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02/04/08 10:00 AM ET

Mailbag: Did LA miss opportunities?

Dodgers beat reporter Ken Gurnick answers fans' questions

How is it that the Mets received Johan Santana for four prospects that are the definition of unproven talent? How did we miss out on this trade?
-- David B., Ontario, Calif.

There were 28 other teams that "missed out," including the wealthy Yankees, partly because the Twins overplayed their hand and had little leverage once Santana issued his ultimatum. The market for Santana also was chilly because of the $150 million contract extension he sought, which was as much of a financial and strategic hurdle for the Dodgers (and even the Yankees) as whatever prospects they'd have to give up, and the combination was reason enough for everybody but the Mets to back away. That's an absolutely massive cost for one pitcher that can blow out over the course of a very, very long-term contract.

Three pitchers have received $100 million contracts -- Kevin Brown, Mike Hampton and Barry Zito. Not much bang for those bucks, and the risk is staggering. The Dodgers already have about $50 million invested this year in starting pitchers, and they've got Clayton Kershaw on the fast track. Since general manager Ned Colletti was hired, the club has not signed any pitcher for longer than three years.

Why did the Dodgers not pick up a younger Dan Haren instead of Hiroki Kuroda?
-- Sergio S., El Monte, Calif.

They wanted to improve their starting pitching without giving up young talent. They did that by signing the free agent Kuroda. Trading for Haren or Santana or Erik Bedard would have cost them multiple young players and derailed the youth movement.

How can the Dodgers bring an All-Star Game back to L.A.?
-- Rodolfo F., Los Angeles

All-Star Games usually go to cities with new parks. The next two games are already awarded to Yankee Stadium and Busch Stadium. I would expect Arizona, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, San Diego, Colorado and Minnesota to get one before Dodger Stadium, as well as possibly the two new stadiums being built in New York. So, maybe around 2017, give or take. Some of us might even live to see it happen.

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It could be argued that before surgery, Scott Elbert was the top left-handed prospect in the Majors. What's his status now?
-- Toyomitsu K., Tokyo, Japan

He's slated to pitch competitively in Spring Training for the first time since shoulder surgery. How he pitches and how he feels will determine where he pitches. It's not predetermined based on where he was before the surgery. Surgery for young pitchers changes everything, as the Dodgers learned with Greg Miller.

What will the Dodgers do for a second left-hander in the bullpen to support Joe Beimel?
-- LeRoy J., Houston

Apparently, Colletti and manager Joe Torre shared your concern. Last week, the club signed journeymen left-handers Tom Martin and Mike Myers to Minor League contracts with the chance to make the club in Spring Training. They have a combined 22 years of Major League experience. It's Martin's second tour with the Dodgers, and Myers pitched for Torre in New York.

The only other non-roster lefties invited to camp are Matt Riley and Brian Shackleford, neither with a full season of Major League experience. The other lefties on the big league roster are young and primarily starters -- Hong-Chih Kuo, Miller and Eric Stults -- as is phenom Kershaw.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.