Non-Tendered Free Agents Might Fill Gaps

When some 40 plus big league players were "non tendered" contracts by their former clubs by midnight, December 12, a number of the sudden new free agents might fit the bill to fill some of the Dodgers roster gaps.

The Dodgers are looking for a backup catcher and to date the best bet was career minor leaguer Danny Ardoin, signed to a minor league contract the day before. Now the list of free agents includes switch-hitting Johnny Estrada and the former Marlins starter Miguel Olivo. Estrada might be too expensive for the Dodgers tastes, but Olivo would seem a very real option.

The Dodgers are still searching for another third base alternative and among the new free agents are the former Angels player Dallas McPherson and Astros/Padres player Morgan Ensberg.

Operating on the assumption you can never have enough pitching, the new list includes relievers Brendan Donnelly (Angels and Red Sox), Kiko Calero (Athletics)  and Akinoro Otsuka (Rangers) and starters Chad Durbin (Tigers) and Josh Towers (Blue Jays). Outfielders Jason Lane, Willy Harris, Kevin Mench and Lance Nix might even challenge for a spare spot in the Dodgers outfield.

Still unsigned are c-1b-dh Josh Phelps and jack of all trades Rob Mackowiak.

The Dodgers did a good job in stocking Las Vegas with journeymen Tanyon Sturtze and Mike Koplove among others. The Dodgers tried to trade for Koplove for several years running from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Either could easily see big league action in 2008.

There are plenty of spare parts for the Dodgers to consider signing. Mench, the former Texan, had 25-30 homer per year potential at the big league level.

None of the free agent class would break the Dodgers bank and offer an affordable option to the dwindling handful of big name players complete with avaricious agents and dreams of big numbers.

Big names at big salaries are nice for off-season news headlines but more often than not the bottom roster filling can have more than a little impact on the fortunes of a team when the playing gets real.

We are glad Jeff Kent is back, as long as new manager Joe Torre remembers the King of Spain's admonition to loudmouth Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez,i.e., "Why don't you keep your mouth shut!"

It is said new batting coach Don Mattingly has said he has spied something wrong in new CF Andruw Jones swing that he can fix. If he can, Mattingly will more than have earned his pay.

In the case of Juan Pierre, we are reminded of the great one liner from comedian Henny Youngman, to wit: "Take my wife ... puhleeze!"  

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