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Down The Line

September 28, 2008|Bill Shaikin

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There are few words Bud Selig loves more than "competitive balance," few sights the commissioner loves more than a low-payroll team in the playoffs, to prove that high salaries are not mandatory for a successful team.

So we called him to hear how thrilled he was that a team might field a Game 1 lineup at the bargain price of $12 million, the lowest projected figure in the playoff field.

He didn't have much to say, not after we told him the Dodgers were that team.

"The only thing I will say about that," Selig said, "is that they won the division and they have every right to feel good about that."

The Dodgers paid their projected Game 1 lineup $12.1 million this season, with $10 million allotted to pitcher Derek Lowe.

The salaries of outfielder Manny Ramirez and infielders Angel Berroa and Casey Blake were paid by their former teams, and none of the other players were eligible for arbitration:

James Loney, 1b: $411,000

Blake DeWitt, 2b: $390,000

Angel Berroa, ss: free

Casey Blake, 3b: free

Manny Ramirez, lf: free

Matt Kemp, cf: $406,000

Andre Ethier, rf: $424,500

Russell Martin, c: $500,000

Derek Lowe, p: $10 million

In Game 2, with Chad Billingsley starting instead of Lowe, the Dodgers would pay that projected lineup $2.5 million.

The Dodgers could face the Philadelphia Phillies, a team that pays middle reliever J.C. Romero $3 million.

The Dodgers opened the season with a $119-million player payroll.

The Tampa Bay Rays opened at $44 million, lowest of any team except the Florida Marlins.

The Rays' Game 1 lineup is tentative -- they don't know whether they'll play the Chicago White Sox or Minnesota Twins, let alone which pitcher might start against them -- but the combined salary of the projected lineup that follows is $18.1 million.

Carlos Pena, 1b: $6 million

Akinori Iwamura, 2b: $2.4 million

Jason Bartlett, ss: $416,600

Evan Longoria, 3b: $500,000

Eric Hinske, lf: $800,000

Justin Upton, cf: $412,100

Gabe Gross, rf: $414,000

Dioner Navarro, c: $412,500

Cliff Floyd, dh: $3 million

Scott Kazmir, $3.785 million

He'll cash in, in N.Y. or L.A.

We understand that Frank McCourt wants the Dodgers' focus on the playoffs -- on the here and now, and not on whether he will sign Ramirez or anyone else to a new contract this winter.

Still, on the day the Dodgers clinched the National League West championship, the Dodgers' owner used curious language to explain why he would not say whether General Manager Ned Colletti would return to fulfill the final season of his contract.

"I'm not going to grandstand," McCourt said. "It's stupid. It's not something I'm going to engage in."

McCourt's reluctance to simply say yes makes us wonder if he wants to defer committing on Colletti until he sees whether Brian Cashman becomes available.

Cashman, the New York Yankees' general manager, is scheduled to discuss a new contract with the Steinbrenner family this week.

By the time the Dodgers are done with the playoffs, Cashman probably will have decided whether he is done with the Yankees.

Cashman called to congratulate his friend and former manager, Joe Torre, on the Dodgers' NL West title.

"I asked him if he knew what he was going to do," Torre said. "He didn't let on."

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