Friday, February 27, 2009

Manny turns down Dodgers' latest offer

It's almost hard to imagine.

In an economy this bad, anyone would turn down a 2-year, $45 million deal.

But then again, it is Manny Ramirez.

After the Los Angeles Dodgers worked to restructure the deal to Manny's specifications (including making the second year a PLAYER option), the free agent dreadlocked one told L.A., naah, I'm good.


Turn down a guaranteed $45 million in a time when it seems like 45 million are unemployed?

I sure hope Manny and agent Scott Boras know what they're doing.

Word is, they want to get paid what Manny is worth. Well, newsflash, he's only worth what a team is willing to pay.

The market has dried up faster than Tiger Woods' Match Play performance, and the Dodgers have come out and said they feel like they're negotiating with themselves.

This game of chicken doesn't appear to be ending any time soon.

Manny needs L.A. And L.A. needs Manny.

In the end, a deal will get done, but neither may be happy.

Fantasy Spin: The only really valuable Manny is one that's paid according to him. Is Manny a top 5 player? Possibly. Is he worth more than 25/1 or 45/2 at his age? Not in these economics. What may hurt his fantasy value most is Boras' inflated value of him. If Manny thinks the Dodgers are going cheap on him, there's a chance you could see Sulking Mannny and not NLCS Manny. And he difference is about two rounds in a fantasy draft. Either way, you can't expect him to do what he did in the last half of last year. He's not going to hit .350. That was a contract year and this will not be. Early-to-mid second round is the earliest I'd bite.

Coming soon: Look for a position-by-position fantasy preview, starting next week, just in time for your draft.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dunny, Abreu go cheap; Manny too?

Alas, with pitchers and catchers reporting next week, some of the biggest names are finally getting signed.

The market for second-tier hitters predictably was going to be hurt by the economy, but who saw this coming?

  • Bobby Abreu: Signed a 1-year, $5 million deal with the Angels today. What?!? This, from a guy who was looking for a 3-year, $48 million dollar deal back in November. I know, it includes some incentives, but talk about bargain basement time. Everything must go. I guess the thinking is, sign for one years, and hope the market rebounds in 2010.
  • Adam Dunn: Signed a 2-year, $20 million deal with the Nationals. Nobody knew exactly where the Dunn market was, but for the only legit 40-HR guy in the game, this is equally stunning. Possibly more shocking is that he signed with the going-nowhere Nats
What does this mean for the Manny Ramirez market? Well, it's hard to know for sure, but if I was Man-Ram, I might be thinking twice about putting on that addition to the house. 

Yeah, right. He'll still probably come close to the 2-year, $45 million deal that the Dodgers offered a couple months ago. It's hard to undercut an earlier offer to a guy like Manny and expect him to perform. 

L.A. is the perfect fit. He knows it. The Dodgers need him desperately. It's just a big game of chicken between Scott Boras and the Dodgers and this time, I think Boras is going to have to blink first.

The Giants have shown some interest, but comments this week seem like they've cooled their interest and there's no other viable big-money match for Manny. Could he end up with less than 2/45? It's possible. The Dodgers may stick to the 1/25 approach that Boras scoffed at, seconds after it was put on the table.

Boras is excellent at creating an inflated market, but after the Dunn/Abreu signings, it's clear, there isn't a market.

The Cubs, who gave Milton Bradley 3 years, $30 million, have got to be shaking their head. Yes, Bradley gives you power/average/speed and is a good defender in right. But he's only played over 101 games twice in his career (since 2000). 

I'll take Dunn's five straight years of at least 152 games and 40 HR in a heartbeat over Bradley. Sure, Dunn strikes out three times a game, but stick that  .381 lifetime on-base-percentage between Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez and then who are you going to pitch around? And Abreu is an RBI machine and still has the speed Lou Pinella covets, even if his defense is slacking.

But this isn't a rant about the Cubs, more about Manny. Good luck getting that 3rd or 4th year. If Boras can pull this off, you'd better be putting an addition on his house. 

Fantasy spin: You can sufficiently take Adam Dunn off your keeper list now, unless it happens to be a 65+ keeper format. Playing in D.C. with a cast of characters, Dunn's production should easily dip to the 30-35 HR level with possibly less than 100 RBI. Couple that with a .240 average and he's no longer special. The only caveat is if you're league includes .obp, in which case you could justify making him a top 50 player, but nothing higher.

As far as Abreu goes, this might actually increase his value a tick. Sure, he doesn't have the Yankee lineup around him, but that one in Anaheim is just as intimidating and now he's in a system where they run at all costs. Look for Abreu to push 40 steals with similar so-so power numbers (20 HR, 105 RBI). But if he can stay healthy, you might be looking at a 2nd or 3rd round steal.

Monday, February 9, 2009

After Aroid report, who's to blame?

Not surprised.

That seems to be the general reaction of SI's report that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003.

Which doesn't make it right. It's just that the more names come out, whether it's Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Jason Giambi, the more you realize that the steroid issue was so wide-sweeping in the late-90s and the earlier part of this decade, it's becoming a non-story.

So, Arod is really Aroid. Add another log on the fire. Yawn. Back to the Manny watch.

The fact that Arod admitted to doing performing-enhancing drugs in a Monday ESPN interview is actually the brightest part of this story. Baseball fans are forgiving of a lot of thing, but we don't like a phonie.

Please don't insult our intelligence with the insistent denials.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not condoning this. And I'm not advocating that 'roids were good for the game. Or that Arod is a hero because he came clean.

Here's the deal: The game knew what was going on and did nothing about it for years and years, while the home run ball exclusively saved its hide and padded its pockets with a revenue stream that no one could have imagined after the 1994 strike.

Talk radio and sports Internet sites have been rampant with the Aroid talk since news broke Saturday and that's exactly what it is - a talker. And it's a slow news day.

But as much as I'm not an Arod fan, seems he's not getting a fair shake here.

The 2003 test when he was with the Texas Rangers was completely anonymous and done just to get a percentage of how many players were actually using. Why the results were not destroyed is the most interesting part of this story.

I've been taking an unscientific poll trying to get an estimate of the percentage of MLB players who were using steroids before testing. The over/under is somewhere around 65 percent.

Think about all the players you've heard come out and preach about how wrong steroids are. How many have done that? Hmmm....

I remember John Smoltz speaking up once. And, um ... well ... uh, hmmm ... lemme get back to you on that.

If there were that many players who have always been clean, don't you think they'd be a little more vocal about this issue?

Is Arod guilty? With this report and admission, the answer is yes. And he's also guilty of lying to Katie Couric in a Dec. 2007 interview, which is exactly why Bonds is in so much hot water. It's not so much that he used 'em, but he lied about it.

And of course Bonds did so to a Grand Jury, which is just a scoch more serious than Katie Couric.

Why players don't come out and admit to using steroids is the biggest mystery. Those who have admitted it to at least some degree -- Pettitte, Giambi and Brian Roberts for starters -- are being treated with much more respect in the court of public opinion than McGwire, Bonds and Clemens who are clinging to their denial like saran wrap on a slab of Alaska Salmon.

I guess it's all about their chances of getting into the Hall of Fame. Popular opinion is that the old-timers voting will never enshrine someone who did performance-enhancing drugs.

But the rub is, that in the next two decades, it may be as high as 7 or 8 out of 10 players on the ballot have "experimented" at some point in their career. The real numbers we won't ever know.

That most were never caught is really not the issue.

The issue is that 1). It was more the rule than the exception and 2). It wasn't illegal. At least not by baseball's rules. So, why hold it against a player when it comes to the Hall?

If anything, blame baseball, and everyone who knowingly kept silent, for not cracking down sooner. Blame the game's greed of filling seats, selling merchandise and signing lucrative TV contracts at any cost.

That is, until Congress intervened. Had they not, we still might not have testing.

For years, MLB looked the other way.

It's about time fans do the same.

Let's move on.

Fantasy Spin: With your draft coming up in the next month or six weeks, you have to ask yourself what this will do to Arod's draft status. Do you drop him out of the first round?

With all the testing going on now, I doubt seriously, he's been using 'em in the past few years. And you saw what he did in 2007. Could that have been 'roid-inflated? Possibly. But the risks of getting caught are just too great. That was probably more about a contract year than anything.

A top-3 pick in most mock drafts, I wouldn't take Arod before 7 or 8 this year, not because his production will suffer because he's off the juice. But because of the pressure. Arod is one of the biggest image guys in the game and he puts tremendous pressure on him. With this news following him around this year, like a Springsteen roadie, you can only imagine many long 0-4 summer nights with 2 Ks.

Will he hit .290, 35 HR an drive in 110? Probably. But don't expect too much more.