It’s Not Always About the Money

Some players only get one shot at a big payday in Free Agency, and knowing that, they have to take the best offer.  Their agent plays a part as well, after all, he gets a percentage of their contract – why would he negotiate a deal that will get him less money?  Some free agents, say “it’s not about the money” when we all know that it is and if we were in the same position as they were, we would likely go for the money as well. Yes, It’s All About the Money… except when it’s not!

Case in point are the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers who have had at least four players sign with them for less money than they could have gotten elsewhere… simply because they wanted to play for the Dodgers.  Over a year ago, I predicted Kenley Jansen might be the first $100 million reliever, but he signed with the Dodgers for $80 million because he did not want to go anywhere else.  By all accounts he could have gotten $6 to $10 million more, but he wanted to remain a Dodger.  I think Justin Turner left the most money on the table.  He signed for $64 million but made it clear to his agent from Jump Street that he wanted to stay in Blue.  Had he played the game, I think he could have gotten over $80 million.

Now, you can say “It’s not that big of a deal, it’s only a few million.”  That’s absurd.  If you look at the time value of money, one million dollars can become $8 or $9 million dollars in 20 years if invested properly.  Even if you get $80 million, an extra $6 million is a lot of money and Florida has no state tax so Kenley may have left a whole lot more than that on the table to be a Dodger.

Chase Utley and Sergio Romo took less because they both wanted to be Dodgers at the end of their careers.  They both grew up rooting for the Dodgers ands simply wanted to play for them… no matter what the cost.  Oh, by the way, they want to win with them as well! Those are the guys I want – not mercenaries, but players who bleed Dodger Blue!  These guys are high on the Dodgers, believe in management and their teammates and want to bring a Championship back to LA.  Those are guys I would want to go to war with.

This speaks volumes about the Dodgers front office, management and coaching, but it goes beyond that.  The Dodgers have nice digs for the players and with the help of Gabe Kapler and the full endorsement of Andrew Friedman, they are cultivating mind, body and soul enhancement with fitness, nutrition and spiritual focuses.  They are helping their players in every way possible.  FAZ came close last year… very close – this year they are even better and have more depth.  They are going for it, while still building a juggernaut of a farm system.

… and yet, I continue to hear really ______________ (you fill in the blank) people continue to bash FAZ.  I mean, there are people losing their minds because they signed Utley, Romo and Gutierrez.  They are calling for Friedman’s head and continuing to compare his accomplishments to Theo Epsteins.  How crazy!  First of all, I like Theo – I like what he did in Boston and I like what he has done in Chicago.  I like it a lot – he is one of the best and brightest in baseball.  No question about that!

I was listening to MLB Radio a few days ago and some former GM’s were talking about how hard it is to try and win while rebuilding.  In fact, they said it was close to impossible.  They stated that it’s so much easier and more predictable to blow it up and rebuild than it is to maintain a winning team while rebuilding.  They were talking about the White Sox and the Cubs, and while the Sox have started a Fire Sale (get it “Sale”?) they really need to finish by trading away Quintana, Frazier, Abreu and others.  They said “Look how Theo did it for the Cubs – he got the fans to buy into a complete re-build and just blew up the team and rebuilt it.”  They said the Cubs rebuilding by Theo “should be the plan that the White Sox follow.”

I totally agree, but some fans persist in blasting Friedman because, by ownership mandate, they would not allow Andrew to blow up the team. Before Friedman came to the Dodgers, they traded for Gonzalez and Crawford and paid them $43 million last year for less than 2 WAR.  Add in Andre Ethier and they paid $61 million for less than 2 WAR…. AND THEY STILL ALMOST WON IT ALL!  Look, I am not into comparing Theo and Andrew.  Theo has won more primarily because of the situation he was in:  (i.e., working for the deep pocket Red Sox and being allowed to do a re-build his way with the Cubs).

Could Friedman have rebuilt the Cubs like Epstein did?  Could Epstein have won as many games for the tight-wad Rays as Friedman did? Could Friedman have won a World Series with the Red Sox?  Could Theo have rebuilt the Dodgers while continuing to win like Friedman? Those are questions we can never know the answers to.  Some say that in Andrew’s last few year at TB, he did not draft so well and that is true.  However, when you work for a small market team that has little cash, you often have to draft who you think you can sign…. not always whom you want.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

I don’t compare Joe Maddon to Dave Roberts, Clayton Kershaw to Chris Sale, Theo to Andrew or Michael Jordan to Lebron James.  They are all in the top of their fields.  Why do you have to rank them?  Theo already has a legacy because he is older than Andrew.  Andrew is building his… not to be compared to Theo – just compare him to what we have had in player development for the past 30 years.

I find it absurd that people try and rank who the best Quarterback of all time is based upon number of Super Bowls (not that winning a SB is not important).  It’s hard to rank who is number one,  but I think these guys are in the conversation:  Brady, Montana, Elway, Marino, Manning, Starr, Favre, Manning and some I have left out. It all depends upon your subjective perspective.

So, here we are:  The farm is rebuilt – the Dodgers are primed to win it all this year (good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise).  Me?  I am enjoying the run, which is why I had to resurrect LA Dodger Talk.  Feel free to disagree with anything I say, but be forewarned:  “I have been right more than I have been wrong about what Friedman would accomplish.”  I predicted great things from this front office and it is coming to pass.

I have to tell you (as if you don’t already know) that I have a great deal of difficulty in suffering foolish stuff!  I admit it’s a weakness and I have gotten better in my 63 years on this earth.  I’d say that by 126, I will have it conquered.  I’m sure I will live to be that old because…

Other Stuff:

  • Three more days!
  • I hear Trayce Thompson will likely go on the 60 day DL just to bring him along slowly.  He is doing everything pain-free except swinging a bat and they want him to take that slow.
  • The Dodgers have 65 players invited to Major League Camp.  That may be an All-Time record!  To me, it shows the level of commitment to winning now.
  • Lindy’s Sports Baseball 2017 Ranks the Top Five Players at every position.  Corey Seager is ranked the #1 SS and Yasmani Grandal is ranked the #3 catcher, behind Posey and Lucroy.  Kenley Jansen is ranked #2 closer behind Britton and ahead of Chapman.  Clayton Kershaw was ranked the #1 LH starter with Julio Urias listed as “on the rise.”  There’s those ranking again.  😉

Posted by Mark Timmons

We started LA Dodger Talk in 2001. This site is about giving another perspective outside of the average day-to-day reporting. We don't do game recaps or such things -- lots of sites do that well. I value sabermetrics, but don't think they are the "end-all-be-all.". This is where you should start your day as a Dodger Fan. Welcome! We'd like to hear your voice.

This article has 52 Comments

  1. I’ll tell you this: I’m a LOT more confident going into 2017 than I was 2016, and 2016 was a pretty damn good year!

    JT isn’t coming off injury; Seager after 1 year is the franchise; our 2b spot seems much more stable than having a 38 year old; Agone is declining, but I think we all expect that . We have more competition in the OF, and I’m more sure about what’s in LF this year than last; Im more confident in Joc than I was last Feb. Kersh missed 2 months last year; most likely that doesn’t happen again; Urias has proved he has super elite stuff; Maeda proved he’s a good MLB pitcher. Rich Hill showed he has elite stuff, but how can that stupid blister issue hold up this year????

    I like it. I already have my opening day tic Apr 3. If anyone is going, I’d love to grab a drink!

  2. Mark we are in the hunt for sure! The dodgers should now be recognized as a consistent winner with a bright future. Faz has to have credit for the shape the franchise is in. We haven’t won a World Series but we certainly aren’t the only ones seeking that goal. If I had to complain I would say our lack of a third starter and maybe number 4 has killed us. We have pushed Keyshaw because we couldn’t throw anybody better than Anderson and a worn out maeda or a not quite ready for prime time Urias. I regret that they could not solve that problem but if kazmir or McCarthy would have come through we would have had it. I feel we are wasting a once in a lifetime pitcher like kershaw even though you could argue his playoff performance has been a part of the problem. Roberts has molded this into a better team and has a sense of urgency that the previous manager didn’t.

  3. You guys make Calhoun sound like horse manure. The suits had him in the fall league with Bellinger. Sounds like pretty good praise. Now, he is again at least a year away and blocked by Forsythe and Utley. To me, it is the apparent contradictory moves the suits make and have made. This organization is as good as it is because these guys are given complete license to spend at will. For every hit, they have had 10 misses, at least. High priced ones at that. Think “Cuban.” I still don’t like the message this is sending to the young guys. Moving on: Did anyone read about a proposal to speed up games that will be implemented in some minor leagues and in the WBC? In extra innings, the inning will start with a runner on 2d. In the WBC, it won’t happen until the 11th. How about that? Why don’t they just play to ties instead of all this BS. If people think the game is too slow, they can just leave before it’s over. The game is just fine the way it is. It’s supposed to be slow.

    1. Calhoun is not blocked if he can’t play 2B.

      At best, he’ll be adequate at that position next spring training. In that optimal and rosy scenario the Dodgers can move Forsythe. Or keep him on the bench.

      Who are you talking about “For every hit, they have had 10 misses, at least.”

    2. 1. I don’t think Calhoun is horse bleep. I do think he is a horrible defender and needs a year (or more) to work on it… or traded to the AL where he can DH. I like Calhoun a lot, but typically guys who field as poorly as he does, don’t make it. Hopefully, he can be atypical, but it takes time.
      .
      2. Yes, Calhoun went to the AFL along with Bellinger and Verdugo. Here are their stats in the AFL:
      .
      Bellinger – .314 BA / .424 OB% / .557 Slg / .981 OPS
      .
      Verdugo – .140 BA / .213 OB% / .233 Slg / .445 OPS
      .
      Calhoun – .255 BA / .300 OB% / .340 SLG / .640 OPS
      .
      Bellinger is a Gold Glove 1B and showed he could handle AAA and AFL pitching.

      Calhoun is a defensive hack who needs more seasoning insofar as hitting. We have to face the fact that he may never come around with his glove.

        1. MJ,


          Sometimes I just use the eye test and you just know. I knew it with Corey when he was in A Ball. He hit .278 in AAA after hitting .345 and .375 in AA. Then he hit .337 and .308 in the majors. Sometimes, you just know. I “knew” about Urias and Seager and Bellinger. Beyond that, I have hope in lots of other players, but with those three, I knew. It was the same with Clayton.

          1. Mark

            I will trust you on that.

            I noticed that Bellinger, hasn’t struck out that much, for a guy with power.

            And I think that is a pretty good sign, of a good hitter.

          2. I can’t help it, but with those mentioned Colletti just knew it as well. where credit is due……………

    3. Jon Heyman is reporting that Utley’s 2017 salary will be $2M plus incentives, chicken-feed if Calhoun is capable of breaking down the door.

      I am pulling for Calhoun to prove a lot of people wrong, I would bet big dollars so is FAZ, but, 22 yr old Calhoun has some stuff to work on at AAA. FAZ wants to win in 2017, Forsyth and Utley give the Dodgers a better chance at that.

  4. Let’s compile the list. Make this a group exercise.

    Misses:
    .
    Olivera
    McCarthy
    (Sierra – Maybe)

    .

    Then, there are quite a few players upon whom the jury is out. How about some help here? List the hits and misses and I’l will post it on our homepage.

    Hits:
    .
    Calhoun
    Liberatore
    Dayton
    Thompson
    Maeda
    Grandal
    Toles
    Bolsinger
    Blanton
    Wood

    1. Add Toles and Bolsinger to Hits. Sierra to misses (but at age 26 and five more years under contract, hopefully jury still out)

      1. Sierra is a definite miss. There is no way that he can make good on a $30M contract . Even if he makes it to the ML, it will be as a middle reliever and not before 2018, only if he goes off this year…doubtful.

      1. Last I checked, FAZ had over 20 players on the 40 man roster that they had acquired. So, that means they have acquired 20 and had 200 failures?

        Hyperbole… maybe?

    2. I do not disagree with any of your hit or miss categorized players. Here is my shot at additional players..

      Miss
      Matt Latos
      Josh Reddick
      Bud Norris
      Brandon Beachy
      Jesse Chavez
      Nick Tepesch

      Hits:
      Chase Utley
      Charlie Culberson (for the NL West clinching HR by itself)
      Chase De Jong
      Josh Fields
      Louis Coleman
      Jimmie Rollins (no cost, great clubhouse guy, and was a good stop gap until Corey came up).
      Howie Kendrick
      Chris Taylor (when compared to Zach Lee)

      Hit and Miss:
      Brett Andereson – Hit in 2015 (10-9; sub 4 ERA, 170+ IP all as the #3, when he was acquired to be #5); Miss with
      the 2016 QO.

      Jury still out:
      Dee Gordon Trade (This year will reveal the hit or miss)
      Rich Hill (I am predicting a hit)
      Scott Kazmir (I am predicting a hit)
      Logan Forsythe (I am predicting a hit)
      Sergio Romo (I am predicting a hit)
      Franklin Gutierrez (no feeling one way or the other)
      Vidal Nuno (no feeling one way or the other – This will determine the AJ Ellis trade)
      Darin Ruf & Brett Eibner (This really falls into the neither category)

  5. Willie Calhoun is a feel-good story and I admire his grit and determination. I am pretty sure he is a hitter, but he is LH on a left-handed dominant team. Also, FAZ has shown that they value defense as much as offense and Willie has a great deal of difficulty with that aspect of the game.
    .
    He is also slow and has “tree trunk legs.” I’m not making that up. Look, basketball was my sport. I was a natural “back-to-the-basket center,” and there is no doubt in my mind that I would have been an NBA legend… IF I WOULD HAVE BE 8 TO 10 INCHES TALLER. The thing is, there is no way a 6′ 4″ center can make it in the NBA. I do regret not playing college ball, but my twisted thinking at the time was =why play if you can’t make the NBA?
    .
    I do not think Calhoun will be even a below average 2B, so that leaves LF. I just don’t know…

    1. Haven’t we had several “All Hit, no Field” players, that never did work out…And geez what is our average with the Cuban Players that we signed….And Yet the beast roams now in Georgia with his 30 hrs and 100 RBI a year bat…oh doesn’t he hit right handed…..

      1. Welcome aboard, Kingman!

        For the sake of argument, I will pretend that Matt Kemp is/was not a cancer in the clubhouse, although people in LA and SD will say otherwise.

        Matt Kemp was a pure salary dump and oh, by the way, they got one of the best Catchers in baseball out of it.

        Do the math – someone had to go. No one wanted Andre, so Matt was the obvious choice.

        Matt Kemp was/is a prick! SD could not get rid of him quick enough. He is playing nice right now in the ATL – let’s see how long that lasts.

  6. I respectfully disagree about Willie Calhoun – I believe that he’s going to surprise and be a very competent major league second baseman for a long time. It is extremely rare to find a young player with the attitude for success that he possesses. He may not be a “Brooks Robinson” second baseman, but he will be good, perhaps in the mold of a Brandon Phillips. That’s my 2 cents – which with inflation is worth absolutely nothing!

  7. A guy like Chase Utley can afford to be altruistic. He has made his $$$ and he’s 38. If you were a 38 year old former star, and weren’t going to play a regular for any major league team, wouldn’t you prefer to play for a team that has a chance to win and stay close to home? As to Jansen and Turner, both left $$$ on the table to return to the Dodgers. They really do want to be here and want to win here and it is great to see.

    As to the ongoing Willie Calhoun debate, my question is – really? I’ve never seen the kid play so don’t have an eyeball opinion but haven’t read anywhere when he can field the position.
    =
    Keith Law: “If Willie Calhoun could play average defense at 2nd would he have made your top 100?
    And if my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle.”
    DAN SZYMBORSKI: “Calhoun may never be a good second baseman, but it still makes sense to keep him there as long as you can — getting Dan Uggla’s prime is nice upside, so long as you don’t then decide to overpay for Uggla’s decline.”
    Dodgers Digest (2016):”
    He’s a second baseman, but really only in name. He’s clunky out there and doesn’t have the strongest arm — even for second base. He seems to be better ranging to his left than his right, but everything about his second base defense needs improvement.”
    Ben Badler (Baseball America):” Now the downside -he’s short, stocky, doesn’t have much physical projection left and his defense is poor.”

    I haven’t read a single projection that has Calhoun making it as a competent major league 2B. I don’t believe in wishful thinking. If he makes it, great, but don’t bank on it.

    In light of this, why should anyone rag on the Braintrust for obtaining real major league 2B?

    1. That is funny because Keith Law had Kyle Schwarber in his top 100 list, and he doesn’t play good defense either.

        1. Mark

          I doubt that Mark, it is probably because he is on the Cubs, and not the Dodgers.

          When most any baseball person, a talks about Schwarber, they refer to him, as a DH.

          1. Actually, most of what I have heard is that he will be above “League average” in LF. He can also catch, although he is not great there either, but he can catch. He’s also a very good baserunner although not speedy.

  8. Mark

    That is funny because like I said, most baseball people say, he is a DH.

    And I have seen a couple of his misplays, in the outfield.

    And they were pretty bad misplays.

      1. Mark

        I agree Schwarber must be a better left fielder, then Calhoun, because I don’t see where Calhoun played, leftfield.

        But they both want to improve on defense, and that is a good thing.

        Didn’t you watch the World Series?

        They were talking about Schwarber really being a DH.

        And how some American League teams, had asked about him, because of that fact.

        And the Cubs wanted to hold on to him, because of his bat.

        And I have read that Calhoun may have to play left, too.

        But I have also read that Calhoun’s bat, would play anywhere, too.

        And I did read one of Law’s reports on Schwarber, and he said Schwarber would have to stay at catcher, to be a major leaguer, then he said his bat will play anywhere, if I remember correctly.

          1. Mark

            Maybe it was when he was lower on the list, the year before.

            But I just don’t trust anything that someone from ESPN, says about the Dodgers.

            Every other list, including Baseball America, had Calhoun on there list.

            We all know he needs to get better, but I guess some, like to pull for the underdog.

    1. Schwarber is a much much higher rated hitter than Calhoun. who was suspect as a catcher and is poorly rated as someone learning LF, but has a much stronger arm than Calhoun.

  9. Willie Calhoun is one of my favorite players – I just can’t see him at 2B… and I really hope I am wrong! Nothing would please me more!

      1. Yes, I was very impressed with him. He played at IU, same as Micah Johnson.

        Micah Johnson was a better 2B than Calhoun, but not great either.

        I thought Johnson would hit better. Schwarber is the real deal. Yes, he will be David Ortiz… someday!

    1. I thought of him. I just did not know where to put him. He wasn’t a hit or miss. Nothing memorable positive or negative.

  10. Hack Wilson? Kirby Puckett? Mel Ott?

    All three of those players had good speed. Puckett was legendary for being a short, fat guy with good speed.

    Mel Ott was an excellent fielder as was Puckett.

    Hack Wilson was a horrid fielder but he had good speed. He had 19 errors in CF one year.

    I don’t see any commonality with Calhoun except the hitting and of course he has a long way to go to get to their level.

    Mel Ott’s career was enhanced by the fact that he played half his games in the Polo Grounds which was 279 feet in RF. He benefited from that advantage greatly.

  11. Calhoun was on the roster of the University of Arizona, before he went to that JC.

    He just didn’t feel right there, and Arizona is a good baseball college.

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