It's the Economy, Stupid!

William Jefferson Clinton, the sage of Hope, Arkansas, 16 years ago coined the mantra "It's the economy, stupid!" in jump-starting his run for the White House. If he wasn't right then, he sure as the dickens is now, as President elect B. Hussein (he complained when his middle name was used by opponents, now proudly wants to be sworn in by that very name) Obama is very painfully learning.

It is a lesson one superagent (we admit to not wanting to use his name and giving the jerk more ink) and his stable of greedy, pampered athletes are coming to have to realize.

Only the New York teams, with their two new ballparks, have had the audacity of hope to spend if not squander gadzillions of dollars on multiyear, multi-million contracts for baseball players. This winter of 2008-09 has developed into a score or more of untendered free agents to go with more than two score of garden variety free agents. These are Abe Lincoln numbers.

The Dodgers offered a two year max contract to one Manny Ramirez. He laughed it off. His agent sneered. To date,he's had no real tangible better offer. The Dodgers sniffed around one C.C. Sabathia but the owner divided his parking lot slots into the numbers and sanity prevailed (as it did not last year in the A. Jones case or the year before in the J. Pierre and J. Schmidt cases). The Dodgers have done ducked where in the past they were dizzily jumping off high boards into pools filled with quicksand.

The Dodgers media types are telling us the team is going with youth as they then handed out medium sized money to a slow footed 36 year old, Casey Blake, who more resembles one Olmedo Saenz than he does the apple of ole' Ponce de Leon's eyes, and then an about to be 38 year old Italian American peripatetic journeyman (that means not often good enough to be a regular) Mark Loretta. By the Dodgers Italian Americans, octogenarian T. Lasorda, septuagenarian J. Torre and sestuagenarian general manager, 38 is indeed a kid Italian but by playing baseball players, 38 ain't young last time we looked.

The economy that has gripped all of us has oozed finally, maybe too late, into the baseball consciousness but this may be good news for the Dodgers fans still drawing breath and still able  to remember the last championship season when Mr. Ronald Reagan was blissfully in the White House.

2009 will thankfully be the last year the Dodgers have to pay monopoly money to Jones and Schmidt and the team will be ever so closer to saying adios to  Mr. Pierre. By the way, not one of the following players - Kemp,Loney, Ethier, Martin, DeWitt, Kershaw, McDonald, Broxton et al - came close to a $600,000 salary last year and whatever Mssrs. Blake, Ramirez and that KC retread shortstop made was coughed up by their teams of origin.

The point is the guys who got the bucks did zip and the guys who did the work got comparative peanuts. So much for the UAW, er, we mean the players association.

Meanwhile, what is suddenly feeling warm and fuzzy about Willy Taveras, no compensation needed, in center. Taveras, available, had twice and many steals as brother Pierre and has twice as many arms to boot. Edwin Jackson would have looked nice at the tailend of the rotation but the Dodgers missed out on him, as they did on shortstop Felipe Lopez.

They missed out on the Florida Marlins fire sale, but Ty Wigginton and lots of others like him are out there. Could non-tendered Javier Valentin be worse than what the Dodgers of last year trotted out as backup catcher, or, to put it another  way, how much better could he surely be? If the Dodgers pitching gurus were up to snuff, why not jump  on suddenly available Daniel Cabrera. While still a work in progress, he ain't no Esteban Loaiza.

There is hope Rafy Furcal takes his part-time act elsewhere, that the team pays the lion's share of either the Pierre or Jones salaries to some other team to make those bad dreams go away. There is even hope the Dodgers win their court case against the insurance company making their all time dumb decision on Jason Schmidt smell a little  less.

Is speedster Joey Gaithright worse than some of the great names who limped afield for the Dodgers last year? Last we looked, when Tampa's Johnny Gomes hit a tater in Tampa, they certainly looked long enough to get out of Dodgers Stadium. There might be some nuggets in them their free agent hills, and the gold will not be quite the  same kind of fools gold the Dodgers fell for when they thought Detroit still made good cars at an affordable price.

In any event, Christmas shopping this year will be in the bargain basement.