## Saturday, February 28, 2009

### Fun With McCourt Math

I had to chuckle when I saw two mathematical responses to reality using the absurdity of McCourt Math. As those of you know, Frank McCourt is dealing with numbers like a snake oil salesman, pushing the boundaries of sensibility as he tries to reshape reality to his own benefit. Fundamental, of course, is the McCourt Math Theorem, which basically posits that there is no time value of money impact when considering deferred payments.

It is the logic of this Theorem which underpins Frank McCourt's "\$45M" offer to Manny Ramirez, which was trumpeted to the press as being a \$25M/\$20M deal, rather than the cold reality that it was a \$10M/\$10M/\$10M/\$10M/\$5M deal given its slew of deferred payments. In Frank McCourt's world, these two payment streams are equivalent--in fact, he's not even offering to pay interest on the latter.

Common sense, of course, would say differently. These payments would normally be discounted back to determine "present value"--using a typical risk-free interest rate proxy of 7.5%, for example, the value of McCourt's actual offer is almost \$4M less than the mythical \$25M/\$20M offer. But not for Frank, who is flabbergasted that Ramirez would turn it down. Perhaps Ramirez' grasp of basic math is beyond the intellectual boundaries of McCourt's capacity. (After all, these are only "details", according to the Dodgers' website. Hey, I'm independently wealthy off this blog alone, but \$4M sounds like a pretty big detail to me.)

Dodger fans, of course, are quick to use math right back at Frank McCourt. The first suggestion was from David Pepper of Malibu who wrote in to Saturday's LA Times:

Let's assume that the Dodgers draw 2.5 million fans this year. With the \$25 million post-Ramirez windfall, this means that the Dodgers could give everyone a \$10 rebate, per ticket per game, without losing a dime. Now that's a stimulus package!"

McCourt Math, of course, would reject this payout, instead citing an uncertain macroeconomy, the unfortunate self-inflicted need to pay Juan Pierre \$9M each next year, etc. But you can't blame a guy for asking. Heck, a \$10 rebate barely covers 5/6th of a beer.

The other response came from "Nic J", who commented back using the McCourt Math Theorem itself:

I wonder if Mr. McCourt will agree to deferred money when I go to buy Dodger tickets this year.

Brilliant, Nic! Instead of me shelling out \$185 a game for my pair of season ticket seats, I'll pay \$50 today and pay Frank the rest in \$10 payments stretching over the next decade and a half. No interest, of course. Whaddya say, Frank? We're using your math!

--------

I also want to take the time to counter Bill Plaschke and others' comments regarding McCourt's mythical offer of \$25M in 2009 to Ramirez, which as many reported "would have put Ramirez as the second-highest paid player in baseball, behind Alex Rodriguez."

Now that we all know Frank McCourt's actual offer was only \$10M in 2009, isn't it fair to note that the actual amount the Dodgers offered Manny is only on par with Hiroki Kuroda, and even less than Rafael Furcal's 2009 salary? And, by the way, \$2M less than what we're paying Jason Schmidt next year. Hmm, that certainly puts things in perspective.

### Did I Say \$45 Million? Sorry, I Meant \$10 Million

Now that the smoke has cleared from the Dodgers' fourth attempt to sign Manny Ramirez, one which blew up with Ramirez rejecting the Dodgers' offer and the Dodgers hurriedly issuing a press release trying to position themselves as the victim, one realizes that the guy with egg on his face isn't Ramirez, or even the devil that goes by the name of Scott Boras. No, the idiot here is, unsurprisingly enough, Frank McCourt, whose disingenuousness shone through after details of the deal made their way out later on Friday.

Thursday, McCourt's press release made it sound like the Dodgers' deal was simple: two years, \$25M in year one and \$20M in year two. Year one's salary would put Ramirez as the highest paid player in baseball, short of Alex Rodriguez. And at a player's option for year two, Manny could take the \$20M or test the market again, it was his choice. This, the Dodgers' press release indicated, led to Boras' rejection, and the Dodgers' sorrow that a reasonable and generous offer was not accepted.

Of course, LA Times resident McCourt publicist (and Ramirez hater) Bill Plaschke took the bait, hook line and sinker, in Friday's column:

For the first year, he would earn \$25 million, making him the highest-paid athlete in Los Angeles and the second-highest-paid player in baseball.

If he failed, the following year he still would earn \$20 million.

If he succeeded, he could immediately void the contract and sell himself for millions more.

It was a real offer. It was written on a real contract. It was handed over during a time of real national economic distress.

This week, by every stretch of the wildest imagination, the Dodgers made Manny Ramirez a no-lose proposition.

By rejecting it Thursday, Ramirez has officially lost it.

He's lost his dignity. He's lost his perspective. He's lost his marbles.

Plaschke went on to say how Ramirez and Boras have lost another bunch of things, all strung together in short punchy sentences with similar sentence construction. Sort of like this. Sort of like that. Sort of like the kind of thing you'd expect from a middle-school newspaper writer.

But enough about Plaschke. The point is, Old Bill, just like the rest of us, didn't know the true story. By midday Friday, it became clear that the Dodgers' offer had enough deferred payments and options, that it was nowhere near the two-year \$45M deal they had said they proposed. Boras wisely leaked the truth about the Dodgers' offer, and suddenly, McCourt's victim card backfired in his own face:

Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti confirmed Thursday the club's offer to Ramirez was for \$25 million this season, and another \$20 million in 2010 at the player's option for the second year.

What Colletti didn't mention Thursday, the source said, was that most of Ramirez's salary would've been deferred. Two other sources previously told The Times that the proposed deal included deferred payments.

Under the terms of the contract that Ramirez was offered by the Dodgers on Wednesday, he would receive \$10 million this year. And by exercising the option for the second year, he would receive \$10 million in 2010. Colletti confirmed today that deferred payments were involved.

"The deferred component was part of the deal from the very beginning," Colletti said, though he would not discuss specifics of the deferred payments.

Ramirez, who turns 37 in May, would've been paid the remaining \$25 million over the next three years without any added interest. He would've received \$10 million in 2011, \$10 million in 2012 and \$5 million in 2013.

So let's recap. This was NOT a \$25M first year, but rather, a \$10M first year. In fact, it's a \$10M one-year deal, with the option to receive the other \$35M ONLY IF Ramirez executes the option. And even then, the remaining \$35M would trickle in over a four-year period.

Let's pause here, for the mathematically challenged:

• McCourt tells us in a press release that year 1 is worth \$25M.
• Boras clarifies that in fact year 1 is worth \$10M.
• Ramirez pulls out his HP-12C and realizes that \$10M <<<<< \$25M. He rejects the "offer."
• Dodger fans smell a rat. And it's McCourt.

Now, getting back to this whole deferred compensation thing, which was "always part of the deal" according to Colletti, except for when the Dodgers neglected to mention it in their press release or Plaschke forgot to reference it in his Thursday column. Deferred compensation is in theory a good thing--you can take some of your salary when you're in a lower tax bracket, right? But at \$10M+, I don't think the tax bracket implications matter that much (at least, they didn't for me).

And Manny's no fool--even Manny knows the time value of money. If you're giving me money at a later date, in order to make it "whole" versus receiving money today--you'd better give me interest.

Frank McCourt's deal deferred Ramirez' money, and paid NO interest. So the extra \$25M in deferred money (beyond the two-year period) was in fact worth much less than that. And so, it's no surprise that Manny and Scott said no.

McCourt can keep trying to snow the fans into thinking that he, and the Dodgers, are the ones being left out here. But the fact of the matter is that his handling of this Manny Ramirez deal has been horrendously inept. McCourt trying to use inciting press releases to out-spin Boras and Ramirez, armed only with false information and what appears to be a cash-poor quiver of arrows, is a losing battle. No, it's a massacre. It's like a fifth-grade basketball team going up against the NBA West All-Stars. Every shot attempt is not only getting blocked, it's also getting rejected out to the loge level. And McCourt stands there, without the ball, looking like he's way out of his league.

I actually feel bad for Josh Rawitch, VP of Public Relations for the Dodgers. What an uphill battle.

Plaschke, by the way, tries to avert culpability for being played like a fiddle 24 hours prior, saying that McCourt and Boras both need to find a way to get along. Which I suppose are relatively bold words for someone so far in the pocket of McCourt in the first place.

If one ever wondered if Frank and Jamie McCourt were fit to run a large-market major league baseball team, the Manny Ramirez negotiations bumbling should make it abundantly clear. They're in way over their heads. At this stage, I've become so pro-Ramirez, that I find myself rooting for him almost against the Dodgers.

We'll see if that sentiment changes once I see him suited up in orange and black.

Earlier: Did I Say \$45 Million? Sorry, I Meant \$55 Million (SoSG)

## Friday, February 27, 2009

### Did I Say \$45 Million? Sorry, I Meant \$55 Million

If this imbroglio were only about deferred money, writes Tony Jackson:

At the end of Wednesday's meeting at Dodger Stadium, it was made clear to Boras that while there was no firm deadline, club officials expected to hear back from him in response to their two-year, \$45 million offer, and that they only wanted to hear one of two possible answers: yes or no. Instead, Boras came back to them with a counter proposal of increasing the offer to two years and \$55 million, a deal that would carry an average annual value of \$27.5 million -- the exact same AAV carried by the 10-year, \$275 million contract of Alex Rodriguez, another Boras client. Given that the Dodgers already believed they were offering \$45 million MORE THAN ANY OTHER TEAM HAD OFFERED RAMIREZ, there was no way they were going to increase their offer by another \$10 million. So the Dodgers pulled their offer, and there is presently NO OFFER ON THE TABLE. And the perception that the two sides have now agreed on the value of the deal, two years and \$45 million, and are now only haggling on the amount of deferred money, is totally false, according to these sources. The negotiations are presently at square one: meaning no offer on the table. Dodgers are still interested in signing the player and still interested in negotiating. But it doesn't look like this is headed for a quick resolution.

Scott Boras: brass balls or just stupid? Is there a chance Dodger fans will boo Manny in a Dodger uniform? Because Boras just might make that happen.

### First Look: J. Martin

Russell Martin doubles in yesterday's spring training victory over the Giants.

That sure is one confused batboy.

top: AP photo
bottom photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers

### Scott Boras Is a Romantic

From Jon Heyman at SI.com:

"We've been negotiating in good faith the last 10 days," Boras said. "We've made three proposals. They rejected the first two, and last night we made a third proposal."

### Scott Boras Is Just Misunderstood

From Dylan Hernandez at the LA Times:

The Dodgers took a swipe at Boras in a strongly worded news release they issued Thursday night to report that the free-agent outfielder had rejected the two-year, \$45-million offer the team made Wednesday.

That prompted a curious response from the Boras camp, which released a statement of its own saying that it was waiting for a response from the Dodgers about the two counterproposals it made Thursday, the most recent being for -- guess how much? -- \$45 million over two years.

So why would Boras propose the very deal he rejected?

Did Boras turn down the offer and panic upon realizing that Ramirez had no other suitors? Or was the deal he was proposing a different one than the one Ramirez was offered Wednesday?

What isn't known is whether there are any other teams actively pursuing Ramirez.

What is known is that, according to sources with knowledge of the situation who weren't authorized to comment publicly on the matter, parts of Ramirez's salary would have been deferred under the Dodgers' proposal. The Dodgers offered Ramirez a deal that would've paid him \$25 million this year and included a \$20-million player option for 2010.

Boras wouldn't comment and directed questions to the Dodgers. What he did say was that he never rejected the Dodgers' offer.

"They asked me to respond to them and I gave them a counterproposal within the framework of the structure we had agreed upon," Boras said.

If it weren't for the subprime mortgage crisis, the stumbling waltz between the Dodgers and Scott Boras would be the most inept handling of a multi-million-dollar package in recent history. Is Boras panicky, or just lying? Is Frank McCourt overreacting, or just cheap? The likely answer is: all of the above. These buffoons deserve each other—when the Dodgers and Boras get together, drama follows. That the object of their attention is one of the most polarizing players in the game is just gravy on the cake. Fight on, you inglourious basterds!

UPDATE:

deferred money details (Tony Jackson)

Ned: "Deferred comp was part of the deal from the very beginning," i.e., McCourt is broke (Jackson)

Boras sets noon deadline (Diamond Leung)

...which Ned hasn't acknowledged (Jackson)

Boras tells Dodgers Manny will accept \$45M deal without deferrals (Jon Heyman, SI.com)

photo by Alex Gallardo/LA Times

## Thursday, February 26, 2009

### Where Andruw Jones Fears To Tread

Interesting article by George Vecsey of the NYTimes, who notes that a noticable number of baseball players are showing up to spring training with lighter builds:

Baseball clubhouses seem to be getting bigger this spring, with more room to move around. Or maybe the players are becoming smaller.

Out of the roughly 1,000 major leaguers in spring training camps, a couple of dozen appear to have lost significant weight in the off-season, all in the name of health and agility.

Some of them did it by eating grilled fish. Others played active video games with their children. Some went on diet programs or took up yoga. Others cut back on alcohol. Whatever they did, clubhouse attendants are coming up with smaller uniforms all over Florida and Arizona.

Among the biggest losers are Brett Myers and Ryan Howard of the championship Phillies, who lost 30 and 20 pounds. Yankees relief pitcher Brian Bruney, Mr. Avant-Garde himself, shed 25 pounds before last season by giving up beer and eating healthy food. He has slimmed down another 10 this year, and essentially does not look like the same person.

The Mets’ Marlon Anderson, a 35-year-old trying to come back from a leg injury, lost 22 pounds in 25 days, through a cleansing program of nutrients and drinks and moderate lunches. Concerned he was losing muscle mass, Anderson backed off the diet and regained five pounds.

Oh, I miss Marvelous Marlon Anderson, one of our 4+1 heroes. Best of luck with your comeback, big--or not so big--guy.

### Strike Four

Manny Ramirez and Scott Boras have rejected the Dodgers' fourth offer, leaving owner Frank McCourt to only grumble and gripe:

"We want Manny back, but we feel we are negotiating against ourselves," Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said in a statement. "When his agent finds those 'serious offers' from other clubs, we'll be happy to restart the negotiations."

General manager Ned Colletti and McCourt met Wednesday in Los Angeles with Boras.

The offer is similar to the two-year, \$45 million deal with a buyout or club option that the Dodgers put on the table in November. Ramirez refused the offer and the Dodgers withdrew their proposal. The team came back with a one-year, \$25 million offer, but Ramirez turned that down as well. Ramirez also turned down salary arbitration.

"Even with an economy that has substantially eroded since last November, out of respect for Manny and his talents, we actually improved our offer," McCourt said.

"So now, we start from scratch."

I can't believe McCourt pulled the economy card. Perhaps he's been humbled a bit since sales of his \$90 tickets at Camelback Ranch haven't been flying off the shelves? More importantly, do we have a shot at seeing beer at Dodger Stadium at the discount prices of \$11???

### Juan Pierre Is All Smiles

photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers

### Dodgers Sign Mieientckiewkieczczzz

Tony Jackson had it first and Jon Weisman breaks it down. It's a minor-league deal, but Doug Mientkiewicz could be this year's Nomar Garciaparra. Except, you know, healthier.

### On the Field, Off the Field

ON THE FIELD:
Cubs 5, Dodgers 3 (Dodgers.com)

OFF THE FIELD:
The latest Manny action via Diamond:

The Dodgers' meeting with Scott Boras lasted about 150 minutes and produced a two-year, \$45 million offer with Manny Ramirez getting a player option for the second year at Boras' request, according to a baseball source. The deal would guarantee Ramirez \$25 million in the first year, and he can either accept a \$20 million salary in the second season or try to make more in free agency.

If he is injured during the first season, the second year becomes guaranteed.

It seems this is the Dodgers' concession in avoiding a third year. \$45 million guaranteed, with no Andruw Jones-type maneuvering.

Yahoo! Sports' Tim Brown notes:

Boras did not immediately accept the offer, but a source said he delivered the offer to his client – a sign of progress because the first two offers were dismissed immediately by Boras.
But I think I speak of all the beat hacks -- and a lot of people inside the Dodgers organization -- when I say this Manny Ramirez issue needs closure. I'm guessing you, the fans, are getting pretty tired of it, too. We have been following this story almost daily since the end of last season, and really, nothing has changed. Until today, or the past few days, or whenever this all started to come together, nothing had really changed on either side in all that time. That having been said, I do think that if this deal gets done, the Dodgers have a chance to be really, really good....

Jackson talks about the possibility of the Dodgers acquiring "another frontline starting pitcher along the way"—might Roy Halladay become available?—but that's ages away. (The only one not holding his breath for the Dodgers to sign Manny? Juan Pierre.) But just because we're all getting tired of week after week of non-news doesn't mean Ned Colletti and Boras need to speed things along. Take your time, guys. Opening Day is more than a month away.

UPDATE:

From Dylan Hernandez at the LA Times:

Manny Ramirez's agent revealed early this morning that the All-Star outfielder hadn't accepted the offer made to him by the Dodgers on Wednesday, saying he remained "in the middle of negotiations" on behalf of the slugger.

Scott Boras declined to discuss the Dodgers' latest proposal, which would pay Ramirez \$25 million this season and \$20 million in 2010 if his client picked up a player option, according to baseball sources familiar with the offer who weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter. But while issuing a "no comment," Boras indicated that Ramirez hadn't reached an agreement with the Dodgers and that there was at least one other team in talks with him.

That second team? We're not sure, but we're guessing it's the Worcester Tornadoes of the Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball.

## Wednesday, February 25, 2009

### Top Five Surprises in Orlando Hudson's Contract

O-Dog! Book I started in Toronto and ended in Arizona. What better place for a sequel than Hollywood?

Tony Jackson relates the headache-inducing details of Orlando Hudson's contract with the Dodgers:

\$380,000 signing bonus, deferred without interest to a time not designated
\$3 million base salary for 2009
\$150,000 each for 150 and 175 plate appearances
\$200,000 each for 200, 225, 250, 275 and 300 plate appearances
\$250,000 each for 325, 350, 375, 400, 425, 450, 475, 500, 525, 550, 575 PAs
and then, there is this:
\$10,000 for EVERY plate appearance from PA #576 through PA #632. That's 57 PAs for total of \$570,000.
also, BEGINNING WITH 550 PAs, every one of these incentives, including that \$570k, is deferred without interest to a time not designated. And the contract requires O-Dawg to donate \$25,000 to the Dodgers Dream Foundation, something I'm sure he has no problem with because he is heavily involved in charity work to begin with, with a focus on the battle against autism.

Have you hit the Advil yet?

Okay, that's pretty complicated. But dig a little deeper and you'll find even more unexpected provisions that Ned Colletti & Co. have written into Hudson's deal:

1. Must determine definitive spelling of nickname: O-Dog, O-Dogg or O-Dawg (a.k.a. the "Scully Clause"). Because Dodger fans demand correct spelling on their handmade signs and banners! That is, if signs or banners were actually allowed at Dodger Stadium!

2. Must make the Padres regret not signing him. Boy, San Diego really missed out on a co-branding opportunity here. Second base could have been The Pet Zone O-Doghouse at PETCO Park! Instead, it's Mr. Eckstein's Neighborhood.

3. "Who Let the Dogs Out?" only to be played when Chin-lung Hu drives in Hudson for an RBI. And never on any other occasion. Speaking of which, can we place a moratorium on the Zombie Nation song played after Dodger home runs? That should have been retired after the 4+1 game.

4. Must donate an additional \$25,000 to Los Angeles-area animal shelters. Must remind us tens of thousands of dogs and cats are euthanized in Los Angeles every year. Must remind us to spay or neuter our pets. Must ask himself, Who gave me this silly canine nickname anyway?

5. Must continue to have a great sense of humor about Joe Torre's pranks. Man, can you imagine Torre pulling that kind of stuff on our previous second baseman? (Of course not. That's what makes him Joe Torre.) Hudson's gracious reaction gives hope that he will be a positive influence in the Dodger clubhouse.

### Goodbye, Grampa

Joe Garvey and his son Steve.

Did you know Steve Garvey wasn't the first Garvey to work for the Dodgers? His father, Joe, was the Dodgers' spring training bus driver in Florida for 25 years, from 1956 to 1981. Through that job, Steve Garvey met many legendary Dodgers well before joining the organization himself. And it turns out Joe Garvey was a true fan of the game as well as a lucky baseball father:

"He loved the game," [Steve] Garvey said of his father. "He listened to whatever powerful radio station he could get and tune into Dodger games. Then when more of our games would be televised, he would watch and tell me what I was doing wrong. He was my personal coach. He retired in 1984 and moved to San Diego, then to Murietta and he would love to watch my kids play. He would go to Lake Elsinore Storm games and eventually became an usher and greeter there for six years.

Longtime bus driver Garvey dies (Dodgers.com)

Farewell, Joe Garvey (Dodger Thoughts)

photo by Mark Langill/Dodgers

## Tuesday, February 24, 2009

### The Return of DodgerTalk

I'll let Josh Suchon do the talking:

DodgerTalk returns to the air tomorrow (Wednesday, Feb. 25th).

Just like last year, it's Ken Levine and myself on TalkRadio 790 KABC -- and this spring, it will stream online at www.kabc.com/

Here is our spring training schedule:

Monday-thru-Friday ... 6-7 p.m. PT
Saturday ... immediately after the game for one hour
Sunday ... immediately after the game for three hours

Joe Torre is our first guest tomorrow. We'll have a different guest (player, coach, executive) at 6:30 each day.

Welcome back, Ken & Josh! Just as the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano marks the beginning of spring, the return of DodgerTalk means Opening Day is getting closer and closer....

### Nhevermore?

Yhency Brazoban is down...again. From Diamond Leung:

Yhency Brazoban was shut down again with shoulder inflammation after being scheduled to throw today. Apparently, the cortisone shot he received didn't help.

Here's what Tony Jackson has to say:

The cortisone shot either didn't take or didn't hit the right spot. He had hoped to be pitching again within a week, but that now seems unlikely. We may NEVER see this guy in the majors again, the way things are going. And to think, there was a time when he was a decent major-league closer.

Brazoban only appeared in two games for the Dodgers in 2008. Although he turns 29 this year, Brazoban's burgeoning injury history is putting him into Darren Dreifort territory. But at only a fraction of the price!

## Monday, February 23, 2009

### Russell Martin Not Doing His Part for World Peace

Jonathan Broxton, Russell Martin, Victor Garate, Val Pascucci.

Russell Martin in red...just looks wrong.

More on Martin: Martin's learning curve (The Globe and Mail) (hat tip: Blue Heaven)

photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers

### For Those Worried About Losing That Draft Pick

From Diamond Leung's live chat today:

11:12
The Press-Enterprise
: Everyone, Logan White is standing behind me and says hi to the readers. I just asked him about losing the 17th pick. He said : For the O-Dog? I'm happy. Look at Russell Martin, 17th rounder. We'll find him. We'll make it up.

Always nice to hear it straight from the man himself.

### There's a New Lasorda in Town

I'd post some choice Lasorda quotes here, but we try to keep SoSG S.F.W.

### Welcome to the Dodgers, O-Dog!

original photo from Aussie Girl PAWS Puppy

## Sunday, February 22, 2009

### Good Times

Matt Kemp, James Loney, Andre Ethier.

Remember when these guys were rookies and we were drooling over the prospect of them developing and playing together? Well, it's happened. Hat tip to Ned Colletti for resisting the urge to trade them.

photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers

## Saturday, February 21, 2009

### We Love Randy Wolf

From "Dodgers’ Wolf Accepts His Economic Downtown" at the New York Times:

“I play major league baseball. It may not be under what the contract was that the Astros offered, but I make a very good living and I get to do what I love to do. With people losing their jobs, and they’re making \$40,000 a year and they’re working their tails off 12 months a year to make ends meet, and they get laid off, it’s not right for me to complain about a contract.”

Wow, humble and eloquent. Go Randy!

(Hat tip: DT poster underdog)

### {Dodger Fans} Intersecting {Video Gamers} Celebrate

From Diamond:

Today was photo day, and video game players will also be happy to know some new Dodgers will be available to them for upcoming games. Ivan DeJesus Jr., Blake DeWitt, A.J. Ellis, Chin-lung Hu, Clayton Kershaw, Luis Maza, James McDonald, Ramon Troncoso and Cory Wade had their heads scanned by Sony and the Players Association.

### Can Thou Spare a Yankee a Dime?

Johnny Damon: "I can't pay my bills right now."

Xavier Nady: "I hit .300 last year. Stop asking me who the F--- I am"

Actually, only one of these statements is true. But both of these Yankees outfielders are feeling the pinch of the recession, as they find themselves on the south side of another financial advisor scam. I usually have little sympathy for multi-millionaire outfielders...or anyone attached to the Yankee organization...but man, they got SSCCRREEWWEEDD.

Damon and Nady are among the investors whose assets were frozen this week after the feds raided Stanford's Houston offices and the Securities and Exchange Commission accused Stanford of fraud involving the sale of \$8 billion in certificates of deposits that boasted unusually high returns.

Nady said "all my credit-card accounts are frozen right now because of that situation. I'm trying to get an apartment in New York. I can't put a credit card down to hold it."

White-collar criminals are getting greedy: you can get away with swindling \$5 million. But once it goes over a billion, you're entering Bond villain territory.

## Friday, February 20, 2009

### Orlando Hudson Signed, Vin Scully Delighted

So Orlandomania was just posturing, and the Dodgers signed their original target, Orlando Hudson. What does this mean for the Dodger lineup? Our own Alex Cora has an idea:

Sounds like we will be hearing Vin saying "O DOGG" all season - we just signed him. Blake to Left, Dewitt to third now and no Manny?

Ken Gurnick theorizes as well:

It's not clear how the dominoes will fall with Hudson's addition. Blake DeWitt, the presumed heir apparent to Kent at second base, could move to third base with Casey Blake moving to left field. Or DeWitt could be squeezed out, with Juan Pierre remaining in left.

Then there's that other free agent, Manny Ramirez, who could create a real jam if he and the Dodgers ever end their stalemate.

So the Dodgers just signed an experienced second baseman and their outlook is just as murky as before. Does Hudson's presence give Ned Colletti more leverage against Scott Boras in the Ramirez negotiations? Only if you believe that .282/.346/.433 lifetime makes Manny unnecessary.

UPDATE:

Reactions from around the Dodger blogosphere:

Did the Dodgers make a safe landing on Hudson? (Dodger Thoughts) (also: First Place, Headline Division)

Ned shortchanges future as he builds for today (True Blue L.A.)

If I Post About Orlando Three Times in a Row, Maybe He'll Appear (Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness)

Dodgers Sign Orlando Hudson To A One-Year Deal (Fire Ned Colletti Now)

UPDATE:

### Which Means the Dodgers Will End Up Signing Orlando Bloom

"It's not easy being dreamy. For instance, this sweater is awfully itchy."

Dodgers showing interest in [Orlando] Cabrera (Dodgers.com)

Dodgers talking to free agent [Orlando] Hudson (Dodgers.com)

Orlando Bloom is soooooo Dreamy (Got Medieval)

Don't take it personally, Blake DeWitt, but Ned Colletti seems to be working overtime to make sure you're not the Dodgers' Opening Day second baseman. Which is tough for a young player to hear, but not unreasonable for us fans. Cabrera would give Joe Torre the ability to rest Rafael Furcal, but anything beyond a one-year deal for either Orlando doesn't make much sense, especially given the buyer's market for free agents. Let's just hope DeWitt doesn't molder on the bench just so the Dodgers can field another no-hit, all-glove middle infielder.

## Thursday, February 19, 2009

### Russell Martin May Have Become a Hippie

First yoga, then the Kama Sutra. Now, the peace sign. Groovy, man!

photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers

### Blameless Bud Washes Hands Yet Again

Bud Selig at the 2002 All-Star Game.

From "Commish doesn't want steroids blame" at ESPN.com:

In the volatile wake of Alex Rodriguez's admission that he used performance-enhancing substances earlier this decade, Bud Selig remains bothered by the suggestion that he is to blame for Major League Baseball's steroids era.

"I don't want to hear the commissioner turned a blind eye to this or he didn't care about it," Selig told Newsday in a Monday phone interview. "That annoys the you-know-what out of me. You bet I'm sensitive to the criticism.

"The reason I'm so frustrated is, if you look at our whole body of work, I think we've come farther than anyone ever dreamed possible," he said, adding, "I honestly don't know how anyone could have done more than we've already done." [...]

"I'm not sure I would have done anything differently" at that point in time, Selig told Newsday. "A lot of people say we should have done this or that, and I understand that. They ask me, 'How could you not know?' and I guess in the retrospect of history, that's not an unfair question. But we learned and we've done something about it. When I look back at where we were in '98 and where we are today, I'm proud of the progress we've made."

First we had Shoeless Joe, now we have Blameless Bud. Selig's stewardship of Major League Baseball has kept team owners happy; Selig made \$17.5 million in 2007 and won't be retiring before 2013 (wouldn't you hang on to that salary?). And despite Alex Rodriguez's steroids bombshell tainting the 2009 season before it's even begun, burgeoning attendance figures support Selig's claims of progress.

Which makes Selig's Nixonian denial of his role in the steroid era all the more disappointing. Admitting culpability during a time when the entire nation was out of its gourd for McGwire & Sosa would not invalidate MLB's advancements since then. In fact, with sports heroes like A-Rod and Michael Phelps going down like dominoes, the American public has learned not to expect perfection, just perfect contrition. And Selig's complete lack of contrition suggests he wouldn't risk a single dollar on the chance that taking responsibility would tarnish his legacy.

And that annoys the you-know-what out of us.

AP photo

## Wednesday, February 18, 2009

### Sitcom Math

Lindsay Bluth FÃ¼nke ("Arrested Development")

Liz Lemon ("30 Rock")

Karen Filippelli ("The Office")

Pam Beesly ("The Office")

Agree? Disagree? Let us hear about it!

## Tuesday, February 17, 2009

### Andre Ethier Settles; Kim Ng Retracts Adamantium Claws

From Diamond Leung:

Dodgers settle with Ethier

The Dodgers have settled with Andre Ethier on a one-year, \$3.1 million contract plus \$100,000 in incentives. Ethier would get \$25,000 each for 596 (his total last year) and 625 plate appearances, and \$50,000 for 650 plate appearances. The two sides delayed the scheduled arbitration hearing today by 45 minutes so they could get the deal done.

"Neither side is probably tremendously happy with it, which is the clear mark of a successful agreement," General Manager Ned Colletti said.

From Tony Jackson:

Andre Ethier reacts to his settlement

He showed up in a suit, as did Ned Colletti. Everybody got all dressed up for nothing. But Andre admitted to being relieved.

"I guess the process is over. It was a little frustrating, the fact I think there could have been a result a little bit earlier. I think it took putting on suits and calling each other's bluff."

Ethier said the sides actually got to the point of sitting across from each other at a table in the hearing room before they went out again to the hallway and came up with the agreement.

"Why wouldn't I be (satisfied)?" he said. "Being a two-plus player and being in my first year of arbitration, it's a pretty big accomplishment, and it's a great stepping stone for years to come."

While arbitration master Kim Ng may be disappointed at not being able to flex her muscles, it's still one more hurdle cleared for the Dodgers. Now let's get to work on that big fish!

(And sorry ladies, no pictures of Andre in his suit.)

UPDATE:

Wolverine, Khan—it's all the same: Ethier Avoids the Wrath of Ng (Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness)

### Adrian Beltre Is All Grown Up

Adrian Beltre may have entered the majors as a Dodger, but he's come of age as a Mariner. Via Big League Stew, the Seattle Times' Mariners Blog brings us quotes from Beltre regarding tension in the Mariners' clubhouse:

Beltre was asked for his definition of playing the game "the right way."

"My understanding is, you do the little things," he said. "If you have a man at second, you move him over. Give up the at-bat. If you're losing by two or three runs, don't go up there and hack. Because if you hit a home run, you're still going to lose by a run. Play the situation game. If you know you're winning by two or three runs and they have men at first and second and you're sure the guy is going to score at home plate, don't throw home because you can try to cut the other guy off. Just the little things you can go over.

"Just do the little things. Take a walk if you need it. If you need a guy on base, bunt if you can run. Just the little things like that, where the team can see that you're playing to help a team win. Not just numbers or your stats and stuff." [...]

I asked Beltre: "Is he (Ichiro) one of those guys you think can do more?"

Beltre initially said he didn't have issues with any one player.

"I don't single out anybody," he said. "You're never going to hear that out of my mouth. I think that it's wrong to single out your teammate. If I'm a good teammate, I'm going to support everybody here. Even if he is, or he's not (playing the right way) I'm not going to tell you. Because I think that should be addressed in the clubhouse, not outside."

So not only is Beltre considered a clubhouse leader, but he's also learned the art of the political quote. Although it remains to be seen if he and Ichiro can work past their supposed differences, the comments by Beltre suggest he's much more mature than the callow third baseman who hit 48 home runs for the Dodgers in 2004. (Or when he underwent a botched appendectomy in the Dominican Republic in 2001.) It's nice to see that \$64 million doesn't necessarily stop a player from improving his character.

## Monday, February 16, 2009

### Impossible Is Nothing

If you never thought you'd see those two lovebirds hoisting more hardware together, then maybe you think the Dodgers are destined to finish eight games behind a first-place Diamondbacks club, or that sixteen other teams will be better than the Dodgers. Well, that's why they play the games. Never say never. Every dog has its day. And other assorted clichÃ©s.

photo by Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images

### The Future Is Now

James McDonald and Clayton Kershaw at spring training camp.

photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers

## Sunday, February 15, 2009

### Sprung Training

Russell Martin greets fans on the first official day of spring training.

Jason Schmidt throws. Really.

Spring training has sprung! Dodgers.com has photos and video and Yahoo! Sports has photos. Tony Jackson and Diamond Leung have updates. The LA Times has a nifty travel guide to Camelback Ranch ("Swing fever: Dodgers make Phoenix home to spring training") and Dodgers.com has its own Camelback Ranch page. But Jackson comes up with the quote of the day:

Martin seemed noticeably more relaxed before, during and after the workout. When reporters asked him at one point what caused some slight discomfort he is feeling in his left foot - he underwent an MRI on Friday that came back negative - Martin joked that he might have hurt himself in the bedroom.

"Kama Sutra Position 68," he said.

Earlier: Namaste, Russell (SoSG)

(Thanks to DT poster underdog for the heads-up!)

Martin photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers
Schmidt: AP photo

## Saturday, February 14, 2009

### Things I Don't Understand: Blockbuster's Return Policy

Here's Mrs. Orel with the latest entry in the SoSG Guest Writer Series:

Mulling over Manny, tugging on warm socks, stirring up hot chocolate, spreading out flannel bedsheets and coaxing the furnace to eke out fluffs of warm air into the (why? Don't ask me) hallway is how Orel and I are spending winter in Southern California.

It gets cold here. Not Wisconsin or North Dakota cold, but darn chilly and we feel it. One December morning I popped my face over the covers and could see my breath. Frosty wisps floating over the comforter.

And so we join our snowbound brethren in waiting for Opening Day by catching up on movies. We pop a bowlful of the white stuff, curl up in front of a blazing fire (purely a psychological effect) and wait to experience the laughs and tears Hollywood promises.

Sadly, our mom-and-pop movie rental store closed down recently, forcing us to shuffle around a blinkety-blink Blockbuster.

Okay, it's not that cold in L.A. Not freeze-your-brain-out-of-comprehension-mode cold.

A couple of weeks ago I picked out the latest unfunny comedy on a Thursday and asked the clerk when it needed to be returned.

"Saturday."

"Do you mean this Saturday at midnight?"

"Well, Saturday."

"What if it's late?"

"Well, you have until a week from Saturday and, if you don't have it back by then, you'll be charged the full cost of the movie."

"So not this Saturday. You mean I can have it a whole week?"

"This Saturday would be better."

Okay, it's not that cold in L.A. Not freeze-your-brain-out-of-comprehension-mode cold. What does this conversation mean? What is the deal with Blockbuster?

And there we have it: Blockbuster would like us to be nice.

We have a storm in the forecast. A downpour will lock Orel and me into the house because driving in rain in L.A. is out of the question. It's again a Thursday and I venture forth to Blockbuster for two movies. I check out with another clerk.

"When do these have to be returned?"

"Saturday."

"Do you mean this Saturday at midnight?"

"Well, Saturday."

"But, not this Saturday, right?"

"Yes, this Saturday."

"But another time the guy said Saturday but he really meant I could have it for a week. He made it sound like I could only have it for two days but he meant a week."

The clerk looks quickly around the store as if to locate the criminal-clerk.

"Who said that?" he demands to know.

"Jeez, I don't know, but it's kind of confusing, wouldn't you say?"

"Not at all."

"Then when do I have to have these movies back?"

"These are new releases and they should be back here by this Saturday."

"Ah, but really a week from Saturday, right? I mean, you're not going to charge me for the cost of these movies if I brought them back on say, Sunday or Tuesday, right?"

"Well yes, that's correct, but they are new releases and other people would like to see them."

"So, you think it would be nice for me to bring them back earlier?"

"Yes."

And there we have it: Blockbuster would like us to be nice.

At home, I get a crackling blaze going in the fireplace and cuddle up under a woolie with Orel and the remote. It's freezing again.

"What are we seeing?" he asks.

"Frozen River."

Earlier SoSG content by Mrs. Orel: Yankee Stadium Remembrances: Someone Needs a Hug, At-Game 25 Recap: Melted Out

Blockbuster photo by Steve Brandon

### Happy Valentine's Day!

And more importantly, Happy Pitchers & Catchers Report Day!

Los Angeles Dodgers Heart Boxer Shorts (FanHouse Shop)

## Friday, February 13, 2009

### Manny Negotiations Inspiring Record Amounts of Sexually Suggestive Dialogue

Frank McCourt:
"I've seldom seen a situation like his with our fans. I mean that love affair was tremendous."

Ned Colletti:
"There's been some progress made, but obviously not enough to consummate a deal."

Joe Torre:
"It comes down to satisfying both parties. You like to believe there's a lot of romance, but he's looking for length."

### Ken Gurnick Has a Blog

Interesting: MLB.com's Dodger beat writer, the occasionally critical, sometimes snarky Ken Gurnick, has started a blog—the unfortunately-titled Kenny G Around the Horn. Is it time to start calling him Robogurnick?

### Spring Training Sponsorships Selling Like Coldcakes

Remember we told you the Dodgers are selling naming rights to parts of Dodger Stadium? Well, they're doing the same thing at Camelback Ranch in Arizona. Or at least trying to. Writes Dylan Hernandez at the LA Times:

The Dodgers and White Sox, who share the facility equally, were so excited about their new home's potential as a revenue producer that they ignored the proven spring training model of seeking local advertisers and instead focused their efforts on finding national sponsors.

The concept -- called "The Starting 9" -- was designed to allow nine major sponsors paying \$200,000 annually to secure the naming rights for different parts of the facility. [...]

So far, the sales force is 0 for nine in selling them.

Whoops. Hernandez also cites sluggish ticket sales in Arizona, as the economy seems to be affecting many aspects of spring training. So this story either goes away, or it becomes the first in a series about how the Dodgers, and baseball in general, are losing money this season.

And if the Dodgers fail to sign Manny Ramirez? Then expect the story to come from not only the media, but also from the Dodgers front office.

## Thursday, February 12, 2009

### Things We Won't See At Dodger Stadium Next Year

Besides Manny, that is...

From ESPN the magazine's recent Fan Issue (no link):

Best Ballpark Concessions Trend: \$1 Menu

It's nearly impossible to find grub that costs less than a five-spot at a game. But Delaware North Companies Sportservice, which provides fare for 19 pro stadiums, is rolling out a dollar menu for MLB clients this spring. "A family can come to the ballpark and enjoy their experience on a fixed budget," says DNCS president Rick Abramson. The menu items may not surprise--mini hot dogs, chicken tenders and small beverages--but the price sure is tasty."

Bravo, Mr. Abramson. Too bad Frank won't take your phone call, but hey, he won't take Scott Boras' calls either!

### Not Really Baseball Related

I found the thinnest way to shoehorn this clip. Joaquin played a baseball player in Signs .'Nuff said.

Is this an act? A breakdown? Either way, it's brilliant. (The fun starts about a minute in)

Joaquin's a long way from his "Leaf Phoenix" days in Parenthood. And Letterman STILL RULES!

### Today Tommy's Tour Takes the I-10

From a Dodgers' press release:

Join Tommy on His Tour Bus as He Reports for His 60th Spring Training With the Dodgers

In an effort to show Angelenos how easy it is to get from Southern California to Glendale, Arizona, Special Advisor to the Chairman Tommy Lasorda will take a tour bus [10 a.m. today] from Dodger Stadium to the Dodgers’ new Spring Training home, Camelback Ranch - Glendale. Traveling with Tommy will be local media and selected Dodger sponsors.

The tour bus will make two stops: the first at a 76 for gas and the second at Carl’s Jr. for lunch.

...where Tommy will order more than six dollars' worth of Six Dollar Burgers.

So apparently the general public needs to be convinced that road trips are easy. Out of curiosity, I Mapquested Dodger Stadium to Camelback Ranch. And those directions make directions to Vegas look like the Necronomicon in comparison. Here's all you need to know:

Keep LEFT to take I-10 E toward SAN BERNARDINO (Crossing into ARIZONA)...358.4 mi

It's a four-hundred-mile straight shot! Five-and-a-half hours of pedal to the metal! Listen, I'm convinced. Spare Tommy the Madden Cruiser experience. Better yet, organize tour buses for fans. Have a different Dodger personality host each trip. Are you listening, marketing department?

### Happy Birthday, Big League Stew!

We're fans of duck stew.

Wait—that doesn't sound right.

We're fans of 'Duk's "Stew."

Okay, that's confusing.

We're fans of Kevin Kaduk's Big League Stew.

Bingo!

Big League Stew is Yahoo! Sports' official baseball blog, and Kevin " 'Duk" Kaduk (say that five times fast!) is its editor. 'Duk is a Chicago fan (favoring the Cubs, I think), but all teams get attention at the Stew. With help from a staff of contributors, 'Duk updates regularly, keeping matters light but topical. In short, Big League Stew is a daily read.

And now 'Duk's baby is one year old! Congrats to everyone at BLS. It's nice to know that even as the sport of baseball seems to be sliding into the gutter, there are sites run by true fans of the game that will continue to celebrate it, warts and all. Here's to many more years of entertaining reading at BLS.

On a related note, BLS is starting a comic feature. The first entry seems appropriate for us Dodger fans:

## Wednesday, February 11, 2009

### Pitchers & Catchers Can't Report Soon Enough

From CNN.com's front (not even sports!) page:

Earlier: The Difference Between MLB and the NFL Right Now (SoSG)

### Colletti Foot-Dragging Pays Dividends

Bobby Abreu: going gone. Adam Dunn: gone. Manny Ramirez, where is your savior now?

UPDATE:

Abreu's deal with the Angels: one year, \$5 million plus incentives

Dunn's deal with the Nationals: two years, \$20 million

the Dodgers' previous offers to Manny: two years, \$45 million; one year, \$25 million

### Things I Don't Understand: This Bathtub

So I walk in my hotel room this week at a largely uneventful hotel, and the bathroom is the size of a closet and sports a shower-tub. Tubs with shower attachments are not by themselves remarkable things. But what was weird about this one was where the shower attachment was placed--not at the one of the short ends of the tub, but almost in the middle of the long wall.

To put this in perspective, here's the straight-on shot of the long wall. Note that the shower attachment is about 75% of the way across the long wall. (And I'm hopeful that you can't pull one of those plays like the scene in Taken and catch a reflection of naked Steve Sax somehow. But who knows, maybe you've got software like they had in No Way Out and you can enhance the image somehow to your liking? And speaking of "No Way Out," is there an exit strategy for Ned Colletti over Manny Ramirez? But I digress.)

This positioning of the showerhead is ridiculous, forcing one to either shoot water across the short width of the bathtub, requiring the showerer to basically stand in place. Or, if you're lucky, you can try and angle the showerhead sort of toward the long end of the bathtub, but it's less effective than just if the showerhead was just positioned at the short end in the first place, like every other bathtub.

What's more, this positioning isn't random; in fact, the whole tub drainage system is designed in kind, as the floor drain is also at 3/4 of the length of the tub. Who took the time to design this unorthodox bathtub mold, and why? If you were bathing, would you rather have the drain popping up from the tub bottom here and prodding you in the ass, rather than having the drain located unobtrusively down at the end of the tub?

I don't understand this strangely designed bathtub and its obvious shortcomings in both utility and comfort. But to be fair, I never took all the courses necessary to get a degree in bathtub engineering, so I figured I would see if any of our intrepid readers had a better explanation.

## Tuesday, February 10, 2009

### Abreu Reported to Angels; Colletti Reported Fiddling

ESPN.com sources indicate that Bobby Abreu, aka Manny Ramirez Backup Plan #2, may be close to signing a one-year deal with the cross-town Angels.

Free-agent outfielder Bobby Abreu is in serious talks toward a one-year agreement with the Los Angeles Angels, two baseball sources told ESPN.com.

Abreu, 34, is one of the premier hitters left on the market this offseason. The Angels jumped into negotiations with a big push this week and have emerged as clear front-runners. Although the two sides still have some issues to work through, a source said an agreement could be reached before the start of spring training this weekend in Arizona. [...]

The Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox and New York Mets are among the other clubs that have been mentioned in conjunction with Abreu. But none of those teams advanced beyond the exploratory phase.

If there is a bright side to this, I suppose it's that Abreu's acceptance of a one-year deal continues to indicate a market reluctance to offer a longer-term deal to any free-agent slugger of merit. But don't let the short duration of the Abreu deal lull you into complacency. If Abreu is gone from the dance floor, that leaves only Adam Dunn as the only other major option to add an offensive threat to our pop-less lineup.

I wouldn't be all that excited to see Abreu rather than Manny, but by my count we still have neither. Let's not get caught underestimating that Boras chap while you fiddle away, eh Ned?

### Silence is Golden

Frank McCourt knows that Joe Torre won't write about the Dodgers: To misquote an old pirate adage, Blue Men Tell No Tales. From the NY POST

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt today told MLB Network that Joe Torre is prohibited from writing a book about his time with the Dodgers.

McCourt told the "Hot Stove" program, "Well Joe is a well known figure in baseball and I think his transition to L.A. has been a great one. We had a very successful season last year. I think he is very comfortable there and we're certainly very comfortable with him.

"The book was something that was in the works prior to the time that we made our deal with Joe. Having said that, in our contract with Joe there is a confidentiality provision that he can't be writing a book about the Dodgers or our team, so that was very important to us. Not because of the book, it's because we have that with all of our uniform personnel."

Torre told CNN's Larry King that the Yankees approached him about a similar confidentiality agreement but that he always refused to agree to it.

Does that stop Torre from releasing other material about the Dodgers: a play, a graphic novel, a sonnet, perhaps a PowerPoint presentation?

And anyone else hate the name "Hot Stove?"