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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
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Loretta Swift
2008-12-08 22:16
by Jon Weisman

With cellphones and Blackberrys doing enough buzzing to process pollen, baseball's Winter Meetings got underway today, appropriately enough, in the gambling capital of the Great 48: Las Vegas, USA. And while the neon lights shone on Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake, CC Sabathia and Manny Ramirez, it looks like the Dodgers' first spin of the wheel has landed on 37-year-old Mark Loretta, the 37-year-old infielder whom Ken Gurnick of reports will supplant Nomar Garciaparra as a right-handed utility infielder. (The Dodgers haven't confirmed, but Gurnick at least has an on-the-record source: Loretta's agent, Bob Garber.)

Loretta EQAed an above-average .267 for Houston last season, and has had an on-base percentage of at least .345 every season since 1997. Against left-handed pitchers last season, Loretta's on-base percentage was .419 - meaning that he could form a platoon with Blake DeWitt. Gurnick, citing Garber, said that Loretta would earn $1.4 million next season.

* * *

As the Dodgers and others try to corral the best baseball players in the world, perhaps the timing is right for this tangent: Malcolm Gladwell's latest piece from The New Yorker, "Most Likely to Succeed: How do we hire when we can't tell who's right for the job?" Interesting stuff, particularly with regards to education, which I know is a favorite topic of numerous Dodger Thoughts commenters.

* * *

Update: Bill Shaikin of the Times argues that the Dodgers should sign Sabathia:

What are they waiting for?

The Dodgers need an ace in the starting rotation, in the clubhouse and in the community. Sabathia dedicates himself to all three. ...

The Dodgers have been burned so often by Colletti's multiyear free agent signings -- injuries to Jason Schmidt, Rafael Furcal, Nomar Garciaparra and Bill Mueller, poor performances by Andruw Jones and Brett Tomko and the superfluousness of Juan Pierre -- that McCourt understandably is wary of the kind of proposal Sabathia would take seriously.

Yet Colletti said "special circumstance" could compel the Dodgers to extend an offer beyond their general limit of three years.

He said he has discussed the possibility of bidding five years -- or longer -- with McCourt, but with no authorization to actually do so. ...

Sabathia wants to be a Dodger. If that really means something to McCourt, then he should go get him. Sabathia devotes himself to reviving youth baseball in the inner city, so the Dodgers couldn't beat this deal: Sign him for $130 million, and he'll build 50 youth fields by himself.

Comments (52)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2008-12-08 22:35:36
1.   Tripon
From the previous thread.

The Dodgers remain in need of a shortstop and, persistent reports out of Los Angeles to the contrary, reignited talks about Wilson last week. But there was been no known continuation over the weekend or at these meetings.

Is this a shot at Tony Jackson?

2008-12-08 22:36:51
2.   Tripon

Also, you can sponsor the newest Dodger for the low low price of $25 dollars,(and even cheaper if you allow B-R to lower its rate in the coming days.)

2008-12-08 22:52:33
3.   Tripon
More Ned quotes compiled by Diamond Lueng.

2008-12-08 22:57:39
4.   underdog
Was that headline a M*A*S*H* reference, Jon? Nice. I guess we're all too young for Loretta Young... references.

As I said below, I'm on board with this signing. He's a nice role player and PH. More durable/reliable than Nomar at this point. I'll be less on board with it if they made him a starter, but that seems very unlikely.

That Diamond piece Tripon linked above also includes bit on Russell Martin:
>> On Russell Martin: "He knows there's more to do in completing more of his potential. I'd really like him defensively to really manage the staff." Colletti added he wanted to see improvement with Martin stopping the running game and that A.J. Ellis could be a candidate to be the backup catcher.<<

(NIce, I'd much rather Ellis given a shot than bringing in an overpriced veteran.)

2008-12-08 22:58:12
5.   Tripon
Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said he plans to open 2009 with Chad Tracy at first base, Conor Jackson in left field and Eric Byrnes in a reserve role.

2008-12-08 23:11:56
6.   Bob Timmermann
Mark Loretta would be the second Dodger to play his high school ball at St. Francis High in La Canada Flintridge.

Matt Young was the first.

2008-12-08 23:16:18
7.   JRSarno
I certainly like what this "CC wants to be a Dodger" story has done. Seems like there's a lot of potential activity floating around Dodgerville right about now.
2008-12-08 23:27:15
8.   trainwreck
I don't want to see Hoffman as a Dodger. Hearing "Hells Bells" at Dodger Stadium is just wrong.
2008-12-08 23:34:52
9.   oshea2002
6 - the fiancee, a Sacred Heart Grad, was pretty excited about the Loretta signing when I told her a few minutes ago.
2008-12-08 23:39:59
10.   silverwidow
We need to hurry up and sign Furcal; I don't want to hear any ridiculous Michael Young rumors.
2008-12-08 23:42:42
11.   trainwreck
Young may be totally overrated, but he is still UCSB's finest.
2008-12-08 23:44:48
12.   kngoworld
I believe the McCourts will have yet another real PR problem if they fail to bring in either one of Manny or CC.
2008-12-08 23:47:55
13.   milkshakeballa
Maybe I am wrong but....

CC is the BEST pitcher in baseball. Pitchers his type that actually hit free agency are once in a decade....once in twenty years????....maybe???

CC has indicated he WANTS to be a Dodger. Granted, he probably has some self-interest when he says it BUT....

This team is talking about filling other holes before signing CC???

I mean, if you have even a REMOTE chance to sign this guy, don't you say screw it we have to take advantage and sign him asap and worry about our other holes later?

Isn't that the right mindset to take regarding this Dodger team and CC???

2008-12-08 23:48:48
14.   alex 7
especially as he comes jogging into the 7th inning.
2008-12-08 23:55:34
15.   alex 7
milkshake, it does sound like it's falling right into the Dodgers' lap. Hope they don't blow it. #14 was in re:#8
2008-12-08 23:57:06
16.   fanerman
Get CC!
2008-12-09 00:01:41
17.   dzzrtRatt
Happy Birthday, Bob Timmerman.
2008-12-09 00:04:59
18.   Icaros
Happy Timmermann, Bob Birthday.
2008-12-09 00:17:48
19.   Eric Stephen
Loretta never won a batting title, but he finished 3rd in 2004 with the Padres.
2008-12-09 00:29:22
20.   Bob Timmermann
It's not my birthday, but thank you.
2008-12-09 00:31:38
21.   alex 7
I'll take the presents.
2008-12-09 00:41:07
22.   trainwreck
Happy non-Bob's birthday, everyone!
2008-12-09 03:30:37
23.   D4P
Ned, on Casey Blaoe:

"Hopefully we're getting close. I don't have anything for you yet. We're still talking."

Ned keeps announcing to the world (and Blake's agent) how much the Dodgers want Blake back. Not exactly good negotiating strategy...

2008-12-09 03:32:44
24.   D4P
BTW: The Dodgers signed Hector Luna and invited him to spring training.

Looks like the Latino Utility Infielder™ role is filled for 2009.

2008-12-09 04:02:32
25.   D4P
From what I can tell, Luna appears marginally better than Ned's previous LUIs, but still nothing to email home about.
2008-12-09 04:28:48
26.   DBrim
Hector Luna got traded to the Dodgers when I was playing MLB The Show the other night.

Maybe next year we'll get Chase Utley and Dan Uggla.

2008-12-09 05:56:13
27.   Ken Noe
CC or Kris Benson? Decisions, decisions.

2008-12-09 05:57:51
28.   D4P
(Benson) says that he's fully recovered from his March 2007 rotator cuff surgery that ended his Orioles career.

Good enough for me!

2008-12-09 06:20:10
29.   Ken Noe
On a happier note: "We really have no interest in Jack Wilson," the Dodgers official said. "He's a fine player but he really isn't what we're looking for....the Dodgers do not feel Wilson would be a major upgrade over slick-fielding shortstop Chin-Lung Hu, who is 24 and will make just over the major-league minimum salary of $400,000.

2008-12-09 06:26:55
30.   Ken Noe
"We really have no interest in Jack Wilson," the Dodgers official said. "He's a fine player but he really isn't what we're looking for....the Dodgers do not feel Wilson would be a major upgrade over slick-fielding shortstop Chin-Lung Hu, who is 24 and will make just over the major-league minimum salary of $400,000.

2008-12-09 06:27:30
31.   Ken Noe
I'm so happy I posted it twice {blush}
2008-12-09 07:00:55
32.   Daniel Zappala
It's going to really hurt to see K-Rod in a Mets uniform next year.
2008-12-09 07:06:18
33.   MollyKnight
Regarding the CC stalling:

Either the Dodgers really are broke or

They are slow-playing this thing to death.

Ned, if you sign CC and he falls apart it really, really won't be your fault. Unlike Andruw Jones who was showing signs of decline and Jason Schmidt who was, by baseball standards, old, this signing will not cost you your job.

Pull! The! Trigger!

2008-12-09 07:10:58
34.   D4P
Ned, if you sign CC and he falls apart it really, really won't be your fault

Speaking of which: Sabathia has thrown a whopping 494 innings over the past 2 seasons, tops in the majors.

So it's not as if there's no reason to be concerned about his continuing longevity. I wouldn't be that surprised if he turns into Darren Dreifort.

2008-12-09 07:12:46
35.   wronghanded
Does the Lorretta signing slow down the prospects of a Blake signing? DeWitt can stay at 3rd and Lorretta/Abreu/Dejesus could handle second for us right? If so, this has to seriously improve our chances of signing either CC or Manny. C'mon CC (fingers crossed).
2008-12-09 07:17:37
36.   natepurcell
Kris Benson is the type of pitcher I would give a NRI to spring training or sign for a min+ incentive type deal.
2008-12-09 07:27:50
37.   Ken Noe
35 I doubt it. I tend to agree that Loretta makes Blake less necessary, but he doesn't entirely replace him, especially as a power bat:

Loretta: .280/.350/.383/95/4HR
Blake: .274/.345/.463/110/21HR

Plus Loretta only played 101 games last year. Still, it would be tempting to me to put DeWitt at third and see if Hu and DeJesus eventually can emerge up the middle. Ned's admiration for Blake, nonetheless, is boundless. We will sign him.

2008-12-09 07:33:59
38.   Disabled List
Sabathia's first 13 games of 2008:

82.1 IP, 3-8, 4.81 ERA, 82 K, 20 BB, .280/.342/.442 allowed, average game score: 50

His last 16 games:

124.2 IP, 10-2, 1.59 ERA, 123 K, 20 BB, .221/.258/.287 allowed, average game score: 68

He's prone to spells of bad pitching, like anyone. But he certainly didn't look worn out at the end of the season, although I'm sure the pending FA contract provided plenty of motivation.

Incidentally, he had only had four starts last year on three days' rest (the last four of the season, incl. the playoff game against the Phillies).

2008-12-09 07:35:58
39.   Disabled List
he had only had

As one of my profs used to say, that's some tense tense.

2008-12-09 07:50:13
40.   MollyKnight
34-He also pitched that many innings because he's really, really good.

Would you rather give the money to Manny? I've never seen someone hit like that, but he also has a history of, um, doing strange things when he's not about to sign an eight figure contract.

2008-12-09 07:53:26
41.   bluegold
If Colletti signs both CC and Manny I will forgive all his past transgressions and promise not to speak one ill word of him this coming season.
2008-12-09 08:00:09
42.   cargill06
Dodgers do not feel Wilson would be a major upgrade over slick-fielding shortstop Chin-Lung Hu

+/- cofirms Hu has been an exceptional fielding SS in his short stint in the majors. UZR said he's been below average. Who to believe???

2008-12-09 08:00:11
43.   Disabled List
I really wonder what the chances are of a CC/Manny parlay. If CC takes less-than-market-value money to come here, and the market for Manny continues to sputter, maybe it could happen?
2008-12-09 08:01:28
44.   natepurcell

The data size is too small for either, we are going to have to rely on minor league scouting reports until he has logged enough major league innings.

2008-12-09 08:04:38
45.   mwhite06
40 The Dodgers are trying to get Manny for 2/3 years, where CC would have to be signed for at least 6.
2008-12-09 08:07:26
46.   JoeyP
Loretta's not too bad of signing but I doubt the Dodgers are counting on him playing very much:

2006 (Red Sox)- 635 Abs
2007 (Astros)- 460 Abs
2008 (Astros) - 261 Abs)

He's going to turn 38 next August.

2008-12-09 08:15:09
47.   CajunDodger
This is a different conversation, but defense (especially infield defense) still seems to be one of those things where we can trust the eyeballs of an experienced scout more than a metric. Different hitting metrics generally agree on whether a player is average or above. Depending on whose metric it is, defensive metrics can often completely contradict one another to the point of calling someone the best in baseball at his position and another calling the same player below average.

I admittedly know very little about the various defensive metrics, but range seems to be the only thing that is quantified better by a metric than with the eye. Scouts do a pretty good job looking at things like glove-to-hand transition, ball flight (Nomar always threw a backdoor slider to first), fluidity, and so on.

Not agreeing or disagreeing, but it is an area where I think scouts are consistently on target when predicting the effectiveness of a player as he makes the jump from the minors to the majors.

2008-12-09 08:19:48
48.   cargill06
Believe it or not, but if Carolina beats Denver at Carolina (or of the Bills beat Denver in Denver) this weekend San Diego controls their own dystany. With a Denver at SD game on Sunday Dec. 28th being the last game of the year.
2008-12-09 08:23:47
49.   cargill06
48 My mistake, I thought Denver was 7-6. I should probably check records, that's kind of important.
2008-12-09 08:24:32
50.   oshea2002
I cannot believe the Cubs are getting Peavy for Vitters, DeRosa, and garbage.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-12-09 08:25:06
51.   Nagman
48 Not true. Chargers are 3 back with 3 to play, so the Broncos magic number is one. They'd have to lose their next two, and the Chargers would have to win their next two, for the final game to be meaningful.
2008-12-09 08:25:49
52.   Jon Weisman

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