-- Ryan V., Fresno, Calif. Yours is a minority view, but a segment of e-mailers share your concern about devoting so much payroll to Ramirez when there remains so many other positions to fill. However, on your suggestion that Ramirez's stats are inflated because of free agency, he signed a massive contract eight years ago and has continued to produce like a Hall of Famer. Many players seem to coast after cashing in, but not this one. Will Gil Hodges ever get into the Hall of Fame?
-- Jim H., Hollywood, Calif.
-- Steve S., Los Angeles
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Paragraph 3.(a) of the uniform players contract states that the player must "keep himself in first-class physical condition." If the club attempted to void the contract for that reason, it would be fought tenaciously by the Players Association, which has proved over the years to be extremely successful defending the players. That doesn't mean it won't happen with so much money at stake. If your scenario plays out, the club could choose to release Jones, rather than go through a repeat of the 2008 disaster, and/or attempt to fight the player for the remaining $21.2 million on the contract.What are the plans next year for Scott Elbert?
-- Kevin R., Charlotte, N.C. For now, he's a reliever, likely to replace Joe Beimel as the second left-hander behind Hong-Chih Kuo. Elbert could probably help the Major League club soonest in that role. If he did not make the Major League club as a reliever, he would probably be returned to starting in the Minors. Because of shoulder surgery, he missed most of the 2007 season and his innings were limited in '08, so starting in the Minor Leagues would provide extra innings for him to develop. It would be a big leap to consider him for a Major League starting spot considering his limited professional experience. In the latest talks about the Dodgers' "thin" rotation (with Greg Maddux possibly retiring, declining the option on Brad Penny, and the uncertainty of Jason Schmidt), there has been talk about Clayton Kershaw and James McDonald filling the void. Whatever happened to Eric Stults?
-- Chris L., Fife Lake, Mich. Torre mentioned Stults as a candidate for next year's rotation when the season ended and Colletti mentioned Stults as a candidate last week. Stults had a 3.49 ERA in seven starts as a sporadically used starter in three callups. That's a lower ERA than Kershaw's. But Stults lacks an overpowering pitch and has been unable to win over the current management regime because of inconsistency. He threw a four-hit shutout in his second start this year, but he had only limited chances to show if he could repeat that kind of dominance.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.