle when Kemp sits. I’m just not sure I can see the club pushing Kemp to LF (or RF, with Ethier to LF) for the sake of Gwynn. Kemp & Ethier may not be happy with the shuffling on a daily basis, and rookie manager Don Mattingly is already going to have to deal with as many as four time-share positions. That just means I don’t expect to see it, not that I don’t agree with it.

Buster Olney:

Russell Martin‘s negotiations have reached the point where teams are making offers to his agent, Matt Colleran; NYY, Bos center of mix

We also heard yesterday that the Dodgers haven’t spoken to Colleran since Martin was non-tendered. I’d say he’s as good as gone at this point.

Tony Jackson:

Trent Oeltjen, a seldom-used outfielder from Australia, agreed to terms on a minor league deal that includes an invitation to big league spring training. The Dodgers signed Oeltjen on July 6, four days after he was released by the Milwaukee Brewers organization, and promoted him on Sept. 7 from Triple-A Albuquerque to the majors, where he hit .217 with a .357 on-base percentage in 14 games for the Dodgers.

I’m pretty fine with this. Oeltjen mashed in the minors, and didn’t totally embarrass himself in the bigs. ABQ needs players too, and he’ll likely put up big numbers there. You could do worse as depth should injuries strike during the season.

Less interesting is the other minor-league news Jackson brings, from the same column…

Also, the Dodgers are in negotiations on a minor league contract with longtime major league infielder Juan Castro, who potentially would be joining the organization for the fourth time. Castro played in one game for the Dodgers on Aug. 15 after being released by the Philadelphia Phillies, then was sent to the minors. The Dodgers tried to call him up in September, but discovered he was ineligible due to a rule technicality.

What is the infatuation with Castro? He could never hit even at his peak, and he’ll be 39 this year. He’s not even a great fielder anymore, and while I get it would be just a minor league deal, we all know that veterans like this signed to minor league deals always find their way up to the bigs. If he takes even one inning of playing time away from Ivan DeJesus or Chin-lung Hu, in the minors or majors, it’s too much.

Jackson also reported that the Dodgers made a call to the Royals to inquire about Zack Greinke. I’m glad they’re doing their due diligence, but there’s just not a fit there. The Royals probably wouldn’t want Chad Billingsley, who’s getting expensive and closer to free agency, and while I’m sure they would want Clayton Kershaw, Kershaw is arguably as good or better than Greinke is right now. If the Royals want to take a package built around Dee Gordon and Chris Withrow then fantastic, but that just doesn’t seem reasonable. Don’t hold your breath on this one.

Finally, Matt Diaz signed with Pittsburgh, which is unfortunate for those like myself who wanted him as a righty outfield bat. With Gwynn in the fold, the Dodgers absolutely have to get a righty outfielder, but the choices are dwindling. Bill Hall? Jeff Francoeur? Austin Kearns? Lastings Milledge?

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