The Dodgers May Have a Plan After All

Instead of being trapped by too much money owed to too few players and forced to just tinker as one can with next year's team, it looks like the Dodgers may have a plan after all. Ken Rosenberg, who has become the best baseball tidbitter of them all, having replaced the aging Pete Gammons, has come up with these two tidbits:

One, the Dodgers are seriously considering going after Daisuke Matsuzaki after all, even though it will cost $20-30 million (to the Japanese team that owns him) just for the privilege of then trying to negotiate a contract with the Scott Boras client. That, for the uninitiated, is one whole heckuva' lot of parking lot spaces brothers. Tuxedo Tommy will be reduced to blue jeans in an instant and even, egad, be stuck with his own restaurant tabs.

Two, the Dodgers hope to do this by, according to Rosenberg, dangling Brad Penny in the trade market.

Rosenberg's theory, and its a good one, is that the Dodgers have Penny signed for the next three years for the suddenly (compared to the prices the thieves, we mean agents, are able to extort these days) affordable rate of $8 million per.

Here's the thinking: Don't bother giving Fragile Garciaparra $10 million, particularly with James Loney already sitting on first base. Be interested but not too interested in a big contract for Greg Maddux, who can go five innings max. Now we got $18-20 million. Dont be tempted to go after Kenny Lofton gain, thus saving $3-4 more million. Love but let go of Eric Gagne, another Boros client and another $10 million real money for unreal expectations.

As the old Illinois Republican Everett McKinley Dirksen (Tuxedo Tommy would salivate if he were ever to see a videotape of the mellifluous Dirkson and surely drive him to paroxysms of jealousy) once said so eloquently: "A million here and a million there and suddenly you're talking about real money." What was an outrageous remark half a century ago by Dirksen has unfortunately gone from hyperbole to understatement in our lifetimes.

Put another way, the Rosenberg blurb has a suspicion that the Dodgers have been suddenly struck with brains. Do not waste money on names that don't perform so often anymore because of age and injury.

Do not continue to waste money on players you can peddle in a world gone crazy market. Do not spend money on old guys when you got better young guys ready, young guys who can and will play at 15 or 20 per cent on the dollar (meaning they ain't got in the clutches of Scott Boros yet).

With all this money available, and it CAN be available, go after Mr. Matsuzaki, who was the Japanese MVP, is only 26, and maybe would give the Dodgers fans a player who could play healthy and well for five years. When was the last time the Dodgers have had such a hurler.

Now, brothers and sisters, could it be that the Dodgers would ever be this smart? Is this too much to hope for? How could we invest so much in Matsuzaki? After all, he ain't never done it before, yes, the Lasorda Dictum is still alive and well, even though it is 79 years old.

There are signs of sanity here and there in baseball. The Seattle team, owned by Japanese, said thanks but no thanks to Matsuzaki. They know he's good. They also know Seattle is far from a big market team with a big market budget. And they are already stuck with unloadable big year contracts for homers once a week

Richie Sexson and homer even less than that Adrian Beltre. Twice bitten already with no way out.

One reason, it is said, the Padres were glad to see Bruce Bochy go was not his brains and record but his crazy $1.9 million annual salary. Managers do not hit or throw or field. They sit. $1.9 million is a bunch for sitting. (It' also why the Padres will never hired big salary Dusty Baker).

Fiscal sanity is said to be the principal reason Dan Wakamatsu is heads-on favorite to manage the Texas Rangers, i.e., he is the cheapest candidate,leaving more money for players.

Now can it be said that ANY team going after Matsuzaki would be operating in a fiscally prudent manner?

In the Dodgers case, by jettisoning Mssrs. Gagne, Maddux, Garciaparra, Penny and Lofton, they very well might be. And that is both eyeopening and a tragic commentary on Baseball Economics 1 at the very same time.

The Dodgers haven't had a really smart owner since the last person with the name O'Malley left, but maybe the ghosts of the O'Malleys' still wanders the building.