Off Base
Here we Go Round the Rumorberry Bush

November 22, 2009, 6:25 p.m. So early in the morning.

12:01 a.m. Friday, to be precise.With a stroke of the minute hand, the floodgates opened and baseball's winter of free agency commenced. And across America at the exact same moment, 12:01 a.m. Friday, the new Twilight movie opened.

An omen? Perhaps. And maybe just maybe, a good one. I mean, moviegoers spent $73 million that first day – almost AJ Burnett money – while the New York Yankees sat idly by. A moral triumph…for vampirism, at the very least.

Speaking of the undead, rumor has it the Dodgers are talking Roy Halladay with the Toronto Blue Jays. Rumor has it.

Rumor has a lot of things, actually. Comes in all shapes and sizes, and from four corners of two countries. Check out this list of names tied to Los Angeles in one way or another, from one source or another, just in the last three weeks:

Eric Bedard, Alberto Callaspo, Jamey Carroll, Luis Castillo, Craig Counsell, Mark DeRosa, Jon Garland, Halladay, Rich Harden, Orlando Hudson, Edwin Jackson, John Lackey, Felipe Lopez, Pedro Martinez, Vicente Padilla, Brandon Phillips, Placido Polanco, Ben Sheets, John Smoltz, Javier Vazquez, Dan Uuggla, Chien-Ming Wang and Randy Wolf.

And that's just the starting pitchers and second basemen.

Pretty much anyone can get a rumor circulated. If you're game, all you have to do is create a little chatter. Think aloud first; then hit the Internet.

Say, for example, I have a preference for second base, starting with Placido Polanco and Orlando Hudson; which, by the way, I do.

With those fine players in mind, I write something sarcastic like, oh, I don't know, this: "I hear the Dodgers are bringing in former Rookie of the Year second basemen Jim Lefebvre, Ted Sizemore and Steve Sax for a tryout. Course, with L.A. figuring Sax might be in too good a shape for both the competition and their budget, they decide to go with just Frenchy and Sizemore."

Before you know it, word spreads that the Dodgers are cutting Sax's part-time public appearances slash scouting contract from $18,000 to $8000, Bill Plaschke's got a column in the following day's paper, and all the world's in a huff about the payroll-cutting McCourts.

Sounds ridiculous, and it is, with zero basis in fact. Just like most of the stuff out there. Hence, the word "rumor," which Merriam-Webster's defines in its first reference as "talk or opinion widely disseminated with no discernible source."

As for Roy Halladay, do yourself a favor and forget the end-of-days scenarios and the alignment of moons (new or otherwise) required for a trade to occur. Forget the BS about Chad Billingsley having to be in the deal and about the Dodgers not having the prospects – actual current non-major leaguers – to pull it off.

Billingsley doesn't need to fire up his passport for Halladay to become a Dodger and L.A. does have the prospects to get it done. The Dodgers have as good a chance as any team supposedly in the mix, and nothing about the marriage in question makes it all the more difficult than a trade of this magnitude is in its nature.

Jaws drop when I say I trust Ned Colletti, so I'm prepared to take some incoming, but I do trust his judgment regarding Halladay. And I really think the Dodgers will go for it. First week after Thanksgiving.

I also think Ned will make a genuine effort to re-sign Wolf, and that last season's ace will be back, with a two-year deal that works for both parties. Colletti's going to make a run at John Smoltz too, will be satisfied with Jeff Weaver if need be, and will pass on both Padilla and Garland.

Look for the Dodgers to do something in arbitration too, and don't be surprised if that's the tool used to squeeze another solid season out of the O-Dawg. I'd love to see it.

By the way, according to, Hudson's nickname is spelled "O-Dog," instead of the way I have it, and his middle name is "Thrill." Really. Check it out

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

NL Cy Has Gone to Pot: Credit former Oakland Tribune sportswriter and current San Francisco State journalism instructor Jon Rochmis with the line, "obvious" though he says it may be.

The Base Ball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) has announced all but its Most Valuable Player awards, coming Monday and Tuesday, so giving them the benefit of the doubt on Joe Mauer and Albert Pujols, let's compare with the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, shall we.

When I started the IBWAA, as an alternative to the BBWAA last July, I thought the closeness of our prospective votes would be telling. Now, I'm glad there's a distinction.

The groups agreed on Jim Tracy for National League Manager of the Year, and Zack Greinke, as the American League Cy Young Award.
While the IBWAA went for Ron Gardenhire as its AL Manager, I've no qualm with the BBWAA's selection of Mike Scioscia. We had him second.

The BBWAA got it right with Andrew Bailey as AL Rookie; the IBWAA trumped them with Tommy Hanson as NL Rookie, so that's a push. And I'll stand by our selection of Chris Carpenter over Tim Lincecum for NL Cy proudly.

So all in all, I'm happy with the work we've done in our first year, with Hall of Fame voting next on the docket…

Media Savvy: Interesting that's Jon Heyman has Jon Garland at 29th on his top 50 free agents list, while Randy Wolf gets left off completely. Brad Penny doesn’t make the list either, so perhaps, rather than a brain cramp or a case of East Coast bias, it's just a matter of taste.

From Phil Rogers, of the Chicago Tribune: "John Lackey, Angels: The best pitcher on the free-agent market almost never stays put. But 2009 was a down season for Lackey, causing teams to worry about his health. He would be a hugely attractive player for his preferred team in most years, but the Rangers are handcuffed by their ownership situation. Don’t be stunned if he takes arbitration and returns to the Angels for one more season."

Translation for the west coast (which means we pay closer attention and therefore know better): do be stunned if he takes arbitration and returns to the Angels for one more season.

And check out Baseball Junk Drawer's "Best of Baseball-Reference Sponsorship Comments." Then decide where's Darren Dreifort's entry ought to rate…

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

Remember, glove conquers all….








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