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.

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

Still more on Torre’s book

There is an excerpt now posted on SI.com, at the following link:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/baseball/mlb/01/26/torre.verducci/index.html

The two most interesting things from this excerpt are:

1) Torre considers 2007, his final season with the Yankees, as “the worst year of my professional life.”

2) Torre’s claim that Brian Cashman “betrayed” him, which was reported in the New York papers yesterday, apparently stems from this: shortly before Torre met in Tampa with Cashman and six other club officials, including owner George Steinbrenner — a meeting that ended Torre’s tenure as manager when he wouldn’t accept a one-year offer — Torre offered a creative proposal to Cashman of a two-year contract, with the stipulation that if Torre were fired DURING the first season, he would be paid in full for the second year, but that if he were fired AFTER the first season, he would receive only a smaller buyout of the second year. Well, Torre found out after the meeting in Tampa that Cashman had never passed on the proposal to the club officials. Hence, the “betrayal,” although that specific word doesn’t appear in this excerpt.

Also, Torre is lined up to appear on Larry King Live this Friday night.