Off Base
My Baseball Team Went to Las Vegas and All I Got Was This Third Baseman!

December 14, 2008, 8:02 p.m. Nothing against Casey Blake, but c'mon.

Blake is a good enough guy and a fine player. I liked him as a mid-season acquisition in July, and he's an OK roster-filler now. Sure, the Dodgers overpaid, and the veteran third baseman will probably provide no more than one solid season, but they'll live.

And yes, Mark Loretta is a nice addition. The Dodgers should have signed him as a free agent two years ago, and failing that they should've traded for him last year, but better late than never. Loretta will hit the ball hard and be on base constantly, he'll pinch hit up a storm, and make more plays at second base than Jeff Kent has in awhile. He's a local guy too, which is always a plus.

Almost as important is that with Loretta and Blake in the fold, the Dodgers maintain a respectable showing in the two-first-names club. Brad Penny and Kent are already out, and Juan Pierre might be gone too, so prior to the winter meetings the only guys we knew about for sure were Russell Martin and Cory Wade. If my math is right, that's a 100% increase in production.

Now if the team can just pick up the pace a little bit, we'll be appreciative.

Although it would be a shame to lose him, I get why the Dodgers are playing hardball with Takashi Saito, whose career could end literally on any pitch. And applying the same wait-and-see tactic to Manny Ramirez makes sense too, mostly, but Rafael Furcal? No.

Los Angeles absolutely must sign Furcal. They just have to. They have to. Losing a vital player, and a shortstop at that, to the likes of the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox is one thing, but the Kansas City Royals or the Oakland Athletics? Do I really need to finish the thought here? Please, Dodgers, do not bleep this up.

Sign Raffy and you've got seven of your eight returning to the starting lineup, with a chance to bring back Manny and make it whole. There's something to be said for continuity, especially at Chavez Ravine. With Furcal handled this week, L.A. could then concentrate on Manny or his replacement, and on a pitcher or two, and celebrate their accomplishments soon enough. Lose Furcal, and it all falls apart.

So memo to Ned Colletti. Hardball is lovely in theory, but sign Rafael Furcal. Don't make me come down there. Sign Rafael Furcal. Sign him, sign him, sign him, sign him, sign him. Exclamation point, exclamation point, exclamation point, exclamation point, exclamation point…

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Media Savvy: Here's something you might like. An article about long-time Brooklyn Dodgers photographer, Barney Stein, and about an exhibit in his honor, by Jonathan Foerster, of the Naples Daily News.

From old friend Jon Weisman, of "If the Dodgers decide to give up on Andruw Jones, they might be able to trade him and only have to pay, say, $22 million of the $22.1 million they owe him."

But wait. Jones looks to have gotten himself in pretty good shape. Cool photos of Furcal welcoming Andruw to his winter ball assignment in the Dominican Republic last week, posted on Diamond Leung's blog over at the Press-Enterprise. Doesn't mean he can hit major league pitching, but it's a start.

From Rotoworld: "The Mets have expressed some interest in acquiring Juan Pierre, according to's Ken Rosenthal. The 2005 and 2008 NL leader in outs made paired with the 2003 and 2006 leader. It'd be quite the stoppable force at the top of the Mets' order. Jose Reyes, though, probably won't have Pierre for company in New York. If the Dodgers are willing to eat the bulk of his salary and move him, there are no shortage of better fits."

Another great line from Rotoworld: "According to's Thomas Harding, 'the Rockies are looking for a front-of-the-rotation starter and have talked to the Nationals about right-hander Tim Redding.' Which makes about as much sense as looking for an ice-cold glass of water in the middle of the Sahara."

An oldie but goodie that's worth another read right about now, from The Onion….

The Evil Empire Strikes Back: Boston executive Larry Lucchino's old name for the Yanks applies about as well today as it ever has, but contrary to popular opinion, the free-spending in the Bronx does not spell doom beyond the borders of the American League East.

If anything, it's the Yankees who are going to suffer the most. Lucchino's club may be right behind them in the pain-from-overspending category, but as long as the Red Sox keep up by with the huge contracts even remotely, the AL East rivals cancel each other out. And the Rays might win the division in 2009 anyway.

CC Sabathia will pitch well enough, but cannot possibly live up to expectations, even if he does stay healthy. No one can, and especially not in that borough.

Sabathia is a star, but he's a better National League pitcher than he is an American. He's better in Wisconsin with a normal right field than he's going to be in New York with a weird one. And he's better at 27 than he ever will be again. That $161 contract has disaster written all over it.

What's worse is A.J. Burnett's deal, even at half the price. When Burnett goes all Dreifort on his new club, someone and his brother are going to get absolutely reamed for that one. At some point in the next year or so, a manager and a gm will probably fall too. Enjoy, Yankees fans. I know I will…

Christmas Cheer: In case I don't talk to you, let me wish you a very happy holiday right now, everyone. The entire staff at raises its glass of alcohol-free eggnog to you. We're grateful for everything that occurred around here in 2008, and we're excited about starting our tenth year in publication come January. Woo-hoo!!!

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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