Ethier’s arbitration hearing set for Feb. 17

That should give the sides plenty of time to reach an agreement and avoid a hearing, but you never know. And from what I can gather so far, it doesn’t sound like the two sides are anywhere close to an agreement at this point. In case you missed it, Ethier is seeking $3.75 million, while the team filed at $2.65 million. He is the Dodgers’ only pending arbitration case.

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Say hello to Russell J. Martin

My colleague Ken Gurnick appears to have broken that story on dodgers.com, which you can read at the link below. Russell has several middle names, one of which is his mother’s maiden name, Jeanson, and he has decided to put that initial on the back of his uniform this season as a tribute to her.

http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090129&content_id=3784288&vkey=news_la&fext=.jsp&c_id=la

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Stop me if you’re tired of reading about this …

… but there is more fallout from Joe Torre’s book, The Yankee Years, which won’t even be released for another four days. Joe will appear tonight on Larry King Live — “author Joe Torre,” is what it said when I scrolled down the Cox Cable grid to CNN, scrolled over to Larry King’s time slot and hit the “info” button. And David Wells, who pitched for Torre for several seasons in New York and also pitched for the Dodgers for a brief time in 2007, had some scathing words for his former skipper during an interview with Michael Kay on New York’s ESPN radio affiliate. This is what the Boomer ir reported to have said, as I didn’t personally hear the interview:

“If you weren’t Joe’s boy, he could care less about you. He ran his tight ship the way he wanted to. Don’t get me wrong; he’s not a bad manager. I just thought he was a bad individual because of the fact he didn’t treat everybody the same. He had his boys, and certain guys could do certain things and he wouldn’t let other guys do other things.”

Also, the Dodgers have released information on this year’s Winter Caravan, which begins tomorrow. You can find at here:

http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/news/press_releases/press_release.jsp?ymd=20090130&content_id=3786146&vkey=pr_la&fext=.jsp&c_id=la

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Winter of baseball’s discontent

What a strange (and at times fascinating) offseason this has been, thanks largely to the sagging economy. All the movement that traditionally takes place in the fall is only now beginning, less than three weeks before the start of spring training. There are reports out there, including one on SI.com, that the Dodgers are close to a deal with Randy Wolf. But the lefty himself told foxsports.com that he is unaware of any agreeement. Here are a couple of quotes:

“This has been the oddest offseason I’ve ever been a part of,” said Wolf, who was a free agent the past two winters as well. “I don’t know where I stand with any team.

“I’ve had multiple deals offered and taken off the table, offers made and then reduced. I will have no idea where I stand until there’s a pen and paper in front of me and I sign my name. Until then, I just feel a deal can be taken away or reduced at any time.”

The thing is, Wolf is hardly unique in this situation. Even Manny Ramirez, who was thought at the beginning of the winter to be THE big ticket of this year’s free-agent market, is still out there. By the way, I’m starting to read comments from Scott Boras on the web suggesting that the market for Manny is heating up and the he is now negotiating with other clubs, but he won’t say who those clubs are. I could be wrong on this, but the fact he won’t indentify them leads me to believe they don’t exist. Sounds like a ploy to wake up the Dodgers. But when it comes to this matter, I think they’re about as awake as they’re going to get. We’ll see who blinks first.

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In case you missed it …

… a great column in today’s sports section by Ramona Shelburne, who spoke with Clayton Kershaw at the Dodgers’ winter development program and later caught up with his girlfriend, Ellen Melson. Sort of humanizes a kid whose arrival Dodgers fans anxiously awaited almost from the moment he was drafted in the first round in 2006, and reminds us that as mature-beyond-his-years as he appears to be when he is pitching, he is still a 20-year-old away from the field. Here’s the link:

http://www.dailynews.com/sportscolumnists/ci_11561060

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