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We invite our readers to ask questions. We sort of stockpile them and then use them five or six at a time. If we don't have the answer, we will try to get it for you. Just email tot4@mac.com.

Are the Dodgers going to sign any free agents? Everyone in baseball is waiting for the first shoe to drop, to set the salary bar so to speak, with both the economy and the availability of so man free agents making it a different environment than normal. Ken Rosenthal of FOXsports says that the Dodgers and Twins are vying for third baseman Casey Blake and that the Dodgers are the favorites. Hopefully, he will be offered only a two-year deal, not the three years he is asking. The guy is 36 and Blake DeWitt is a much better third baseman and will probably hit just as well this season. Ramirez has been made an offer which has since been withdrawn. Sabathia has not been contacted but that is just conjecture. The comparison:

The Hardball Times 2009 Annual gives DeWitt an A+ at third base and Blake
an F.
DeWitt has a .711 Zone record, Blake about the same with a .720 but DeWitt made 42 plays out of his zone and Blake made 16.
DeWitt led the National League in Range Factor with a 3.10; Blake was
10th in he league with a combined 2.53 (including Cleveland).
DeWitt created 51 runs in 117 games (.436); Blake 21 in 58 games (.362).
It seems to me that we don't need a third baseman, we need a second
baseman, perhaps Tony Abreu?
Why didn't we offer Rafael Furcal arbitration?
Apparently the Dodgers don't want him back even for a year because of his back. He is rumored to have at least one four-year offer in hand and with Ivan De Jesus the shortstop-in-waiting playing so well, the club has apparently decided that if they can't sign anyone else, they will go with Angel Berroa or Chin-Lung Hue -- or a combination of the two.

How could we have let Derek Lowe go?
Well, they didn't. Lowe became a free agent and has repeatedly spoken about returning to Boston. However, they did offer arbitration so if he does, indeed, leave the Dodgers will receive extra draft choices for him. They offered arbitration to Ramirez and Blake also. What about the trade talk for Russell Martin? That story may be one of those rumors that was cooked up during a slow news day. There seems to be some disappointment about how he played in 2008, but the club continues to say he will not be traded. If they are not interested in using him behind the plate, he is an accomplished enough third baseman to use on an every-day basis. They need to find a creditable backup catcher so Martin won't have to play 145 games. And giving him a "day off" and using him at third isn't really giving him a rest.

What will the lineup look like next year?
Going only by those currently on the roster, it might look something like this: Martin c
Loney 1b
Abreu/Hu 2b
Berroa ss
DeWitt 3b
Ethier rf
Kemp cf
Pierre/Jones lf
Starters would include Billingsley, Kuroda, Kershaw McDonald and Stults (perhaps Schmidt). Broxton would be the stopper with Kuo, Wade, Proctor, Troncoso and Elbert in the pen. Obviously, there will be some additions by free agency (hopefully) or trade and perhaps they can persuade Park to return as a spot starter/reliever.

Why don't they trade Pierre and/or Jones?
They would probably be delighted to do just that but who do you think would want them with the outlandish price tags they would come with. The only way either of them could be moved was if the club payed part of their salary and in each case, it would probably be a large part.

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