The lights are on, but nobody’s home (yet)

The lights have been on all day and all evening at the new spring-training complex, at the stadium and both of the lighted practice fields. This is the first time I have ever seen them on, so I’m sure they burning in, a standard procedure with new stadium lights. I’m sure to the people in the houses across the street from mine, the ones whose rear windows directly face the complex, it’s quite an annoyance, as those lights are really bright. From here, though, it’s just a comforting reminder that spring training is right around the corner. Dodgers pitchers and catchers report in 20 days. … By the way, there is a report on mlb.com that suggests things might be heating up between the Dodgers and Jon Garland. Last time I checked, the Dodgers hadn’t head from Randy Wolf’s people in several days, so the team might have run out of patience and decided to look elsewhere. More on this in the days to come, obviously.

Dodgers not close to signing Randy Wolf

There are widespread reports out there on the web that seem to indicate the sides are close to an agreement on a one- or two-year contract. While that certainly could happen, and while Wolf is believed to be at the top of the Dodgers’ list in their search for a starting pitchers, they apparently are NOT CLOSE to an agreement at this point. A well-placed source just told me that the sides haven’t even talked in almost a week. But my guess is they will talk soon.

Jeff Kent knew it was time

Jeff Kent said he knew he would retire when he signed a two-year contract extension with the Dodgers. It was apparently so known, that his wife and friends threw a surprise retirement party for him at the end of the season in San Francisco, something that never came out. Dana Kent said her husband was very emtional then, too.

Kent has tear-filled goodbye

Jeff Kent, who might be the most stoic man in baseball, was more emotional than we’ve ever seen him. This was a good thing for Kent, his fans and certainly former teammates. Kent was never one to show his emotions publicly, but he did so today. He started crying before he even spoke. He started to cry during a video tribute the Dodgers made and spent most of the second half of the video with his head in his hands. General manager Ned Colletti was there, as was Don Newcombe, Dodgers minor league players, former teammate Jose Vizcaino, his agent Jeff Klein, his wife Dana and their four children, trainers, staff, etc. It was a packed house, and Kent certainly gave people a good show. He was genuine. Kent, 40, retired from baseball looking most human.

Another point about Kent

I would be remiss if I didn’t also point out one other thing about Jeff Kent and his Hall of Fame career: his best years came at a time came in an era when many of the game’s brightest stars are now suspected of having used performance-enhancing substances, and it should be pointed out that Jeff Kent NEVER CAME UNDER ANY SUSPICION WHATSOEVER. So, as prickly as he might have been at times, he certainly deserves credit for the fact that he appears to have done it right and done it fairly, without succumbing to the temptations that so many others of his era succumbed to.

Jeff Kent to announce retirement

He’ll do it tomorrow at 11:30 at Dodger Stadium. I guess that’s the down side to my move to PHX, I won’t be able to be there to experience his charming personality for one last time. Give him credit, though, he kept this decision under wraps for the most part until now — although you have to wonder if he would be retiring if any team out there had any actual interest in signing him. Also, give him credit for this: while he didn’t always do it with class, at least he did it, putting together one of the most impressive careers by any second baseman in the game’s history, and he will undoubtedly be rewarded for that with a spot in the Hall of Fame — to which, ironically, he will be elected in a few years by those same writers that he so openly loathed.

This is the opening paragraph of a release sent out by the Dodgers 20 minutes ago:

Future Hall of Famer Jeff Kent, baseball’s all-time leading home run hitter as a second baseman, will formally announce his retirement from baseball tomorrow at Dodger Stadium. Kent spent 17 years in the Major Leagues, tying for 20th on baseball’s all-time list with 560 doubles, while ranking 47th with 1,518 RBI and 62nd with 377 home runs. His 351 career home runs as a second baseman are 74 more than Ryne Sandberg. Kent played the final four seasons of his career with the Dodgers, batting .291 with 122 doubles, 75 home runs, and 311 RBI. He ranks eighth in club history in batting average (minimum 1,800 AB), while also placing among franchise leaders with 73 home runs as a second baseman (third) and 497 games played at second base (fifth).

Ethier’s arbitration numbers

He is seeking $3.75 million, while the club is offering $2.65 million. Hearing date probably will be scheduled later this week, with that hearing to take place between Feb. 1 and Feb. 21. MLB has gotten really secretive over the past couple of years about the times and dates of those hearings, but my guess is this will be settled before it ever gets to that point. The Dodgers have had only two actual hearings (Eric Gagne in 2004, Joe Beimel in 2007) since assistant GM Kim Ng has been handling these things, and the club won both of them. Just a reminder, if it goes to a hearing, the arbitration panel (usually three people) must choose between the club’s figure and the player’s figure, with no wiggle room in between. But before it gets to a hearing, the sides still can negotiate a settlement somewhere in between, and the midway point in this case is, if my math is correct, $3.2 million. Ethier hit .305 with 38 doubles, 20 homers and 77 RBI, a good year by any measure. But $3.2 is still a pretty good raise for a guy who made $424,500 last year.

Broxton’s incentives

In addition to his $1.825 million base, he’ll get $50k for each of 45, 50, 55 and 60 games finished, which if he maxes out would make it a $2.025 million salary for this season. If you assume he is going to be the closer (a safe assumption at this point) and you assume the Dodgers are going to be a pretty good team (a less safe assumption, but a good probability), the first two or three of those will be pretty reachable for Brox. If both he and the Dodgers have a GREAT year, he’ll likely reach all four. Just talked to his agent, who says the deal was fair for both sides.

Randy Wolf spurns D-backs

This could be a sign he is zeroing in on the Dodgers, who are believed to have been zeroing in on him for a few days now. The lefty reportedly was offered a one-year deal with two option years, this according to the Arizona Republic. He also reportedly turned down a three-year, $28.5 million offer from Houston earlier. And while it’s tough to imagine the Dodgers guaranteeing him three years, the thought of pitching in his hometown presumably would be appealing enough for Wolf to cut them some slack. I get the sense he’ll be in the Dodgers’ rotation this season, maybe in the fourth spot.

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/sports/articles/2009/01/19/20090119dbackswolf0120.html