"Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing"

William Shakespeare, just an average second baseman but possessing a real talent with words, described the present free agent frenzy perfectly in MacBeth when he said, "Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing" on in this case nothing yet. He was describing man's short term on earth, but captured the rumors and rumors of rumors that are sweeping the media. Here are a few of for your enjoyment.

The Dodgers have withdrawn the contract offer extended to free agent Manny Ramirez a week ago, but negotiations are expected to continue, says Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. The Dodgers had offered Ramirez a two-year deal guaranteed for $45 million, plus an option year at an additional $15 million. The offer expired Thursday night, coinciding with the vanishing of the Dodgers' exclusive window for re-signing departing free agents like Ramirez.

"We still have an interest in him," general manager Ned Colletti told Gurnick. "This doesn't mean we won't continue discussions. They just can't accept that offer flat-out. It's like any other free-agent negotiation now. We'll have conversations and sometimes you're able to sign the player and sometimes you're not. Our exclusivity ended yesterday and now they'll have a chance to hear what other clubs are willing to pay and for how long."

Ken Gurnick also noted the Dodgers are on the lookout for a veteran presence to guide a pitching staff that just got very young and high on their list of targets is 45-year-old starter Randy Johnson, who they envision as a left-handed Maddux capable of eating innings and mentoring 20-year-old lefty Clayton Kershaw, and 41-year-old Doug Brocail.

Johnson had 11 wins and 184 innings for Arizona, which would have put his third in wins and second in innings on the Dodgers staff. Brocail pitched 68.2 innings in 72 games for Houston. Johnson just finished up a two-year, $26 million contract and offered to take a 50 percent pay cut, but the D-Backs couldn't make it work financially.

With their departures, $63.5 million has been freed up from a payroll of $120 million in 2008. Colletti has more than half of an active roster to replace and his focus has been on the infield in general and retaining Furcal in particular. But the shortstop wants to see if he can get via free agency the long-term deal the Dodgers are reluctant to give a player who missed five months with back surgery.

The White Sox have offered Arizona's Prima County $5 million for a buyout of their contract in Tucson. They had proposed to develop Tucson Electric Park as a youth tournament complex but the county was not interested. The Sox face a $250,000 fine for every game they do not play in the new Glendale Complex with the Dodgers and they are attempting desperately to avoid that.

The San Diego Union says that the Padres attempts to swap pitching ace Jake Peavy and his four-year, $63 million contract to either the Braves or Cubs have fallen short. General Manager Kevin Towers said, "At this point in time, I do not see a potential deal with either club." Peavy said he doesn't want to go to the American League. His agent, Barry Axelrod, said a few days later that Peavy has a "strong, strong, strong preference" to stay in the National League, then said he might be open to going to the Yankees and Angels. Braves general manager Frank Wren said on Friday that he is no longer having active negotiations with the Padres about Peavy. "We've notified the Padres that we're moving on to pursue other opportunities and players," Wren said. "We're no longer actively pursuing Jake Peavy. We have other options out there."

The Los Angeles Times says he Dodgers plan to charge $90 for the best 700 seats, with amenities including parking, promotional items and food and merchandise credits as well as the opportunity to reserve those seats on a season basis, before any waiting list might form. Dennis Mannion, the Dodgers' chief operating officer, defended the rest of the pricing by pointing to the Chicago Cubs, the top draw in the Cactus League. The Cubs last spring charged $22 to $26 for seats between the bases. "We didn't create a whole new aggressive pricing structure against what's happening in the Cactus League," Mannion said. "We know we'll have an incredibly better fan experience than the rest of the league."

Dodgers fifth on USA Today's list of best-run Major League Baseball franchises. The Boston Red Sox, Anaheim Angels, St. Louis Cardinals, and New York Yankees ranked above Los Angeles.

The New York Yankees has offered free-agent pitcher CC Sabathia a six-year, $137.5 million contract, slightly more than the Mets signed Johan Santana for. The cash-rich Yankees are also expected to make offers for A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe. Burnett has a four-year, $54 million offer from Toronto, while Lowe is looking for a five-year contract.

And a note in the Rocky Mountain News reports that Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo had the lowest batting average with runners in scoring position (.139) for a player who qualified for a batting title since Ron Gant hit .130 with the Phillies and Angels in 2000. From letters we have received from fans after Lugo spent an ill-fated part-season in Los Angeles, that is exactly the way they remembered him.

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