Updated: December 3, 2010, 11::39 p.m. Russell Martin's deadline has come and gone, and he is a Dodger no more.
While I understand the club's hesitation about the catcher's health, and I think they made a fair offer, I'm disappointed. And more than a bit concerned.
I like Rod Barajas just fine, but c'mon, this is not a man even remotely qualified to start behind the plate in Los Angeles, or anywhere else for that matter. He was unemployed when the Dodgers picked up him last August for a reason, and is at best a backup catcher. Somewhere between a second and third string catcher is more like it.
If Ned Colletti had an inkling he wasn't going to be able to re-sign Martin, and maybe even if he could, he needed a considerably better option than Rod Barajas in the fold. Yorvit Torrealba signed with Texas a couple of days ago for two years and $6.25 million, which is close enough to what the Dodgers almost gave Martin for one, and was a perfect match.
At 32, Torrealba is three years younger than Barajas, a better hitter for average and on base percentage, a better defensive player, and in much better physical condition. L.A. blew that one plain and simple, and there's no excuse. Torrealba and Martin, or even Torrealba and A.J. Ellis, make more sense than what the Dodgers are looking at now, and the price was plenty reasonable.
If the Dodgers were not going to sign Torrealba, then they should've signed A.J. Pierzynski, and if they weren't going to sign A.J. Pierzynski (and go the two-A.J.'s route), then Ramon Hernandez was their next best bet. Instead, the Reds kept him in Cincinnati for $3 million.
All that's left now is Miguel Olivo, who I could live with, and Bengie Molina, who wouldn't be the end of the world. But even with one of those last-resort options, it's official now, the Dodgers are a complete mess at the backstop position.
Moreover, with any one of the five aforementioned catchers signed before last night's deadline to tender in-house players contracts, Martin might have felt more pressure to take what Ned was offering. Instead, the Dodgers have squat. Pun intended.
[Updated from original writing: Now that it's been reported that Barajas is getting $3.2 million, all I can say is ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?! That's literally five times what he's worth, and it's clear now that Ned Colletti has gone the Leonard Tose route. He is completely out of his mind. I mean, wow. Wow! I assumed we were looking at $600,000, a salary that you could simply dump if a better option came along. So now what? Just, wow. Wow.]
And this business of Jay Gibbons doing anything more than pinch-hitting, and possibly platooning in left field is complete folly. Equally as ridiculous is the notion of Johnny Damon.
While I have a hunch that Austin Kearns and Marcus Thames are under consideration, and both have some upside, I'd like to see the Dodgers take a flyer on Magglio Ordonez on a one-year deal. In fact, I'd take Ordonez and either Kearns or Thames over Gibbons and whomever in a heartbeat.
Yes, Ordonez will be 37 in January, had an off year in 2009, and was hurt for half of 2010, but he's got enough left in the tank to be a difference maker. Always a solid .300 hitter, on base man and power threat, he's a steady presence in the outfield as well, and the switch from left to right, plus a little more rest will do him a world of good.
Something in the neighborhood of .300, with 20 homers, 85 RBIs, an OBP of .375 in 135 games is about right. Shoot, Magglio even brings Manny-like-but-better hair to the table. Can you say "let's sell more wigs?"
Five or six or seven million dollars ought to do it, and the Dodgers should be on the phone right now. I feel very strongly about Ordonez as a Dodger in 2011, almost enough to predict it, but instead I'll just celebrate the occurrence if we're so lucky, and complain if we're not. But watch out, sports fans; if Ordonez ends up in Arizona or Colorado I will absolutely rip the Dodgers a new one.
But OK. Onward.
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Though the club overpaid, Juan Uribe is a nice little pickup, and I love the idea of taking pieces from the competition. Uribe from the San Francisco and Jon Garland from San Diego so far. Meanwhile, while they just keep getting older – on purpose – the Giants have brought in drug-guy slash convicted-federal-perjurer slash can-no-longer-play-shortstop Miguel Tejada to play the position. Three cheers for those clowns.
Of course, with Uribe and Barajas and creaky Casey Blake and God-knows-who in left, the Dodgers are staring an on base percentage nightmare square in the face. All the more reason to make Magglio Ordonez a Dodger, and to work out something with Russell Martin.
Colletti's tossing out the utility player role for Martin is helpful. Anything to get him signed, especially since he'll probably end up catching most of the time anyway.
Now, forget what you're hearing about the Dodgers looking to sign a relief pitcher, singular. Colletti needs two or three, and to get there, he probably needs to audition five or six.
Here are the relievers worth a serious look (in bold are the guys I think L.A. will actually kick the tires on and the ones I'm endorsing ahead of time): Grant Balfour, Jesse Crain, Scott Downs, Kyle Farnsworth, Pedro Feliciano, Jason Frazor, Matt Guerrier, J.P Howell, Guillermo Mota, J.J. Putz, Jon Rauch, Takashi Saito and Dan Wheeler.
The Dodgers still have a ton of work to do. But the rotation looks good. So sign Ordonez, Martin, another catcher, and two or three of the above mentioned relievers and I'll be content until pitchers and catchers and J.D. Closser report. I might even renew my season tickets…
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