September 16, 2014

Eric Chavez and the Dodgers Are a Good Fit

Ahh…the baseball offseason.  One of my favorite times of year.  With all of the rumors and possibilities swirling, it’s like getting a sneak peak at what might happen for baseball fans on Christmas or before Spring Training.

Dodger fans should already feel pretty good about this offseason with the signings of free agent starting pitchers Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda, but there are several additional names that the Dodgers are reportedly linked to that I want to bring up over the course of the next few weeks.  And as always, please remember that my analysis is based off of current rumors; this is the Hot Stove League, after all.  While some reports are inevitably true (or have grains of truth to them), many are fabricated to serve the needs of the agents, players or teams.  So take everything you read with a grain of salt.  And with that said, here’s my first name that I wanted to throw out there:

Eric Chavez (3B):

Earlier in his career, Eric Chavez was a #10 overall pick by the A’s, a six-time Gold Glove-winning third baseman with power and was considered a lock for 27+ HR and 100+ RBI.  As a result, he signed a six-year, $66 million contract with Oakland.  But those days ended around 2005, which seems like a long, long time ago.  Since then, Chavez has been riddled by injuries, most recently with a few bad discs in his back and neck.  He’s now attempting a comeback at the age of 32 (he’ll be 33 in December) and his agent claims the Dodgers are interested in having him work out for them.  Per the Boston Herald:

“…according to his representative, Scott Leventhal, Chavez is handling ‘pretty strenuous workouts’ five days a week at Athletes Performance in Arizona just fine and ‘from our perspective, is completely healthy.’ Chavez turns 33 next month.”

Now this is actually the kind of rumor that I believe.  Ned’s going to be looking at inexpensive sources of power, and having Chavez platoon with Casey Blake at third base seems completely realistic.  Plus the Dodgers like signing players that are rebounding from injuries that they might be able to catch on the uptick.  The Dodgers’ signing of Orlando Hudson is probably the best comparison to how a possible Chavez deal could look (obviously the dollars would be different), but the Dodgers did work Hudson out in secret on two consecutive days to test out his surgically repaired wrist before signing him.  Granted, Chavez could be considered a bigger gamble than Hudson was at that time, but I could easily see Chavez working out for Ned & Co. a couple of times and then getting a one-year deal that’s low on base salary, yet full of incentives if everything checks out physically.  I like it.

Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Dodger Stadium: After the Excitement

Dodger Stadium - A View from the Dugout

Dodger Stadium - A View from the Dugout

As I visited Dodger Stadium for the final comments from Dodger players and executives yesterday, I was struck by how much the day felt like the last day of school (well, if the last day of school followed a brutal exam that everyone felt they did really poorly on).  Still, it was a gorgeous and brilliant day – the perfect day for baseball, really – and a feeling of optimism was in the air as conversations turned to next year and the hope that lingered on the horizon for the Dodgers.

Like my friend Steve Sax from the Sons of Steve Garvey, I tried to capture the moment as Dodger Stadium prepared to enter the off-season and rest it’s weary bones for what is sure to be an exciting 2010 campaign.  I didn’t even realize that Friday was supposed to be Game 6 until I read the Sons’ account of yesterday, which made the day all the more bittersweet.

Torre Should Tap Tiger Woods for Motivational Speech

So since Spring Training is all about getting the guys mentally as well as physically prepared for the upcoming season, right?  Well, if I was Joe Torre, I’d tap Tiger Woods, one of the most famous Dodger fans out there, to come on over to Glendale, tour Camelback Ranch and fire up the troops!

Come on, the guy came back early from a devastating knee injury and just competed in the WGC Accenture Match Play Championships in nearby Marana, AZ (well, it’s about 100 miles away).  Since Tiger was eliminated yesterday, he clearly has some unexpected free time on his hands and I’m sure he would love a trip to sunny Glendale to see the new digs (Josh Rawitch, just think about the positive PR this would generate for the team!).

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m really getting tired of the Manny Ramirez tug of war going on and I’ll take whatever sort of distraction I can get these days!

Manny Rejects Dodgers Fourth Offer

This just in from Josh Rawitch over at the Dodgers.  You know it’s looking bad when the Dodgers go to the lengths of issuing a press release stating the rejection (in a letter!).  Love the McCourt quote mocking the other “serious offers.”

BORAS REJECTS DODGERS 

OFFER TO MANNY RAMIREZ

LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers today received a letter from Scott Boras, the agent for Manny Ramirez, rejecting the offer that the club made yesterday.  This rejection is the fourth by the agent in the club’s attempts to sign Manny.

“We love Manny Ramirez,” said Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt, “And we want Manny back, but we feel we are negotiating against ourselves.  When his agent finds those ‘serious offers’ from other clubs, we’ll be happy to re-start the negotiations.

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

“So now, we start from scratch.”

A Theory on the Manny Negotiations

So I was thinking about yesterday’s “news” that a deal between the Dodgers and Manny Ramirez was imminent and could happen later this week.  What I found particularly interesting about the rumor was that it apparently had some weight to it, as the attached link to Bill Shaikin’s post at “The Fabulous Forum” on the LA Times’ site indicates.

Here’s my theory: the report was leaked by Boras’ team.  Think about it.  Negotiations seem to have been accelerating over the past few days between Boras and the Dodgers.  Boras is probably wondering if there are any teams that want one last shot at signing the best right-handed batter of the past 12 years, and what better way to find out the answer than to leak yesterday’s news?  If no teams comes forward, the deal could get done with the Dodgers by the end of the week.  If the Giants or another team enter the mix, watch out.

If you ask me, a two-year contract with an option for a third year at about $20-$25 million per year is totally acceptable for an aging, yet still incredibly productive, Manny Ramirez.  Now Ned just needs to bring the deal home.