Cry Me a Weaver

The long, cold days of winter are starting to change and the light at the end of the tunnel is the sun coming up over Vero Beach where spring training will start in about a month with pitchers, catchers and rehabs showing up. While business has slowed, we will catch up on some of the rumors floating around.

The report that Jeff Weaver that we was "crushed" the Dodgers didn't want him back seems to have a hollow ring to it. Golly, Jeff, you wouldn't accept arbitration (which could have meant #13 mill or so for a year), you wanted a five year contract at $11 million a year and never seemed to budge off your demands.

With Weaver, Lowe, Penny and Perez pulling in a combined $67.5 million over the next three seasons, a five-year (or even four-year) contract was never considered by the Dodgers.

Weaver pitched very well at Dodger Stadium the last two years (3.84 ERA) than on the road (4.40) but Ned Colletti replaced him with Brett Tomko, who has a 2.92 career ERA in 13 starts in Dodger Stadium. And Tomko is coming to town with about the same baggage that Weaver had when he arrived on the bus from New York.

A number of teams say Boras has them on speed-dial but the only interest, albeit tepid, is being shown by Washington and Baltimore.

It looks like he might end up signing for one season, the same sort of deal the Dodgers were offering him from the outset by arbitration. He should have talked to Jody Reed.

Future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza has still not found a place to hand his hat during the 2006 season. While Mike has enough money invested to keep the wolf from the door, he is still young enough to stay in the game for some years -- and wants to do just that.

Some have predicted he will return to Southern California but the current feeling is he will wind up a Padre, not an Angel. There seems to be no interest in the Dodger front office to bring back the best hitting catcher in baseball history and the pivotal element in the Dodgers death spiral down to (eventually) fourth place in the NL West.

It was his ill-conceived trade to Florida -- swapping the cow for a handful of supposedly magic beans -- that started the mess we are still trying to extract ourselves from but there is no need to beat that very dead horse again.

One would think that The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Azusa and Cucamonga, borrowing an old phrase from Jack Benny, would be more able to utilize Mike as a catcher-DH.

And before you start to shovel dirt into the hold, remember that Piazza did lead all NL catchers in homers and RBI last season. You could do much worse than installing this guy behind the plate.

Mota Movin' On? Dodger fans made a scene when catcher Paul Lo Duca was rudely traded off to Florida (those people again) and the loss of Guillermo Mota seemed the straw that broke the camel's back.

Mota just signed a contract with the Red Sox but suddenly Boston is making it known he's available. Teams have reported that when they talked to Boston that Mota was mentioned quite often.

But apparently the bloom is off the rose -- or the Guillermo -- in this case.

One front-office official said, "But now everyone is finding out why the Dodgers were willing to put him in the package with Lo Duca."

The word coming out of the Marlins front office during the season mentioned that Mota was not the most dedicated worker and that didn't help his image with the younger kids, and that he had clashed with manager Jack McKeon

If all this is so, Boston just didn't do it's homework.

So Long Ed and Chuck Even if Edwin Jackson's stock has fallen with the Dodgers, as a number of sources say, the deal that sent him and Chuck Tiffany to Tampa Bay could be a blockbuster for the Devil Rays in a year or so.

Most scouts seem to think Jackson has a bright future -- hes 22, has good stuff and only looked really bad at Las Vegas, where Cy Young would have been hard pressed to win his own award.

Tiffany has got a lot going for him -- 20 years old, power lefty with a good breaking ball -- and he could be the jewel in the deal.

Interesting note Only two of this winter's free agents stole more than 20 bases last year, and the Dodgers signed both of them: Rafael Furcal (46) and Kenny Lofton (22).

Former Dodger pitcher Rick Rhoden, who won 151 games (42 with L.A.) over a 16-year career with four teams, will be the keynote speaker for the Hickory Crawdads' Hot Stove Banquet next month.

Rhoden was twice and all-star in the majors and won 15 or more games in a season three times, going 16-10 with the Dodgers in 1977. He played on the Pirates' 1979 World Championship team and pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1978 World Series, recording an sharp 1.08 ERA in the NLCS and 2.57 in the series.

Baseball America ranks newly acquired Andre Ethier as the 13th best prospect in the Dodger organization, slotting in behind first baseman James Lone and righthander Justin Orenduff.

In their new Prospect Handbook, they say, "A gifted hitter, Ethier has simple swing mechanics, getting the bat into the zone quickly and keeping it there for a long time. He has average power, and he's a good corner outfielder with a solid arm.

"One of the keys to his breakout season was a change in attitude. Once considered a hothead who was easily flustered, he showed a more mature approach and consistent effort in 2005. He also won an award for his sportsmanship in the Arizona Fall League.

"Ethier was having a breakout season in 2004 when a stress fracture in his back cut him down in July. He spent the off-season working on his conditioning and earned Double-A Texas League MVP honors in 2005. He hit .361-9-39 in the first two months before pitchers stopped throwing him strikes.

"Ethier doesn't have the speed to play center field and may not have the power teams desire from an everyday corner outfielder. He can become enamored with his power at times, causing him to overswing. A walk machine in college, Ethier has yet to show the same plate discipline as a pro."