Brad Penny to the Cardinals?

The hot Dodgers rumor of the week was the team offering starter Brad Penny to the suddenly short handed world champion Cardinals. Penny would be a comparative bargain according to 2006-67 escalating salaries and the Dodgers, still short an experienced hitter (not they have a flock of young hitters, just not experienced), are flush with pitchers having signed starters Randy Wolf and Mr. Schmidt.

It the rumor is true, the question is what hitters might the Cards have that would fit the Dodgers' desires? Unless the Cards can string along a three team deal of some sort, there is only real Cards player that seems logical - third sacker Scott Rollen.

Rollen and Manager Tony LaRussa were, well, not exactly bosom buddies last year. Rollen would fit in nicely with the Dodgers, even in not in Wilson Betemit's plans.

Two more reasons Rollen would fit the Dodgers are these: (1) he is past 30 and (2) he's been hurt. His shoulder injuries may impact his continued long ball hitting, but the Dodgers do not seem fazed by that possibility.

If Rollen should come, that would end any thought of moving Nomar Garciaparra to third, and put another nail in the coffin of red hot rookie James Loney. Loney's best shot to get into the lineup is somebody getting hurt.

A bookmaker would give you better odds on a Dodgers fielder coming up lame than he would on Hillary Rodham Clinton running for president -- it figures as a sure lock. Penny was the big Florida pitcher who came in with great promise. He, for all the world, looked like an intimidating pitcher.

That was not always the case. Like his former teammate Jeff Weaver, Penny had a tendency to destruct when some little thing didn't go his way. (That is where many old-time pitching coaches had the skill to even out a guy between pitches, an art not seem much in evidence of late. (The Cards pitching coach, Dave Duncan, has been able to do better with head cases … look at what he did with Weaver last year, and he is certain to be anxious to try to work his magic with Penny.)

Is the deal a maybe? Well, it doesn't look like Scott Boras handles either Penny or Rollen. That's a plus.

Now that Boras has finished retooling the Red Sox vault, he is now said to be revving up to promote Barry Zito.

Count the Dodgers out. It was said 10 days ago the Dodgers were interested in Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Vernon Wells. The Dodgers ardor cooled pretty fast when the salary numbers climbed over $100 million and the lucky kid got the sixth biggest contract in baseball (twice as much as Boston's Japanese pitcher).

The one thing the Dodgers are doing well of late is hanging onto guys there were irritated at. A year ago, there was talk all over that Derek Lowe was gone because of off field sporting activities.

He, thankfully, was not moved. This year, the team was really miffed at New York bar visitor Joe Beimel. He was colored gone. Cooler heads prevailed and Beimel was resigned, a good move.

There are rumors the Texas Rangers would like Jason Repko. While the Red Sox got all their ink over the Japanese kid, they continued to load up on bullpen help, trading for Brendan Donnelly from the Angels and inking left J.C. Romero. Either would have looked good in Dodgers blue.

There are fewer than 8 weeks before the pitchers and catchers report to spring training camp. To date, neither the Tampa Bay Devil Rays or the Florida Marlins have pulled the plug on a deal. Both have plenty of players they will have to pay if not move soon. Neither team has found Ponce de Leon's pot of gold. Bears watching

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