Off Base
A Dodger in Wolf's Clothing

Decemer 6, 2009, 7:20 p.m. Yeah, the Dodgers should have offered Randy Wolf arbitration. It was a no-brainer, and in passing on their best pitcher of 2009, the club showed no brains.

Yes, it says something about ownership, such as it is, and all of baseball is correct in its surprise, even if it's more disparagement than actual surprise.

All the Dodgers had to do was make the offer and continue to negotiate, safe in the knowledge that Wolf wanted to play at home, with a track record of going easy on his prospective employers, just because he loves Southern California. A below-market one-year contract, the club's favorite kind of deal, was a piece of cake. And yet they balked.

There's still a chance of Wolf's returning, but he'd have to pass on considerably greener pastures. So I'm guessing Ned Colletti brings back steady-but-never-spectacular Jon Garland on a cheap one-year, tries for someone like Jason Marquis or John Smoltz, or springs for Joel Pineiro, or a player of that ilk. Perhaps Pedro Martinez or Erik Bedard.

As badly as Los Angeles booted the Wolf play, they were right to let the rest of the arbitration-offer-eligibles go. I like Orlando Hudson, but the Dodgers can replace him with a quality second baseman for several million dollars less, so they might as well go ahead and do so.

Unfortunately, Placido Polanco signed a Casey Blake-like deal with the Phils rather quickly, but I still think Felipe Lopez is a really good choice. And I love the idea of Orlando Cabrera moving over from short to play for the Dodgers. The guy just wins. Everywhere he goes.

I understand that Colletti did well by waiting out the market last winter, but he'd be wise to jump for one of these two players now. Ron Belliard is not the answer as a full-time second baseman at this point in his career, so let's put the kibosh on that one now.

And please, can we stop with the Blake DeWitt talk already. Joe Thurston has as much of a chance as Blake DeWitt.

With the winter meetings starting tomorrow, look for the Dodgers to announce a small move or two during the week. There are a number of interesting free agents available, versatile players who were starters as recently as last season, who I could see Ned grabbing to fill a bench role. Aubrey Huff and Randy Winn come to mind.

Winn would make an excellent fourth outfielder – a prototype actually – in that, unlike Juan Pierre, he plays all three positions and switch-hits. And Colletti likes his former Giants in Dodger blue, so don't be surprised…assuming they can move Pierre.

Jamey Carroll and Jose Molina are among the possibilities for the bench, as is Fernando Tatis. And wouldn't it be fun to have Tatis on the club with Chan Ho Park, who might come back for another year. Similarly, Joe Beimel and Guillermo Mota are likely to be considered again, along with someone you might not expect, Kiko Calero.

Don’t count on a major free agent signing by Los Angeles this week, and probably not at all. But a signing of a middle-of-the-rotation starter, or an intriguing trade could come at any time. That's what I'm expecting, anyway. Take it for whatever it's worth…

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Trivia: The major league record for games played in a season is 165, set by someone you know, in a season you should guess correctly. Give yourself a light pat on the back if you can name that player, and consider yourself a baseball god if you can list the five men who played in 164 games during a season, good for a second place tie for the record. Answer below…

Media Savvy: It's disappointing to ponder the editorial decision that lead to the Los Angeles Times running of a story about Mike Penner's passing on page A-58 of its print edition last week, but some writers have stepped up with some thoughtful pieces of their own since then. Included are LATers Ross Newhan, Claire Noland and Robyn Norwood, and many others from around country.

My own experience in dealing with Mike was simply that he was a nice person, with nothing but encouragement for a considerably less accomplished sports writer, trying to make his way. Someone who would enjoy an amusing thought emailed to him about sports, and tell you so. Like many of us, each in our way, someone struggling with his identity, and grateful for support, if only he could get it…

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Internet baseball writers get a one-year membership with a $20 donation.

If you're not an Internet baseball writer, or if you'd like to contribute without joining the association, you are absolutely welcome to do so. Just click to donate, look for the "Buy Now" graphic, and let us know which charity you'd like the money to go to. Or send me an email personally. Happy holidays, baseball fans…

Stocking Stuffers: From friend John Rosengren, "Hammerin’ Hank, George Almighty and the Say Hey Kid: The Year that Changed Baseball Forever,"a look at the 1973 season, with a focus on five men: HenryAaron, Orlando Cepeda, Reggie Jackson, Willie Mays and George Steinbrenner…

Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Trivia Answer: By appearing in every game of the 1962 campaign and in all three games of the playoff series with the Giants, Maury Wills established the unbreakable record of 165 games played in a season. Five men played in 164 games in a season. In chronological order, they are: Jose Pagan (in 1962), Ron Santo and Billy Williams (1965), Cesar Tovar (1967) and Frank Taveras (1979).

Tovar, who had a fine career primarily with the Minnesota Twins, is perhaps best known for appearing at every position on the diamond in one game, in 1968…

Remember, glove conquers all….

 

 

 

 

 

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