Dodgers Working on 2009 Roster

Now that the time has arrived for the Dodgers to figure out how to make it to the World Series after close calls in each of the last two seasons, something entirely different has moved front and center with the club.

The divorce of owners Frank and Jamie McCourt has grabbed all of the headlines, even with Manny Ramirez's decision on a player option at $20 million fast approaching.

A Superior Court judge denied Jamie McCourt's request to be reinstated to her job as Dodgers chief executive. Frank McCourt fired her from that position last month, one day after the Dodgers were eliminated from the National League Championship Series.

Jamie McCourt insists she is partial owner of the team, and says she should be recognized as such in divorce. Frank McCourt said he has the documentation to prove that he is sole owner, despite being married to Jamie at the time the McCourts purchased the club.

Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon must now decide if the Dodgers are community property or separate property. If they are community property, Jamie McCourt would then be able to make another claim to get her job back.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Jamie McCourt's divorce documentation states Frank McCourt pocketed between $7 million and $8 million "in salary and/or distributions." The newspaper noted that money could have covered Cliff Lee's salary this season.

The Phillies acquired Lee from the Cleveland Indians at the trade deadline this past season and used him to eliminate the Dodgers from the playoffs.

--RHP Vicente Padilla reportedly was grazed by a bullet in his right thigh during a hunting accident Nov. 3 in his native Nicaragua. His agent, Adam Katz, said the injury was minor and that Padilla spent 30 to 40 minutes at a hospital for treatment before being released. News reports out of Nicaragua said that Padilla was accidentally shot by a companion.

--RHP Jon Garland became a free agent when the Dodgers declined his $10 million option for 2010. Garland went 3-0 with a 2.72 ERA over the final month with the Dodgers. He was on the NL Division Series roster but didn't pitch, and he was not included on the NL Championship Series roster. His former team, Arizona, is responsible for his $2.5 million buyout.

--Hitting coach Don Mattingly has declined to be interviewed by the Washington Nationals for their vacant manager position. Mattingly is expected to be the successor to current Dodgers manager Joe Torre when Torre's contract expires after the 2010 season. The Dodgers are reportedly working on a contract with Mattingly that would officially make him Torre's successor.

--LF Manny Ramirez has until Nov. 10 to decide if he will exercise his $20 million player option for next season. While it seems unlikely that Ramirez could land as lucrative of a deal on the free agent market, his agent is Scott Boras, who rarely has shown a tendency to go down quietly.

--LHP Randy Wolf, who was 11-7 with a 3.23 ERA and a team-high 214 1/3 innings pitched, was one of six Dodgers who filed for free agency on Nov. 5. RHP Jon Garland, LHP Eric Milton, 2B Orlando Hudson, SS Ronnie Belliard and 1B Doug Mientkiewicz also filed. Nine more Dodgers were still eligible to file, although RHP Jason Schmidt is expected to retire.

Former Dodger Now Indian's Pitching Coach: -Former Dodger Tim Belcher has been hired to handle Cleveland's pitching staff for new manager Manny Acta. The 48-year-old Belcher spent the past eight seasons as a special assistant in Cleveland's baseball operations. Belcher was a top overall Draft pick before breaking into the Majors in Los Angeles. He earned The Sporting News National League Rookie Pitcher of the Year honors with the 1988 world champion Dodgers by going 12-6 with a 2.91 ERA, then led the NL in complete games and shutouts the following season. He finished with a 146-140 career record, a 4.16 ERA, nine seasons with double-digit victories and seven 200-inning campaigns.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1.6 -- Hits per game that outfield prospect Andrew Lambo delivered in the Arizona Fall League. Lambo, who batted just .256 at Class AA Chattanooga this summer, has been compared with the Rockies' Brad Hawpe.

BY THE NUMBERS II: 6-- Front-office employees who were hired by former Dodgers vice president Charles Steinberg were fired. They were public relations officers Mark Rogoff and Drew Merle, vice president of creative services Tom Catlin, graphics manager Courtney Cowsill, fan services and hospitality director Jahaan Blake and supervisor of the Ambassadors program Alyssa Shuman.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're looking to figure out second base, starting pitching and rebuilding the bench." -- GM Ned Colletti, on the Dodgers' biggest offseason needs.

The Dodgers will have to figure out what to do at second base next season, and they have an open spot in the rotation. The bench, peppered heavily with veterans, could be rebuilt. Nearly all of the core players will return.

BIGGEST NEEDS: If there was anything the loss to the Phillies in the NL Championship Series showed, it was that the Dodgers are void of a staff ace. Chad Billingsley fumbled that role this year, and Clayton Kershaw, 21, is too young for it. Expect the Dodgers to take an active role when the Roy Halladay sweepstakes begin anew or bidding begins on free agent John Lackey.
FREE AGENTS: C Brad Ausmus, LHP Randy Wolf, RHP Jon Garland, LHP Eric Milton, RHP Vicente Padilla, RHP Jason Schmidt, RHP Jeff Weaver, INF Ronnie Belliard, INF Juan Castro, 2B Orlando Hudson, INF Mark Loretta, INF Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B Jim Thome, RHP Guillermo Mota, LHP Will Ohman.

Padilla interests the Dodgers the most because of the production he gave the team down the stretch and into the playoffs. Belliard could wind up as the starting second baseman. Those are the only two from this group that figure to get more than a one-year deal. Hudson was an All-Star but isn't likely to return.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: RF Andre Ethier, CF Matt Kemp, RHP Chad Billingsley, RHP Jonathan Broxton, LHP George Sherrill, 1B James Loney, LHP Hong-Chih Kuo, C Russell Martin, OF Jason Repko.

There will be no surprises in this group -- everyone is expected to be tendered. Kemp and Ethier stand the best chance of getting locked in to a deal that extends beyond their initial free agent years.

IN LIMBO: The Dodgers will know 10 days after the end of the World Series if LF Manny Ramirez will agree to his $20 million player option for next season. He figures to take it. If he leaves, Juan Pierre will start in left and the Dodgers might use the money to pursue John Lackey on the free agent market.

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