No Bill, the Dodgers could not have had Cliff Lee: Now with Update

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The Los Angeles Times’ Bill Plaschke goes on and on this morning about how the Dodgers’ “whiffed” in nixing a trade for Cliff Lee at the deadline:

Why did the Dodgers sacrifice the chance to acquire Lee, the starter stolen instead by the Phillies at the trading deadline, the guy who brilliantly held the Dodgers to three singles in eight innings of puzzled stares?

Why did the Dodgers sacrifice a sensible postseason rotation, forcing Joe Torre to hand the ball to a spooked Hiroki Kuroda, who threw it well for all of about one batter?

Except they didn’t sacrifice anything because they were never in the running to land Cliff Lee.  There was a single Ken Rosenthal piece back in July that had Lee going to the Dodgers for James Loney and either Clayton Kershaw or Chad Billingsley. At the time the Dodgers said that there was “less than zero truth” to the rumor.  Even better, the shooting down of that rumor came from Plaschke’s very own paper. There was zero speculation, informed or otherwise, of any other possible deal and no indication whatsoever that the teams talked.

Sure, it would be nice if the Dodgers had Cliff Lee, but it would be nice if they had Albert Pujols, Tim Lincecum and the reincarnation of Honus Wagner too.  And all of them, it seems, had just as good a chance of becoming a Dodger last summer as Cliff Lee did.

There are plenty of reasons to slam the Dodgers this morning, Bill, but failing to trade for Cliff Lee is not one of them.

 

UPDATE:  CBS’ Danny Knobler has multiple quotes from Dodgers’ GM Ned Colletti saying that, yes, the Dodgers were actively trying to get Lee and were almost there:

The way Colletti tells it, the Dodgers tried very hard. Colletti didn’t come right out and say he thought the Dodgers had offered more for Lee than the Phillies did, but he was willing to say they offered a lot.

“We offered four guys,” he said. “We were choking on the third guy, and we went to the fourth [too].”

That certainly changes my comments re: Plaschke’s piece.  But, based on the quotes I used to form my opinion on Plaschke’s piece in the first place, it also shows that the Dodgers told a bald faced lie to the Los Angeles Times back in July. 

The rumor business: it’s ugly stuff.

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.