Baez Blasts DRays on the Way Out the Door

Danys Baez criticized the Devil Rays and Dodger minor league aficinados blasted GM Ned Colletti for breaking the seal on the Dodger treasure chest of young prospects, bringing the Hot Stove League to a pleasurable boil and chasing the winter clouds away at least for a short time.

Baez, a 2005 National League All-Star and with 41 saves in his pocket from last season and righthander (I errored in saying he was a lefty) Lance Carter moved West to Los Angeles in exchanage for Edwin Jackson, 22 and 20-year-old lefty Chuck Tiffany.

The St. Petersburg Times quoted Baez of saying: "If they were not going to spend any more, then they have to trade me. Why would you need a $4-million closer who will be a free agent after next year and not get anything for him?

"Why do you need a good shortstop? Why do you need an Aubrey Huff? If you're not going to be a competitive team for three or four years, you can collect good prospects."

Whether Jackson and Tiffany could be parts of the Devil Rays rotation for years to come, and tip the balance well in the favor of Tampa is not part of this story, although many Dodger fans will watch their development closely.

The two youngsters are extremely talented, but even one of the men who made the deal admits there are "no guarantees" it will work out. Baez's departure leaves Tampa Bay in need of someone unproven to step up as closer.

At the same time, Tampa Bay received something, or in this case somethings, in return for a pitcher that was a dead lock to leave via free agency after 2006.

Jackson will get a spot in the Devil Ray rotation, and a much less pressure-packed atmosphere to develop in. Tiffany is a rare power lefty and has 279 strikeouts in 212.1 innings in his minor league career.

"Sometimes you've got to sacrifice present for the future," the Tampa brass is saying. "The future is now," is the mantra coming out of the Dodger front office.

Time will tell and we'll all be watching.

Worst Trade Ever?-- One website says this will take former GM Fred Claire off the hotseat he has been occupying since Pedro Martinez turned into a prince, stating that the Jackson/Tiffany trade will move into first place.

The site, Dodger Blue, uses the Martinez and Konerko trades to demonstrate the VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) lost in the transactions -- nearly 260 for Martinez and nearly 100 for Konerko and counting.

             Martinez DeShields
1994             33.8     12.5
1995             44.5     12.5
1996             39.5      2.5
1997             87.5      ---
1998             80.8      ---
Total           286.1     27.5

             Konerko   Shaw
1998            -0.9       11
1999            38.1       22
2000            29         11.5
2001            39.9       16.2
2002            43.3       ---
2003             3.2       ---
Total          152.6       60.7
Let us know what you think. The best short essays on the trade will be published here.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Todd Maulding, longtime Dodger bullpen catcher who was dumped in the FOX purge in 1998, is conducting a baseball school in Alabama. Maulding has been a part of Major League Baseball teams for 20 seasons, serving as a working bullpen coach for the Dodgers, Colorado and Detroit. During that time he was part of four Divisional Championships, the World Championship 1988 Dodgers and the 1998 National League All-Star Team and most recently was the featured catcher in the 2005 home run competition during All-Star Week. …Left-hander Kelly Wunsch, who underwent surgeries both to his right ankle and left hip last summer and was questionable for opening day, now is expected to be at full strength by the start of spring training -- which gives the club much more flexibility in how it assembles its bullpen. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said Friday he no longer is actively pursuing a left-handed reliever, something he identified as a priority when he was named to the job Nov. 15. …The new director of publications, Jorge Martin, is a former Los Angeles Daily News sportswriter and Joe Jareck, new assistant director of public relations, had been working as a researcher for ABC Sports in New York. …Mel Didier's career on the high school, college and professional baseball levels was celebrated recently in Louisiana. Didier, once an advance scout on GM Fred Claire's staff, now works for the Texas Rangers. The banquet and its related activities, including a golf outing and a celebrity softball game, raise funds for Housing Authority.