Frank McCourt Wields The Hammer

GEORGE: No, I, uh, um, wa, wa, What did I do? ... Where are you going?

NOEL: I ... am breaking up ... with you!

GEORGE: You can't break up with me. I've got hand.

NOEL: And you're going to need it.

-Seinfeld, "The Pez Dispenser"

Now that Scott Boras has offered to bridge the gap between Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers, a deal must be close to getting done, right?

Wrong.

Dodgers' owner Frank McCourt has decided to use his position in the driver's seat to stall a little, claiming negotiations ended Thursday.  Per Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:

McCourt on Sunday called that counteroffer "too little too late" and said negotiations would resume with "a fresh start." He said he stressed to the agent that he had wanted a resolution by Friday because he didn't want the negotiations to dominate conversation Sunday, the day the Dodgers opened the gates of their new spring training ballpark.

But why not consider the offer when the two sides appear to be so close?

"Because we're going to start from scratch," McCourt said.

But why start from scratch when you're so close?

"I answered it twice," McCourt said

To me, this is the equivalent of Scott Boras responding in November to the Dodgers' orginal offer of $45 million over two years by saying he looked forward to fielding serious offers.  At the time, Boras had the upper hand in the negotiation -- the Yankees were still in play, the economy hadn't tanked, and it looked like Manny might get his 3-4 year deal, from someone at least. 

Now, the Dodgers have the upper hand.  The joint statement put out by Manny Ramirez and Scott Boras included the following quote (per Tony Jackson of the Daily News):

`We have continued to work with Ned and the Dodgers to do away with the artificial barriers and attempt get a deal completed. There is no issue with deferred money being part of any contract; just want to make sure the value is stated accurately and appropriately.

Manny is anxious to get a deal done, and it remains clear that there is simply no other team that can match what the Dodgers are offering.  McCourt is simply flexing a little muscle here.  The last offers from each side are close enough to suggest a deal will eventually get done.  We just have to wait for all the posturing and pettiness to fade away.

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