While Frank McCourt and general manager Ned Colletti will not say the divorce has affected offseason spending, the Dodgers' lack of movement seems to say otherwise. It also doesn't help finances that the team will pay about $5 million of Juan Pierre's salary in 2010, plus $3 million in deferred money to Andruw Jones and another $2 million to Jason Schmidt, among others.
The Dodgers went into the offseason looking for a staff ace and a starting second baseman, and with a month and a half before spring training, it doesn't appear they will get either.
Infielder Jamey Carroll was signed, but he will only compete with Blake DeWitt for the second base job. John Lackey, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay all have landed with new teams, so the Dodgers are unlikely to land a No. 1 starter.
The Harang talks show that the Dodgers are at least willing to add a middle-of-the-rotation veteran to the mix. If they don't add a proven starter, the Dodgers will open spring camp with two vacant spots in their rotation that could go to guys such as James McDonald and Charlie Haeger.
--INF Blake DeWitt, who is expected to battle for the starting second base job, cut short his winter ball stint in the Dominican Republic. DeWitt wanted to be close to home as his sister, Jenni, underwent successful surgery to correct a rapid heartbeat. He is now in Texas trying to improve his defense at second base.
--RHP John Ely officially became a player to be named later, along with RHP Jon Link, in the deal that sent OF Juan Pierre to the White Sox. Ely went 14-2 with a 2.82 ERA at Class AA Birmingham in 2009. He doesn't have to go on the 40-man roster to be protected from the Rule 5 draft until 2011.
--RHP Jon Link looks like a possible candidate to earn a spot in the 2010 bullpen. Link was acquired by the Dodgers in the trade that sent OF Juan Pierre to the White Sox. The 25-year-old had 13 saves and a 3.99 ERA at Class AAA Charlotte last season. Through 15 appearances in the Venezuelan winter league, he had seven saves and a 2.95 ERA.
--INF Jamey Carroll may not be a flashy performer, but he has proven to be consistent. The career .273 hitter has bettered that batting average in three of his past four seasons. His best season came in 2006, when he played in 136 games for the Rockies and batted .300. After two seasons in Cleveland, he once again returns to the National League.
--LHP Clayton Kershaw will join the Texas Rangers next month, but just for the day. Kershaw, a Texas native, will be honored by the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America as the 2009 Texas Professional Player of the Year. The Jan. 29 event in Fort Worth will also honor the Rangers' MVP (Michael Young) and team pitcher of the year (Scott Feldman).
Dodgers President Dennis Mannion, speaking to Bill Shakin of the Los Angeles Times, insists that the team's baseball and business decisions have not been impacted by the divorce proceedings between Frank and Jamie McCourt but pointed out that there is a big opportunity to reconfigure the concession stands
Mannion defended not offering arbitration by saying it would not be worth receiving a draft pick. "That's also showing bizarre behavior, in my opinion, in terms of teams bidding against themselves for draft picks. That's been going on for a while on the amateur side of the business. But it's happening now on the international side, with guys you don't know anything about."
John Weisman, of Dodger Thoughts, wrote, "Mannion's point seems to be that amateur signings are wasted on teams that don't know what to do with them. But the Dodgers of this decade wouldn't seem to fit that description, so I'm left at a loss.
"A team that can't finance either veteran acquisitions or amateur talent investment is a team that will run on empty. It's a team that needs to find the finances somewhere – or get out of the business – before it reaches the breaking point.
"People are caught up in "all we got for 2010 is Jamey Carroll" talk. Folks, 2010 is not the problem. ... I'm telling you, 2010 is just a speed bump compared to what's going to happen in future years if the Dodgers try to skate buy without investing in the farm system."
--Sources report that the Dodgers' pursuit of the Reds' Aaron Harang is not dead, and that a trade sending reliever George Sherrill to Cincinnati remains possible.
The Reds want a prospect of some merit from Los Angeles in addition to Sherrill – especially since Cincinnati is willing to eat nearly $10 million of Harang's $14 million salary and thus keep the deal a financial wash for the Dodgers – and also need to find a taker for Sherrill. The former closer, who should earn about $4.3 million in arbitration, would serve as trade bait for the Reds, who want to hoard prospects.
--Tony Jackson, writing for ESPN Los Angeles, wonders if Manny Ramirez decline the second half of the season was due to time missed or the erosion of his talents.
He pointed out that in his first 16 games back from the suspension, Ramirez hit .347 with five home runs and 17 RBIs and a grand slam. Ramirez then went the next 10 games without driving in a run. After the grand slam, Ramirez's batting average stood at .348, exactly where it had been at the time of his suspension on May 7. He hit .251 for the rest of the season, drove in just 26 more runs and finished with a .290 average.
"Could it be that the once-fearsome Ramirez had suddenly been reduced to just another 37-year-old one-time star on the downside of his career?' Jackson asks.
--Former Dodgers 1994 Rookie of he Year Raul Mondesi is running for Mayor of San Cristobal in the Dominican Republic against former major leaguer Jose Rio.
The candidates aren't required to actually articulate, or even understand, the issues. All they have to do is vote the party line once elected.
"Retired ballplayers are very useful. And being that baseball is the king of Dominican sports, they use them a lot," said Americo Celado, a columnist for the Dominican website Clave Digital. "But never thinking they can work for the good, submitting project after project in the Congress that will benefit society. Basically, it's to take advantage of their popularity."
BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- Minor league managers (out of six possible) who will return to the Dodgers organization in 2010. Tim Wallach, named by Baseball America as the best managerial prospect in baseball, will manage his second season at Class AAA Albuquerque. Carlos Subero will move up one level to Class AA Chattanooga, while Jeff Carter moves up one level to high Class A Inland Empire.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "They throw obstacles in front of everybody in this game. There's always somebody ready to fight for a job. He's a good player, and I look forward to playing with him and learning a lot from him." -- Second base candidate Blake DeWitt, on the news that the Dodgers signed veteran INF Jamey Carroll, creating a spring training battle at the position.
--The Dodgers offices will be closed until January 4, so there will probably be little actual trade/free agenting until then. This shop will be closed tomorrow to play with the electric train we asked Santa for, or whatever he finally decided he would bring us. Failing any present at all, we'll just enjoy the family and the turkey. We'll see you all on Monday, unless Colletti manages to trade Jason Repko to the Cardinals for Albert Pujols.
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