Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A surreal moment in an all-too-real offseason.

We're officially in the doldrums of the offseason, both for the club and the divorce. Unless Ned Colletti wants to snag Johnny Damon to play first or one of the McCourts wants to take a public shot at the other, there's just not a whole lot that's going to happen in the next few weeks. Which affords us the opportunity to revisit last week, when Frank McCourt was honored by the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce. Dylan Hernandez reports:
McCourt took a few minutes to talk about the Dodgers during his acceptance speech.

“It’s been a very quiet off-season for me,” said McCourt, prompting the crowd in the 499-seat Broad Stage auditorium to explode with laughter.
McCourt highlighted the measure of the stability gained by his club by agreeing with three of their arbitration-eligible players on two-year contracts, signing General Manager Ned Colletti to a “long-term” deal and engaging Manager Joe Torre in talks about an extension.

The auditorium, of course, is named for Eli and Edythe Broad. You might remember Eli from such episodes as "Eli Broad Offers to Buy Dodgers if McCourt Deal Falters" and "Report: Billionaire Broad makes bid to buy Dodgers." On this dull January day, I wonder how many of the 500 applauding Frank (I'm assuming he clapped for himself) wished that Eli Broad had succeeded in his last-second gambit to buy the Dodgers. In any event, McCourt joking about his offseason travails in a building named for his only semi-serious competition for the club struck me as surreal.

As to his comments...I still don't buy that the deals with arbitration-eligible players signify anything important. Those deals were getting done. Lauding them as progress feels like a guy who went through a messy break-up last week telling his friends he's ok; he's eating and showering and going to work. Yeah? So you're doing exactly what you have to do, despite some tough circumstances. 

While it's important to recognize the difficulties people face, I'm not going to give Frank any extra credit for doing deals which were never in any sort of jeopardy. Sure, the fact that they were two-year contracts is nice, I suppose, but that's not a huge coup. Although, I suppose that knowing what we know now about the Dodgers' financial state, saving a million bucks here and there might qualify as news. Still, wake me up when Frank flies coach. Or even commercial first class.

Frank, tone-deaf as usual, also added:
Oh, and for those that are watching closely, we will get another starting pitcher.
It's not just those "watching closely" who worried about the 4th starter, Frank. It's a new age in baseball--the casual fan knows more about the team now than the hardcore fan did a generation or two ago. We were all waiting to see what was going to happen with the 4th spot in the rotation, at second base, and at the backup positions in the infield and outfield. Now we know the answers are Vicente Padilla, Blake DeWitt/Jamey Carroll, Nick Green, and Jason Repko. Forgive those of us who "watch closely" for being a touch concerned about the club's depth.

Over at The Hardball Times today, I ask some hard-to-answer questions about the future of evaluating general managers. Please help us begin to work toward some answers, or at least in finding the right direction!

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