Dodgers Reluctant to Part With Youngsters

With the threat of acquiring Alex Rodriguez having passed (a $30 million hit would have precluded the pickup of any free agents), Dodger fans are now facing the possibility, however slim, of trading too many prospects for Miguel Canberra, a undeniable talent but one who would cost three or four of the clubs top prospects.

But now it seems general manager Ned Colletti shares our concerns.

He told Ken Gurnick of, "Any player that you would consider a middle-of-the-order bat, a run producer, as predicted, the cost of the prospects going back, at least in our minds, far exceeds the value of the player.

"It's not one prospect, it's not two prospects, but in some cases it's three or four prospects. And our prospects are no longer prospects. They are big league players that continue to get asked about."

Names bandied about include Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, James Loney, Jonathan Broxton and Clayton Kershaw, top quality players all.

"We're still on a mission to try to find it and cure it," Colletti told Gurnick. "If that fails, we'll try to improve the club, even if it means the 25th man or the last pitcher. Right now, trade-wise, its a lot of bait-and-switch. We thought we had a deal the other day, but they got cold feet at the end."

So apparently Colletti will consider outfielders Aaron Rowand of Philadelphia, Andruw Jones of Atlanta and Torrii Hunter of Minnesota are testing the free agent waters.

"We're curious to know what their interest level is in playing here and what it's going to take to get them here," he said. "They're all accomplished and all bring something to the table.

"We have some depth in some areas. If we improve in one area via free agency, it may open a trade route for us. Or we can improve ourselves with just a trade. The way it's shaping up, we can sign a free agent and it may cause a domino effect that can make someone expendable on our part to make a trade."

Then, too, Dodger officials are beginning to realize that Andy LaRoche just may be the answer to the Dodger third base problem; like the Bluebird of Happiness, right in their own back yard.

FOX: Hunter Fits the Dodgers-- Dayn Perry, of, lists 10 trades that need to be made. Number 6 on the list sends Torrii Hunter to the Dodgers. Perry wrote, "Juan Pierre is still under contract, but he's a massive liability for the Dodgers. He's terrible at the plate and roundly overrated with the glove.

"Yes, he's only one year into that deliriously stupid five-year, $44 million contract, but it's time to treat him as a sunk cost.

"That means unloading him for whatever you can get (rosin bags, used jocks, canned wine) or relegating him to a reserve role. Playing Pierre on a daily basis will only compound such a bad decision.

"Throughout baseball last season, only the White Sox endured worse production from center field, so the Dodgers badly need an upgrade.

"That brings us to Hunter. Defensively Hunter is exceptional, and he'd also provide L.A. with some much-needed power. Hunter's also more of a known quantity than the other premier center fielder on the market, Andruw Jones."

LaRoche a Better Fit-- Jon Weisman of "Dodger Thoughts" reports that Baseball America executive editor Jim Callis, for one, feels LaRoche was a better option than Rodriguez.

"I think the Dodgers would be much better off just going with LaRoche rather than playing an older guy or shelling out $30 million-plus a year for Alex Rodriguez," Callis told me in an e-mail. "He got off to slow start last year while overcoming soreness in his non-throwing shoulder, but he raked after that. He's not just a one-dimensional masher, as he can hit for power and average and play a solid third base. He should be healthy as he gets further away from his 2006 shoulder surgery. I really like him."

Bonds Career May be Over-- Baseball officials feel the amount of time Barry Bonds will need to devote to his legal defense would make him undesirable to most major league clubs.

The Los Angeles Times, quoting a former prosecutor, said a trial could take months. With meetings with attorneys and hearings Bonds could miss numerous games. It is also possible Bonds might have to surrender his passport, which would make travel to Canada difficult.

The Times also noted Oakland and San Francisco were his best bets if he had any hopes of playing in 2008. According to the report, the Dodgers and Angels the have no interest in the 43-year-old slugger.

Bonds has been a villain in the eyes of Dodger Fans and many others, but at the same time there is a sadness that so talented a person seemed to go to any lengths to increase his already exceptional gifts, even to the extent of illegality.

And so, like the star-crossed Pete Rose and the talented but flawed Steve Howe, among others, their accomplishments are tarnished by their illogical decisions that cancelled out the very thing they were striving for -- acceptance as one of the best ever.

Dodger Blue Notes-- The Giants hired former Dodger outfielder Roberto Kelly as 1B coach. The Pirates declined their 2008 %5.8 million option on former Dodger Gold Glove shortstop Cesar Izturis and will pay the infielder a $300,000 buyout. The 27-year-old Izturis already had filed conditionally for free agency. Before the end of the season, he had said he would like to return to the team if given the chance to play full-time.