This changes everything

You have no doubt seen the numerous reports that are out there this morning that the Dodgers’ two-year, $45 million offer to Manny Ramirez was largely deferred money. He would receive $10 million this year, with the other $15 million deferred, and $10 million NEXT year and the other $10 million deferred. If Manny had exercised the option year, he would have gotten $10 million in each of 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and $5 million in 2013. And here is the kicker to the whole thing: BORAS/MANNY WOULD HAVE ACCEPTED THE OFFER if it had actually been what we all originally reported it was, a straight $25 million this year, a straight $20 million for 2010, with an opt-out after the first year. Given all of that, it’s no wonder they didn’t take the deal. The wonder is that the Dodgers wasted their time making an offer that they HAD TO KNOW wouldn’t be accepted. Why would they do that, you ask? Well, now Frank McCourt gets to say to his fan base, “Hey, I tried.” Well, no, Frank, you really didn’t.

The trouble with Scott Boras

One aspect of this whole Manny fiasco that has been underreported is that the Dodgers’ recent history with Scott Boras clients clearly is playing a role here. Just since Frank McCourt bought the team in February 2004, the list is long, and it doesn’t even count the Kevin Brown and Darren Dreifort contracts, which were signed long before Frank and Jamie ever came to town.

Adrian Beltre — Following an MVP-caliber year for the Dodgers in 2004 (he finished second in voting), Beltre becomes a free agent. Dodgers believed they had a promise from Boras to give them a chance to match any offers from any other clubs. That chance to match never comes before Beltre signs a five-year $64 million offer with Seattle. By missing out on Beltre, the Dodgers have enough to money to sign another Boras-represented free agent in right fielder J.D. Drew. More on that later.

Eric Gagne — Two years after winning the Cy Young Award by converting 55 of 55 save opportunities, and one year after taking the club to arbitration, losing and having to accept a $5 million salary for 2004 instead of $8 million, Gagne agrees to terms on a two-year, $19 million deal to avoid arbitration. Gagne blows out his elbow in 2005 and makes a grand total of 16 major-league appearances over the life of the contract.

Luke Hochevar — The Dodgers’ first-round draft pick in 2005, a pitcher from the University of Tennessee who is being advised by Boras, who is insisting on a signing bonus of at least $3 million. After almost three months of stalled negotiations, Hochevar abruptly dumps Boras, chooses another agent and agrees to a $2.98 million signing bonus. But before the Dodgers can get a scout to Knoxville with a contract for Hochevar to sign, Hochevar just as abruptly drops his new agent, returns to Boras and goes into hiding. He never signs with Dodgers, re-enters the draft the following year and signs a major-league deal with Kansas City for four years, $5.3 million.

J.D. Drew — In giving him an ill-advised five-year, $55 million contract before the 2005 season, money the Dodgers never would have had to spend if they had re-signed Beltre, the Dodgers allow Boras to negotiate into the deal an opt-out clause after the second season. Drew misses most of 2005 with an injury, returns in 2006 to drive in 100 runs, then tells Orange County Register beat reporter Bill Plunkett at the end of that season that he has no plans to exercise the out clause. A month later, Boras informs the Dodgers that Drew WILL exercise the out clause. Drew eventually signs with Boston for five years, $70 million.

Andruw Jones — A year after Drew’s departure, the Dodgers sign Andruw Jones, another Boras client, to play center field. Jones, a 10-time Gold Glove winner and five-time All-Star, agrees to a two-year, $36.2 million deal. Jones then showed up to spring training overweight and promptly hit .158 with three homers and 14 RBI and missed significant time following knee surgery. A few weeks ago, the Dodgers renegotiated the second year of the deal to defer most of the salary, then released Jones.

In fairness to Boras, not all of the Dodgers’ dealings with his clients have gone so badly. Derek Lowe was their most reliable starting pitcher during the course of his four-year, $36 million contract, which expired after last year. Greg Maddux pitched well in each of his two abbreviated stints with the club. And of course, without acquiring Ramirez last July 31 (he was now a Boras client), the Dodgers probably wouldn’t have turned around their season and gone all the way to the N.L. Championship Series. But my point here is that the Dodgers have been burned repeatedly in their dealings with Boras and his clients. Rightly or wrongly, fairly or unfairly, that is playing a role in these ongoing Manny negotiations. If their track record with Boras clients hadn’t been so spotty in recent years, it is entirely possible the club wouldn’t be taking such a hard line in these negotiations. But you know the old saying about ifs and buts and candy and nuts.

Manny Ramirez rejects Dodgers’ offer

Apparently, a man who is having trouble finding work in a down economy has decided, yet again and with the help of his ever-so-earnest agent, that playing baseball for a year for $25 million or two years for $45 million is somehow beneath him. Below is the release from the Dodgers, which includes a rather cryptic comment from Frank McCourt that seems to suggest that while this isn’t over, it’s over for now, and the next move will have to be made by the Boras/Ramirez party:

LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers today received a letter from Scott Boras, the agent for Manny Ramirez, rejecting the offer that the club made yesterday. This rejection is the fourth by the agent in the club’s attempts to sign Manny.
“We love Manny Ramirez,” said Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt, “And we want Manny back, but we feel we are negotiating against ourselves. When his agent finds those ‘serious offers’ from other clubs, we’ll be happy to re-start the negotiations.
“Even with an economy that has substantially eroded since last November, out of respect for Manny and his talents, we actually improved our offer.
“So now, we start from scratch.”

Dodgers 16, Giants 7 … and Mientkiewicz signing finalized

First, let’s get this out of the way: Ned said after the game that he still hadn’t heard from Boras. I told him we would all be waiting by the phone. He said, “Have a nice evening.” … Dodgers pounded out 17 hits. I mentioned here earlier the performances of Randy Wolf and Russell Martin (who actually walked in his third PA, I had said he was hit by a pitch). There were several standout performances after the mass substitutions that took place in the middle innings. Xavier Paul, who played the whole game, went 3 for 5 with a double and three RBI. He also had seven putouts in right and center field on a really challenging day, with bright sunshine, no clouds and a lot of wind. Val Pascucci, who will be leaving for the WBC soon (Italy), went 2 for 2 with a home run. Jamie Hoffmann went 2 for 2 with two doubles, two RBI and two runs scored. Juan Castro went 2 for 2 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored and is now batting 1.000 (3 for 3) for the spring. And Chin-lung Hu slammed a three-run homer over the leftfield wall, what has to be one of the deepest leftfield walls in pro ball (it’s 360 down the line, 430 to dead center).. …Doug Mientkiewicz passed his physical and signed his minor-league deal. Not sure when he’ll play his first game. … Dodgers even their record at 1-1. At the Mariners tomorrow.

Ned arrives, speaks to media, doesn’t say much

He wouldn’t say whether this is the Dodgers’ final offer. He did say Boras told him they would get back to the Dodgers in a day or two. He said yesterday’s meeting was thrown together rapidly, that he was on his way to yesterday’s game when he exchanged a series of text messages with Boras — Ned was careful to say that he pulled over so he wasn’t texting and driving. When the meeting was arranged — Ned confirmed that HE requested the meeting, not Boras — Ned turned the car around, headed to the airport, bought a ticket and caught a flight. “I was in the double-digit Bs by then,” he said, and if you fly Southwest at all, you know exactly what that means.

Scott Boras, Giants president Larry Baer exchange voicemail messages

That’s about all it was, though, according to what Baer told reporters here at Scottsdale Stadium earlier today. He also was asked about Boras’ insistence that Manny will pay for himself in terms of ticket sales, merchandising, etc., and Baer said that might be the case if the economy weren’t in the tank, but the fact that it obviously IS in the tank negates Boras’ argument. That sounds an awful lot like a window closing.

Ethier, Blake hurt, but not badly

They both suffered minor injuries in yesterday’s game. Andre got hit by a batted ball on his left heel while taking fly balls in the outfield. Casey felt something in his groin while running in the outfield after he left the game. Neither is expected to miss more than a couple of days. … By the way, I wrote here yesterday that Furcal and Hudson will play the next two games. Just to clarify, they’ll play in tomorrow morning’s B game, not the actual Cactus League game against the Mariners tomorrow afternoon. They WILL, however, play in today’s Cactus League game with the Giants. … Still nothing on Manny. I’m heading to Scottsdale and will check back in when I get there.

Dodgers agree to terms with …

… I’ll give you a hint, it’s a guy who played a key role for the 2004 Red Sox as the team ended it’s 86-year World Series title drought. But no, it’s not Manny Ramirez. The Dodgers have agreed to terms with … Doug Mientkiewicz, according to two sources who spoke on condition of anonymity. Did I get you excited? It’s not official yet because he hasn’t passed a physical, and I believe it’s a minor-league deal. But he also might have a good chance of making the club to fill that role that Nomar Garciaparra filled last year. He is supposed to arrive in camp sometime today. He hit .277 in limited action (285 ABs) with the Pirates last year, but he also had a .374 on-base percentage and walked 44 times while striking out only 28 times.

All quiet so far

It’s 8:37 a.m. at Camelback Ranch, and it appears to be business as usual. Have yet to hear the words “Manny Ramirez” outside the media room. Everybody just going about their business. There are a few guys out in the pit with Maury Wills working on bunting. Bus doesn’t leave for Scottsdale until 11, so the team will taking batting practice here first. If something happens Manny-wise, I’ll get it up here as quickly as possible, so keep checking.