Los Angeles Dodgers: Playing Fact or Fiction with the Latest Rumors
Even though the hot stove has cooled considerably, leaving only a couple big names left on the board this offseason, the Dodgers are one of the most talked-about teams on the block. Regardless of talent acquired or money spent, rumors float every other day.
There is plenty that still can be done in Dodgertown, and some of the rumors might actually come to fruition. The ever-present Andre Ethier rumors are still swirling, the left side of the infield is a big question mark, and who knows what Carl Crawford can do in left field?
With a much-improved team on paper, the Dodgers have a lot to live up to. But among other things, depth in the bullpen and off the bench could go a long way to rounding out the team even more.
So, do some of those issues get attended to? Are the rumors fact or fiction? Read on to play along.
Scott Rolen in Dodger Blue?
Unless you've been living under a rock (or rely on AT&T for your Internet service), you surely know that the Dodgers are coveting veteran third baseman Scott Rolen as a safety net for Luis Cruz.
The big question is, would Rolen accept a job backing up Cruz? And if Cruz continues to prosper, would Rolen be able to play first base whenever Adrian Gonzalez needs a break?
There is no doubt, even coming off two surgery-riddled seasons, that Rolen can swat the ball and play a solid third base. But there just may not be enough room for him. Plus, the Cincinnati Reds, his most recent team, are also interested in bringing him back.
Don Mattingly made a plea for Rolen to come to Los Angeles, but one would think that Cincy would have the upper hand, especially if they can get him more playing time. It sure would be nice to have that bat off the bench, though.
Extension for the Skipper?
Mattingly's managing career may hinge on the 2013 season of the Dodgers. With so much expensive talent, an expectant fanbase, and enormous pressure to win, it's potentially make or break for the skipper and his ball club this year.
Recently, Mattingly requested "increased job security," but the ownership won't commit just yet. And this rumor is a tough call for me. Because my head and heart agree that Mattingly has done more than enough to earn himself an extension, given the teams he's had and the success he's squeezed out of them since taking over for Joe Torre.
But in the sports management business, winning gets you more years in charge. In response to the denial of picking up the 2014 option on Mattingly's contract, General Manager Ned Colletti said that it is not an issue, and it will be addressed at some point.
I believe what the GM says rings true; the Dodgers know what they have in Mattingly. He is a well-liked manager who gets the most out of his roster on the field and keeps a clubhouse level-headed, even amidst the craziest of seasons. There's no way that Donnie Baseball's option won't be picked up.
Extension for the Ace?
With so much money being poured into this roster, it's amazing that the most important player hasn't received his big pay day yet. This slide will be short, though. Because even the most pessimistic Dodgers fans know that they have nothing to worry about when it comes to extending Clayton Kershaw.
Unless he has a catastrophic arm injury (the baseball gods surely can't be that cruel, can they?), Kershaw will be a Dodger for life, and become the richest-paid pitcher of all time in the process.
It hasn't been a priority yet, because Kershaw is still under control for a couple more seasons. Does that mean the extension won't happen? Absolutely not. It's just going to happen when all the other shopping items have been accounted and paid for.
Simply put, Kershaw will get paid. And soon.
Will Andre Get Moved?
And we've come full circle. Again. And again. And again. The Andre Ethier rumor mill never seems to stop churning. Whether it be the Yankees, Rangers, Mariners, Harlem Globetrotters or the USC marching band, it seems like every week Ethier will be joining a new team.
I'm here to put a stop to the madness, once and for all. Ethier has his problems against lefties, and is definitely overpaid. But the Dodgers knew it was a high price tag when they wrote up the contract.
They knew they could afford it, and they knew they wanted Ethier around for five more seasons. His mashing of right-handed hitters, extreme clutch gene, and great defense makes up for his lefty-on-lefty deficiencies.
Unless the Dodgers get blown away by an offer, or have an opportunity to land someone like Felix Hernandez or Giancarlo Stanton in a move, it's this writer's opinion that chances of Ethier moving are very slim.
If all goes as planned in 2013 for the Dodgers, you can forget about Ethier moving in the future, too. As far as Ethier and Colletti are concerned, that rumor mill can keep churning as long as everyone wants it to, but it's not coming to fruition this season.
Can the Dodgers Resist Michael Bourn?
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Dodgers are still in the mix to land Bourn, though it's unlikely. What Heyman thinks is that the Dodgers would have to first swing a trade with the Mariners that rids them of Ethier, which would then open the spot for a Bourn signing.
I don't see many scenarios in which that would end up benefiting the Dodgers in the long run. But, it's hard to count the free-spending front office out on any marquee free agent, especially one who would be so dynamic atop a star-studded lineup.
That being said, Bourn would move Matt Kemp to right field and Ethier straight out of town. It's a high price to pay. And we haven't even mentioned that the Dodgers would be forfeiting a first-round draft pick just to sign Bourn.
The way it stands now, if the Dodgers are going to add more offense, it's going to be a third base or off the bench. Bourn to the Dodgers has also been a rumored signing for most of the winter, but the longer the days drag on, the less likely it seems that he ends up manning center field at Chavez Ravine.
I still expect a team like the Cubs, Orioles or Mariners to swoop in and grab Bourn at a slight discount as Spring Training draws nearer. They are in more need of a player like him than the Dodgers are, and they are less inclined to be able to resist the potential.