Hells Bells in Los Angeles?

Not that this isn’t an idea that hasn’t already been kicked around for months, but Yahoo’s Tim Brown says that the Dodgers have actually acted upon it

The Los Angeles Dodgers have offered Trevor Hoffman a one-year contract with a club option for 2010, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

Hoffman, the all-time saves leader, also has discussed a contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, and is likely to have received a formal offer from them, as well.

Discarded by the San Diego Padres, Hoffman is thought to prefer Southern California, having spent 15 ½ of his 16 big-league seasons in San Diego.

TrevorHoffman_2006_002.jpgNow, let me say this: I don’t believe the Dodgers need a closer, at least not in the sense that they need a starting pitcher or needed to get rid of Andruw Jones. Despite the likely losses of Joe Beimel & Takashi Saito and the already-gone Chan Ho Park, the Dodgers still return their top three relievers in terms of WXRL – Cory Wade, Hong-Chih Kuo, and Jonathan Broxton. Not only that, Ramon Troncoso (who was adequate in his time up last year) is tearing up winter ball (2.25 ERA, 11/1 K/BB in 16 innings) and youngsters Scott Elbert and James McDonald, who both showed flashes in their limited time in the bigs in 2008, are each likely to contribute. Yeah, losing Saito hurts, but no one knows if he’s healthy anyway, and the club was successful without him for most of last year as it was. The point is, the Dodgers pen is strong, and despite the unfounded worry over Broxton as the closer, doesn’t require a major upgrade.

That said, make no mistake – even though closer isn’t a huge need in my book, it’s never a bad idea to upgrade the bullpen if the price and situation is right. Trevor Hoffman might be 41 years old, and he might be coming off his highest ERA since 1995, but he’s still got it. In yet another example of why ERA isn’t always a foolproof method of evaluation, note that despite his ERA jumping nearly a full run between 2007-08 to 3.88, his WHIP decreased markedly (his 3rd lowest in the last 8 years, and actually lower than his career average) and his K rate jumped back up to one per inning. Even better, he got stronger as the season went on, which is always a worry for old players. After a lousy first half (5.08 ERA) he was dominant after the break, allowing just 10 hits in 17 innings for a 1.59 ERA. Oddly enough, unlike every other San Diego pitcher ever, he was much more successful away from PetCo Park.

As I said, I think the bullpen would be just fine without Hoffman, and I have confidence that Broxton can get the job done. But I’d be more than happy to add Hoffman and push everyone back. Then you’ve got Broxton being the best setup man in the league, and Wade & Kuo being a deadly 1-2 punch that you can insert whenever you need. How great does that top 4 sound, and we haven’t even gotten to Troncoso, Elbert & McDonald yet?

So let’s get this done. There’s no word on whether Milwaukee’s offer is superior, but unless they’re not even close, it shouldn’t matter. Hoffman’s a SoCal native, even before pitching for San Diego, and has stated he’d prefer to stay near home. Add in that his brother Glenn is a former Dodger player and coach, and that the Dodgers are much better positioned to compete in the weak NL West than the Brewers (sans Sabathia and Sheets) are against the Cubs in the Central, and there’s no downside here. Besides, throwing a few more dollars at Hoffman would save the club money in arbitration hearings with Broxton, because set-up men never get paid as much as closers with fancy save totals, regardless of how good they are. In addition, just like how we enjoyed having Greg Maddux around for our young starters, perhaps Hoffman could teach Broxton that devastating changeup, which would make him completely unstoppable.

Besides, how great would it be to kick Padre fans while they’re down by taking the second best player in team history away from them?  

***In other news, let’s thank the New York Yankees for taking out our trash. Not only did they sign Jason Johnson, who was unlikely to return anyway, they saved us from the looming spector of Angel Berroa 2: Electric Boogaloo by signing him too. Guys, why stop there? Mark Sweeney and Pablo Ozuna are still out there lurking, and I’d love to know they’re contractually barred from resigning with the Blue. 

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