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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Trout and Trumbo: The Angels Have Never Produced A More Dynamic Duo




       By Ross Newhan

      In the first year of the expansion Angels the press corps could be excused for applying any kind of embellishment to enhance a story, so it may have been the late Bud Furillo or John Hall or even this then rookie writer who dreamed up T 'N T for the unrelated Lee Thomas and George Thomas.

     It was a half truth at best.

    George Thomas lacked any real explosiveness, but Lee Thomas hit 50 home runs and drove in 174 runs in those first two years with the Angels, the best of his eight major league seasons.

   Fifty years later, having spent all or parts of the half century covering or watching the Angels, I can say without embellishment that they now have a true T 'N T in Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo.

   And beyond that it can be safely said they have never produced a more exciting young duo than rookie Trout, 20, or sophomore Trumbo, 26, or a player with more natural athletic ability and the widely acknowledged capability to fulfill the expectations that accompanied Trout's selection in the first round of the 2009 draft, when it was as if he was every one's Minor League Player of the Year before he had even played a minor league game.

   "I'm not sure we've had anyone with the national hype," Vice President of Communications Tim Mead, who is in his 33rd year with the organization, said.

   They have certainly had no one who scouts compared to a young Mickey Mantle, sans the switch hitting but with the size, power and sprinter's speed.

   Not to mention now, after an aborted trial last year and a re-start this year as the Angels sorted out a convoluted roster, that "at 20 he knows he belongs and has a confidence beyond his years," said Tim Salmon, who now works on the Angels' pre- and post-game TV shows and remains the only Angel to have been elected American League Rookie of the Year, although Wally Joyner was unjustly edged by Jose Canseco in 1986 and Trumbo, with 29 home runs and 87 RBI, should have been selected ahead of Tampa Bay pitcher Jeremy Hellickson last year.

   Salmon won in 1993. A little more than a year later he and Garret Anderson started to form a pretty exciting duo themselves, Salmon pointed out with a smile. But in the period since '93 "the only guy I would compare athletically to Trout is Darin Erstad, but Ersty was 23 or 24 and pretty much kept his head down and stayed to himself his first couple of years. This kid carries himself as if he's been here and this is where he belongs."

   In addition, Salmon said, despite their youth and limited experience, both Trout and Trumbo have demonstrated the ability to adapt from at bat to at bat, pitch to pitch.

  "They have an approach, a game plan, and they use the whole field," Salmon said.

  In the fifth inning of Wednesday night's 6-5 loss to the New York Yankees, the Angels were trailing, 5-1, when Trumbo, batting .338 and leading the Angels in virtually every offensive category, rifled a two run homer into the right field pavilion, the opposite field. Moments later, Trout rifled a game tying, two run double to right center, the opposite field.

  Size and power are sweet, and a lineup in which opposing pitcher have to remember Albert Pujols in the middle is a benefit, but it took awhile for the Angels to sort out their lineup, to plug in Trumbo and Trout.

  Some fans will say that the firing of batting coach Mickey Hatcher ignited the Angels and then set them off on an eight game win streak that ended Wednesday night, but that is a stretch.

  The firing may have been a wake up call and prompted some people to ask themselves if they were doing everything they could do.

  Of more significance, however, was that the Angels had consecutive series against three of the weakest teams in baseball (San Diego, Oakland and Seattle) and that the release of Bobby Abreau, the injury (convenient, if you will) to Vernon Wells and the departure of Torii Hunter for personal reasons enabled Manager Mike Scioscia to establish a regular fit. He put Peter Bourjos back into center field flanked by Trout and Trumbo, a defensively strong unit, and then there was Pujols finding a measure of his Hall of Fame form. Hunter is back now and will have to get some playing time, but Trout and Trumbo are in to stay.

  Any predictions?

 "I'd hate to box either in to numbers," Salmon said. "With that kind of talent you would probably be dead wrong.

 "However, the one thing this park has shown to Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter and Albert Pujols is that you've really got to hit it to get it out.

 "I've told (owner) Arte Moreno that he should bring the fences in."

Salmon smiled, knowing he would be dead wrong to think that might happen.                    

                      

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Freeing a Son From His Father's Words





       By Ross Newhan

       It may be noted by followers of this blog that it has been nicely redesigned, by my wife, and that references to our son, David Newhan, have been eliminated.

      We have not disowned David. We are proud of his wife, the two grandchildren they have provided us and his own accomplishments, including parts of eight seasons in the major leagues and almost six in all (and where are all those scouts who only seemed to see his short-comings when he was the second baseman on one of the best high school teams in the country?).

      During his tenures in the major leagues, when asked by reporters if he had ever thought about becoming a sportswriter like his dad, David would laugh and say, "no, I heard him yell and cuss out the computer too many times."

      I still do that occasionally, and yet, when David retired (a surfing accident resulted in a broken neck and he and all of us feel truly blessed that he has no repurcussions from it and is totally healthy) he and I decided that we formed a unique duo--a baseball writing father and a son who had played in the major leagues--and that we might provide unique insights through this blog.

     David, as it turned out, did have things to say and wrote well, but it has now been more than two years since he contributed. He had gone to work for the San Diego Padres and felt he was not in position to comment on other teams or players, or the industry as a whole. It is for the same reason that we have finally gotten around to removing his name from the heading, the blogs themselves and all comment responses.

     I just wanted to make it clear that the opinions expressed here, and which will continue to be expressed here, have been mine and mine alone, despite the heading and the appearance of David's name at different spots on the web site.

    The redesign did not spring from any one particular blog or response. It was just time, past time, to free David from any possible blame or misinterpretation for something I alone had written or will write in the future.

    Now, if I could only do something about this darn computer.              

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Scioscia Needs Pujols More Than Mattingly's Magic



      By Ross Newhan

      While Don Mattingly keeps pulling rabbits out of the hat--like Scott Van Slyke, Ivan De Jesus and Matt Treanor--as the Dodgers produce the best record in baseball, Mike Scioscia's experience with the Angels has been more hair raising.

       How does one know when early becomes late over the course of a 162 game season? Former Dodger executive Al Campanis used to borrow from Branch Rickey and say that it is impossible to know what kind of team you have until you have played every other team in the league.

       Well, Rickey and Campanis--at least for a long time--operated when each league had only eight teams and you had played the entire league by June or earlier.

      Now, with 16 teams in the National League and 14 in the American, and interleague play mixed in, a team may not have played every other team in its league until mid-season.

      However, what we do know is that a quarter of the season has been played, which is a pretty good foundation for formultating ideas, and one suspects that Mattingly and the Dodgers--despite the uncertain financial footing of winter and spring--have some magic working for them that will certainly influence the new owners to spend on playing help at the trade deadline, particularly in a division in which the defending champion, Arizona, along with Colorado and San Diego, are already playing their way toward oblivion, and San Francisco can't seem to muster a sustained streak of the type it should be capable of generating on a regular basis given the caliber of the rotation.

     In the case of the Giants, however, it may be more early than late.

    They represent a formidable hurdle in the heat of the summer, when Mattingly and the Dodgers face some hard realiies despite their 7-2 record without Matt Kemp and those little miracles that have added up to 30-13 overall (and 75-41 under Mattingly since last mid-season despite the ownership turmoil).

    Consider this: With Kemp's return on Monday, the Dodgers really only have three positions locked down on a regular basis. They are center field with Kemp, right field with Andre Eithier and, giving him the benefit of a considerable doubt, shortstop with Dee Gordon. In addition, Chris Capuano, who has shared the title of first quarter ace with Clayton Kershaw, has not won more than 11 games in a season since winning 18 with Milwaukee seven years ago; Chad Billingsley, basically a .500 pitcher for three straight seasons is headed that way again; and Kenley Jansen is more of an adventure than a certainty in the closer role.

   The Dodgers need a premium addition, meaning that come the July deadline, owner Mark Walter is going to have to call on one of the insurance companies that helped finance his purchase.

   We know what Angel owner Arte Moreno spent on Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson during the winter, but it guaranteed neither a division title nor franchise peace.

   The Angels are not dead in the American League West, but the relationship between General Manager Jerry DiPoto and Scioscia pretty much is, as I have written before.

   DiPoto's firing of hitting coach Mickey Hatcher, a handy scapegoat for the team's staggering start, ended the idea of pre-game lunches with Scioscia, whose contract extends through 2018 but may be wearing a different uniform by then.

   The players know DiPoto is in charge now, and that doesn't help in a situation where Scioscia has drawn more media questioning of strategical moves than in any of his 12 previous seasons.

   The manager, however, is basically dealing with a roster that forces him to hope sophomore Mark Trumbo and rookie Mike Trout can produce enough offense for what should be a dominant rotation. Otherwise, Torri Hunter is on the restricted list, dealing with a family issue that is likely to weigh on him the rest of the season. Vernon Wells will be sidelined for eight weeks with a finger injury, catcher Chris Ianetta is sidelined with a hand injury, Howie Kendrick has a 24% strike out rate amid his overall regression, Kendrys Morales can't really run and doesn't have much reason to, and Pujols is still batting just North of the Mendoza line, and the Birthers are out again, claiming Pujols is much older than 32.

  I have no evidence either way, but at this point Scioscia needs Pujols to be Pujols. In the longterm, that would top any search for rabbits.                    
                        

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Does Hatcher Firing Diminish Scioscia Control?



     By Ross Newhan

     It doesn't matter how the Angels explain it, but Tuesday's firing of Manager Mike Scioscia's friend and hitting coach, Mickey Hatcher, significantly changes the image of organization control.

    Scioscia's contract extends through 2018, which would be his 19th year at the club's helm, but the manager would never have made Hatcher the scapegoat for an offense that General Manager Jerry DiPoto describes as having "grossly underachieved." DiPoto, whose contract run through 2014, with option years in 2015 and 2016, is clearly making the key decisions now, with approval of owner Arte Moreno.

   In addition, Albert Pujols' pathetic performance through the first six weeks of his 10 year, $240 million contract, has left Scioscia--and the entire lineup--facing the Sword of Damocles, now resting in Hatcher's neck.

   Jim Eppard, elevated from triple A, is the new hitting coach. Good luck.

   The gregarious Hatcher, a former Dodger teammate of Scioscia's and his hitting coach in triple A, had also been with Scioscia throughout his Angel tenure.

   He was the hitting coach when the Angels won the 2002 World Series, when they won five of six division titles and when they set club records for hits, runs, runs batted in and batting average in 2009.
     
   When the Angels lost the last two division titles to the Texas Rangers--and given their inconsistent start of this year (including being shut out a major league high eight times while last in the West)--Hatcher came under fire from fans despite a series of fruitless, big money acquisitions by the front office, including those of Gary Matthews Jr. and Vernon Wells.

   Will Pujols prove fruitless after Moreno--stung by the Rangers' division dominance--couldn't wait to spend his new TV money?

   As of Wednesday, Pujols had hit one home run in 146 at bats and was batting .212 after getting three infield hits in Tuesday's 4-0 victory over Oakland, after which the Angels distributed a press release on the firing of Hatcher, the timing being such that Sciocia wasn't avavilable.

   Hatcher said Scioscia was "frustrated and disappointed" by the decision but that Hatcher said he tried to tell his friend it was just part of the game.

   Hatcher had recently been criticized by Pujols for talking to the media about a closed door meeting the team had conducted, and Pujols had already criticized the organization after Moreno, the former billboard magnate, had approved a series of billboards in L.A. and throughout Southern California portraying Pujols as "El Hombre." Pujols said he came up in the St. Louis organization believing there was only one "El Hombre," so to speak, and that was Stan "The Man" Musial.

   While Pujols has been the most glaring hole in the Angel lineup, there have been others, but two youngsters--sophomore Mike Trumbo and rookie Mike Trout--have created a sense of optimism, and it is difficult to believe Pujols won't regain a measure of his previous form despite his last three declining seasons in St. Louis.

   In the meantime, Moreno and DiPoto will be making the decisions, with Hatcher's firing seemingly cutting into the control that was previously believed to belong to the manager.         

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Has Guggenheim Learned a Lesson About Transparency?



     By Ross Newhan

     I emerged from the introductory news conference for the new owners of the Dodgers and wrote a blog under the headline "I'm Willing to Believe Guggenheim Is for Real."

    Wishful thinking?

    It has only taken a week to raise some doubt.

    In retrospect, the news conference seems to have been more Showtime than an attempt to wipe out 14 years of turmoil under News Corp. and Frank McCourt with a transparent introduction of Mark Walter, Stan Kasten, Magic Johnson and the other Guggenheim partners.

    We have already learned they lied when, under repreated questioning at the news conference, they said that McCourt shares only in an equity percentage of any parking lot development.

    The Times subsequently reported that they must pay McCourt a yearly fee of $14 million for use of the lot. Then, on Thursday, The Times reported that it was shown a document--has The Times become Guggenheim's house organ at the expense of other news outlets?--that indicates Johnson is the liason for Guggenheim in any relationship with McCourt and has the right of approval or disapproval over any development in the parking lot.

    What's next? Wouldn't it have been better if all this had come out in the news conference, along with an explanation of how the ownership breaks down on a percentage basis?

    The problem now is that the Guggenheim partnership has created a measure of doubt in any  evaluation of its word.

     Of course, it has also become evident that there is a deeper problem.

    The renewal of the rivalry with the San Francisco Giants, despite the Dodgers' fine start, attracted announced crowds in the low thirty thousands. In reality, there was probably less than 30,000 in the stadium.

    Obviously, Guggenheim has a long way to go in healing the wounds of the last two regimes.

   Hopefully, it should be clear by now that honesty and transparency have to be part of the process.                      

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hawaii Vacation Gives O'Malley Chance to Weigh Padres Purchase




      By Ross Newhan

      Peter O'Malley and family are spending this week in Hawaii. O'Malley, wife Annette and O'Malley's sister, Terry Seidler, are coming off the Diamondhead high of last week's Dodger Stadium news conference at which the new owners of the team were introduced and treated the O'Malleys like royalty, repeatedly referring to the class with which O'Malley and his father, Walter, operated the Dodgers and repeatedly asking Peter to stand for appropriate recognition.

     O'Malley, of course, would never have returned to Dodger Stadium if Frank McCourt remained the owner. He publicly criticized McCourt, recommended that he sell to benefit the community and, for a time, was a bidder in the Dodgers' bankruptcy auction in conjunction with E-Land, a South Korean conglomerate.

     "I was certainly happy with the message and vision that (the new owners) expressed," O'Malley said before leaving for Hawaii, where he and his family will spend more time discussing the possibility of going into competition with those same owners by pursuing purchase of the San Diego Padres "It's something we have been thinking about and continue to consider. It's not a matter of competition with the Dodgers, but does it make sense for the family."

     O'Malley said that his pursuit of the Dodgers regenerated family ownership interest, and while he added that it is much too early to suggest how a Padre ownership would be structured, it is likely that his son, Kevin, and a nephew, Tom Seidler, would be involved. Seidler and Kevin O'Malley have been co-owners of the minor league Visalia Rawhide, woking with the community, revitalizing the franchise and drawing record attendance for three straight years.

    It is suspected that O'Malley would not be the only failed Dodger bidder to pursue the Padres, who have the worst record in the National League, the second worst in baseball, and are drawing some of their smallest crowds to Petco Park.

    Their current sale wasn't anticipated until January when the club was returned to John Moores after major league owners suddenly failed to approve the $530 million installment purchase by a group headed by former player agent Jeff Moorad, even though that plan had drawn initial approval in 2009 when Moores, who had bought the club for $80 million in 1994 and was significantly responsible for the building of Petco Park and much of the real estate around it, was forced to sell after his wife of 44 years filed for divorce under California's joint property provisions

   The final installment payment on the $530 million was in escrow and Moorad, who has refused to discuss the situation, had gone to the January owners meeting fully expecting to be approved only to be sent home--rejected and dejected.

   Whether it was his former player agent background or questions about his financing and the possibility that some of it was based on borrowing against a since completed TV contract (illegal under baseball rules) isn't clear.

   Reached by phone, Commissioner Bud Selig refused to go into details. He acknowledged that there was strong opposition among owners and "problems within the (Moorad) partnership."

   The club was returned to Moores, who blistered Moorad in a San Diego Union column by Nick Canepa and has hired Steve Greenberg of Allen & Co. and John Moag of Moag & Co. to handle the sale. Greenberg, baseball's former deputy commissioner, was a member of the highly regarded Steven Cohen group that may have been runnerup to the $2.15 billion purchase of the Dodgers by Mark Walter and partners. Greenberg refused to say whether hedge fund billionaire Cohen would bid for the Padres but that he expected a "fair amount" of bidders and a sale within six to 12 months.

   "You are looking at a beautiful ballpark in a beautiful part of Southern California and a young and rebuilding club in a division that is wide open and you can become competitive without breaking the bank," Greenberg said by phone.

   In March, Forbes estimated the Padres value at $458 million, while estimating the Dodgers at $1.4 billion, which was shortly before the Dodgers sold for almost twice that.

   "The Dodger sale was one of a kind and we may never see that type auction again," Greenberg said. "It's hard to estimate how that will impact the sale of the Padres, but you only have to go back to the recent sale of the (Houston) Astros ($610 million) and (Chicago) Cubs ($845 million) to see how franchise values have grown. The fact is that baseball is kind of hot right now. Revenue sharing among the clubs is clearly working, the labor situation is as good as it has ever been (and clearly better than the other professional sports), and the national and local television growth has been very impressive."

    The Padres, in fact, have the solid under-footing of a new regional network: Fox Sports San Diego. While the terms aren't comparable to the new Angel TV contract or the contract that the new Dodger owners are expected to receive, the Padres will still get $1.2 billion over 20 years, a $200 million bonus and a 20% equity stake in the network.

    It is likely that the new network will play a bigger role in the sale of the Padres than the auction sale of the Dodgers.

    "We're proud of  how the asset value of our franchises has grown because it reflects how well the industry as a whole is doing," Selig said by phone, "but I don't know how the sale of the Dodgers will impact this deal. I think you are looking at two separate things."

    Said a long-time San Diego resident familiar with the Padre situation:

   "I just don't see an Oklahoma land rush (of prospective buyers), John Moores has already reaped the benefit of the land development around the stadium (and continues to reap much of that benefit) and the TV deal compares only fractionally to the Angels and Dodgers."

   Ron Fowler, a highly respected San Diego businessman and philanthropist, is a name mentioned prominently among possible local buyers.

  Meanwhile, O'Malley is enjoying the Hawaii sun and contemplating that it shines frequently in San Diego.
        
    X   X  X

    GUGGENHEIM'S FIRST--AND LAST?--UNTRUTH

    It is hoped that the new owners of the Dodgers learned a lesson--which they concede they did--in insisting under repeated questioning at the introductory news conference that Frank McCourt has no other financial connection or involvement in their ownership other than an equity percentage of any parking lot development.

   It has since become public that they must pay McCourt $14 million a year for use of the lot.

  Will the value of their word be as good as the value of their checkbook?                                        

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I'm Willing to Believe Guggenheim Is for Real


 
         By Ross Newhan

         I have written about baseball since 1961, when the American League expanded to Los Angeles and Gene Autry was awarded the new franchise.

        It is only natural, over a half century in too many press boxes to count and yawning through too many news conferences to count, that a degree of skepticism would emerge. I am not easily fooled nor apt to offer false praise.

       Yet, after a gray and cool morning at Dodger Stadium ("what the Irish would call a 'soft day'" said a master or ceremony named Vin Scully in a fine brogue) , I came away from the news conference at which the new owners of the Dodgers were formally introduced believing that this group is sincerely dedicated to doing what is best for the team, its fans and the community.

      Of course, this introduction follows the dark cloud of Frank McCourt and the equally depressing tenure of News Corp. (you certainly remember the new sheriff in town), so, perhaps, anyone displaying enthusiasm and saying the right things is going to look good by comparison.

      At the same time, as I wrote yesterday and am even more firmly convinced today, anyone paying a record $2.15 billion for this onetime flagship franchise isn't suddenly going to close the account.

      "We are going to be in on everything that fits, short-term and long-term," said the new president, Stan Kasten, referring to the potential pursuit of an expensive free agent if the 2012 Dodgers remain in the hunt at the trade deadline.

      Kasten, a former president of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, is an exponent of building from within, but in reaffirming his group's dedication to reeestablish a "culture of winning" he said, "we understand where we are (in the context of a demanding big city) and we are not going to pass up any opportunity. We are not going to sit and wait for 25 kids to grow into the Dodger uniform."         
 
    From Kasten's realistic experience to the understated conviction of Mark Walter, the principal money man, to the magnatism of Magic Johnson, the Big Three of Gugenheim Baseball presented an impressive image.

    Johnson, who will operate out of McCourt's old office in a night and day transference of personality and popularity, fought hard to hold back tears and find the right words when asked to express his emotions at being baseball's first African-American owner. He noted his long-time affection for the Dodgers and said, "God is so good, and I know that because I am standing here as a Dodger owner. It is still hard to believe, and I am determined to be in that office every day. We are going to reach back and give back to the city and the organization."

     In the first move to give back, as Arte Moreno lowered beer prices in his first act as new Angel owner, the new Dodger owners are lowering parking prices from $15 to $10, and under persistent questioning, they insisted that they control everything and receive everything financially from Dodger Stadium and the parking lot and that McCourt only receives an equity percentage IF there is any development in the parking lot, for which they have no immediate plans. The McCourt questioning was so persistent that at one point Magic seemed to lose a degree of patience and said, "if he is part of future development, so what?"

    It is believed that there WILL be future development in the lot and major renovations in the stadium (the group has brought in engineers but have no immediate blueprint other than some work on the power, water and infrastructure.)

   Similarly, Kasten said he will use this year as a "laboratory" to determine if changes in the baseball department are needed (meaning general manager Ned Colletti is probably safe through the season) but that he thinks the Dodgers are "under-staffed" in some areas he did not identify and there will be  some immediate hiring.

   Time is the judge on all things, and time will determine it Guggenheim Baseball's deeds reflect their introductory words. I believe they will, cynicism aside.

  So, apparently, does one other interesting person. Peter O'Malley, whose father brought the Dodgers to Los Angeles and who succeeded his father as club president before selling the team in 1998, was a guest at the news conference, and whose grace and class of ownership was repeatedly saluted by each of the new owners ("the O'Malley's pioneered scouting and develpment so it's not as if we would be reinventing the wheel," Kasten said in a reference to building from within.

   O'Malley would never have returned to Dodger Stadium if McCourt was still the owner, so one key fan is back, and this skeptic believes many others will follow.
                            

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dodgers Fast Break Puts Guggenheim on Spot From Start




      By Ross Newhan

      A surprising April has provided the new owner of the Dodgers with a running start on the pay dirt of a playoff in Guggenheim Baseball's first year.

      Frank McCourt's otherwise bankrupt tenure ended Tuesday on the upbeat of a West Division lead.

     Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson--the Big Three of the new ownership group--took control with completion of the sale negotiations and wiring of the final payment in the $2.15 billion purchase.

     Walter and Co. will appear at a Dodger Stadium news conference this morning complete with much community and club panoply.

     There is not expected to be any immediate changes in the baseball department.

     General Manager Ned Colletti will likely survive the initial turnover--and perhaps longer.

     Much will be heard today about how the new ownership group---particularly Kasten, the new president and former president of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals--believes in building from within.

     It's a noble goal and one that needs undertaking promptly and completely.

    However, the test for Guggenheim--providing the Dodgers remain competitive in a division in which only the San Diego Padres are without a chance--will come early.

    Is Guggenheim willing to send a message with the long-term signing of Andre Ethier--a process that Colletti is believed to have initiated already--and the trade deadline acquisition of a major, and perhaps expensive, pitcher and/or hitter.

   The reality is that the cupboard is bare. There is nothing in the farm system that will provide a second half ignition if the Dodgers are still alive.

   Kasten and Colletti, if that is still the baseball partnership, will have to pay a price for significant talent, and it is doubtful Guggenheim would have invested that $2 billion if it also wasn't prepared to make two other investments--one being in playing talent and the second in stadium renovation and/or rebuilding.

    The current television agreement ends this year, and Guggenheim can use the leverage of a potential regional network to extract a $4 billion or more package from Fox Sports, Time Warner or, perhaps, even CBS.

   Give McCourt credit--despite the distasteful thought that he will be netting $1 billion out of this deal and retaining partial rights to any parking lot development--for signing Matt Kemp to an eight year, $160 million deal at a time when arguably less talented players are receiving even longer and richer deals

   Now Kemp, with one of the greatest Aprils ever, has helped put the Dodgers in an unexpected and potentially exciting position--and, in addition, put Guggenheim on the spot from the start.

   I mean, building from within may have to be secondary. It looks like Walter and Kasten will have to keep the wallet open.