Boy, you miss one day to go to jury duty and a thousand things happen, don’t they? As for the jury duty, I spent my day trying my best to get out of serving on a murder case that I already knew about (Linda Stein, former manager of the Ramones). Unfortunately, I got excused because I couldn’t guarantee I’d be available for three months, thus denying me of my lifelong dream of telling a 78-year-old judge that I couldn’t be impartial because I listen to and play too much punk rock. Oh, and there was the woman next to me who swore up and down that OJ was innocent. Isn’t democracy great?
Anyway, back to today’s news. None of this is exactly breaking news since I’m behind the curve today, but for the sake of completisim…
No one wants to mess with Kim Ng! Every single of one of the arbitration cases have been settled, thus sparing guys like James Loney and Russell Martin the pain of listening to Ng mark off the days it took them to hit their first home run in 2009. I suppose there’s not much negativity you could put towards Matt Kemp, so maybe he just avoided having to hear that he’s cursed because he goes to Clippers games.
Andre Ethier – 2 years, $15.25m
Jonathan Broxton – 2 years, $11m
Russell Martin – 1 year, $5.05m
George Sherrill – 1 year, $4.5m
James Loney – 1 year, $3.1m
Hong-Chih Kuo – 1 year, $0.95m
Several of these deals have incentives as well, but these are the base salaries. As Jon astutely notes, Martin’s deal is somewhat lower than you’d think based on his track record, though I can’t imagine a guy who hit for less power than David Eckstein did in 2009 can complain all that much about getting five million dollars.
So what next? After these deals, the payroll for 2010 stands at somewhere around $91 million, and with the arbitration cases out of the way there’s no longer the open question of how many millions ends up going to these guys – the Dodgers have much more cost certainty.
While most of these deals seem fair, as several outlets have noted, Sherrill’s $4.5m seems kind of hefty for a set-up man, especially on a team with power lefties Kuo and Scott Elbert available in the pen already. But while ESPN seems to think moving Sherrill is a done deal, I don’t see it happening that easily. The closer market was oversaturated this offseason, and the few remaining teams looking for a closer are unlikely to want to shell dollars + prospects for Sherrill.
Besides, while you can make the argument that $4.5m is too much for a set-up man, it’s also not enough that it’s likely to be the tipping point that gets someone like Joel Pineiro to LA. In fact – and there’s going to be a full post on this in the next day or two – I strongly prefer Jon Garland to Pineiro anyway. While that’s a different topic entirely, I think those who think that Sherrill is definitely gone are overreaching just a bit.
Now serving fungible starter #23382… No deal yet, but the Baltimore Sun has thrown this new name into the mix: Rich Hill.
Hill was, for one season only, a pretty decent starter for the Cubs. In 2007, he went 11-7 with a 3.92 ERA while striking out nearly a man per inning. Dealing with injuries including a sore back in 2008, he pitched in just 5 MLB games, and after being traded to the Orioles last year, he was atrocious (7.80 ERA, 1.873 WHIP) before having surgery for a torn labrum.
Still, he’s 6’5″, not yet 30, and a lefty who’s had previous success, so if the Dodgers want to give him a non-guaranteed shot that’s fine with me. The only worry I have is that if he’s turning down a minor league offer from Baltimore and has more than one competitor for his services, then he might be in a position to demand a major-league deal. I like to think that we live in a world where a guy who gave up nearly 8 runs per 9 before having doctors take apart his pitching shoulder can’t demand a major-league deal, but maybe I’m just naive.
At least the other NL West teams aren’t making it too hard on the Dodgers… I jokingly said on Twitter earlier today, “who’s doing more to help the Dodgers, LA or San Francisco?” I should have included Colorado, because they’re both making astoundingly bad choices.
Let’s start with the Giants, who just signed 35-year-old Benji Molina to a $4.5m contract. Remember, Molina came in last year at .285… and that’s on-base percentage. So rather than give 23-year-old star-in-the-making Buster Posey (who hit 18 homers and had an OPS of .947 at 2 levels last year) a shot, they’re likely going to kick him back to AAA - just so they can pay Molina many times more money to do a many times worse job. I love it.
Needless to say, educated Giants fans are not thrilled…
$4.5 million is a lot to pay a backup catcher. Which of course means Buster Posey won’t be given much chance, if any, to prove he can start the year running the show in The Show. Which means, more likely than not, Molina won’t be the backup catcher. Which of course means that Bruce Bochy will insert him as the cleanup hitter because of his proven track record of being the cleanup hitter.
Good God, Bengie Molina will be the Giants’ cleanup hitter.
But wait! The Rockies check in with a late entry into “Stupid Catching Tricks”:
I was told today that they could sign catcher Paul Lo Duca to a minor league deal. Lo Duca didn’t play in the majors last season, but has ties to Rockies’ manager Jim Tracy dating to their days together in Los Angeles. I will keep you posted on what I hear.
Okay, fine, it would be a minor-league deal. Still, Paulie’s going to be 38, had an OPS of just .616 when he last played in 2008, and put up his best years on the juice. Will Jim Tracy’s man-crush never cease? 2005 was going to be a bad year regardless, but it didn’t have to be as bad as it was if not for the irrational moves Tracy made because he was so upset about losing LoDuca.
Update: not a rumor any more, because LoDuca has been signed. Hah! Rockies fans, enjoy watching Tracy bench Chris Ianetta for LoDuca every chance he can get.