Do you understand the reasoning behind not offering Joe Beimel arbitration? -- Jonathan R., Covina, Calif.
Beimel was in line to earn $4 million, and that is more than the Dodgers want to pay someone for a role that has been reduced to getting one or two batters out per game.
It could backfire if Scott Elbert is unable to take over that role or they don't find a journeyman free agent. It probably was the toughest arbitration call the Dodgers had to make.
But it's not as though they aren't in line for a load of Draft picks already if Derek Lowe and Manny Ramirez leave. So they obviously felt getting another sandwich Draft pick if Beimel rejects wasn't worth the risk of a $4 million salary if he accepts.
And judging from his use, manager Joe Torre didn't think as much of Beimel as Grady Little did. Beimel was not as effective this year as he was the previous two, no matter what the ERA seems to indicate.
I think it's a matter of how a club values a certain role, as much as the value of the player. Nomar Garciaparra is a great guy with a great history, but do you pay him $9 million a year to be a utilityman? Beimel is a very effective situational reliever, but do you pay him $4 million?
Do you think this will be the year when Dodger fans turn their backs on the team? -- Mike M., Riverside, Calif.
The Dodgers were in baseball's final four two months ago. The Angels weren't. The Yankees weren't. If fans are turning their backs on the Dodgers because they aren't spending more money than the Yankees, consider that the Dodgers spent wildly in the past on the winter's top free agent (Kevin Brown) and heaped tons of money to keep their own players from leaving. It hasn't worked.
The Dodgers are trying a different approach, dependent on the continued improvement of their younger players. A lot of fans never will be happy with that approach. They only want the biggest names that come with the biggest salaries, and they will be satisfied with nothing less.
None of last year's highest-paid free agents signed with the Phillies or the Rays, who met in the World Series. If spending the most always meant winning the World Series, the Yankees would have won rings over the last eight seasons. They didn't.
The McCourts are running a business, not only a team. There always will be fans resenting that, especially when the Yankees seem to have no limit to their resources. But it's reality.
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Why would the Dodgers sign Mark Loretta when they could have brought back Garciaparra? -- Susan M., Sherman Oaks, Calif.
For one thing, Garciaparra hasn't decided if he'll play in 2009. He has serious medical issues, with a genetic condition that produces excess scar tissue. Garciaparra requires hours of treatment each day just to get on the field, and he has shown a tendency over the last five years of breaking down.
When he's able to play, he still can hit and he's versatile defensively. He could be an asset in a utility role that doesn't require him to play every day, but first he must decide if he wants to continue.
Loretta, a player the Dodgers have pursued for several years, also had an offer from Arizona. The Dodgers felt they had to make a decision to shore up their infield.
If Takashi Saito doesn't return, who will be the Dodgers' closer? -- Andy S., Los Angeles
Jonathan Broxton is the most likely successor, although Hong-Chih Kuo can be just as dominant. The concern with Kuo is his brittle elbow. Kuo has undergone four elbow operations, and there is concern about whether his elbow can withstand the daily abuse experienced by a closer. Perhaps they can share the role.
Some people think Cory Wade might get a chance. A long-shot candidate could be James McDonald, whose fastball picked up about four miles per hour in the postseason, when he was given a chance to relieve.
The club also has discussed all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman, although interest is believed to be lukewarm.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.