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The Real Dodgers Plan

The Real Dodgers Plan

Maybe you have wondered why the Dodgers didn’t spend much money over the past off-season.  Maybe?  You have absolutely wondered that if you are a Dodger fan.  After all, the owners were getting a divorce and arguing over money and control, so that’s it – McCourt is bad and he won’t spend any money. Many fans have this position.  I am here to tell you right now that conventional wisdom is usually wrong.  However, in this case, it’s not conventional wisdom.  It’s conventional “piling on”!

You all know that a A player with six or more years of major-league service (on the team’s 40-man roster) who is not under contract for the following season is eligible to file for free agency.  Teams can receive compensation for the player with a draft pick in the following year’s draft in June. In order to receive compensation, the team must offer the player salary arbitration.

It is then up to the player to either accept arbitration or sign with another team. The team must offer salary arbitration to the player by early December or the team will not be allowed to negotiate with or sign the player until the following May 1.   After arbitration is offered, the player has two weeks to accept or refuse salary arbitration. If it is refused, the player can only negotiate with the club until January 7th after which no more negotiation can take place until May 1st.

Top free agents are classified as Type A (the top 20 percent at their position as determined by the Elias Sports Bureau), Type B (between 21 and 40 percent at his position). If a Type A free agent who had been offered arbitration signs with another team, the team receives two first-round draft picks the following June – either a first- or second-round pick of the new team (depending on a team’s record the previous season) and a “sandwich” pick between the first and second rounds. Type B free agents earn just a “sandwich” pick.

If there are 14 or fewer Type A or Type B free agents available, no team can sign more than one type A or B player. If there are between 15-38, no team can sign more than two. If there are between 39 and 62, there’s a limit of three. However, teams can sign as many Type A or B free agents as they’ve lost, regardless of the limits above.

Now, think about this for a minute.  If a Type A player like Wolf and Hudson refuses free agency, then the team who loses them get compensation.  On the other hand, if they accept arbitration, it is binding.  Do you actually think it would be fair that a team could “opt out” if the player got more than they wanted to pay?   It is beyond foolish to think that has any root in reality.  You should know better than that.  A deal is a deal!  There is no rescinding it !  If you offer arbitration, it is binding!  Duh!

If the Dodgers had offered arbitration to Randy Wolf and  Orlando Hudson, then they would be bound to have accepted the results, contrary to what some people on this board may think.  They would have had to pay that player their number or the players number.  No recourse!

Now that we all understand what could have happened if the Dodgers offered arbitration to Wolf and Hudson, let’s consider the underlying reasons why the Dodgers did not offer either of them arbitration.  Wolf and Hudson were at the “right place at the right time” to both have made a fortune at arbitration.  Randy Wolf was a good pitcher for the Dodgers in 2009, but he has never been all that.  However, after stringing together some solid seasons, he qualified as a Type A Free Agent and was one of the top free agent pitchers in a very thin class of pitchers.  The same can be said of Orlando Hudson.  While he was never a perennial All-Star, he did win some Gold Gloves and made two All-Star appearances.  O-Dog also qualified as a Type A Free Agent and was one of the Top 2B in baseball… but he wasn’t “all that” either.  Randy Wolf and Orlando Hudson were good players, but if the Dodgers had offered them arbitration, there is a chance they would have accepted.  What that chance was depends upon who you ask.  It might have been 10% or it might have been 60% – no one knows, but here is what we do know:

If the Dodgers had offered arbitration to them and they had accepted, in all likelihood, here is what they might have asked:  Wolf would have gotten $10-13 mil and Hudson would have gotten $8-11 mil. You can say that the Dodger’s Kim Ng wouldn’t lose, but it all depends upon what is asked and offered as well.  I think the minimum the Dodger would have had to pay them both would have been $18 mil and the maximum may have been $24 million.  To put that in perspective, the Dodgers could have signed CC Sabathia for that, and that’s what Ryan Howard just signed his new deal for.

The Dodgers have made the mistake in the past of signing who was available, not who was really needed.  Juan Pierre, Jason Schmidt, Andrew Jones, even Jeff Kent were signings which maybe didn’t make sense.  You don’t just look at who is available – you have to look at what you need.  If Ned and Frank had not signed Schmidt, Jones and Pierre, you might just be looking  a staff with CC Sabathia as ACE.  What would make the Dodgers better – Hudson and Wolf or Sabathia or Hudson and Wolf or Ryan Howard (then you could trade Loney for pitching)?  Forget these five-and-dime guys.

But, the Dodgers are blasted for not getting an ace.  Wait a minute –  they tried to get Cliff Lee – the Indians just liked the Phillies offer better.  There was no chance Doc Halladay was coming to the Left Coast.  Not in a million years!    That left Lacky – no thanks.  Good things come to those who wait.  The Dodgers are waiting.  They didn’t sign Wolf or Hudson because they know that something better is out there.  It may be Cliff Lee next winter, or maybe by the All-Star Break.  You don’t know.  Zach Greinke could suddenly become available, if KC really stinks and wants a multitude of prospects to rebuild (again).

Don’t expect the Dodgers to tell you this.  They can’t – it’s not something you share with your competitors, but when Ned says it’s business as usual, it is – in the sense that this is now the plan. The Dodgers won’t pay $15 – $18 mil for a player like Lackey, Schmidt, Jones, but they will pony up $20+ mil for a Cliff Lee or  $25 mil for a Zach Greinke.  You have to have both the Superstars and the Role Players.  The Phillies are built that way with Utley, Howard, Rollins, Halladay and all the rest.  I think they make a mistake in signing Raul Ibanez, because that might prevent them from re-signing Jason Werth.  Ibanez was important to them last year, but this year he stinks, and they have to pay him one more year.

In three years, the Dodgers could have contract obligations of $65 million a year to three players – Kemp, Ethier and Kershaw.  Frank McCourt knows that to build the empire he wants – he has to put a winner on the field.  He can’t do it with players like nickel-and-dime  players like Hudson and Wolf.  He needs about 4 or 5 superstars, a strong farm system and some role players to plug in.  Many have interpreted the fact that the Dodgers would not offer arbitration to Wolf and Hudson as Cheapness.  Actually, it’s the opposite – the Dodgers are now in a position to trade for a big arm THIS YEAR.  I believe the Dodgers could have a payroll closer to $120 mil by the end of the season.

Some people choose to believe fiction (such as it is possible to refuse to pay the arbitration settlement, or that Bud Selig told the Dodgers not to go to arbitration).  HOGWASH!   Some people choose to believe that McCourt will not spend the money necessary to win.  HOGWASH!  What the Dodgers did last off-season was about “positioning.”  The Dodgers are trying to get positioned to get some impact players, not the five and dime variety like Wolf and Hudson.  The Dodgers won’t spend the money?  HOGWASH!  The Dodgers are just going to be positioned to spend the money where it can make a difference.  The Dodgers are still paying for their (Ned’s) mistakes to Pierre, Schmidt and Jones, but they did get Link and Ely for Pierre (who has been a disappointment for the ChiSox).  Both of those player have promise.

The “mistakes” gradually come off the books over the next year or two.  On the horizon are Dee Gordon, Jerry Sands, and a bunch of pitchers who throw 95+ MPH.

The Dodgers have learned (the hard way) that you don’t sign the “five-and-dime” free agents – you have to go after the big boys!  Watch and see what happens.  In a few months, the people who ridiculed Frank McCourt will be wearing brown grocery bags over their heads with “eye slits.”

All I am saying is “Give the Dodgers a Chance!”

Oh….  Fire Joe Torre!  His horse finished 16th out of 20 in the derby.  Say no more!

Rants & Raves:

  • I thought Andrew Lambo had put his character issues behind him.  I guess I was wrong.  I am officially off the LamboWagon!
  • Ramon Ortiz – 3 IP/ 2 Hits/ 5 K’s to get the win.  He can stay!
  • Carlos Monasterios looked like  24 year-old making his first major league start, but I saw promise.  He could just stick in the rotation.
  • Charlie Haeger’s butt is glued to the pine.
  • Andre Ethier is a beast!

About Mark Timmons

When you see the invisible, you can do the impossible!

6 Responses to “The Real Dodgers Plan”

  1. Badger says:

    “Maybe you have wondered why the Dodgers didn’t spend much money over the past off-season.”

    No. Not really.

    The Dodgers need more good players to win. They won the West last year with Wolf and Hudson on the team. Hudson was an All Star and won a Gold Glove. Wolf only won 11, but kept us in games and for the first time in years, pitched 200 innings. We didn’t replace either of them because we have no money to do so.

    So, no, I didn’t wonder why the Dodgers didn’t sign these guys, or anyone else of import for that matter.

    Both Hudson and Wolf would have received in arbitration close to, or exactly what they were paid last year and they would absolutely be worth it. But, the Dodgers don’t have that kind of money to go after any free agents. They sign the likes of Carroll, Reed and Belliard. Good players, back-up players.

    I think we are all willing to “give the Dodgers a chance”. Who in here isn’t a Dodger fan? But some of us are just more grounded than others. Some of us can actually see which way the wind blows. Some still live in fantasyland and subscribe to the “you gonna believe what you see or what I tell you” script.

    I refuse to keep my head in the sand about Dodger issues. That pisses some off? so be it.

    The Dodgers have a half dozen really good players. Is that enough to win the pennant. I think not. We’ll see.

    And, I still have no one who has explained the “non guaranteed contract” sentence in the arbitration article. You didn’t do it mark, ken didn’t do and neither did ldog. It is there, and there must be an explanation for it. Just because YOU say this isn’t enough for me. You have been wrong many many times over the years I have known you. You may be right this, I don’t know. But, I am still unsure about it. So, I’ll ask again, what is the penalty if the team says “No, we are not offering twice what we feel a player is worth”.

  2. Badger says:

    OK, still no answer and I must believe it’s because nobody knows.

    In reading countless articles about this, it would seem obvious to most that the “offering” of arbitration is considered a “no brainer” move in most cases. Most, not all.

    “The numbers are staggering. The 178 salary arbitration-eligible baseball players this year reeled in single and multi-year contracts worth $766,995,002. To place that figure in perspective, MLB pulled in $6.3 billion in revenues in 2009. The total spent on salary arbitration players for just 2010 equals close to $434 million, chewing up about 7 percent of the revenue before even getting to free agents.

    With every team involved this year, and truckloads of cash in play, there were bound to be winners and losers. Here’s an analysis:

    WINNERS

    Tim Lincecum had a 2.48 ERA in 2009

    • I’ll raise ya: Sure, the case can be made that some players might earn more if they were allowed to become free agents earlier rather than remain under club control for six or seven years through salary arbitration, but at least players know the process gives them a good salary hike. On average, the 128 players that filed for salary arbitration on Jan. 15 had their salaries increase by 107 percent from 2009.

    • Freak money Tim Lincecum(notes) didn’t land the biggest multi-year contract of the class, but he did wind up with the biggest pay raise from last season to this. The Freak will realize a 1,131 percent increase from the $650,000 he earned last season as a first-time salary arbitration eligible player. An unexpected second place for highest raise went to Giants closer Brian Wilson(notes), who goes from $480,000 in 2009 to $4,437,500 this season, a raise of 824 percent.

    • They might be Giants Lincecum landed the biggest raise, yes, but it could have been a whole lot worse for the Giants. Lincecum was seeking $13 million compared to an $8 million offering figure by the Giants. Outside the hearing room, the Giants and Lincecum reached a two-year, $23 million deal, potentially saving the club millions.

    • Clubs making their case There were eight salary arbitration hearings this year, with clubs beating the players five to three. Since 1974, when salary arbitration was put in place, there have been 495 cases heard by arbitration panels, with the clubs holding a 285-210 lead, a 57.6 winning percentage.”

    90% of all potential arbitration cases are avoided through settlement by parties.

    The increase of 107% is skewed by contracts like Lincecum’s. Teams win more than they lose. Veterans coming off good years, but with history of mediocre years, are more likely to be modest in their demands for that reason. Most feel Wolf did not want a 1 year contract. They also feel he would have asked for somewhere between $8-11 million, knowing full well his 3 year splits were quite modest. Hudson was a different case. It is believed by most baseball people he was leaving the Dodgers and would not have accepted arbitration. The Dodgers treated him like a leper at the end of the year. He wanted out.

    The Dodgers position, that is not at the very least offering arbitration is considered by most baseball people to have been a really dumb move.

    http://mlb.fanhouse.com/2009/12/02/potential-winners-losers-as-arbitration-decisions-made/

  3. Ken says:

    1. The Dodgers are insolvent.
    2. The Dodger team budget is controlled by the league Commissioner’s office.
    3. Every major move that the debt ridden Dodgers consider is controlled by Bud.
    4. Most, if not all, of the Dodger decisions that have been made in the last 2 years support the above conclusions.
    5. Trading for quality players but not being obligated to pay their salary.
    6. Rather compensating the other team with prospects.
    7. Not offering arbitration.
    8. Not signing quality free agents.
    9. Everyone with the same rehearsed story.
    10. Postponing/cancelling Stadium renovations.

    Have a Nice Day.

  4. Mark Timmons says:

    Ken,

    You lost me at #1. There is no proof of that. More prrof the opposite way.

    Last I checked, the Dodgers were obligated to pay Manny $45 mil when he signed a little over a year ago. They also signed Blake and extended several of their own players.

    According to Cot’s Contracts, the Dodgers payroll is $102 mil which is $2 mil more than last year.

    If they were insolvent, why do they continue to add staff? There are lots of ways to cut costs if they were insolvent that could whack $10-18 mil off their expenses.

    McCourt will have no problem obtaining financing if he needs it and Stadium Renovations are on hold due to the economy. Baseball in general is down.

    But, if the Dodgers are insolvent, we will know about that very soon, because if they can’t pay their bills, no one can keep that quiet.

    Also, if the commissioners office is running the Dodgers, someone will spill the beans. Someone always talks.

    My guess is that we will hear about neither, because I don’t think either one is happening or will happen.

  5. Badger says:

    I just got this back from a local L.A. sportswriter. It does help me some, but, I still have questions:

    “Thanks for the note, Rory.

    Contracts awarded in arbitration are not guaranteed. That means that (1) if the Dodgers had offered Wolf arbitration and (2) he had accepted and (3) the two sides failed to work out a contract and (4) he asked the arbitrator for $12 million and (5) the arbitrator picked that figure over whatever figure the Dodgers submitted, then Wolf would be awarded a $12 million salary.

    The arbitrator could not pick a salary between Wolf’s figure and the Dodgers’ figure. It’s one or the other.

    Players on non-guaranteed contracts can be released during spring training, and teams simply pay one-sixth or one-fourth of the contract (depending on the date of release).

    Had the Dodgers signed Wolf, they would not have signed Padilla, and so they still would have needed starting pitching. It would have been possible for the union to file a grievance against Wolf’s release, arguing the reason would not have been about performance but about pay. So, given the Dodgers’ needs and the possibility of a union grievance, it would have been possible — but highly unlikely — for the Dodgers to release Wolf because the arbitration award was too high.”

    Add this to fact that 90% of all these issues don’t ever make to the desk of the mediation team.

    So, the contracts are NOT guaranteed, and had the Dodgers released the player early, there would be a grievance filed. Well gee, Frankie doesn’t want to COURT now does he.

    As for what Ken said, I follow it – I think. I have always had a question about Butt’s willingness to give a guy like McParkinlot the official okey dokey on the purchase, when other, more financially solvent bidders, were interested. Is it possible the Buttrick didn’t want a National League New York Yankees which his midwest, small market, frozen tundra team there in the Brew Town would have to contend? Hey, just askin’.

  6. lawdog says:

    If the contract is not guaranteed, then what would there be to file a grievance over if the club said it wasn’t going to enter into the deal awarded? Like I said, this happened once before. I remember following it. But it only happened the one time as far as I can tell and that was over 25 years ago.

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