It was to be a monumental four days in Nashville, Tennessee where baseball owners, general managers, managers, agents, reporters, bloggers, job seekers, and others gathered for the annual Winter Meetings. For many teams it was extremely momentous if not monumental, but for the Los Angeles Dodgers, it was anything but.
The Dodgers did actually make the first big splash at the meetings, though, when it was reported that they were to acquire fireballing closer Aroldis Chapman from Cincinnati. Reporters questioned and opined for hours on how that would sit with current closer Kenley Jansen, and if the two could co-exist before both became free agents at the end of next year. Early the next morning, it was found out that Chapman is being investigated in a domestic violence case, which effectively killed the deal, and ultimately all Dodger activity at the meetings.
Meanwhile pitcher Zack Greinke bolted the Dodgers for Arizona, and the next day, the Diamondbacks stabbed at the Dodgers again, obtaining pitcher Shelby Miller from Atlanta. The Miller trade was probably the biggest trade at the meetings, but the Cubs made the loudest noise, sending infielder Starlin Castro to the Yankees and signing the top free agent position player in Ben Zobrist. When they got back to Chicago, the Cubs inked outfielder Jason Heyward away from the rival Cardinals, even though St. Louis reportedly offered Heyward more money.
While the Cubs were handing out big bucks, the top-payroll Dodgers were cheaper than the late Jack Benny. They did sign Chase Utley to a one-year, seven million dollar deal and he's 37, but wouldn't give Greinke a sixth year in a new contract, when he would be the same age. Greinke was 19-3 this year, and Utley hit .212. On the eve of the meetings, the Dodgers reportedly signed pitcher Hisahi Iwakuma to a three-year deal, and he's 35, but even though Iwakuma's deal is much cheaper than Greinke's, so much for the Dodgers getting younger.
So are the Dodgers going to do something? The answer has to be yes, but to what extent, none of the so-called 'insiders' seem to know. Free agent pitcher Johnny Cueto could be that number two guy behind Clayton Kershaw, or maybe they make a trade. Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, and Julio Urias were three guys that were untouchable last year, but the Dodger brass aren't saying that now. We're also reading more and more about how very few of the players get along with Yasiel Puig. Puig just turned 25 but has a lot of growing up to do. Do the Dodgers give up on him now?
The Winter Meetings may be over now, but for the off season known as baseball's 'hot stove', things are just heating up. Many teams have a long shopping list of needs to fill between now and around Christmas. Fans of the blue are hoping the Dodgers will be bringing home some holiday cheer.
Peas in a pod: It's well known that Dodgers Clayton Kershaw and A.J. Ellis are really good friends, but they apparently clash when it comes to football. The two were at Lambeau Field together Sunday taking in the Cowboys-Packers game. Kershaw is from Texas and is a Cowboys fan. Ellis, reportedly, is a Cheesehead. Kershaw may have had 300 strikeouts, but Ellis' team won 28-7.
Verrry Interesting: If you like features on former players and you get the MLB Network, you should check out a one-hour documentary on Lenny Randle. Randle played in the majors from 1971-1982, and was famous for two things. As a member of the Texas Rangers, he once punched his manager Frank Lucchesi. With the New York Mets, he literally blew on a baseball rolling up the third base line to make it go foul. What you may not know about him is that he was a singer, a standup comedian, and played baseball in Italy where he became a legend. MLB Presents Lenny Randle: The Most Interesting Man in Baseball debuted Friday and is running periodically on the network.
Warrior streak snapped: The longest unbeaten streak to start an NBA season came to an and Saturday night in Milwaukee when the Golden State Warriors lost to the Bucks 108-95. The Warriors won their first 24 games, and although it shouldn't count officially, Golden State had a 28-game win streak dating back to last year. The Lakers still hold the longest win streak in NBA historyŚwinning 33 straight in the 1971-72 season. That steak also ended in Milwaukee 120-104 on January 9. 1972. The '72 Bucks had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson. Saturday's version was led by Greg Monroe and Jabari Parker. That Laker team went on to win its first championship in Los Angeles. Last year the Warriors won their second title since moving to the Bay Area, and their first in 40 years.
Don't (fool) with it: That's what Charles Jefferson said in Fast Times at Ridgemont High when students commented on his nice car. Those are also words to live by when it comes to major professional and college sports. Big time sports are making money hand over fist, yet the powers that be continue to tinker with each sport seemingly just for the heck of it. Now college basketball is trying to get scoring up. They've changed the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds, which is okay, but they've also reduced the number of timeouts each team has by one so that the game won't take as long. Are you kidding? College basketball is the shortest event in all of team sports, lasting about two hours. During Saturday's UCLA-Gonzaga telecast on ESPN2, analyst Sean Farnham was saying what a great thing it was that an earlier game only lasted 1:50. If people are in such a hurry for games to end (a common complaint in baseball), don't watch. How about if whoever scores first wins? A basketball game would last 10 seconds and the critics can go home happy. Stupid.