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Tag:Los Angeles Dodgers
Posted on: January 11, 2012 5:10 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2012 7:07 pm
 

Prince Fielder intrigue continues to build

So why hasn't Prince Fielder signed yet while Albert Pujols has been sitting back and counting that 10-year, $254 million deal for weeks?

Plenty of reasons. Mostly, as Boras would tell you, because the market is still developing.

Start with the fact that the two clubs who in recent years have helped establish the ga-zillion dollar markets -- the Yankees and Red Sox -- are sitting this one out. New York has a long-term first baseman in Mark Teixeira, as Boston does with Adrian Gonzalez.

Beyond them, only a small handful of clubs can play ball at Fielder's asking price. Which, you can be sure, is a dollar or two more than Pujols is getting annually from the Angels.

From the start, barring a stunning early offer, Boras was in no hurry to sign Fielder. It was clear that Pujols would sign, the bar would be set, and then Boras/Fielder would look to exceed it.

Within that, as Boras has explained many times this winter, free agents at this level are ownership decisions. As he did when he represented Alex Rodriguez in 2000 and scored the 10-year, $252 million deal, Boras meets directly with owners (then-Rangers owner Tom Hicks, in that case).

That, too, takes time.

With the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels out, the Cubs, Mets and Dodgers are among the few who could afford Fielder.

The Cubs are under new management, and president Theo Epstein philosophically does not believe in awarding long-term contracts to the tune of seven, eight or more years to free agents. Consequently, they acquired Anthony Rizzo from the Padres this month, the idea being Rizzo will be Chicago's first baseman of the future.

The Mets and Dodgers, of course, have serious financial issues of their own. The Mets, who lost Jose Reyes to the Marlins this winter, are rebuilding and broke. The Dodgers are in the process of being sold.

So that leaves the next tier of suitors. And one other key component: With the Yankees and Red Sox on the sidelines, there is nobody to help drive up the price up via a bidding war.

Boras met with the Nationals several weeks ago. Those two have done several multi-million dollar deals in recent years, including the $126 million Jayson Werth contract last winter, and deals with recent top draft picks Stephen Strasburg (four-years, $15 million) and Bryce Harper (five years, $9.9 million).

The Mariners desperately need a middle-of-the-lineup bat. But whether the M's would spend that kind of dough remains to be seen ... as does whether Fielder would want to play in Safeco Field, notorious for diluting offensive numbers.

Asked at the winter meetings last month whether his client had a geographical presence, Boras quipped, "I just think he likes fences that are close to home plate. That's the geographics he likes."

Baltimore is another city that continues to be linked with Fielder. The Orioles are desperate for a clean-up hitter, not to mention a winner. Owner Peter Angelos has the money, though he is notoriously slow in wading through the free agent market.

Texas? The Rangers' deadline for signing pitcher Yu Darvish is next week. Some industry sources think the Rangers are holding off on Fielder while they negotiate with the Japanese free agent. Then, they'll either go full bore after Fielder if they don't sign Darvish (unlikely, they're expected to sign the pitcher) or see if there's a way to fit Fielder in after signing the pitcher.

The Blue Jays? Hmmm ... interesting thought, and lots of speculation surrounding them. Maybe the exchange rate is slowing those talks down.

Milwaukee remains in on the fringes, but only if the price falls.

Always, with Boras, there is the threat of a "mystery team" stepping up. No other agent in the game is as skilled at luring suitors down the path ... and then obtaining a pot of gold ... as Boras.

But now, as it gets deeper into January and an industry awaits Fielder's decision, it may take Boras' biggest play yet to get what he and his client want.
Posted on: December 10, 2011 7:33 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 7:34 pm
 

What do Moreno & Magic Johnson have in common?

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Magic Johnson wants to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers?

As the Angels and Albert Pujols threaten to eclipse the Dodgers in what is shaping up as an epic battle for baseball supremacy in Southern California, beleaguered Dodgers fans can only wonder what if.

In a story last weekend, Magic joked to the Los Angeles Times that if he owned the Dodgers, he would be knocking on Albert Pujols' door "at 12:01 a.m. on the first day of free agency."

Hmmm. ...
Posted on: November 14, 2011 4:08 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 4:28 pm
 

Matt Kemp joining elite group with new deal

Turns out, bankruptcy was a minor little inconvenience on the road to forever between the Dodgers and Matt Kemp: The two have agreed to an eight-year, $160 million contract extension pending the outfielder passing a physical examination, CBSSports.com has confirmed.

Talk about a serious commitment. Only six men in baseball history had reached the $160-million mark: Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Joe Mauer, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and Manny Ramirez.

Now, Kemp.

For those with a sense of humor ... or a sense of irony ... Kemp's deal is for the same numbers -- years and dollars -- that Ramirez received from Boston before the 2001 season.

In becoming the face of the Dodgers for years to come and en route to serious MVP consideration, Kemp first had to blow past comeback player of the year.

It was barely more than a year ago when Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti delivered harsh criticism of Kemp's defense and focus.

But after the disappointment of 2010 came a sensational 2011 in which Kemp batted .324 with 39 homers and 126 RBI. He led the league in homers, RBIs, runs (115) and total bases (353), and he swiped 40 bases.

And in one more bit of irony, the man who now will remain in Hollywood will stay in part because he went a little less Hollywood last summer. Those close to Kemp do not think it is a coincidence that he took his game to a different level after his high-profile romance with Rihanna blew up.

"I think he has less distractions in his life -- from my perspective," third baseman Casey Blake, one of Kemp's closest friends on the 2011 team, told me late last summer. "This game, some guys can do it with a million things going on. But this game is tough enough by itself.

"It's a hard game, and it seems like you're always dealing with a lot of thoughts of failure. The more you can lessen those thoughts, the better. The fact that he doesn't have some of those distractions anymore. ..."

Blake told me he thought Kemp had made a conscious effort to simplify things in his life, and it worked.

"I think he was embarrassed by a lot of things," Blake said, referring to Kemp's 2010 season in which he batted just .249 with a .310 on-base percentage, 28 homers and 89 RBIs. "And he made up his mind he was going to get serious about it."

The off-field stuff, the Rihanna romance, "I think they all directly related," Blake said.

Blake could tell Kemp was more focused in 2011 from the first day of spring training.

"He showed it in his attitude and in his play," Blake said. "How he went about it, from day one.

"He's respecting the game a lot more this year. He has an understanding that to be a complete player, you can't take a day off -- whether it's on the bases, on defense, anywhere."

Today, that respect is coming right back at Kemp to the tune of $160 million ... and a trust the Dodgers are placing in him that maybe you can't even hang a price tag on.
Posted on: November 2, 2011 1:34 am
Edited on: November 2, 2011 11:19 am
 

McCourt, MLB agree to auction Dodgers

It's not quite the "Ding, Dong the Witch is Dead" moment yet.

But Frank McCourt has never been closer to becoming the ex-Dodgers owner than he is right now.

But McCourt and Major League Baseball jointly announced overnight Tuesday -- at 1:03 a.m. EDT, to be exact -- that they have "agreed to a court supervised process to sell the team and its attendant media rights in a manner designated to realize maximum value for the Dodgers and their owner Frank McCourt."

Translation: McCourt, cornered from all sides and quickly running out of money, has lost his appetite to fight following two years of lawyers, litigation, obstinance and sheer delusion.

In what amounts to a final surrender, McCourt essentially has agreed to auction off the team and disappear. In return, MLB gets what it wants: The Dodgers wrested from McCourt's cold clutch without a messy court fight in which secret financial details could be publicly revealed. The league will help facilitate the sale through the Blackstone Group LP.

The sale is expected to include the team, Dodger Stadium and the surrounding parking lots. McCourt purchased the club and the properties for $421 million in 2004.

Best-case scenario for MLB, Los Angeles and Dodgers fans: A new owner is in place by opening day.

The Dodgers have been in free-fall since Frank and Jamie McCourt's marriage began crumbling in 2009, and the all-out war that developed between the two turned into one the ugliest and messiest battles in baseball history. Their excessively materialistic lifestyle first provided fodder for Los Angeles gossip columns, and then grist for MLB to seize the team from McCourt after it accused him of "looting" millions of dollars from the Dodgers to finance his over-leveraged personal life.

The aptly named McCourt battled in both divorce court and bankruptcy court trying to keep the Dodgers while remaining financially solvent. It's been clear to everyone but him for more than a year that he was fighting a losing battle.

His last-ditch bid to reverse his fall came when he attempted to arrange a future television contract that would front him millions even while the Dodgers were still operating under a present television contract with Fox. Selig would not allow it, and that was the basis for McCourt's latest battle with MLB.

Frankly, that McCourt stubbornly hung on for this long is an upset, given that there were rampant rumors last summer that he would not be able to meet payroll, which would have given MLB carte blanche to remove him as owner.

Or, as I wrote on June 22: "Welcome to the final days of the Dodgers' banana republic. You can hear the choppers whirring just over the hills. Soon, they'll have the place fully surrounded. It won't be long until Frank McCourt will be forced down from his coconut tree, frisked and exiled."

That time has come. According to financial figures McCourt himself submitted to the Bankruptcy Court, even if he settled his divorce and sold the club's television rights, he would still be far short of what he needs to restore the luster to the Dodgers and to renovate Dodger Stadium. As it is, McCourt has agreed to pay his ex-wife, Jamie, a divorce settlement of $130 million.

On the field, the Dodgers in 2011 drew fewer than three million fans in a non-strike-shortened season for the first time in 19 years and for only the second time since 1989.

Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, has expressed interest in the club. Closer to home, Dennis Gilbert, the one-time agent who headed a group that nearly landed the Texas Rangers in 2010, would be a perfect choice. Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio has been rumored as potentially being interested, and one industry source theorizes that Oakland owner Lew Wolff, frustrated with the Athletics' inability to gain a new stadium, is another possibility.
Posted on: October 19, 2011 5:40 pm
 

Cards, Rangers in final preparations for Game 1

ST. LOUIS -- The tarp is on the field. The place is on near-lockdown with First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden due tonight. The rain has been falling off and on all afternoon.

Though MLB officials are confident that the Cardinals and Rangers will play tonight (and on time), it is cold, wet and raw here -- which means Mother Nature may have a better chance of slowing down these two big-hitting lineups in Game 1 of the World Series than any starting pitcher.

The cold, wet conditions will not help Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter, who experienced some swelling in his right elbow following his Game 3 start against Milwaukee in the NLCS. (He says he's fine.)

The weather will not be comfortable for Rangers starter C.J. Wilson, who has experienced some severe swelling in his postseason numbers this autumn: He's 0-2 with an 8.04 ERA. (He says he's fine.)

But the conditions may be even worse for hitters, because the colder it gets, the less the baseball carries. And it is expected to dip into the upper 30s tonight.

The Rangers clubbed 13 homers, 20 doubles and scored 55 runs in their 10 post-season games so far, and they're hitting .276 with runners in scoring position. Josh Hamilton has hit safely in five consecutive postseason games, and he hopes to take that momentum into this World Series to erase the memories of last year against San Francisco: Hamilton was just 2 for 20 against the Giants and looked even worse than those numbers do.

The Cardinals, meantime, averaged 5.6 runs per game in the NLCS. They led the NL in runs scored this season, and their +70 run differential was third in the AL. Albert Pujols is coming off of a torrid NLCS, and Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday are doing a fine job of protecting him. Holliday, battling tendinitis in his right hand, says though it's about the same as it was in the NLCS, it's far better than it was against Philadelphia in the first round.

Both of these clubs are fairly experienced in October, the Rangers having gained theirs more recently. Michael Young talked extensively Tuesday about how this year should be better for Texas because the Rangers know what's ahead of them, know better what to expect out of the World Series. That no doubt goes for manager Ron Washington, too, who is has guided the Rangers to their second World Series in two years.

This is the sixth World Series for St. Louis manager Tony La Russa, and as the wind blew and the rain fell outside, he spoke of how he's changed from that first one with Oakland in 1988 until now.

"The first one, I wouldn't say I was clueless," La Russa said. "You have a little clue. But it was like in '83, the first time in the playoffs [managing the White Sox], you're just hoping you don't pass out during the game.

"That was painful in '88 because no doubt, Tommy [Lasorda, then the Dodgers' manager] did a much better job of getting his club ready for the World Series than I did for the A's."

All these years later, La Russa has become the master. And over in the Texas dugout, Washington has earned his stripes -- though he doesn't want to hear about "matching wits" with La Russa.

"I don't think I can ever live up to matching a wit with Tony La Russa, but what I will try to do is put my players in the right position," Washington said the other day. "And if my players perform, I don't have to worry about matching wits. They'll take care of things."

Rangers-Cardinals, we're just about there.

Well, as soon as they take the tarp off the field.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 12:08 am
 

My theory on Manny Ramirez

Manny was arguing with his wife over the dwindling supply of female fertility drugs in their Florida home.

(Kidding.)

Likes: It was weird flying on 9/11, but only for a little while. The airports seemed normal, and my flight from San Diego to Chicago wasn't unusual. Still, reading the Sunday papers and the 9/11 tribute stories along the way, you couldn't help but look around the plane and wonder what things must have been like on that awful Tuesday in those hijacked planes. There was one reference to 9/11 on the flight, and it was subdued and classy: After we landed in Chicago, as we were taxiing toward the terminal, one of the Southwest Airlines flight attendants simply and somberly asked for a moment of silence aboard the plane in memory of the tragic victims from 9/11. Everyone complied -- including the shrieking toddler one row in front of me that, shall we say, contributed to making the flight seem very normal. ... Landed in Chicago about 30 minutes after the Bears dusted the Falcons in the NFL opener, and it was very cool to taxi by Soldier Field and see hundreds of folks tailgating after the game on a drop-dead gorgeous Chicago day. ... The deep dish sausage pizza at Gino's East on Superior St. ... Great run along Lake Michigan on Monday, and you never know who you'll see. Coming at me from the opposite direction about halfway through my run? Dave Dombrowski, the Tigers' general manager. Hard to miss him, what with the old English D logo prominently displayed on the chest of his T-shirt and on his shorts.

Dislikes: Sure hate to see the Border's Books, a mainstay on Michigan Ave. in Chicago for years, gone.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Better ask questions before you shoot
"Deceit and betrayal's a bitter fruit
"It's hard to swallow, come time to pay
"That taste on your tongue don't easily slip away
"Let kingdom come I'm gonna find my way
"Through this lonesome day"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Lonesome Day
Posted on: August 22, 2011 1:48 pm
 

If you can't stand the heat ... get out of Texas

All this talk about Dan Uggla, Andre Ethier and hitting streaks this season, the Rangers have had quite the hit streak of their own lately, you know:

Nearly two weeks ago, Aug. 11 to be exact, snapped a streak of 40 consecutive days of 100-degree temperatures in Dallas. A record? Close: It just missed the 1980 Dallas-area record of 42 consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures.

That the Rangers played on, unaffected, and continued to thrive is yet another testament to the current group of strong-willed players constructed by club president Nolan Ryan, general manager Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington: When was the last time you heard talk that the Rangers won't make it to October because they'll wilt in the heat?

Used to be an annual topic of conversation.

Yet this summer, the hottest on record in Dallas since Pat Corrales' Rangers went 76-85 and finished fourth in the AL West in '80, so far hasn't even come close to melting Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Co.

As the Red Sox arrive for a three-game series starting with an excellent pitching match-up Monday -- new Boston acquisition Erik Bedard vs. C.J. Wilson -- the first-place Rangers have produced their third-best record ever after 128 games (73-55).

"We monitor it," manager Ron Washington says of the heat. "We go out in it, we don't go out in it, we've still gotta play in it.

"You work in it less. We'll have weeks where we will have worked out in the heat for three days, and on four days we did not. But you've gotta get your work in to get used to it."

During the 40-day streak of temps of 100 or higher, the Rangers played 22 home games. They went 16-6.

"It's our home-field advantage," pitching coach Mike Maddux says. "We take our pitchers out in the heat of day. That's when we do our running, and throw in the bullpen.

"We see it as a challenge: 'I'm going to out-last the other guy.'"

The absence of third baseman Adrian Beltre, out since July 22 with a strained left hamstring, has hobbled the Rangers more than the heat has suffocated them.

And it remains scorching: When the 40-day streak of 100 ended on Aug. 11, it wasn't exactly with a cooling trend. The temperature reached 98 that day.

More of the same is awaiting the Red Sox and Rangers this week: Highs of 104 are predicted for Monday and Tuesday, 102 Wednesday and back up to 104 Thursday.

The Angels follow Boston in on Friday for another AL West showdown. Again, the high is predicted to be 104 on Friday.

"There are nights when we're dragging," Washington says. "But really, who wouldn't drag in that stuff?"

Likes: Absolutely fantastic job by the Padres on Sunday in the ceremony retiring legendary closer Trevor Hoffman's No. 51. One of the best I've ever seen. They presented him with a 1958 Cadillac convertible, based on the stories Hoffman has told regarding how his late father, Ed, loved to drive the family around in a convertible. They brought plenty of ex-teammates and coaches back. And in the best move of the day, the Padres tracked down an old video of Ed Hoffman singing the national anthem at Fenway Park on opening day in 1981 when Trevor's brother, Glenn, played for the Red Sox. Watching Trevor, his wife Tracy and his mother Nikki watch that video -- and brothers Greg and Glenn -- if your eyes weren't moist, then you weren't human. ... Reading the book ESPN: Those Guys Have All the Fun. Some entertaining stories, and it's written at a fast-moving clip (oral-history style). But it's a guilty read, too: I can't help but think, don't I have more important things to read? ... If you haven't seen it yet, make sure to Netflix (or rent or whatever) Win Win on DVD. It's terrific. Paul Giamatti as a small-town New Jersey lawyer and wrestling coach who is struggling in both areas. ... College football in less than two weeks.

Dislikes: Where, oh where, are the exciting playoff races?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"In between the stops at the Cracker Barrel
"And 40 movies with Will Ferrell
"I need some way to occupy my time
"So I'm writing you a road song
"I sure hope you don't mind"

-- Fountains of Wayne, A Road Song

Posted on: August 21, 2011 7:36 pm
 

3 to Watch: The Not-So-Golden State edition

Late August, and if you're looking for stretch-run drama, well, you'd better go find a good book. May I recommend David Halberstam's Summer of '49? Great book chronicling an epic Red Sox-Yankees pennant race. Sigh.

There's still time for things to change, of course, but as we sit here today (unless, of course, you're standing), there is less than a four-game difference in only one of eight potential playoff races. (I'm dismissing the half-game separating the Yankees and Red Sox in the AL East because both clubs have all but formally qualified for October: The Red Sox own a 7 1/2-game margin over Tampa Bay in the AL wild-card chase).

No, after Detroit's beat-down of Cleveland, the only real drama heading into this week is in the NL West, where the Giants have pulled back to within 1 1/2 games of Arizona. The Diamondbacks were and are a nice story, but not quite so much after getting swept in Atlanta.

Anyway, for all of this, I blame California.

The Not-So-Golden State right now is playing harball at a level ranging from head-shakingly bad to maddeningly sporadic and is in danger of being shut out of postseason baseball for the first time since 1999:

-- The World Series champion Giants, playing catch-up with Arizona, currently rank 29th in the majors in runs scored and seemingly have more players on the disabled list than on the active roster. Carlos Beltran, hello?

-- The Dodgers' back-to-back NLCS appearances in 2008-2009 currently are tied up in divorce/bankruptcy court.

-- The Padres' 90-win season of a year ago has turned to dust.

-- The only way the Athletics will see October is in Moneyball -- literally. The movie opens Sept. 23.

-- The Angels were nearly extinguished by Texas last week before rising from the ashes with a four-game winning streak that has moved them back to within four games of the Rangers.

Starting in 2000, the Angels have made the playoffs six times, the Athletics five, the Giants and Dodgers four each and the Padres twice.

Now? The Giants are clawing and the Angels have regained a faint pulse. Those two right now are a couple of the last hopes to goose a stretch-run that is threatening to boost football's television ratings even more.

Now, with colleague Danny Knobler hopefully somewhere with his feet up and an ice-cold lemonade nearby ... on to this week's 3 to Watch:

1. Time was, the Red Sox looked loaded and dangerous. Aw, truth be told, they still mostly look that way, but with Clay Buchholz out until mid-September, Daisuke Matsuzaka done for the season and Kevin Youkilis, J.D. Drew, David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury all hurting, they're vulnerable. The pitching situation in particular is why they acquired Erik Bedard at the July 31 deadline, and it is Bedard who takes the ball in the series opener of Red Sox at Rangers, Monday night (8:05 ET) at the Ballpark in Arlington. It's an intriguing four-game series for a few reasons, not the least of which is because, if the season ended today, these two teams would face each other in the first round of the AL playoffs. One thing to watch between now and then, though: The Rangers' schedule down the stretch is more difficult than the Angels, with seven games against the Red Sox, six against Tampa Bay and three against Cleveland (the Angels have two against the White Sox and three against the Yankees, but they also get Baltimore again).

2. Speaking of tough schedules, what Manny Acta's Cleveland Indians are facing is pure torture, and the Indians did not get off to a good start in Detroit over the weekend, where Cleveland was swept. Thanks to early rainouts, the Indians are in the midst of playing 45 games in 44 days. They've got two home doubleheaders -- White Sox and Twins -- the final full week of the season. Before that, though, Seattle pulls into town on Monday, and Cleveland dives into its double-dips with Mariners at Indians, Tuesday afternoon and evening (1:05 and 7:05 ET) at Progressive Field. It doesn't get any easier with rookie second baseman Jason Kipnis (hamstring) on the disabled list and with slugger Travis Hafner nursing a right foot strain (he left Sunday's game in Detroit and the Indians will know more Monday).

3. Two teams struggling mightily to tighten a couple of AL races hook up for a quick two-game series, and by the time Chicago rookie Zach Stewart is finished facing Los Angeles' Jered Weaver in the finale of White Sox at Angels, Wednesday night (10:05 ET) at Angel Stadium, we'll have a better idea of whether Ozzie Guillen's club is in or out in the AL Central, and whether the Angels are serious players in an AL West race that right now is Texas' to lose. The White Sox took two of three from the Rangers and are five games behind the Tigers in the AL Central. Thanks to the Sox, the Angels were able to gain a couple of games back on Texas to pull to within four in the AL West. Considering that Texas pushed the Angels to six back last week and was one out away from seizing an eight-game lead on the Angels last Thursday night, Mike Scioscia's club is living large.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com