Daily Distractions: What the absence of a new Posting System means for Masahiro Tanaka, Dodgers.

Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka will not be able to come to the United States until a new posting system is agreed to by MLB and NPB. (Associated Press photo)


The Associated Press reported this morning that Major League Baseball is withdrawing its proposal for a new bidding system with Japan.

What does that hold for Masahiro Tanaka, Japan’s best pitcher? Without agreement on a new bidding system, Japanese players would not be able to sign with MLB until they had nine years of service time and could become free agents. Tanaka has seven years of service time in NPB, Japan’s top league. You do the math.

Imagine for a moment that the best available free-agent pitcher is now off the market. Every other pitcher at the top of the free agent crop — Ricky Nolasco, Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, etc. — now jumps up a spot on teams’ wish lists. And those teams still have all their money to spend.

That figures to help a pitcher like David Price, who is not a free agent, but whom many expect the Tampa Bay Rays to dangle as trade bait. Perhaps Price’s price just rose too.

The New York Post reported today that a complete elimination of the posting system is now possible, which might ground Tanaka in Japan for another two years. It’s not clear what will happen to the proposal MLB just withdrew, which the Post described as “a moderate tweak of the old system: The team with the highest bid on a posted player would still win exclusive negotiating rights with that player, but the amount of the bid would be an average of the top two bids. … Furthermore, a team would be fined if it failed to sign the player after securing the negotiating rights.”

FanGraphs.com speculated that if this system were ratified, “the player won’t gain any leverage in order to get a better contract for himself, or play in a different city. But! If the posting fees actually do go down, the player should get a bigger slice of the pie.” The team with the highest bid still won.

Now? Even is if no agreement is reached this winter, the Dodgers’ odds of signing Tanaka might decrease. Their team payroll is expected to exceed baseball’s luxury-tax threshhold again in 2014, which means the Dodgers will be taxed 30 percent on every dollar spent on player salaries above $189 million. The tax rises to 40 percent if the Dodgers exceed the threshhold in 2015, and 50 percent in 2016. Team president Stan Kasten has said repeatedly that he doesn’t intend to pay these luxury taxes indefinitely, and that 50 percent tax-rate could be where the Dodgers decide to draw the line.

According to Cots, the Dodgers are already on the hook for $122 million for SEVEN players in 2016, and that doesn’t include a possible extension for Clayton Kershaw.

So assuming Tanaka’s health and effectiveness hold steady for two more years, would the Dodgers be restricted in their willingness to spend on Tanaka in the winter of 2015-16? Under the old system — and, presumably, under Monday’s proposal — posting fees don’t count toward a team’s luxury tax. But at least one small-market club reported by the Post, the Pittsburgh Pirates, would like to see that changed.

There are some variables in this equation that definitely work against the Dodgers.

Some bullet points for a Day of the Colombian Woman:
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Ranking the Dodgers’ twelve in-house free agents.

J.P.  Howell

Dodgers reliever J.P. Howell became a free agent on Thursday. (Getty Images)

As noted here this morning, the Dodgers have 12 in-house free agents after they declined the options on second baseman Mark Ellis and pitcher Chris Capuano.

Not all 12 will be back, but here’s an educated guess at the likelihood of each player returning to the Dodgers, ranked in order of least likely to most:
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Daily Distractions: Let the free agency period begin.

Red Sox fans

Boston Red Sox fans celebrate the start of free agency Wednesday night. (Associated Press photo)

The World Series is over, making ringbearers of the Red Sox and free agents of dozens of players around baseball.

The Dodgers will have at least 10: Ricky Nolasco, Michael Young, Juan Uribe, Carlos Marmol, Jerry Hairston, Edinson Volquez, Skip Schumaker, Nick Punto, J.P. Howell and Brian Wilson. Per MLB rules, the Dodgers have exclusive negotiating rights with each player up until midnight Eastern Time Monday, after which all are free to sign with any club.

Sometime within the next five days, general manager Ned Colletti and staff must ultimately decide whether or not to extend these players a qualifying offer, a guaranteed contract for 2014 equal to the average salary of the highest-paid 125 players. This year, that’s $14.1 million.

The potential risk every team faces in extending a qualifying offer is that the player will accept the offer and receive more money than he would by testing the open market. The potential reward is twofold: 1, you might re-sign the player at a discount compared to his open-market value; 2, if the player doesn’t accept the qualifying offer and signs elsewhere, your team receives a first-round draft pick in 2014 from the team that does sign the player.

Of the Dodgers’ 10 free agents, Nolasco is the only viable candidate to receive a qualifying offer. He made $11.5 million last year. What’s another $2.6 million? That’s the, um, $2.6 million question that’s been floating around the front offices at Chavez Ravine this month. The answer should be an easy one: Since Nolasco didn’t begin the year with the Dodgers, they won’t receive any draft-pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.

More on him, and the other free agents, later today.

We should also note here that Chris Capuano and Mark Ellis have options for 2014 in their contracts. Capuano’s is a mutual option for $8 million with a $1 million buyout; Ellis’ is a $5.75 million club option with a $1 million buyout. If the team declines the option on both players, that’s a dirty dozen Dodgers destined to hit the free-agent market.

Some bullet points for an Allantide morning:
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Daily Distractions: Brian Wilson says he doesn’t pitch with emotion.

Brian WilsonBrian Wilson was calmly packing up for the Dodgers’ road trip to Arizona after another loss to the San Francisco Giants, wearing a black sport coat, a pink T-shirt underneath and a rastafarian hat. Just another day at the office.

Wilson faced two batters in the seventh inning of a tie game Sunday and retired both. This has become Wilson’s new normal: pitching in high-leverage situations in every inning except the ninth. Eight of his last nine appearances have come in 0-, 1-, 2- or 3-run games. None have been in the ninth inning.

And Wilson is thriving. He’s allowed one run in 12 appearances (the lone run he allowed got him stuck with the loss in Cincinnati on Sept. 7).

“I didn’t start off pitching the ninth inning in my career,” Wilson said. “As long as I’m out there competing, I think every inning’s just as important.”

But is the adrenaline the same?

“I don’t pitch off adrenaline,” he said. “I don’t pitch with emotion. I’ve been playing this game for a while now, and I pitch to my strengths. There are some situations that dictate higher levels of energy, but sometimes it can get a little out of control if you don’t use it the right way.”

So there you have it. One of the most demonstrative, colorful players in baseball doesn’t pitch with emotion.

I suppose you never know until you ask.

Some bullet points for a Mexican Independence Day:
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Against the San Francisco Giants, Brian Wilson’s fastball finally turns as many heads as his beard.

Brian Wilson

Dodgers pitcher Brian Wilson threw a scoreless 10th inning against the San Francisco Giants, and was credited with the victory against his former team. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff photographer)

Brian Wilson finally admitted that he did something.

There was nothing scandalous here — just stating the obvious less than 24 hours after Wilson was credited with the victory in the Dodgers’ 3-2, 10-inning win over the San Francisco Giants. Wilson left without granting an interview after the game.

“I didn’t do anything,” were his only parting comments.
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Daily Distractions: Which of the Dodgers’ eye-popping business stats surprises team president Stan Kasten most?

Brian Wilson

Skip Schumaker, left, and Nick Punto have fun after tearing the jersey off Brian Wilson, who picked up the win, after beating the Giants on Thursday. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff photographer)

While the Dodgers were busy raising ticket prices for 2014, fans in 2013 have given the team nearly four million reasons to do so.

I got an email from MLB yesterday containing some interesting metrics: Home attendance at Dodger Stadium is up 10 percent through Sept. 11, compared to the same point last year. Ratings on Prime Ticket were up 42 percent (through Sept. 9) while merchandise sales (via MLB.com through Sept. 11) were up 50 percent. Only the Orioles, Astros, A’s and Pirates have seen a greater jump in merch sales.

The Dodgers’ average attendance (currently 45,771) is the highest in MLB. They appear headed for the biggest total attendance for any MLB club since the New York Yankees in 2010 (3.77 million) and the best for the Dodgers since 2009.

Which of these numbers surprised team president Stan Kasten the most?

Try none.

The Dodgers’ average road attendance of 35,622 is the highest in the majors. “It says something about the Dodger brand,” Kasten told me Wednesday.

It probably says something about the Dodgers’ star power and the accompanying media exposure, too. Having Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke on your roster helps win and helps sell tickets. Kasten prefers to credit the brand; that’s a point for debate. So too are the Dodgers’ actual home attendance numbers — it’s been said that those figures are inflated by 5,000 to 15,000 on a given night — but the Dodgers’ league-leading road attendance indicates the average fan believes this is a team worth seeing in person.

Some bullet points for Friday the 13th:
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Daily Distractions: Onelki Garcia makes history, doesn’t throw his glove.

Onelki Garcia

MLB.com’s Gameday view of Adam Eaton’s at-bat against Onelki Garcia.

Dodgers pitcher Onelki Garcia walked Adam Eaton in his major-league debut last night and didn’t waste time: He threw four pitches out of the strike zone before Don Mattingly summoned Peter Moylan from the bullpen.

A couple things happened next:

… and those of us in the press box started reaching for the history books:

If Garcia never appears in another major-league game, he’ll be the only pitcher to walk the only batter he faced, let alone on four pitches. At least Garcia avoided the fate of Larry Yount, Robin’s brother and a Woodland Hills native, who was injured while warming up for his only major-league game in 1971 and never faced a batter again.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he intended for Garcia to face only Eaton, then insert Moylan to face right-handed hitter A.J. Pollock. He didn’t bother to mention this to Garcia. “Maybe I should’ve told him,” Mattingly said after the game.

But it sounds like Garcia will get another chance. Both J.P. Howell and Paco Rodriguez were unavailable last night, and that might be the case again between now and the season finale on Sept. 28.

“That’s what we envision — him getting a lefty,” Mattingly said. “I think he’ll be fine.”

Garcia copped to some nerves after the game, “like a lot of players do the first time,” he said through an interpreter.

“It can’t be an easy situation, stepping in for the first time,” catcher A.J. Ellis said.

There will be a next time, or there will be a new one for the record books.

Some bullet points on the 10th anniversary of Johnny Cash’s death:
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Cincinnati Reds 3, Dodgers 2.

Andre Ethier

Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig nearly collided on this fly ball, eventually caught by Ethier, in the first inning. (Associated Press photo)

Matt Kemp hurt his hamstring. The starting pitcher, Chris Capuano, suffered a mild left groin strain and was done six batters into the game. Dee Gordon was hit in the back of the neck. Yasiel Puig slid awkwardly in his first game back from a stiff right knee.

Then it was time for the third inning.
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Daily Distractions: Accept it, Dodger fans: Your team is the big favorite.

Dodger fans

Fans take in a recent Dodgers game. (John McCoy/Staff Photographer)

This non-native Southern Californian is about to make a broad observation about Dodger fans. Try to hang with me for two minutes before returning the favor in the comments section.

The updated 2013 World Series odds were released today by online oddsmaker Bovada. The Dodgers are the strong favorites at 13:4. The Detroit Tigers are second at 19:4. This represents a shift since the last time Bovada released its odds on Aug. 16, when the Dodgers were the cautious 9:2 favorites, edging the Tigers (5:1) for the first time all season.

In the National League, the Atlanta Braves (11:4) are given the best chance of knocking off the Dodgers (3:2) for the pennant.

Rather than liking those odds, fans offered feedback in step with the I’ll-believe-it-when-I-see-it pessimism that’s prevailed since … well … you tell me.

Quick psychological litmus test: When the Dodgers fell short of the playoffs last season, did you accept your inevitable fate or feel genuinely disappointed? When the Dodgers became the first team since 1942 to go on a 42-8 streak over 50 games in July and August, did you start looking forward to October or wonder how your team would manage to blow it? Would you have fired Don Mattingly by now?

If you’ve worn off the paint on the PANIC button to the point it’s become PC, today’s odds probably come as little comfort. Maybe a little skepticism is healthy. It’s not unearned. But if the Dodgers’ bandwagon were a Walmart, some crusty old guy would be standing front and center, restraining a smile and greeting new visitors with a reminder about no World Series appearances since the 1988 championship. Or so I imagine.

In the early days of sports blogs, DodgerBlues.com was among my favorites. Maybe it’s a sign of newfound optimism that the site hasn’t been updated in a year and a half (and that the last blog entry portended hope — a symbolic death of “Dodger blues”?). It’s also telling that the site exists at all, and that the Kirk Gibson fist-pump clock is still rolling.

Accept it, Dodger fans: Your team is the big favorite now. Whatever that means.

Some bullet points for a Newspaper Carrier Day:
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