COMMENTARY| Sing it with me now. All I want for Christmas is my two front-of-the-rotation starters.
Well, the Los Angeles Dodgers have their two front-of-the-rotation starters all right. By signing Zack Greinke on Saturday to follow the National League's top pitcher in Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles has its best one-two left-right combination since Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. And they didn't even have to bust a holdout to get it done. A tidy $147 million did the trick.
The Greinke deal is pending the obligatory physical, of course, but when have you ever heard of the pending physical nixing a deal? L.A. has its wanted man.
Wasting no time, the Dodgers brought South Korean left-hander Ryu Hyun-jin into the fold Sunday for six years at $36 million, which is on top of the $25.74 million posting fee paid to the Hanwha Eagles for the bidding rights. Though agent Scott Boras projects his client to be a No. 3 starter, where Ryu fits into the rotation is anyone's guess. How the 26-year-old Korean Baseball Organization veteran's numbers translate to the majors is even more of a question, but the club has followed Ryu's career closely, and if they're confident, I am too.
In Kerhsaw, Greinke, Ryu, Chad Billingsley, Josh Beckett, Ted Lilly, Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano, L.A. has eight starters under contract for next year. Kershaw seems to have dodged a bullet with a balky hip that caused him to miss a couple of late-2012 starts, and Billingsley is hoping a platelet-rich plasma injection cures his elbow issues, but the Dodgers might want to keep an extra arm in reserve for the time being. Or two.
Look for a trade of whichever pitcher brings the most in return for now -- cash, a legitimate prospect, and Harang returning to San Diego for outfielder Chris Denorfia, for example -- and another trade come March, if all goes well.
Meanwhile, the baseball world is stunned, or pretends to be as Los Angeles collects ballplayers like Christmas tree ornaments going out of style. In 29 cities, it's cool to hate the Dodgers now, and the New York Yankees are suddenly America's underdogs. Almost.
Oh, what a difference a year makes. Various estimates have L.A. spending around $225 million in 2013, and even if it sheds a contract or two by opening day, the figure more than doubles last season's paltry $95 million. And if divorce court documents are to believed -- and they are -- it nearly triples the payroll Frank McCourt had in mind for right about now.
A ton has been written in reaction to the Dodgers' spending already. Call it fear, call it jealousy, or as Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan suggests, call Los Angeles the "Death Star." Whatever label you choose, resentment reigns that's for damn sure.
I'm a little uncomfortable with the Dodgers drawing the ire of an industry, and a country, for that matter. But I'll get over it. And I get that the cost of Greinke, et al. gets passed down to the customer one way or another. But I'll gladly pay an extra 75 cents for a Dodger Dog if it makes a difference, a buck if they actually cook the thing all the way through.
And about that prediction of mine 10 days ago, the why the Dodgers aren't signing Zack Greinke thing, as a famous politician said a generation ago, I stand by my misstatements. Actually, I really did think the Angels had to sign Greinke -- they just had to -- and that's primarily what I based my call on. That, and the notion that almost every floated rumor is fiction this time of year.
But I'm a man, and I'll take my medicine and eat that crow. I understand it tastes like chicken. Perhaps a 2013 Dodger delicacy for the gourmands in the front row. I'll do the taste test and get back to you.
Howard Cole is the Director of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) and has been blogging about the Dodgers since 2000, at Baseball Savvy , The Orange County Register and Cole On LA . Follow him on Twitter @Howard_Cole.
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