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.

Whoooooooo!

You Should Have to Pass a Test to Have a Blog

(Before we get started, fair is fair. We bash Bill Plaschke relentlessly around here, which is only because he’s generally the worst columnist in sports. So on the rare occasion that he actually says something I agree with, I feel obligated to point it out. Check out Plaschke’s response to the Jamie McCourt firestorm, because believe it or not, he’s right on. Due to this, I fully expect that the earth will collide with Mars by the end of the year.)

Usually I don’t address trade rumors from other blogs, because they’re not so much “rumors” as some ridiculous idea thought up by someone with no connection to the team whatsoever. Yet today we’re going to bend that rule a bit for two reasons – one, because the blog we’re about to discuss seems to have some professional writers (radio hosts and ESPN.com writers) and two, because some things are simply so idiotic that they must be addressed. To let things like what you’re about to see go by without comment would yankeefansnearly be as much of a mistake on my part as theirs, because if you don’t roll up that newspaper and lightly bat the puppy on the nose while saying “no”, how will they ever learn? Besides, it’s the slowest time of the year, so I’ll take what I can get.

It is with this in mind that I bring you the New York Baseball Digest, also known as “the Worst Baseball Blog ever”. In particular, their post about what the Yankees should do about Andy Pettitte, which is relevant here due to the recent “Pettitte to Dodgers” rumors we’ve heard. After some discussion about whether the Yankees should offer Pettitte arbitration or not, we get to this:

I personally feel the Yankees do not need Pettitte, that he is on the decline and doesn’t have the same bite on his reknowned cut fastball. The Yankees are interested in Sabathia and Lowe because they were dominant #1starters down the stretch, helping their teams into the playoffs. But, Pettitte was the exact opposite of Sabthia and Lowe, was terrible down the stretch, fashioning a 2-7 with a 6.23 ERA in his final 11 starts. So, if you were Brain Cashman, the reason you like Sabtahia and Lowe should be the reason you DON’T LIKE Pettitte – he was terrible when it counted most.

Other than the fact that a supposed media professional should be able to go better than 1-3 on spelling “Sabathia” right (and let’s not even get into “Brain” Cashman), this backs up what I said the other day about signing Pettitte – that’s he’s done, cooked, and not worth anywhere near the money he’ll command. Yankee fans, judging from what I’ve read and heard, seem to agree. He’s at the end of the rope. Which is why this next paragraph will make you throw yourself into the highway:

The Yankees do not want to give Pettitte similar money as last year, knowing he is on the decline and is, at best in 2009, going to be a fifth starter. But, the Yankees need to offer arbitration, and hope that the Dodgers’ need for a veteran starter is too much and they offer Pettitte a two year deal for good money. But, if Pettitte does accept arbitration, seek to trade him and possibly Johnny Damon (because LA could also use a leadoff hitter) to the Dodgers for a young player or two. I like Matt Kemp and James McDonald straight up.

Matt Kemp and James McDonald straight up for Andy Pettitte and Johnny Damon, is it? I bet you do like that. Because who wouldn’t like trading two expensive guys in their mid 30s for two future stars making the minimum that are under 25? No, forget the fact that Matt Kemp is better than Johnny Damon right now (2008 leadoff stats: Kemp .305/.360/.492 vs Damon .305/.376/.468, not to mention Kemp’s rocket arm vs. Damon’s Pierre arm), and forget the fact that McDonald is likely going to be better than Pettitte in 2009, because it’s not like McDonald was dominating the Phillies in the NLCS while Pettitte was imploding down the stretch. None of that matters! Because it’d help the Yankees! Hey, while you’re at it, why not trade Hideki Matsui for Russell Martin? Kei Igawa for Chad Billingsley?

You know, usually I feel that Dodger fans’ particular disgust of Red Sox and Yankee fans is a bit overblown. But why is always the Yankee fans and their blogs that come up with these ridiculous ideas that have no consideration for why the other team would possibly make such a deal?

So we salute you, New York Baseball Digest. Your idiocy has provided me with a morning of entertainment intermingled with occasional thoughts of how we can bombard your server to get your site offline, if only to spare the rest of us from your ridiculous, underthought, poisonous trade “ideas”.

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

I Guess I’ve Got No Choice

Sweet merciful crap! The rumors! My god, the rumors. You know, usually I look forward to this time of year so much, because what’s more fun than the Hot Stove League? Wondering what big name will don the Dodger blue for the first time, trying to figure out how all the puzzle pieces will fit together for the next year. It’s wonderful.

Until the 400th time you hear some two-bit reporter come up with a non-sourced rumor that only benefits his hometown team and somehow gains legs, that is. I’ve heard some people complain that the Dodgers have somehow been dragging their feet in not making any moves yet, but I just don’t see it. We all know that the big-time free agents always wait as long as possible before signing, and other than that the only moves have really been the Giants signing Jeremy Affeldt and the Marlins making a few salary dumps.

Anyway, things have really been coming to a head the last few days, despite the fact that we all know nothing is going to happen until at least the December 1 arbitration deadline and likely not until the December 8 winter meetings, so I figure it’s time to check into some of these.

* Good god, Jack Wilson again? Via MLBtraderumors, FOXsports.com’s Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Dodgers are interested in trading for Pirates SS Jack Wilson, but that the price (Chin-Lung Hu, Delwyn Young, and a third player) was deemed too high. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard Wilson rumors floating around, and at least this is a little more palatable than when we’d heard Matt Kemp was involved over the summer. But come on, three players for Jack Wilson? He’s known to be a good defender and a below-average bat. Which sounds like, oh, I don’t know… Chin-Lung Hu? I don’t think that Hu’s going to get a shot to be the Opening Day shortstop, but if we’re going to have a good field/no hit guy there, I think I’d rather the guy who’s not getting paid $7.25 million in 2009, is especially atrocious in Dodger Stadium (.558 OPS), and is costing several young players to acquire. At least Hu’s got some upside. PASS.

* Wait, Andy Pettitte? Also from Ken Rosenthal, Andy Pettitte has apparently spoken with Joe Torre about a reunion in Los Angeles. If true, this is a tough call. On one hand, he’ll be 37 next year, is coming off the worst year of his career (plus a 5.35 ERA in the second half) and after having made $16 million in each of the last three years, is unlikely to want to take much of a pay cut. On the other hand… actually, I don’t think there is another hand. I wouldn’t mind giving him a shot at a more reasonable price, but if he wants $16 million or anything close to it? I’d rather have Eric Stults. Somehow I feel Torre would disagree with me. PASS.

* Okay, Ken, I see you, you can stop making a scene. Clearly just trying to get my attention, Rosenthal seems to have the Dodgers in on just about everyone, so let’s finish with him right here. He’s also suggesting that the Dodgers A) should sign Trevor Hoffman and B) could be interested in acquiring Mike Lowell. Though I disagree that Jonathan Broxton needs to be “protected” or somehow can’t be trusted, I’m not against signing Hoffman at the right price. He might be 41, but he still bested his career WHIP last year. If the price is right? Why not. As for Lowell, he’s 35, injured, and owed $25 million. Just because he’s old, busted, expensive and a Red Sox doesn’t mean that he has to end up with the Dodgers. Oh… right. Of course it does. OKAY and PASS.

* I agree with T.J. Simers?! I hate it when this happens, but at least this time it’s just joining together to acknowledge that Bill Plaschke is awful.

I GO away and Plaschke immediately makes the case again not to bring back Manny Ramirez, while suggesting the Dodgers trade for Jake Peavy, Adrian Beltre and “count on the kids.”

Sounds like I’m not the only one in need of some time off.

* Come on Giants! I know the “Edgar Renteria signs with Giants” rumors were proven false (so far), but a man can still have a rooting interest. What could be better than your hated rival, supposedly in a rebuilding stage, committing $18 million and a draft pick to sign an over-the-hill shortstop? Renteria to the Giants! Feel the holiday spirit – if you believe in it hard enough, it can happen!

* And those other guys? Right, CC, Manny, and Furcal. Look, I think we all know the deal with these three. CC’s got an enormous offer on the table from the Yankees, but hasn’t accepted it yet. Manny got an expensive but short-term offer from the Dodgers, which was quickly rejected while Scott Boras tries to get someone to literally sign their souls over to him. Furcal… well, don’t keep your hopes up. By the time you read this, he might have signed with the Giants or A’s, but more likely he’s not going anywhere for a few weeks. Unfortunately, it does seem that where he does end up, it won’t be in Los Angeles – not when he’s (apparently) receiving four year offers. After all the injuries we watched him suffer through in his three year deal, don’t expect the Dodgers to beat that this time.

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