The Dodgers and Angels are strapped

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Mike DiGiovanna and Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times write that both the Dodgers and the Angels are limited in what they can do this offseason due to payroll restrictions.  The Angels have roughly $12 million to work with.  The Dodgers have their own problems of course, but even if you don’t look at the McCourt drama, they have a handful of players — Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Chad Billingsley, Russell Martin, James Loney, Jonathan Broxton, George Sherrill and Hong-Chih Kuo — who are due for raises heading into 2010 which could jack the payroll by $20 million before they even sign anyone to fill the holes they have.

Upshot: if the Angels have any hope of retaining their big free agents, it will have to be with backloaded deals.  If the Dodgers are going to make any real changes, it will be via bargain hunting.  The way things sit right now, neither team seems poised to actually improve in 2010.

Which means that if I were running the Giants, Mariners, Rockies or the Rangers, I’d think long and hard about going for broke this winter and making a deal that could be the equivalent of stepping on the L.A. teams’ throats.

Royals closer Kelvin Herrera leaves with forearm tightness

Associated Press
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The Royals are a game and a half out of the crazy AL Wild Card race — six games back of the Indians in the division — so they don’t have a huge margin for error. They got some bad news last night, though, that could have a major impact on their playoff hopes: closer Kelvin Herrera experienced tightness in his right forearm in the ninth inning of last night’s win, forcing him out of the game.

Herrera walked the bases loaded, then went to a 2-0 count on the next batter before leaving the game. That last pitch was a fastball that clocked in at 91 m.p.h., which is NOT a typical Kelvin Herrera fastball.  Herrera didn’t talk after the game but his teammate Sal Perez said that Herrera told him  “I’m tight. I don’t feel my forearm.”

Reporters left the clubhouse before an official diagnosis or prognosis could be delivered, so expect an update some time today. If Herrera is out the closer duties could fall to Scott Alexander or Brandon Maurer.

Albert Pujols sets the all-time record for home runs by a foreign-born player

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Albert Pujols had a big night last night, driving in four runs as the Angels beat the Rangers 10-1. Three of those runs came on a three-run homer. That was the 610th home run of Pujols’ career, snapping a tie for eighth on the all-time list with Sammy Sosa. It also made him baseball’s all-time leader for home runs by a player born outside the U.S.

Pujols was aware of the accomplishment, of course, and noted how honored he was after the game:

”It’s pretty special. Obviously, all the great players from the Dominican Republic, Latin America, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, they’ve gone through the big leagues and to be able to accomplish something like this is very humbling.”

After Sosa, who is from the Dominican Republic, comes Rafael Palmeiro (569); Manny Ramirez (555); David Ortiz (541); Carlos Delgado (473); Jose Canseco (462); Adrian Beltre and Miguel Cabrera (459).