Back in the saddle

I return to work today following a very refreshing and enjoyable vacation with my daughter to NYC. Doesn’t sound like there is much more going on at Chavez Ravine than there was before I left, but the winter meetings begin on Monday in Las Vegas, so things should start heating up soon. …

The significant thing to take from Monday’s news that the Dodgers had offered arbitration to Manny Ramirez, Derek Lowe and Casey Blake is that if the Dodgers don’t re-sign any of them, they are now virtually assured of having six first-round picks in next year’s draft (three of the first 30 picks, then three sandwich picks). That’s because you can pretty much assume that both Manny and D-Lowe will go to clubs who were among the top 15 in the majors in winning percentage in 2008, because most of the clubs who didn’t fit into that category are small-market teams without the resources to go after those players. That means the Dodgers will get a first-round pick and a sandwich pick for EACH of Manny and D-Lowe, and they’re guaranteed a sandwich pick for Blake if he signs elsewhere. Add that to the first-round pick the Dodgers already have and, assuming they don’t sign any Type-A free agents themselves, they’ll get six of the first 50 or so picks (depending on how many sandwich picks there end up being) …

This is hardly major news — it isn’t even a major-league contract — but the Dodgers might be on the verge of bringing a long-lost member of the organization back into the fold. The club has offered a minor-league contract to veteran shortstop Juan Castro, who if he accepts would have a strong chance of making the club as a backup infielder. Castro came up in the organization, but never established a foothold and was shuttled back and forth between Triple-A and the big leagues so many times between 1995 and 1999 that by the time he was traded to Cincinnati in April 2000, he had accrued enough major-league service time to achieve arbitration eligibility despite a grand total of 432 big-league ABs. He is what he is, a defensively gifted infielder with a lifetime average of .228, but he is a consummate professional and one of the all-time great guys and would be a strong addition to the clubhouse. …

The Dodgers are expected to announce either late today or early tomorrow that the Cactus League schedule they released last month has been revamped as a result of the White Sox making it official that they will be going to Glendale in 2009. My guess is this means the two teams will play each other a few more times than the already-scheduled four games, since they’ll be sharing a complex. At any rate, the schedule that appears on the Dodgers web site RIGHT NOW is apparently inaccurate.

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