DANA POINT, Calif. -- In the immediate aftermath of his team being eliminated from the National League Championship Series last month, slugger and impending free agent Manny Ramirez quipped, "Gas is up, and so am I."
With the price of gasoline now dropping, though ... well, the Dodgers couldn't be so lucky. Could they?
"That's a very good point," Dodgers general manger Ned Colletti said here Monday. "We'll have to check the gas market before I go to speak with him.
"I know how the fans feel. I know how we feel. I know what he did for 10 weeks. He did as good as anybody could do in the regular season and postseason."
As of late Monday afternoon, Colletti hadn't spoken formally with Ramirez's agent, Scott Boras, about a deal that would keep the slugger in a Dodgers' uniform. The GM meetings here were just firing up, though Boras did walk through the lobby and, ostensibly, toward some meetings of his own later in the day.
Colletti listed the Dodgers' priorities as addressing the left side of the infield (where third baseman Casey Blake and shortstop Rafael Furcal are free agents), the bullpen and adding a starting pitcher.
Asked if he could foresee a financial scenario in which both Ramirez and Sabathia would wind up as Dodgers in 2009, Colletti said, "I think that would be difficult."
"I think it would be difficult."
The Dodgers' recent history with players such as Furcal and Andruw Jones is to offer shorter-term deals -- two, three years -- and a bit more money. Ramirez will be seeking top dollar and certainly should have some suitors. That way, both the club and the player have a chance to re-evaluate the situation.
That said, Colletti said the club wouldn't necessarily be scared off by the common thinking that Ramirez busted his butt for them last summer because he was auditioning for a new contract, and that once he obtains that contract he'll start giving half-effort at times again.
"I think the time he spent with Joe (Torre, manager), with the baseball front office and with his teammates wasn't too long," Colletti said. "Does that continue ... you can ask that questions of anybody and everybody. You're going to have to trust with that kind of commitment, what he's going to continue to do for the organization."
-- Yes, Colletti agreed, Andruw Jones needs to report to spring training in better shape. "That would be a start," the GM said.
But he is clinging to the hope that Jones has something left.
"We have two of the better people who understand hitting, Don Mattingly and Jeff Pentland," Colletti said. "Both ... believe he's still a capable hitter. He's got some fundamental things in his swing that he was having a hard time getting out. He's 31 years old. We don't doubt that there's still a lot of ability."
-- Mets GM Omar Minaya doesn't sound like a man ready to sweep Manny Ramirez off of his feet. "Pitching is our priority," Minaya said. To that end, though, he declined comment on Francisco Rodriguez, who set a new record with 62 saves for the Angels this season. "I don't want to tip my hand," he said.
-- The Mets are expected to go hard after Rodriguez, and they, like St. Louis and several other clubs, are expected to talk with left-hander Brian Fuentes.
-- Rick Thurman, the agent for Fuentes, expects to talk with Cleveland and Detroit as well, though he said Monday at midday that he had "nothing lined up." As for New York? "I think New York would be a great place," Thurman said. "(Fuentes) thrives under pressure."
-- St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak lists his priorities as middle infield and left-handed relievers. Edgar Renteria, recently cut loose by Detroit, could return to the Cardinals. As for the lefty relievers, Fuentes and Joe Beimel are possibilities.
-- Atlanta and Seattle each had scouts speak Sunday with the field manager of right-hander Junichi Tazawa, pitching for Enous in Japan's Industrial League. Tazawa is expected to sign with a major-league team and, because he's in the Industrial League, is not required to go through the posting process that others, such as Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka, have.
-- Among the first priorities for new Seattle GM Jack Zdurencik is the little ol' matter of finding a manager. Expect him to interview former Milwaukee skipper Ned Yost; former Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon and Chicago White Sox bench coach Joey Cora. He could look to new San Diego bench coach Ted Simmons -- the two established a good working relationship in Milwaukee. Padres GM Kevin Towers said Monday that he would grant Simmons permission to interview for a managerial job if asked.