The Dodgers want to reassemble the 2002 Braves

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Bringing in Mark DeRosa and John Smoltz six or seven years ago: a bold move that instantly makes you a favorite.  Bringing them in for 2010: Yawn.  According to Smoltz’s and DeRosa’s agent Keith Grunewald, however, the Dodgers are showing interest in both.

L.A. definitely needs a starter or two, but given his health, his age and his less-than-stellar 2009, a team challenging for the division can’t be in the business of counting on John Smoltz to hold down a rotation slot.  He will almost certainly break down at some point, and even if he doesn’t, he will almost certainly have stretches of ineffectiveness.  And don’t give me that “he looked good down the stretch for the Cardinals” business.  His two good starts after his release from Boston came against the anemic Nats and Padres. He was profoundly ordinary — and hit fairly hard — the rest of the way.

DeRosa remains a useful player, but according to the article, no less than twelve teams want him.  He wants a multi-year deal. L.A. has Casey Blake under contract at third, Rafael Furcal at short, and a loaded outfield.  Maybe De Rosa could play second, but he doesn’t really profile as a starter there anymore. The guy is either a full-time corner player — which the Dodgers don’t need — or a utility player — which the Dodgers don’t need to be giving multi-year contracts.    

The upshot: either of those players would be OK if they fell into the Dodgers’ lap late in the offseason for low dollars, but unless they really think that Rafael Furcal is homesick for his Atlanta days, there’s no reason for L.A. to be out in front of the market on either of them.

Two great Mariano Rivera stories

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In addition to getting unanimous support from Hall of Fame voters, Mariano Rivera’s election is getting universal praise from fans and the baseball community. I mean, at least it seems so. If you see someone out there in the wild really mad that Rivera was elected, please, let me know. But don’t approach such people. They’re probably dangerously imbalanced and might cause harm to you.

From what we’ve seen, anyway, there is no one who doesn’t love Rivera and his election. That love has come out in the form of anecdotes people are sharing this morning. I’ve seen two that made me particularly happy. One “ha ha” happy, the other “aww” happy.

The “ha ha” comes from Michael Young, who shared the ballot with Rivera this year and whose Rangers actually beat Rivera’s Yankees in the 2010 ALCS. Not that they had much success against Mo:

Now the “aww.” It comes from Danny Burawa, who had a few major league cups of coffee after coming up in the Yankees system. From his Instagram last night:

In 2012, in the middle of my first big league spring training, I tore my oblique during a game (I wound up missing the whole season). First cuts hadn’t been made and the Yankees let me stick around to rehab with the big leaguers for a few days. The next day, after finishing my rehab, I returned to the locker room which was totally empty. I’m sitting at my locker getting ready to go home when in walks Mariano Rivera. Considering I was a nobody A-baller, I kept my eyes down on my feet and minded my own business. Next thing I know, he’s in the chair next to me, telling me his story, about failing as a starter, about an injury he had when he was younger, about how the setbacks we think are fatal usually end up as speed bumps on a longer, grander road. This is the greatest of all time, taking the time to cheer up a nobody, for no other reason than he thought it was the right thing to do. Great pitcher, greater human, congratulations Mo!

People use that “great player, better person” construction a lot. I often roll my eyes when I hear it because it’s pretty subjective and, I suspect, the “better person” part can’t be vouched for outside the subject’s friend or peer group. Doesn’t sound that way with Rivera, though. He simply sounds like a prince of a guy.