With the clock ticking toward today's 1 p.m. PDT trade deadline, Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti headed home Monday evening uncertain whether his team would be able to make a deal.
"We're not really close on anything right now," he said. "Nothing's imminent."
Which, given recent history, could be a good thing. Last July the Dodgers had little working the night before the deadline, only to swing a pair of huge deals the following morning.
"A year ago we went to sleep with nothing and then we woke up and had [Greg] Maddux and [Julio] Lugo by noon," Colletti said. And with Maddux winning six of nine decisions down the stretch, the Dodgers reached the playoffs for only the second time in 10 seasons.
It's unlikely Colletti will be able to swing as significant a trade this time. According to multiple sources the only deal the team had in the works Monday would send switch-hitting infielder Wilson Betemit to the New York Yankees for middle reliever Scott Proctor, who is 2-5 with a 3.81 earned-run average and four blown saves in 52 games. But with 156 2/3 innings over the last season and a half, the 30-year-old right-hander has thrown more innings than any reliever in baseball since the start of 2006.
The Yankees would prefer to trade another right-handed middle reliever, Kyle Farnsworth (1-1, 4.57 ERA in 44 games), who called out Manager Joe Torre over a lack of playing time then squabbled with catcher Jorge Posada on the mound during Sunday's game. But the Yankees would probably have to pay a big part of Farnsworth's salary -- he's owed about $8 million through 2008 -- to move him while Proctor is making only $445,000 this year.
And there's a good chance even that trade will fizzle with a source with knowledge of the discussions putting the odds of it going through at "50-50."
Not that Colletti hasn't been trying to get something done. Several weeks ago the Dodgers were known to be talking with the Chicago White Sox about outfielder Jermaine Dye but, sources said, Colletti quickly grew frustrated with the White Sox's demands, which were said to include two players from the Dodgers' 40-man roster as well as minor league shortstop Chin-Lung Hu.
More recently the Dodgers were among the favorites to pry middle reliever Octavio Dotel away from the Kansas City Royals. But the Royals, too, were demanding the 23-year-old Hu, who is quickly emerging as the Dodgers' top infield prospect.
The Dodgers have lost starting pitchers Jason Schmidt, Randy Wolf and Hong-Chih Kuo to the disabled list in the last six weeks and have seen Brad Penny (abdominal strain) and Derek Lowe (irritated left hip joint) hobbled in the last week.
But reportedly unimpressed with the starters available, the Dodgers have concentrated on improving their pitching situation by fixing the bullpen, which has a 5.61 ERA in the second half. The Dodgers have been scouting relievers Damaso Marte, Shawn Chacon and Salomon Torres from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Dodgers announced that they have surpassed the 3.5-million mark in ticket sales, making this the third consecutive season and fifth time overall in which the team will draw 3.5 million fans.