Dodgers’ Housecleaning Begins

When the Dodgers signed Cuban defector Alexander Guerrero earlier this week, speculation varied from him needing at least a season in the minors, to him being handed the second base job next spring. Well, the being-handed-second-base faction has won out already, as the team has declined the option to retain two-year incumbent second baseman Mark Ellis. Ellis, only 36 and with certainly at least one more solid year ahead of him, was a masterful second baseman for the team over his two years here, and batted a solid .264, driving in key runs in many important games. It’s going to cost the team a cool one mil to cancel Ellis’ 2014 $5.75 M option.

Guerrero is signed for four years and due to receive at least $28 M over that time, and performance bonuses could increase that by a couple million more. At least he is older, at

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26, and more seasoned than Yasiel Puig when he came to the US and the Dodgers, so there is a chance that he is both ready to play in the US major leagues and good enough to be a regular on a pennant contender favorite.

An interesting clause in Guerrero’s contract and something that may well have played into the Dodgers’ thinking in handing him the job is that the team can ONLY option him to the minors with his permission. That

may seem unusual, not to mention ABSURD and RIDICULOUS, but the Dodgers did include that same clause in Hyun-Jin Ryu’s contract as well.

I really hate to see Ellis go. He’s a solid, gritty workmanlike player, and I thought a lot of him going back to his days in Oakland.

The Dodgers also announced that they have split ways with Chris Capuano, giving him the same $1 M buyout to avoid paying him $8 M next season. With the team now having so many potential bodies for their rotation, plus their likely participation in the bidding for Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka (24-0, 1.27 ERA). With Capuano’s history of injuries, and with the team
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already likely playing the nursing game with both Josh Beckett and Chad Billigsley next spring, that $8 M can likely be put to better use.

Finally, the best untapped managerial talent in baseball, the guy who SHOULD be managing the Dodgers, third base coach Tim Wallach, has now interviewed with a second team, the Seattle Mariners. The Dodgers cannot hope to keep him tied up much longer, and though they previously announced that he would return as third base coach next season, I see him being offered and taking the Seattle job. He’s probably pretty tired of the dramatics with the empty uniform non manager don mattingly, and even though mattingly cannot possible last more than one more season, Wallach needs to move on with his own career, even if it means taking over a team that has been rebuilding for a decade, finishing last in the American League West seven times in the last ten years. Only adding the 51-111 Houston Astros to the division kept then out of last again this past season.

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