Just walk away

The Los Angeles Dodgers are in a very big position for the history of Major League Baseball. Not to belittle a truly historical moment, but Frank and Jamie McCourt, the owners of the Dodgers, could become of the Rosa Parks of baseball ownership. They can strike a blow against greed and ridiculousness by simply walking away.

All they have to do is say, “No.”

How difficult is that?

If only they could quit Manny.

See, the McCourts and their general manager Ned Colletti made a brand-new offer to outfielder/savant Manny Ramirez late this week to sweeten a one-year, $25 million deal. This time the Manny and agent Scott Boras were offered a two-year contract worth $45 million. Not only that, but there were plenty of sweeteners in it, as if $45 million during the worst economy the U.S. has faced in 80 years isn’t sweet enough.

Nevertheless, the McCourts offered Manny a deal that not only would make him the second-highest paid player in history, but gave him a chance to opt out after the first season. Moreover, of Manny were to get hurt and not able to play, the $45 million is guaranteed. In other words, he could foul a pitch off his big toe in the very first game of the ’09 season and walk away with all the loot.

Yes, it’s a pretty sweet deal. It’s especially sweet when one considers that Manny already has been paid nearly $163 million during his big-league career. Not bad work if you can find it.

Continue reading this story…

Waiting for a call

Kyle LohseWord on the street is that rubber-armed ex-Phillie Kyle Lohse has backed off his contract demands for the 2008 season. Actually, Lohse probably didn’t do anything at all. My guess is that his uber-agent Scott Boras saw that there were no teams out there willing to offer the right-hander $10-12 million per season for the next half decade and decided to hold the human yard sale of sorts.

So if you own a Major League Baseball team and have an extra $4-to-10 million sitting around and need a right-handed starter, give Boras a call. It sounds like he will be able to help you out.

Boras shouldn’t sit around to wait for a call from one of the Phillies’ GMs, however. At least, it seems, he shouldn’t wait for the phone to ring if his price for his client Lohse remains in the $4-to-10 million range for a season of pitching. After all, we’re three weeks into spring training already and teams are starting to get things set up for when they head north at the end of the month. Yep, if Lohse wants to pitch this season he should call Crazy Eddie to represent him instead of Boras.

Everything must go!

At least that’s the way it looks from assistant GM Mike Arbuckle’s POV.

“I will say at those numbers we’re probably not interested,” Arbuckle told The Courier Post. “Let me change that. At those numbers, I know we’re not interested.”

Zing!

Last season Lohse made $4.2 million, which isn’t too bad for a remarkably average pitcher – statistically speaking. That’s not to say the guy isn’t without his intangibles, namely, his ability to start and relieve and not complain. Guys like that are hard not to like. But Lohse went 9-12 last season with a 4.62 ERA that was ever-so slightly below the league average. Plus, he’s never had a season where he didn’t allow more than a hit per inning.

So, should the Phillies shell out $4-to-10 million for one season of average pitching from a right-hander?

Eh…

Who knows, maybe Kris Benson will come around.

If Lohse isn’t your team’s cup of tea, there are a handful of free agent pitchers out there that still haven’t landed with a team. Maybe they’re just waiting for spring training to end? Whatever the reason, Jeff Weaver, the post-season hero for the Cardinals during their World Series run in 2006 is available. He is, of course, a nine-year veteran, former first-round pick and has been to the playoffs with three different teams… that’s not so bad is it?

Well, there is the matter of Weaver’s 6.20 ERA for Seattle last season. That’s a 6.20 ERA in Seattle’s pitcher-friendly ballpark, no less. Make that a 6.20 ERA AND 11.66 hits per nine innings.

Yeah, yikes.

Speaking of yikes, portly old port-sider David Wells is available, too. Though Wells wasn’t that bad for the Padres and Dodgers last season, or the Padres and Red Sox the season before that, Wells turns 45 in May. As it stands now, the Phillies have already cornered the market on 45-year-old lefties.

Clearly the Phillies don’t need any help with their high-powered offense, but if they did there are some names out there that are just as intriguing as the pitchers. For instance, one hitter out there has 762 career homers and nearly 2,000 RBIs in 22 seasons, but then he also has been indicted by a grand jury for perjury and might have to spend the pennant race in the slammer.

A guy like that might not be worth the risk.

Another guy who might not be worth the risk either is local boy done good, Mike Piazza. Though he has slugged more homers than any catcher in the history of the game and owns a .308 lifetime batting average in 16 seasons, Piazza, at 39, is probably finished.

Is Ryan Klesko finished? Not yet 37 and with just 122 games played over the past two seasons, Klesko is coming off shoulder surgery. However, the 16-year vet has always been a decent hitter and seems as if he could do pretty well for himself and a ballclub as a part-time first baseman and left-handed bat off the bench. At this stage of his career, Klesko doesn’t have any power, but it’s hard not to like guys that can hit and get on base.

But if only he had some power and played third base…

The price of success

RockiesHere’s a question:

Did it matter that the Rockies had eight days off before facing the Red Sox in the World Series? Did it matter a little, a lot or not at all? Oh sure, the Rockies players will say that the vacation in between the NLCS and the World Series didn’t matter because they got beat by a better team, but that doesn’t really answer the question, does it?

Did it make a bit of difference?

Rockies’ manager Clint Hurdle told the Fox sideline boy after his team was broomed out of the World Series that there was no way to quantify how an eight-day layoff affected his team and kind of threw aside the question in order to give the Red Sox credit for winning the series.

But Hurdle did not say that the layoff didn’t have an effect on his team. Why not? Because it did.

Since Cactus League games began during the end of February, the Rockies played nearly every day. In fact, the Rockies, like every other Major League team played 162 regular-season games in 180 days, plus a wild-card playoff the day after the season, plus three games of the NLDS against the Phillies with just two days off, plus four games of the NLCS with just one day off.

That’s 170 games and the longest break some of the players on the team got was the three days for the All-Star Break. Though three days doesn’t seem like much to some, that break is like an oasis in the middle of a desert to guys who are used to going to work every single day of the week. And it’s not just baseball either. Research shows that runners and endurance athletes start to lose some fitness in as little as 48 hours of inactivity.

Some rest is good to help the body recover, but imagine taking eight days off after playing every game for a month as if it were do-or-die only to be given eight days off before being told to go out there to play in the biggest set of games in your life.

Good luck.

Worse it’s kind of rude… the Rockies got all worked up and became the biggest story in baseball by winning 21 of 22 games. But then, because the Indians nor Red Sox could figure things out, Hurdle and the guys were left to wait. It was like… vasocongestion. Yeah, that’s what it was. After a heroic and historic run, the Rockies could never shake the lingering sensation of heaviness, aching, or discomfort when the Series finally came around like an old man trying to figure out what to order in a deli.

It just wasn’t fair.

With the aid of hindsight, there’s no question that the Rockies this season and the Tigers in 2006 were penalized for doing their jobs too efficiently. I’m not saying the Tigers or the Rockies would have beaten the Cardinals or the Red Sox to win the World Series, but the fact that both clubs breezed through their respective league playoffs so easily proved to be a determent while the winners of the last two World Series were aided by playing seven-game series in the league championships.

The Tigers in ’06 and the Rockies in ’07 were penalized for being too successful.

How can this be fixed? Is there anything Bud Selig and his gang can do to make it so teams that win with ease can have a fair shot in the World Series? I don’t know. It seems as if the baseball playoffs are full of imperfections and everyone seems to appreciate the quirkiness for it. In other words, the Rockies and Tigers just have to take their beatings and enjoy them.

But how about this:

In the instance where a team like the Rockies and Tigers rip through the league championship only to wait a week or more for their future opponent to take care of business, allow the team that’s waiting for it all to be sorted out to get home-field advantage in the World Series. I don’t know if it will solve anything, but it’s better than giving the home-field advantage to the league that wins a meaningless, midseason exhibition that features players that will be at a Sandals resort when the playoffs roll around.

No, having the last at-bat in the first two games of the Series won’t be significant – after all, it didn’t help the Tigers too much last year – but at least it’s a gesture or a reward. It might not be much, but if a team has to sit around like the rest of us and listen to those dudes from Fox, they ought to get something out of it.

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The latest issue of The New Yorker features a very riveting story on Scott Boras and Alex Rodriguez. It’s written by Ben McGrath and is another sprawling, erudite pieces that the magazine always seems to run, but it’s definitely worth the time and effort.

The Extortionist: Scott Boras, the Yankees’ bête noire, has changed baseball forever.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Peter Gammons calls out Boras and A-Rod for the timing of the announcement that they had chosen to opt out of the deal with the Yankees: