It could be Hanley Ramirez. The Dodgers continue to say they would like to sign him to a contract extension, but they have at least wondered how productive he might be this summer with the carrot of free agency in the fall.
In the meantime, the Dodgers ought to do with him this spring what they did last September — give him the minimum number of at-bats he needs to stay sharp, and otherwise keep him in bubble wrap until the season starts. The Dodgers started slowly last season, when he had a broken thumb, and they collapsed in the National League Championship Series, when he had a broken rib.
What player made the smartest off-season move?
Dan Haren, who signed with the Dodgers before Thanksgiving. The free-agent market had just opened, and many starting pitchers were looking for contracts of three years, or more. Haren's willingness to take a one-year deal got him a guaranteed $10 million, with the chance to earn an additional $16 million through 2015 simply by taking his turn every fifth day.
On Saturday, the Dodgers signed Paul Maholm for one year and a guaranteed $1.5 million, with the chance for another $5 million. Over the previous two seasons, Haren threw 346 1/3 innings with a 4.50 earned-run average; Maholm threw 342 innings with a 4.00 ERA.
So Haren got to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas without worrying about where he would play this year.
With Valentine's Day coming, which pitchers could be jilted?
You could build a pretty good rotation out of remaining free agents — Burnett, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and Chris Capuano, with Johan Santana, Joe Saunders and Barry Zito fighting for the fifth spot. You might even argue that rotation could be better than the one the Angels plan to use this season.
So the Angels had a bad winter?
No. General Manager Jerry Dipoto, handcuffed by a lack of money, prospects and legitimate starting pitchers, turned Mark Trumbo into two young starters. As the Angels' rotation stands now, those two pitchers — Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago — will join home-grown Garrett Richards behind Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson.
Santiago is 26, Richards 25, Skaggs 22. These kids take time. The last time the Angels got 30 starts each from three pitchers 26 or younger: 1971 (Andy Messersmith, Rudy May, Tom Murphy). They finished 25 1/2 games out of first place and, after the season, traded for a wild but hard-throwing prospect named Nolan Ryan.
Is anyone famous paying attention to the Angels?
President Obama is a fan of the Chicago White Sox, but he dropped a reference to baseball's best player last week, as he spoke about legislation designed to help farmers. Obama said the bill was not only about agriculture but about innovation, infrastructure, research and conservation.
"It's like a Swiss Army knife. It's like Mike Trout, for those of you who know baseball," Obama said. "It's somebody who's got a lot of tools and multitasks."
Do spring-training records mean anything?
No. Of the 10 playoff teams last season, five finished the spring with a winning record.
Three teams played better than .600 ball last spring; none made the playoffs. Three teams played worse than .400 ball last spring; two made the playoffs. The Dodgers were one of them.
Which team had the worst record last spring?