(everybody pitches in : Frank McCourt explains to Manny that along with playing LF and hitting cleanup for Joe Torre, he’ll be expected to bus tables at the Canter’s Deli beyond the right-field foul pole)

The LA Times’ Dylan Hernandez
calls it “The Great Compromise Of 2009” ; the Dodgers have retained the services of Manny Ramirez, with the free agent OF agreeing to  a two-year, $45 million contract that includes an opt out clause at the end of this season.  And it’s not the worst deal for either party, LA keeps the most feared right-handed hitter in the game, safe in the knowledge that for the second campaign in a row, Manny’s playing for next year’s contract.  For Ramirez, in the very likely event he has a monster year (or in the unlikely event the economy recovers in the next 7 months), there’s always a chance one of the skeptics who passed on his this off-season will sing a different tune.

In the interests of fairness to Dodgers ownership, I should point it was a few days ago that Frank McCourt’s tightwad reputation was noted in this space, exactly the sort of thing Dodger Thoughts‘ Jon Wiseman (“the McCourts could have signed Bobby Abreu or Adam Dunn at less than half of what they offered another free-agent left fielder and declared their offseason over”) considers a bum rap.

The McCourts have had several opportunities this past offseason to go cheap, and they have turned them down. They could have gone young and cheap at shortstop, but they approved an eight-figure contract for Rafael Furcal. They could have gone young and cheap at second base and third base, but they approved free-agent contracts for Casey Blake and Orlando Hudson.  They could have skimped in the back end of their rotation and in their bullpen, but they approved contracts for Guillermo Mota and Randy Wolf.

None of those contracts set records, and some of them had values reduced by the economy.  But each contract was an indulgence.  A cheap or broke owner would not have inked all of them, maybe not even any of them. Believe me, the McCourts are spending money on the Dodgers more freely than many American families are spending on themselves.

Indeed, the size of Hudson’s contract (if not how long it took him to find a deal) was influenced by the economic downturn, and you have that under normal circumstances (ie. not being on the hook for Luis Castillo), the former D-Backs second baseman wouldn’t have been considered too expensive for the Mets.