Monday, November 30, 2009


With the offseason here, the mailbag has returned to In this installment, there's talk about the chances of retaining free agents, why the Dodgers don't trade away young players for big names, who's the next Clayton Kershaw down on the farm, the different types of free agents, and compensation for another team signing a free agent.

Read and enjoy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Trading for Halladay looks unlikely

The Dodgers would love to trade for a stud pitcher like Roy Halladay. Giving up Chad Billingsley to make it happen, however, has put a stop to any potential deal.

A source close to this situation was quoted as saying this deal appears to be "a long-shot."

GM Ned Colletti had this quote about acquiring starting pitching:
"We would like to improve our pitching, especially starting pitching. I don't believe we can subtract from it in order to improve it."
While Billingsley certainly had his struggles in the second half of '09, his excellent first half, good enough to earn him an All-Star berth, is a big reason why the Dodgers don't want to throw in the towel with him.

As with the case of any trade rumor, you never know what will happen in the end. I don't think anybody saw the Dodgers getting Manny Ramirez at the trade deadline in 2008, but it happened at the last minute. If you're a fan of this deal, then keep the faith, because anything is possible.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dodgers courting Roy Halladay

If the Dodgers want to make a splash this offseason, they certainly know the name to go after.

According to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports, the Dodgers and Blue Jays have reopened talks about trading Roy Halladay. If you recall, Halladay was the hot name at last year's trade deadline, but then-Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi never pulled the trigger.

Here's why the Dodgers have been constantly pursuing this deal: Halladay is a bona fide ace, a perennial Cy Young candidate, and can match up and beat any other team's ace in a playoff series.

Simply put, if he's not the best pitcher in the game today, he's right up there.

As for the Blue Jays, they would seem foolish not to move Halladay since he's a free agent after the 2010 season. They could have had a bunch of stud prospects last year, but Ricciardi got cold feet. The new GM, Alex Anthopoulos, is now restarting talks.

In order to get someone of his Halladay's caliber, the Dodgers would easily need to say goodbye to at least Chad Billingsley or Clayton Kershaw. Based on how last year unfolded, I'm sure they'd rather it be Billingsley. Also, a younger name like Russell Martin or James Loney. Or who knows, maybe both.

Needless to say, it will cost a lot. But it could be the shot in the arm the Dodgers need to get over the NLCS hump.

Like any rumor, it could go either way. Maybe the Dodgers are pursuing this heavily, maybe they've barely made mention of it. But the fact that any talk is happening is a good sign.

Stay tuned as the offseason unfolds, because this could turn into a huge story.

Could Russell Martin be traded?

If you are to believe ESPN's Buster Olney, it's certainly a possibility.

After a couple seasons in a row where his stats have gone South, the Dodgers may look to move their young catcher rather than overpay him. He's arbitration-eligible this year, so he'll earn more than the $3.9 million he got last season.

The reason is simple: the Dodgers will look to trim payroll just like nearly every other team. As Olney points out, with nine other players looking at arbitration and the McCourts going through a divorce, the time could be right to pull off a trade.

Keep in mind that this might not even be on the Dodgers' radar, but it's still an intriguing thing to think about. Martin won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger in 2007 with a .293 average, 19 homers, 87 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases. He looked like the best young catcher in baseball by far.

It's not like he's fallen off a cliff, but he hasn't matched those numbers since then. Across the board, his major numbers fell in 2008, and even more in 2009 with a .250 average, 7 homers, 53 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases.

He'll only be 27 next season, so if the Dodgers do dangle him, plenty of teams would be interested. However, I can't help but think of Martin's situation as being very similar to Paul Lo Duca. Lo Duca was once the catcher of the future after a great start, then sputtered. Is Martin heading down that same path?

For Martin's sake, a rebound in 2010 will be important.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dodgers will keep an eye on Smoltz is reporting that the Dodgers are one of a handful of teams interested in John Smoltz. While Smoltz was a starter last season with the Red Sox and Cardinals, he could sign somewhere as a closer, too.

As Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi report, the Dodgers would like to add a veteran starter to brace themselves for the possible departures of Randy Wolf, Vicente Padilla, and Jon Garland.

Smoltz had quite the interesting season in 2009. He signed with the Red Sox and didn't make his first start until June 25 because of shoulder surgery. Needless to say, it was an absolute disaster, as he went a putrid 2-5 with an 8.32 ERA.

He quickly was released and made the smart call in going back to the National League, this time with the Cardinals. Though he was only 1-3, he had a much better 4.26 ERA.

With Dodger Stadium still having the reputation as being a pitcher's park, it could be a good fit. I know Joe Torre would love it, if for no other reason than to take young hurlers Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw under his wing for at least a year.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Second base rumors

With both Orlando Hudson and Ronnie Belliard free agents, the Dodgers are working hard on their quest to find a solid second baseman for 2010. Here's what's been discussed:

Alberto Callaspo - In his first full year of action, Callaspo quietly had a nice season for the Royals, finishing with a .300 average, 11 homers, and 73 RBIs. He's been discussed in a possible deal for A.J. Ellis, the Dodgers' minor league catcher.

I liked what I saw from Callaspo this year, mainly because he was on my fantasy team at the end of the season. He doesn't have eye-popping stats, but can swing a good bat. He committed 17 errors, but it would be hard for anyone to be an upgrade over Hudson.

While I would make that trade, this deal has already been shot down as it hasn't even been discussed.

Dan Uggla - Courtesy of ESPN's Buster Olney, Uggla is one of two second basemen he's heard the Dodgers discussing. Uggla's a low average - high power guy. He's hit 31-32 homers for three consecutive seasons, but his highest average in that span was .260 in 2008.

As Olney points out, the Dodgers would probably prefer defense at this position, and that's not Uggla's strength. Even with the power, it could be a long-shot.

Brandon Phillips - The other player Olney has heard is Phillips. As the Reds look to dump payroll, Phillips and his $18.75 million, 2-year contract could be expendable. He's a much better defender than Uggla, and hit 20 homers and 98 RBIs last year.

It's unknown if the Reds are willing to even trade him, though, or if the Dodgers could come up with the right deal.

Kemp and Ethier are Silver Sluggers

After having breakout 2009 seasons, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have already added to the honors they've gathered this offseason.

Kemp and Ethier both won Silver Slugger Awards, given to the top players at their positions. The outfielders became the first pair of Dodgers to claim the honor since Mike Piazza and Eric Karros in 1995.

Russell Martin claimed the award in 2007, making him the last Dodger to do so until this season.

Previously in the offseason, Kemp won his first Gold Glove Award. Ethier was named the Clutch Performer of the Year by fan voting for all of the dramatic hits he came up with to win games.

It's been quite the past couple of days for the Dodgers, as they've combined to win four awards in both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. It really puts an exclamation point for a big season in Los Angeles.

Kemp finished the year hitting .297 with 26 home runs and 101 RBIs. He also hit three grand slams and homered in four straight games. His 10 RBIs in extra innings were the most since Juan Gonzalez had 11 in 1992. He hit everywhere from second to eighth, and never skipped a beat.

Ethier hit .262 with 31 homers and 106 RBIs. We all know of his flair for the dramatic for his six walk-off hits, four of which were home runs. He also set a Dodgers' record for most homers hit by a left-handed hitter at home with 22.

The scary part is that with Kemp only 25 and Ethier 28 next season, the best is probably yet to come. They are the nucleus for the Dodgers in their continuing battle for a World Series spot.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hudson and Kemp win Gold Glove Awards

Matt Kemp and Orlando Hudson have accomplished what no other tandem in Dodger history have done: winning Gold Glove Awards.

The National League winners were announced today, and Kemp and Hudson each won the prestigious award. For Hudson, it's his fourth, and for Kemp, it's his first. Both led the way for a Dodger team that won 95 games and went to the NLCS.

Both Cesar Izturis and Steve Finley won the award in 2004, but Finley was acquired at the trade deadline. Hudson and Kemp are the first pair in team history to win it while being with the club all season.

Hudson finished with a .988 fielding percentage, while committing only eight errors. He made the All-Star team for a terrific first half, though he was eventually replaced by a hot Ronnie Belliard as the playoffs approached. Still, Hudson's slick glove was a pleasure to watch all season long.

Kemp improved by leaps and bounds this year, as he turned untapped potential into the real thing. He was third in the majors with 14 outfield assists and made only two errors. His speed gave him range all over the outfield. He was basically a highlight waiting to happen at any moment.

Each of their gloves was a big factor in giving the Dodgers 95 wins, an NLCS berth, and a .986 fielding percentage, good for fourth in the league.

Dodgers show interest in Jackson and DeRosa

Just a couple of rumors to talk about today.

The first is an old Dodger friend, Edwin Jackson. If you recall, he was groomed to be the next pitching star a few years back. In his first major league start on September 10, 2003, he defeated Randy Johnson and the Diamondbacks, 4-1. He gave up only a run in six innings, and the win was also on his 20th birthday. It sure looked like the future was bright.

Unfortunately, that was all she wrote as far as having good memories in LA. His ERAs the next two years? 7.30 and 6.68. Yikes. He was then shipped to Tampa, where he was mediocre for three seasons. However, he made the All-Star Game last season with the Tigers, and he looked like a new man.

Now, the Dodgers are interested in Jackson all over again. He'll only be 26 next season, and was 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA in 2009. The only red flag would be that his ERA started at 2.25 in April and crept up a bit each month. Still, he showed plenty of signs of being the dominant pitcher people envisioned him being.

There haven't been any offers on the table, but one possibility is George Sherrill. At the trade deadline, the Tigers were one of the teams in on him. It could make sense on both sides with the Tigers needing bullpen help and the Dodgers trying to build their rotation again.

The second is Mark DeRosa, who started last year with the Indians and ended up with the Cardinals. He's a super-versatile player, as he can realistically play any position on the field. His hitting has dipped the last few years, but he's still pretty good.

The Dodgers are one of eight teams who have interest in DeRosa, so it's important to note that that's as far as it's gone thus far.

Plenty of more rumors will come soon, I'm sure.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Torre may extend contract another year

It wasn't too long ago during the postseason that Joe Torre said he doesn't expect to stay past the 2010 season. But two straight NLCS berths and some unfinished business looks to have changed his mind.

Torre and Ned Colletti are in discussions to add another year to his contract through the 2011 season. With Colletti receiving an extension himself recently, it appears as if both sides want to keep a good thing going.

Also worth noting is that all of Torre's coaching staff, including Don Mattingly, are close to finalizing deals to stay. Mattingly interviewed for the Indians' opening during the playoffs (if eventually went to Manny Acta), and declined an interview with the Nationals. He'll stay on as the hitting instructor while waiting his call to manage one day.

It's a logical move on all sides. Torre has brought pride and stability back to LA after many years of a playoff drought. While he hasn't returned to the World Series, the Dodgers certainly have the pieces to make it happen.

As for Mattingly, it's definitely a good thing that he's coming back. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves by calling him the next manager. Take a look at the Lakers, for example. It sure looked like Kurt Rambis would take over for Phil Jackson, but Rambis didn't want to wait it out, so he's in Minnesota now. And who could blame him?

The point is that while it would be great for Mattingly to eventually take over, sometimes time and temptation prove to be too much.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Manny makes it official: he's back

Manny Ramirez has exercised his 2010 option, and he'll be back in Dodger blue next season. He'll be paid $20 million for the last year of his contract.

I talked a whole bunch about this in my previous post, and my prediction that he'd be back was true. It really wasn't a hard choice to make. The Dodgers were the only place he'd make that kind of money.

As Ned Colletti stated, the hope is that Manny won't press as much as he did after his suspension last season. Pitchers would bust him inside with hard stuff, and Manny never could quite adjust. With an offseason of knowing exactly who he's playing for, he can get geared up and ready to go for 2010.

Now the Dodgers can focus on adding other ways to improve. Most importantly, they need starting pitching. Second base is also an area of need.

Will he stay or will he go?

That will be the question for Manny Ramirez until the November 10 deadline. And the longer he waits to decide, the more unpredictable this situation becomes.

Here's the decision Manny has to make. He can either opt to say with the Dodgers, exercising a $20 million option for 2010, the final year or his two-year deal. Or, he can simple opt-out and become a free agent.

The ball is totally in his court because it's a player option. Ned Colletti can only sit back and wait for the final word, because he has no say in the matter.

On the surface, it appears to be an easy decision. Manny can make a cool $20 million, which would seemingly be hard to find on the open market. Plus, factor in his age of 37 and his 50-game suspension for drug use during the season, and it looks like no team would be willing to top his current deal.

But here the catch: Scott Boras is his agent. And needless to say, kids, Boras doesn't mess around.

For those of you that need proof, look no further than the 2006 case of J.D. Drew. He was guaranteed $33 million for three years if he exercised his option, which seemed like a slam dunk. However, Boras convinced him to opt-out, thus becoming a free agent.

Just when most people thought he was crazy, Drew ended up signing with the Red Sox for five years and $70 million. Boras looked like a genius in the end.

Then again, Drew was much younger and with much less baggage at the time. But Manny can hit, and that may be all that matters.

The Dodgers have to be a bit torn on this situation. Manny took into spring training to sign, but still started the season hot. Then the suspension hit, and he was never the same. While the Dodgers achieved plenty of success, he failed to catch fire in the postseason like they wanted him to.

Admittedly, he has shaky knees, and would probably prefer to DH somewhere. Plus there's still the whole "Manny being Manny" issue, which never goes away.

The positives are that he's still a big bat in the middle of the order that the Dodgers need. He's still a box office attraction. And he's still capable of going off and having a monster season.

My guess is that he stays in Los Angeles for a couple of reasons. One is that he won't get a better deal elsewhere. The other is that I haven't heard a hint of another team being in hot pursuit.

Anything is possible with Manny and Boras. In a few days, we'll all see how this plays out.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Garland's option declined

Jon Garland did a solid job in his brief stint with the Dodgers. However, forced to choose between paying him $10 million to come back in 2010 or have the Diamondbacks buy him out at $2.5 million, they chose the latter.

Garland won't be back in '10, and will now be a free agent. The fact that his old club has to pay every penny made the decision a pretty easy one.

In six starts with the Dodgers, Garland went 3-2 with a 2.75 ERA. He was a long reliever for the Division Series against the Cardinals, but didn't get any action. He was left of the Championship Series roster altogether.

Had the price tag not been so high at $10 million, I could see the Dodgers bringing him back. He'll always be a solid 4-5 starter mostly because he'll give you at least 200 innings a year. Pitchers like him are always valued. But, it looks like they'll concentrate on bringing back Vicente Padilla instead.

Randy Wolf remains a free agent along with Padilla. That leaves Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, and Hiroki Kuroda as the only established starters, and we all saw how Billingsley fell apart at the end of last season. There's also names like James McDonald, Eric Stults, and Charlie Haeger that have made starts in the past.

Needless to say, the Dodgers have plenty of work to do to shore up their rotation.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Don't mess with Padilla's shooting instructor

He just might shoot you.

While in his native Nicaragua, Padilla was accidentally shot in the right thigh by his instructor
. Apparently, Padilla's gun was jammed when he handed it over to be checked out. Well, it worked just fine. So well that the moron instructor shot himself in the hand, which then grazed Padilla's leg.

No, this was not a cartoon, it's real life.

I can joke about this only because the injury was considered minor and surgery wasn't even required. And thank God, because the Dodgers reportedly have interest in resigning him.

After being signed to a minor league deal in August, Padilla was awesome the last two months, going 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA. He then had two great starts in the postseason against the Cardinals and Phillies, though he was battered in the last game of the season in Philly.

Based on that success, there is a strong likelihood of him being resigned and back in the starting rotation next season.