|Zack Greinke's mega-contract is the latest sign the Dodgers are 'at the top of the pyramid economically.' (AP)|
The Dodgers came so close to their senses Tuesday that they appeared to make it through the day without dumping another multi-gaz-million dollar deal in anybody else's direction after Greinke.
|More on Greinke deal|
Memo to the rest of the industry: The Dodgers appear to have topped out at roughly $225 million for their 2013 payroll, a number that is so absurdly high it not only will be a major-league record, it right now is some $36 million higher than that of the Yankees ($189 million), who rank a distant second.
But don't write that in permanent Sharpie.
“We're pretty much where we're going to be budgetarily,” general manager Ned Colletti said. “Unless something jumps out at us that's too good to say no to.”
While we're at it, one more memo. To everyone:
The Dodgers will be damned if they will apologize for making George Steinbrenner look like a rank amateur in his prime compared to the gold rush currently being conducted in Chavez Ravine.
“We want to win,” Magic Johnson explained at Tuesday afternoon's Dodger Stadium press conference.
“This is Los Angeles,” Colletti said. “It's the Dodgers.”
Greinke and his wife, Emily, spent three hours with Dodgers brass the week before Thanksgiving, going over everything from top prospects in the club's system to president Stan Kasten's basketball background to, as Greinke succinctly put it, talking “a lot of nonsense, too.”
The Dodgers already knew he could pitch. They already knew they were targeting him, hard, because they wanted another gunslinger to place alongside ace Clayton Kershaw.
But in that meeting, which Greinke conducted without his agent …
“When he left that day, we all looked at each other and said, ‘We've got to find a way to get this kid here,' ” Colletti said. “It was probably the best free-agent meeting I've ever had in decades of doing this.
“It was just pure.”
The difference between the broke Banana Republic of the previous pirate of an owner to the new era run by the Guggenheim group is being played out to a stunned industry every day.
To say the Dodgers have moved from being under water into a Beverly Hills mansion doesn't even begin to describe their journey over the past three years.
Two summers ago, Colletti was the only GM in the game who rarely answered a baseball question. Instead, he spent most of his time being quizzed over whether the club would meet its next payroll, and how high the players' paychecks would bounce.
“Think where we came from,” Colletti said. “Nobody was feeling sorry for us a year ago. Or two years ago, or three years ago. They were happy for our struggle, for our challenge.
“It's a different day. It's nothing to be ashamed of.”
As he spoke, Greinke was across the room answering questions surrounding his six-year, $147 million deal. Kasten was discussing some $600 million in contracts the club has committed itself to since the Guggenheim group took control last May. Cement mixers, steam shovels and cranes were moving dirt were tearing apart the ballpark, most of the field level seats ripped out, as Dodger Stadium undergoes a $100 million renovation project.
|The new management is also springing to renovate Dodger Stadium, including new clubhouses. (CBSSports.com)|
"What would you rather have, a $90 million payroll and we're going into spring training hoping we can find somebody to be our fifth starter?" Colletti asked. "And then knowing that at some point in time somebody is going to need a break and we're going to find a sixth starter, and a seventh?
"I'll tell you what. I've lived too many days where we had to figure out how to make something happen. And I'll take the opportunity where you have the opportunity because you've got depth and you've got good players.
“I'll take that every day.”
Since signing Greinke, Colletti said, it's as if people expect the Dodgers to apologize for their sudden embarrassment of riches.
Well, forget it.
And no, Kasten said, his caller ID has yet to register a call of outrage from a certain commissioner based in Milwaukee.
“I think everyone understands the condition we found things in when we came on board," Kasten said, "and what our goal is: to re-ignite the fan base that has remained extraordinarily loyal through thick and thin for 50-plus years.”
He spoke of his group's planned two-pronged attack, fielding the best team it can as quickly as it can, while at the same time focusing long-term on scouting, player development and international signings.
For the short term, Greinke was at the top of their list.
And as the pitcher whom Kasten views as a “scientist” -- because he's so analytical about his job -- studied his options, he made a list of his own.
“One of the big things was, I wrote down all the lineups and pitching staffs” of the clubs wooing him, Greinke said. “It made me realize how good the Dodgers are.
“When I was here earlier in the year [with the Brewers], it was a lot different.”
Though many awarded the NL West title to them immediately at that point, the Dodgers never even made the playoffs.
Embarrassing to end the season with a crash-landing, sure.
“We knew when we made the trades in July and August that it was going to be, really, deals that were going to fortify us in 2013, 2014 and 2015 more than in 2012,” Colletti said. “We thought it would give us a better chance in 2012, but think about all the injuries we had and how things started to thin out.”
While you're thinking about that, the Dodgers will think about the list Greinke made that really drove home to the right-hander just what a powerful club these Dodgers should be.
No doubt, the endless ATM that the Dodgers have become is causing indigestion in some quarters, insomnia in others and incredulity across the landscape.
But in sunny Los Angeles, as the Dodgers take serious aim at their first World Series title since 1988, Kasten says his phone isn't ringing with calls from colleagues around the game who tell him he's changed, either.
Even though he had never awarded a starting pitcher a six-year deal, not even Greg Maddux, John Smoltz or Tom Glavine when he was in Atlanta.
“No one's saying, ‘You're killing us,' ” Kasten said. “They're mostly watching with fascination about what's going on here.
“They understand that the economics of the market are different, and they understand the economics of the whole industry have been changing in recent years.
“And obviously here in LA, we're at the top of the pyramid economically. And so they watch it with great interest.
“It's a sign of the economic times. I think it's yet another indication of the strength of our sport. That's good for all teams ... and it's great for our fans.”