Tuesday, March 31, 2009

NL West preview: Outfield

Part 2 of my preview for the '09 season...

Left Field
1. Manny Ramirez - Dodgers

2. Connor Jackson - Diamondbacks

3. Chase Headley - Padres

4. Seth Smith - Rockies

5. Fred Lewis - Giants

Manny is far and away the head cheese in this group. That's not to say that the others aren't any good, because there's definite potential. Jackson hit .300 with a .376 OBP last season, but people want to see more than just 12 home runs. He could hit more, but maybe that's just not in his makeup. Headley is on the rise and should get plenty of playing time in that lineup. He'll probably have to get used to hitting with nobody on base (unless it's Adrian Gonzalez). Smith could platoon, but can hit over .300 if given the chance.

Center Field
1. Matt Kemp - Dodgers

2. Chris Young - Diamondbacks

3. Aaron Rowand - Giants

4. Ryan Spilborghs - Rockies

5. Jody Gerut - Padres

Kemp is one of those promising players that fantasy people drool over. With Manny back in the lineup, there's plenty of reasons to think that he could make the next step this season and be a big threat. Young was outstanding in '07, and not so much in '08. He still hit 22 HR and 85 RBI, so if he can get his OBP way above .315, he'll be in good shape. Rowand doesn't get much help in San Francisco, but he's a gamer and always plays hard.

Right Field
1. Brad Hawpe - Rockies

2. Andre Ethier - Dodgers

3. Justin Upton - Diamondbacks

4. Brian Giles - Padres

5. Randy Winn - Giants

The deepest of all outfield spots, all 5 players either have or are capable of putting up great seasons. Hawpe appeared in 138 games because of a hamstring injury, but still hit 25 and 85 with a .381 OBP. Ethier got much better with Manny in the lineup, as he really took off in the 2nd half. Upton only hit .250 last year, but with a .350 OBP. He could potentially put up 30 homers once he figures things out. Giles and Winn have been around the block, but if you look at their numbers, they are still very solid.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Lefty Will Ohman comes aboard

The Dodgers have hopefully found a replacement for the departed Joe Beimel when they signed lefty Will Ohman today to a 1-year, Minor League deal with an option for another year.

I've talked about his numbers before, but let's look at them again. He spent his first 5 years with the Cubs, peaking in 2005 with a 2.91 ERA in 43.1 IP to go along with 45 K's. Last season he went to the Braves, collecting a 3.68 ERA in 58.2 IP and 53 K's.

Those numbers aren't bad, but what's most impressive are his numbers against left-handed hitters last year. In 29.2 IP, he gave up only 21 hits, 2 homers, 8 walks, and struck out 28. Wow. That's pretty darn good. And for those numbers alone, he has himself a job.

With exactly a week to go before the regular season begins, it's unlikely that he'd be ready for the bullpen right away. So some seasoning in Triple A seems likely at first. Hopefully he'll be good to go in no time.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

NL West preview: Infield

Here's my first in a series of previews for the NL West. Today I'll look at catcher, 1st base, 2nd base, shortstop, and 3rd base. I'll rank each player while trying to remain unbiased! (Not always easy...).

1. Russell Martin - Dodgers

2. Chris Iannetta - Rockies
3. Bengie Molina - Giants

4. Chris Snyder - Diamondbacks

5. Nick Hundley - Padres

Martin may wear down in the 2nd half of the year, but he still does a lot for the Dodgers. In addition to handling a staff with a good ERA, he has a good OBP and can steal 20 bases. Iannetta is a riser based on his flashes of power he showed in limited AB's last season. For those of you that watched the World Baseball Classic, you saw how good he could be. Molina had 16 HR and 95 RBI pretty quietly last season. He still can get the job done.

1st Base
1. Adrian Gonzalez - Padres

2. James Loney - Dodgers

3. Todd Helton - Rockies

4. Chad Tracy - Diamondbacks

5. Travis Ishikawa - Giants

Gonzalez is far and away the top player here. He continues to put up power numbers (36 and 119 last year) in a pitcher's ballpark. That plus his team around him really sucks. Loney had 90 RBI despite only 13 HR. Don't expect power numbers from him, but he can hit over .300. Helton came off an injury-plagued year because of his back, and who knows if he'll ever be the same. If he is healthy, he can still give the Rockies good AB's.

2nd Base
1. Felipe Lopez - Diamondbacks

2. Orlando Hudson - Dodgers

3. Clint Barmes - Rockies
4. David Eckstein - Padres

5. Kevin Frandsen - Giants

This is easily the weakest position, and barely worth talking about. Lopez and Hudson have each seen better days, but could also rebound this season if things go well. Barmes is still a good play at Coors, but definitely not on the road. Eckstein's best years are well behind him.

1. Troy Tulowitzki - Rockies

2. Rafael Furcal - Dodgers

3. Stephen Drew - Diamondbacks

4. Edgar Renteria - Giants

5. Luis Rodriguez - Padres

A torn quadriceps ruined last season for Tulowitzki, but when healthy in 2007, he posted 24 and 99. Give him the benefit of the doubt that he can return to those numbers with a clean bill of health and that darn ballpark. Furcal has been in and out of the lineup for the last 2 years, but when he's in, it's all good. A great combination of power and speed for an improved Dodgers' lineup. Drew can become a better hitter with more patience and less hacking, but can still hit 25 homers.

3rd Base
1. Garrett Atkins - Rockies

2. Mark Reynolds - Diamondbacks

3. Casey Blake - Dodgers

4. Kevin Kouzmanoff - Padres

5. Pablo Sandoval - Giants

Atkins has slowly regressed since his big 2006, and injuries are a concern. He gets the slight edge over Reynolds only because Reynolds strikes out and commits errors like it's his second job. Blake and Kouzmanoff are close to a wash, but Blake is in a better lineup to produce more. Sandoval hit .345 in 145 AB's last year, so he could shoot up the list. Or he could stay put if it was just a fluke.

Friday, March 27, 2009

No love from ESPN on Opening Day

I was hoping ESPN would show the Dodgers' Opening Day game again, but that just won't happen this year. ESPN does have 5 games on, but they won't be including the Dodgers on April 6.

The games they will have on are Mets-Reds, Rays-Red Sox, Yankees-Orioles, Cubs-Astros, and A's-Angels. Those are all good games, although when you live in New York like I do, I may as well just say that 3 games will be on since the Mets and Yankees will be blacked out. So ESPNEWS, here I come!

Oh well, at least we can count on the free preview of the MLB Extra Innings package if you haven't previously ordered it already. The free preview lasts from April 6-12. Not a bad deal.

Manny will hit in the #3 spot

I'm not sure if there was any debate about this, but Joe Torre has officially announced that Manny Ramirez will remain in the #3 spot in the order for this season. That's the place where he found the most success last season, so if it ain't broke, Torre won't fix it.

Not that that's settled, the bigger question will be about who is hitting cleanup. Torre seemed to think that it will depend on the opposing pitcher. In other words, against righties, Andre Ethier will be the man. Against lefties, it's a bit more of a toss up.

Based on last season, Russell Martin got the call once Jeff Kent went down with injury. Obviously, Kent is retired now, so that may place Martin in the lead. But, there's also Casey Blake and Matt Kemp to consider. Most people who aren't Dodger fans would probably think it should be Kemp, but we Dodger fans know that his free-swinging ways may not be ready for that yet.

I hope it's Kemp at some point. That would mean he's maturing at the plate and being more selective, and not just trying to jack one out every time. He's talent is way up there, as we all know, but his decision making isn't. The good news is that we're talking about a 24-year-old player, so I think we all need to remind ourselves to stay patient with him.

Ethier has proven that he can hit around Manny, now it's time for Kemp to do the same.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Billingsley nursing a sore groin

Chad Billingsley's injured groin may be worse than expected. He's already been scratched from his start Sunday against the Padres. He'll instead aim to throw a simulated Minor League game that day if he's feeling better.

This isn't exactly good news for the Dodgers. They're having a heck of a time finding a quality 5th starter since scrubs like Eric Milton, Shawn Estes, and Claudio Vargas are pitching like... well, scrubs. Now they're worried that their #3 guy won't be ready to pitch April 8 in San Diego.

He did throw 15 pitches today on flat ground, so I guess that's some progress. It would suck if he had to miss any time when the season starts, but if he does, hope that it's just one start and nothing more.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

5th starter battle is heating up

*** UPDATE ***

Shawn Estes is done. The Dodgers did themselves a favor by cutting the veteran lefty with a hefty 8.44 ERA in 5 games this spring. He says he can still get people out. Maybe he meant Little League.


With Jason Schmidt not being able to grab a stranglehold on the 5th starter spot, the Dodgers find themselves in the same position they did last year at this time - who to put in that spot. From what I can tell, it's down to 3 guys: James McDonald, Claudio Vargas, and Josh Lindblom.

Now I know what you're thinking, Who's Josh Lindblom? Trust me, I did the same thing. Here's what I found. He was the 2nd round pick by the Dodgers in the 2008 draft after pitching first at Tennessee and then at Purdue. Currently, he's the #4 ranked pitcher in the Dodgers' farm system. He's only pitched in 35 Minor League innings, but that didn't stop him from K'ing 3 in 2 IP against the Royals the other night. Scouts were rightfully impressed.

Even with that, I'd still be surprised if he does get the nod. But as far as making the team? Well, he did pitch at the AA level last year, so a promotion to AAA would make sense.

McDonald came off of 5 lousy relief appearances this spring to pitch 3 flawless innings against the Indians on Saturday. He's pitched 11 1/3 innings in the Bigs late last year, including the postseason, without allowing a run. The 2-time Dodgers' Minor League Pitcher of the Year would seem like a favorite for the job. He's got quality pitcher written all over him.

The last is Claudio Vargas
, who is already on his 5th team in 7 seasons. He has a 6.57 ERA this spring, yet guys like Shawn Estes and Eric Milton have been so bad, that's actually considered good. That's pretty sad. Needless to say, I have never little confidence that he could be even a decent pitcher.

My guess is that most fans would like to see McDonald get a crack at this spot. He's definitely got the stuff to get the job done. He's also 24 with only 6 games of experience in the Majors. The Dodgers already have Clayton Kershaw in the rotation, so will they want another young gun in there as well?

I think the team would definitely want a veteran to step up and take the job, but that's just not happening. Because of that, we may be seeing the beginning of the James McDonald era in the starting rotation.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Brazoban and Beimel both gone

The Dodgers tried everything they could to get Yhency Brazoban back to full strength. Unfortunately, it just wasn't meant to be. After being assigned to Minor League camp last week, Brazoban was released today.

Things were looking pretty good for him in 2005 as the fill-in closer for the injured Eric Gagne. He converted 21 saves as a power-throwing righty with a bright future.

Then it all came to a crashing halt in 2006 when he got Tommy John surgery. He followed that in 2007 with shoulder labrum surgery. He was never the same, battling weight problems every step of the way.

As for Joe Beimel, he settled on a 1-year, $2 million contract with the Nationals to be their 8th inning pitcher. There was talk of him re-upping with the Dodgers, but it's possible they never offered as much money. That's usually what it comes down to, so that's my guess.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Kuroda gets the nod on Opening Day

What was suggested a couple of weeks ago has become official, as Hiroki Kuroda will be the starting pitcher for the Dodgers on Opening Day in San Diego. Joe Torre gave us the good word today.

Following Kuroda will be Randy Wolf, Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, and "the mystery person" (Torre's words) in the 5th spot. That's not surprising to me because I thought he Torre would split the righties and lefties up.

Kuroda had one big factor working in his favor, and that was his stellar play in the postseason. He went 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA (2 runs in 12 1/3 IP) while K'ing 7. He won the clinching game against the Cubs and gave the Dodgers the only win against the Phillies. That in addition to only allowing 1 run in 12 innings this Spring Training, he's earned the job.

So now Opening Day will be Kuroda vs. Jake Peavy, the Dodger Killer. Maybe some guy named Manny will get the Dodgers over the hump for once against this guy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cross Schmidt off the 5th starter list

The Dodgers will eventually find a 5th starter for the beginning of the regular season, but it won't be Jason Schmidt. Even before pitching the first 2 innings today, he was eliminated from competition because his body isn't reacting to the 5-day cycle.

The good news is that he is pitching, which has been a rarity the last 2 years. But, not shockingly at all, his body just can't handle being a starter. Joe Torre made it sound like down the line he will be able to handle it, but not now. That could be true, but excuse for me for not exactly being optimistic about this.

From what Schmidt has said, the problem isn't the actual day he's pitching, it's the days in between. So if you want to be more positive than me, you could just look at it from the view of him building up his endurance and strength after so much time off.

I don't know... I just can't help but think this will be a total wash once again. I know he's got a ton of money left to pay, but how can you keep a guy who can't even pitch on 5 days rest? Seems to be that it would be pretty hard to do.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sore hammy chases Manny early

*** UPDATE ***

Manny's hammy (sorry, had to say that) will keep him out of action for a week. The Dodgers, understandably, are taking the cautious approach with this. Still 3 weeks to go before action begins for real, so be patient.


Manny Ramirez gave it a go in left field for today's game against the Rockies, but he had to leave early with a sore left hamstring. He grounded out in his only at-bat of the game.

He decided to leave after running into the left field corner chasing a double by Troy Tulowitzki. Earlier in the game, he cautiously jogged down to 1st when grounding out, and was unable to track down a fly ball that landed in front of him.

He says he's day-to-day, so it sounds like a nagging injury that just needs to gradually heal on its own.

Watch Dodgers-Rockies on MLB.com today

The Dodgers will be taking on the Rockies in a game being broadcast on MLB.com at 4:05 ET today. The Spring Training games are free of charge. It's the regular season that charges and arm and a leg.

Claudio Vargas gets the start, and he's still one of the candidates for that 5th starter job. Manny Ramirez is expected to be in left field after being denied action against the Brewers yesterday because they didn't allow the DH. No big deal.

I tried to look up if the rest of the Spring schedule lists what games are online, but they weren't listed. I'm still checking to see when ESPN will say what games are being shown on Opening Day, but they haven't listed those yet either.

There could be a chance the Dodgers are on considering it'll be Manny Ramirez vs. Jake Peavy, a fun matchup to watch. Even if it's not on ESPN, keep in mind that the first week of the season, the MLB Extra Innings package is in free preview mode, so you can watch it there.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Do the Dodgers want Pedro?

16 years after being traded away in the terrible Delino Deshields deal, Pedro Martinez is once again drawing interest to return to the place where it all started. After a strong showing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, GM Ned Colletti has acknowledged that there is some interest in both sides.

Before we get any further, I should note that this is just talk at this point, mostly because of the almighty $$$. Pedro won't accept something along the lines of $1 million, he wants more in the $5 million range. And unless that changes drastically, this just isn't going to happen.

To me, this comes down to how much Pedro really wants to pitch again. He's been quoted as saying that while he wants to pitch again, he'll only do so under terms he thinks are worthy of his talents. If not, he'll happily walk away for good.

Looking at the WBC for him, he looked really good. 6 innings, no runs, and 1 hit. That's it. Granted, it was against the Netherlands, but his fastball was described as being up to 92 and with "pop." Even if he was pitching against nobodies (who ironically beat a team full of Major Leaguers in the Dominican), we shouldn't get too carried away with it.

Suppose the sides get talking more seriously, then is it a good move? The 5th starter candidates right now are Jason Schmidt (terrible injuries the last 2 years), Eric Milton (close to washed up), Claudio Vargas (never came through on potential), and Shawn Estes (see Milton). Not exactly guys that will light the world on fire. Pedro would immediately catapult himself past those names.

It could be worth a shot. It would only be for a year, so why not? But if the Dodgers are that set on not spending more money, you can't blame them for not pulling the trigger. With concerns that Pedro wouldn't hold up all season, then it would probably be best to leave it alone.

Manny scratched, but Dodgers beat Korea anyway

Today was supposed to be the day Manny Ramirez made his long-awaited Spring Training debut for the Dodgers. Slotted in the #3 spot and at DH, all eyes were on Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona. Kind of like when Manny was first offered that 2-year, $45 million deal with an opt-out clause after the first year.

And just like when he said no to that offer initially, Manny sat out today with a tight left hamstring.

No big deal, as he said he'll likely be back in action on Friday against the Rangers. I would think it would again be in the DH slot.

As for the game, it was more like a regular season game with Team Korea in town for a WBC Round 2 tuneup. Randy Wolf loaded the bases in the 1st but escaped, and ended up K'ing 4 in 3.1 IP. Hong-Chih Kuo got in on the action by facing 4 batters, allowing a single and hitting one batter. Ramon Troncoso gave up the 2 runs in an inning, while Shawn Estes also worked out of a bases juiced jam to pitch 2 scoreless frames.

All in all, the Dodgers pulled away from a 2-all game on a 2-run single by Chin-lung Hu in the 8th to win, 4-2. They're now at 7-6 this spring with plenty more to come.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

ESPN's fantasy projections

It's fantasy baseball time for me, as I'll be doing 2 drafts next week. In order to get ready for it, I've just spent the last hour or so looking at ESPN.com and all of their great information. If you haven't checked it out, I highly recommend it, especially since it's now free.

Since we're talking Dodgers on this site, here's a link to the projections for all of them:

Dodgers Fantasy Projections

Here's the top 10 players along with overall ranking and ranking by position in (parenthesis).
  • Manny Ramirez, OF - 28 (10)
  • Matt Kemp, OF - 30 (11)
  • Russell Martin, C - 53 (2)
  • Rafael Furcal, SS - 71 (5)
  • Chad Billingsley, SP - 79 (15)
  • Jonathan Broxton, RP - 104 (8)
  • Andre Ethier, OF - 108 (33)
  • James Loney, 1B - 155 (20)
  • Hiroki Kuroda, SP - 178 (47)
  • Clayton Kershaw, SP - 184 (48)
No surprise with Manny being at the top, but I think Kemp being right behind might raise some eyebrows. People see his potential, which is certainly there, but I still think 11th overall is a little too high.

Lots of love being shown to Raffy, Martin, Broxton, and Billingsley. Those guys have put up the numbers already, plus they are young enough to only get better. Kershaw's the wild card because he has stuff that could carry him much higher, though he's only 21.

Overall, I think if you get anyone from the top 6 of that list, you should feel pretty good about that.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Beimel still could be back

The Dodgers haven't completely closed the book on Joe Beimel, as they are still showing some interest in resigning him. The catch is that he wants between $2-$3 million, and the Dodgers say, "No way." If that prices comes down, then something could happen.

Another lefty reliever being discussed is Will Ohman, who was last with the Braves. He had a pretty good, if not spectacular, year with a 4-1 record, 3.68 ERA, and 1.24 WHIP. Like Beimel, he's 31.

The biggest difference between the 2 was their averages against lefties. Ohman was a fantastic .200 while Beimel got hit much harder at .278. You'd think the Dodgers would just want one of these guys to last against a lefty batter or 2 most nights, so that would heavily favor Ohman.

Right now the Dodgers have one great lefty in the 'pen in Hong Chih-Kuo, but he can't go every night because of his past arm problems. It would be nice to have someone else that can take the ball whenever and get a couple of big outs before the 9th inning comes.

Spring debut for Manny could be Thursday

It looks as if Manny Ramirez will make his Spring Training debut this Thursday against a team from the World Baseball Classic. That would give him about one full week of preparation time before donning blue again.

With Spring Training lasting about 4 months this year because of the Classic, there really wasn't much of a rush to get him back in games. He's missed about 2 weeks of time, so that's why he needed a week to get his legs and timing back.

In what seems like a rarity these days, if you check out the link provided with this story, there's about a 12 minute interview with Manny conducted by ESPN's Colleen Dominguez. It's pretty funny to watch as he still doesn't give much away about himself or his feelings on Boston. Lots of shrugs and short answers. But still a good watch.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

With Manny back, Pierre wants out

In a story that was obvious to happen sooner rather than later, Juan Pierre has been granted permission to seek trade options. Manny Ramirez is back, so Pierre will be on the outside looking in at a starting spot.

To Pierre's credit, from everything I've read, he's handled it all with class. Read all of his quotes and you have to acknowledge that he's at least saying the right things. He wants to be a team player, yet wants to play. Understood. He also knows that with Manny there and the 2 youngsters in Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, he's better suited elsewhere.

So here's the facts. He's now in the 3rd year of his 5-year, $44 million salary that was given to him before the 2007 season. At the time it seemed a little crazy considering the Dodgers needed power, but he was signed anyway. Currently he's owed $28.5 million.

Now there will be a couple of questions for teams to figure out: who wants him as a starter and who would be willing to pay some (if not all) of his salary? It's not like he has no value. Basically teams would be paying for a guy that will get hits, but won't get on base enough like a good leadoff hitter should. His speed on the bases is still excellent. He also has a terrible arm for the outfield.

You would have to think some team out there would want him. He mentioned that he'd be willing to defer payments in order to get something done, not unlike how the Dodgers dumped Andruw Jones. Plus, the Dodgers would most likely have to pay for some of his remaining contract.

If he ends up being kept, I can't see him being a distraction, because Joe Torre will still start him in spots just to keep him somewhat involved. He's a fantastic option late in games as a pinch-runner. Ya, that's an expensive contract for a pinch-runner, but it is what it is.

It's hard to say who the Dodgers would look for in return, but my guess is more pitching or a backup outfielder spot. Right now they have Jason Repko, who's about as fragile as egg shells.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

An early look at the lineup

With Manny now on board, let's take a look at what the lineup may look like this year. Well, I should say, here's what I would like to see the lineup look like:

1. Rafael Furcal, SS - the obvious choice with his combination of speed, on-base ability, and decent power

2. Orlando Hudson, 2B - a good fit with his ability to move runners over and find ways to get on

3. Manny Ramirez, LF - makes everyone around him better

4. Matt Kemp, CF - now is the time for him to step up into the all-around threat that he can be

5. Andre Ethier, RF - thrived with Manny in the lineup

6. Casey Blake, 3B - veteran hitter who fits in nicely in this spot

7. James Loney, 1B - could hit higher with more consistency and less double play balls

8. Russell Martin, 2B - another guy who could hit higher, but can be a good threat at the bottom

Looking at this lineup, the funny thing is that everyone except Furcal could be in a different spot. Should O Dog be at the top or at the bottom? Should Ethier continue to be in front of or behind Manny? Can a true #3 hitter step up and let Manny hit cleanup? Will Kemp handle being the cleanup hitter? Does Martin deserve to hit higher?

Like I said, lots of questions, but they're all good ones for Joe Torre to have. Plenty of time to figure it all out.

Signed and sealed - Manny is back!!!

The long wait is over. Manny Ramirez has signed a 2-year, $45 million contract to be a Dodger. And all is right in the world!

After meeting for 2 1/2 hours this morning, the contract was signed, ending months of speculation and back-and-forth negotiating between both sides. In the end, practically the same deal was signed that was on the table and then rejected a week ago. Guess Manny had a slight change of heart... or he realized that this was as good as it was going to get.

Whatever the case, I'm just glad this wasn't everyone getting their hopes up only to be let down in the end. Here's what the signing does for the Dodgers:

1. One of the most feared hitters in baseball will now get 4-5 at-bats per night. That's 4-5 times a night the opposing manager will have to decide how in the world to hold this guy down.

2. Youngsters like Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and James Loney will continue to improve hitting around him. They no longer have to worry about being the power on a powerless team, they now can just relax and rake. Manny's presence lets them do that.

3. The loss of Derek Lowe doesn't sting as much anymore only because the Dodgers now have more offense to make up for it. Which by the way, was something Lowe wasn't convinced would happen.

4. The Dodgers are now clearly the favorite to repeat as NL West champions. They did it last year with Manny in there for 2 months. Now it's a whole season.

5. Lastly, and most importantly... Juan Pierre is no longer a starter! Yes!

It wasn't the most graceful road for Manny, but the bottom line is that he's a Dodger and this upcoming season just got a whole lot more exciting.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Manny to the Dodgers: a done deal???

We may finally have some resolution here, folks.

And that resolution is that Manny Ramirez appears to FINALLY be heading back to the Dodgers. "Sources" (who knows who they are) are saying that it's the same 2-year, $45 million deal he turned down before.

Here's what we know. ESPN's Enrique Rojas is reporting the deal. He labeled it as "common ground" between the 2 sides. Another "source" claimed that "obstacles still remain" in getting the deal done. Hmm... could that be deferred money? Ugh if it is!

If you're a believer in staying positive, then the additional news that Manny is traveling to LA tonight should be good news. If the deal is signed, then he could be in Arizona as soon as tomorrow.

Memo to Frank McCourt and Ned Colletti, don't tease us! Please make this happen so we can at last gear up for the season!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Top prospect De Jesus likely done for year

This is not the way young Ivan De Jesus was looking to make an impact this year.

Playing in a "B" Spring Training game, which is basically just for pitchers to stay on schedule, De Jesus broke his left lower tibia sliding into home plate. The result is an injury that will most likely keep him out the entire season. Ouch.

While most Dodger fans may not know much about him, he's put up some impressive numbers in the Minors. At Double-A Jacksonville last season, he hit a .324 AVG, .419 OBP, 150 H, 91 R, 16 SB in 128 games. Pretty darn good. He also played in the Futures Game.

I guess the good part about all of this is that he's only 21, and it's not like he was a factor in LA this season anyway. The Dodgers resigned Rafael Furcal to play SS, plus added Mark Loretta and Orlando Hudson to play at SS or 2B. Plus Tony Abreu is looking to comeback this year, so there's good depth in the infield.

Hopefully De Jesus can rehab and play some SS before the year is over. If not, look for his name next year and beyond.

Contract talks for Manny on hold

Despite being only about $1.5 million apart in negotiations for Manny Ramirez, the contract talks are now on hold, per the orders of Dodgers' owner Frank McCourt. And McCourt is clearly not happy about it.

At a press conference before Sunday's Spring Training debut in Camelback Ranch, McCourt had to spend most of his time talking the Manny contract situation instead of opening a brand new complex. The ideal situation would have been to talk about Manny being a Dodger, opening the park, and defending the NL West crown. I guess 2 out of 3 will have to do for now.

Like I said, the difference appears to be about $1.5 million more on Manny's side to compensate for deferred money. That damn deferred money is what is holding this up. Basically Manny is saying that if the Dodgers want to spread out the payments, then make the money more.

As a friend said to me the other day, don't be surprised if this turns out to be a July signing like Roger Clemens was in 2007 with the Yankees. And I said don't be surprised if it gets done tomorrow. That's how up and down this has been. Right now is a down period, so let's hope that turns around.

Look, the Dodgers need Manny to win in the playoffs. They can win games without him, but I'm seriously doubting it'll be enough to get to the postseason. Of course, Manny knows all of this, so he'll hold out until he gets everything his way.

And that, my friends, is the American way.