Dodgers 13, Rockies 5 … and sort of a Manny update

There was a guy in the stands who walked by the press box and asked if anyone had seen Manny. That was pretty much the only time Manny’s name was mentioned all day. Meanwhile, back at the Ranch — I have been waiting to use that line ever since the Dodgers announced they were naming their new complex Camelback Ranch — Frank McCourt and Ned Colletti spent the day in organizational meetings that had nothing to do with Manny. Ned said he did speak with Boras, characterized the discussion as “cordial and informative,” but other than that, there appears to be nothing new. … As for the game, well, Juan Castro continued to do his darnedest to hit his way onto the opening-day roster, even though manager Joe Torre said before the game that Castro’s track record as a good-glove-no-hit guy is such that he probably won’t be evaluated on anything he does offensively in spring training. Castro went 3 for 3 with two doubls, two runs scored and an RBI. He is now batting .750 (6 for 8), with three doubles, in four games. … Mitch Jones, who you probably won’t see in Los Angeles at any point this season, hit a grand slam in the eighth inning and has now hit two home runs and driven in six runs in the past two games. … Clayton Kershaw had a great first inning, then a rough second, giving up two runs on two hits. James McDonald and Scott Elbert, both of whom are in the mix for the fifth spot in the rotation, then combined to face the minimum over the next four innings, allowing only one hit while striking out four. … Dodgers improve to 2-2. Camelback Ranch opener is tomorrow against the White Sox. Dodgers are the home team.

Like a home game, only on the road

Attendance has been noticeably down through these first four days of Cactus League play — it HAS to be the economy — but, not surprisingly, Dodgers fans have been turning out, perhaps not in the overwhelming numbers the club expected for its first spring in Arizona but they have been turning out fairly well. A couple of innings ago, the PA guy here at Hi Corbett Field asked how many people were from Denver, then asked how many people were from Los Angeles. Although the loudest reaction came when he subsequently asked how many people were from Tucson, it was still notable that the Los Angeleses were much louder than the Denvers. And this is a two-hour drive from Glendale. The first game at the new complex is tomorrow against the White Sox.

A sad sign of the times

I just said goodbye to Tracy Ringolsby, one of the true legends of the sportswriting biz and a guy who taught me almost everything I know about covering baseball back when I worked alongside him at the Rocky Mountain News. Tracy is hanging around here in Tucson tonight, then he’ll get on a plane tomorrow and fly back home to Cheyenne, Wyo. No sense sticking around spring training when you don’t have a newspaper to work for. The Rocky Mountain News, Colorado’s oldest newspaper and the place that basically launched my career (I spent five years there), published its final edition on Friday. Being stuck as I have been these past few days in all-Manny-all-the-time mode, it didn’t really hit me until I arrived this morning at the Rockies’ complex and saw Tracy. In a way, and by extension, this was a victory for OUR side, as the lone surviving Denver paper, the Denver Post, is owned by the same Dean Singleton who owns your good ol’ Los Angeles Daily News. But on the other hand, it’s a loss for the industry as a whole, and the inevitable folding of a handful of other newspapers in the coming months/years will be a big blow, as well. Perhaps I’m delusional, but I’m holding out a sliver of hope (the key word being sliver) that our industry will find some way to survive. But the more likely scenario is that a decade from now, newspapers will have gone the way of rotary-dial phones and push-button cash registers. It’s funny, it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was in journalism school back at the University of Arkansas, listening to tweed-jacket-and-bowtie wearing professors make us wide-eyed pupils feel self-important by talking about our future profession in such romantic terms — the gatekeepers, the watchdogs, the Fourth Estate (never really figured out what that last one meant). Now, sadly, we may become as obsolete as those tweed jackets and bow ties. But I still love it, and I’m going to keep doing it as long as it’s here to be done. … By the way, shed no tears for Tracy. He is a multi-media star in Colorado and already has more than enough work lined up. If you want to shed tears, shed them for future generations, who will be blessed with increasingly superior technology but at the same time will probably never know the pleasure of sitting at the breakfast table or out on the front porch or on the porcelain throne or wherever and holding in their hands a big, bulky, cumbersome piece of newsprint that leaves ink stains all over their fingers and reading all about what happened the day before.

Tony Abreu update

He had an X-ray that came back negative, which is good news, but he’ll have an MRI on Monday to make sure. It’s the same part of his groin that sidelined him last year, but no one seems especially concerned. … DeWitt just made a beautiful play, going so far to his left as to cut across the bag, to retire the first Rockies hitter of the game, Eric Young Jr. So far, the kid looks like a natural. … Torre says Doug Mientkiewicz probably will play for the first time in Monday’s B game against the Brewers. There is no Cactus League game that day. Not for nothing, but can you really call a B game a B game if there is no A game? … Speaking of Eric Young Jr., file this one in the “you-know-you-are-getting-old-when” department. The Eric Youngs mark the first time in my career I have covered games involving both ends of a father-son tandem. Big EY was the Rockies second baseman when I first started covering the Rox as a backup guy at the Rocky Mountain News in 1995. More on the dearly departed RMN in my next post, coming in a few minutes.

Blake DeWitt to make his SS debut today

Remember baseball, that game played by nine guys on each side with a bat, ball and gloves? I’m not sure I ever even got around to posting here yesterday that the Dodgers lost 18-2 to the Seattle Mariners (it was 18-0 until Mitch Jones hit a two-run bomb in the ninth). Today, the boys are playing the Colorado Rockies down in Tucson, and they will get their first look at Blake DeWitt at shortstop in a game. If he can show that he is versatile enough to play enough positions that he can get enough at-bats, he’ll have a chance to make the club even after the addition of Orlando Hudson. But the guess here is that for a young player who to a large degree is still developing, it’s going to be really, really hard to get him enough at-bats in the big leagues as a utility guy to justify keeping him there. But what do I know?

Nothing new yet, but the day is young

I have been trying to come up with an analogy for this whole thing, and the best I could do was this: It’s like a messy divorce, where the two parents are fighting over custody of their only child, each one believing they have the moral high ground and each one trying to paint the other as unfit — but nobody ever stops and asks the kid what HE wants, which parent he wants to live with, etc. In this case, the kid is Manny Ramirez, and it would seem to me that this story has blown up over the past three days in a way that what MANNY wants has been all but ignored. It’s all about what Frank McCourt and Scott Boras want, and they each seem to want to emerge from this thing victorious over the other. Meanwhile, the player, the guy who conceivably could make the Dodgers a 100-win team this year, continues to wait, 2,000 miles away, and spring training goes on without him. Opening day is now 37 days away.

Sources: Boras asked Dodgers to increase offer to $55 million

And that, according to two well-placed sources with knowledge of the situation, is where the whole thing broke down. This sources also said Boras never openly objected to any proposal by the Dodgers of deferred money, which general manager Ned Colletti said earlier this morning has been part of all three of the formal contract offers the Dodgers have made to Ramirez this winter.

Here’s the story, as I understand it:

At the end of Wednesday’s meeting at Dodger Stadium, it was made clear to Boras that while there was no firm deadline, club officials expected to hear back from him in response to their two-year, $45 million offer, and that they only wanted to hear one of two possible answers: yes or no.
Instead, Boras came back to them with a counter proposal of increasing the offer to two years and $55 million, a deal that would carry an average annual value of $27.5 million — the exact same AAV carried by the 10-year, $275 million contract of Alex Rodriguez, another Boras client. Because the deferred money would be deferred WITHOUT INTEREST, the extra $10 million would theoretically offset the absence of interest on the deferred money.
There is a precedent for money deferred without interest because of a portion of the one-year, $3.38 million contract free-agent second baseman Orlando Hudson signed with the Dodgers last weekend is also largely deferred without interest.
Given that the Dodgers already believed they were offering $45 million MORE THAN ANY OTHER TEAM HAD OFFERED RAMIREZ, there was no way they were going to increase their offer by another $10 million. So the Dodgers pulled their offer, and there is presently NO OFFER ON THE TABLE. And the perception that the two sides have now agreed on the value of the deal, two years and $45 million, and are now only haggling on the amount of deferred money, is totally false, according to these sources.
The negotiations are presently at square one: meaning no offer on the table. Dodgers are still interested in signing the player and still interested in negotiating. But it doesn’t look like this is headed for a quick resolution.

Colletti, Boras talk by phone

That’s it. They just talked. Nothing new came out of it. Not sure whether they’re going to talk again later today or not. … Dodgers are getting killed by the Mariners. Shawn Estes, who is allegedly a candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation, gave up seven runs (five earned) on six hits in 1 1/3 innings. But the whole team looks bad. Couple of errors, a baserunning mistake by Matt Kemp, the obligatory popped-up bunt by Juan Pierre. You get the picture. Mariners leading 8-0, middle 5.

Dodgers to stream some spring-training games

Here’s the release:

CAMELBACK RANCH – GLENDALE – The Los Angeles Dodgers announced today that the club will provide live video streams of 11 Spring Training games exclusively on dodgers.com. Starting on March 4, fans can watch games online free of charge against opponents including the San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, a World Baseball Classic Asian Qualifying Team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Chicago Cubs (St. Patrick’s Day).
In addition, the Dodgers will continue to post daily webisodes for fans, titled “Inside Dodgertown,” on dodgers.com. The four-minute videos, available in the Video Corner area of the dodgers.com homepage, give fans highlights from the day’s workouts and games and provide exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and commentary from Dodger players, coaches, and staff.
The Dodgers are playing their first Spring Training season from their new Cactus League home at Camelback Ranch – Glendale this year. The first-rate facility, which the Dodgers share with the Chicago White Sox, includes more than 118,000 square feet of Major and Minor League clubhouse space, 13 full baseball fields, and three half-fields. The site also features picturesque walking trails, landscaped grounds, two ponds, and a fully-stocked lake. The Dodgers will play a total of 15 home games at the ballpark, as well as two road games against the Chicago White Sox. Fans can purchase tickets to games at Camelback Ranch – Glendale at dodgers.com or by calling (480) 784-4444.
The complete live streaming video schedule of Dodger games follows:

DATE OPPONENT
March 4 vs. San Francisco
March 5 vs. Chicago White Sox
March 7 vs. Seattle
March 10 vs. Arizona
March 12 vs. WBC Asian Qualifier
March 13 vs. Texas
March 17 vs. Chicago Cubs
March 19 vs. Colorado Rockies
March 27 vs. Kansas City
March 29 vs. San Diego
March 30 vs. Oakland

Ned Colletti says deferred money was always part of the negotiations

And this is going back to the Dodgers’ first offer last fall.
“Deferred comp (compensation) was part of the deal from the very beginning,” Colletti said.
He added that was the case even with the one-year, $25 million offer the Dodgers made to Ramirez on Feb. 1.
“We didn’t get into (specifics), but we said `with a deferred component.’ We barely got the words out of our mouths before it was rejected.”
Colletti said he left Scott Boras two voicemail messages this morning and has yet to hear back from him. Colletti wouldn’t acknowledge that there was a noon deadline.

Ned also said this:
“I have asked Scott many times to tell us where we are at, what we are bidding against, to tell us what we have to meet. We have yet to be told what the parameters are.”

On another note, Jason Schmidt got roughed up in the B game. Actually, it was more a matter of control. He threw 21 pitches, only 10 of which were strikes, and the inning was ended after a walk to Jermaine Dye because Schmidt had reached his pitch limit.