Sports beat 6-10-09

--The Lakers have a 2-1 series lead over the Orlando Magic, and they look like the better team through three games. I know many Laker fans are disappointed with last night's 108-104 loss, but it was impressive the Lakers even had a chance to win despite Orlando having the best shooting game in NBA history, and the lousy play of Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum.

I'm also not nearly as concerned about Kobe Bryant as some other people. Bryant did look fatigued toward the end of last night's game, but he was left in for too many minutes. The only other time Kobe has looked fatigued in the playoffs came after Game 4 in Denver, and he got himself together well enough for the Lakers to win Games 5 and 6 by good margins. This Finals series probably means more to Kobe Bryant than anyone else in the world, and I'm sure he is going to find every last ounce of energy inside of him to bring a championship to Los Angeles.

The Magic could still win another game just with their shooting, but their style of play is not sustainable against the Lakers.

--No, the Dodgers aren't getting enough credit for having the best record in baseball. With tonight's game still being played, the Dodgers are 19-12 without Manny Ramirez, and they've earned that record with a difficult schedule. Their pitching hasn't really let them down, and the team has continued to hit just well enough, although it would be nice if they hit more home runs.

Joe Torre deserves a ton of credit for keeping this clubhouse together and focused. One of the reasons why I liked the Torre hiring 2 years ago had to do with his ability to communicate his players. He is excellent at maintaining a relaxed locker room, one that could have unraveled with this Manny Ramirez controversy.

In the meantime, Manny's comments that he didn't kill or rape anybody are ridiculous, and only continue to make him appear guilty.

--In other Dodger news, the team drafted pitcher Aaron Miller of Baylor with its first pick yesterday, the No. 36 pick overall. The Dodgers did not have a first round pick due to compensation for the signing of Orlando Hudson.

Is there anything more ridiculous in baseball than the draft pick compensation system? Orlando Hudson played 107 games last year for the Arizona Diamondbacks, broke his wrist, and was forced to sign an incentive-laden one-year deal, yet he costs the Dodgers a first round draft pick. In the meantime, the Dodgers lose their Game 1 playoff pitcher in Derek Lowe to the Atlanta Braves, and only receive a sandwich pick because the Braves were bad enough last year.

The draft pick compensation system doesn't work anymore and should be eliminated. It supposedly used to help small market teams who would lose free agents that they could not afford to sign. But in reality, it usually winds up helping big market teams that become revolving doors for veteran players, gifting them with unneeded compensatory picks. Dodger fans may not remember the short tenure of Julio Lugo, but their "inability" to re-sign him let to the team receiving a first-round draft pick in 2007.

Furthermore, teams that are able to keep all of their free agents are punished because the number of sandwich compensatory picks often is so high that a second round pick effectively becomes a third round pick.

In addition to eliminating draft pick compensation, MLB should allow teams to trade draft picks. Doing so would allow small market teams to receive an extra pick or two in a trade, in the event that they need to deal high-salaried player. Today, teams often consider keeping the player, knowing they have to weigh a trade offer against a compensatory pick.

In the meantime, I have no idea if Aaron Miller will become any good. But Logan White has as good of a track record as any scouting director, so I trust his judgment.

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