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Colletti, Dodgers won't pay the price on this one

July 27, 2008|T.J. SIMERS

If Ned Colletti says a third baseman from Cleveland, whom Indians fans didn't particularly like, makes the Dodgers better -- that's good enough for me.

The Dodgers wouldn't have him working as general manager, now would they, if he didn't know what he was doing.

And based on everything Colletti knows about baseball, he said, "Casey Blake is a solid player."

"And did you think Andruw Jones was a solid player?" I wondered.

"Yeah," Colletti said. "Did you?"

"No," I said, his .222 average and 138 strikeouts a year ago raising just a little bit of doubt.

I'm sure this Colletti move will be different, though, than the ones involving Jones, Jason Schmidt and Bill Mueller.

In fact, it might be the best deal Colletti has ever made, because the Dodgers don't have to pay Blake anything to play third base, the Indians paying his entire $6.1-million salary.

I wondered how that conversation went when Colletti went skipping into the Parking Lot Attendant's office and told Frank McCourt he had just acquired a guy who won't have to be paid.

"Anything else?" Colletti said while turning to the other reporters.

What's more important than that to the Parking Lot Attendant? That's why Angel Berroa is still here. The Royals are paying his $4.75-million salary, and now with Blake, that's two of the 25 players on the Dodgers' roster whom McCourt doesn't have to pay.

"Did he say, 'Yippee!' " I wanted to know, "when you told him he didn't have to pay Blake anything?"

"I can't remember what he said," Colletti replied, and I can't recall anything memorable the Parking Lot Attendant has ever said either.

HOW NERVOUS do you think Colletti was when Blake came to the plate for the first time? Been there, and done that, I suppose -- especially after Blake struck out.

SO THE fans in Cleveland didn't take a liking to Casey Blake over the years. Wonder how they'd feel watching Jones play every day. Or Berroa.

"They were pretty tough on me," Blake said. "I think they were looking for a 40-home-run guy."

So are the Dodgers and their fans.

"Oh," Blake said.

Blake, who is free to go elsewhere after the season, said the Dodgers and their fans will probably like the versatility he offers in the next two months playing first base and the outfield as well as third base.

"Doubt it," I said. "They've got James Loney parked at first and four guys already vying for three outfield spots."

"Oh," Blake said.

HOW BAD are the Washington Generals? They started Odalis Perez against the Dodgers. It was 2-0 Dodgers after the first two Dodgers came to the plate in the first.

After Derek Lowe singled off Perez, Vin Scully told everyone, "and Odalis Perez still hasn't fooled anybody except Casey Blake."

Oxygen, please, for Colletti.

HOW BAD are the Generals? They still have Perez in the game, the Dodgers winning, 6-0, and Lowe two for two against him.

Even Blake has a double, bringing Jones to the plate with a chance to give Colletti maybe his best moment as Dodgers GM. Then Jones struck out.

Blake singled in his next at-bat, and then Jones hit into a double play. Hey, he hit the ball.

BLAKE, WHO hit .190 with runners in scoring position a year ago, is hitting almost .400 this season in similar situations. He appears to be an upgrade to the Dodgers' lineup, and as an added boost, he has the incentive of trying to impress folks looking to sign a versatile free agent this off-season.

And with two hits in his first game, he already has more hits than Jones has had all season long, or so it seems.

EVERYONE WHO came to Friday's game received a Brad Penny bobblehead. The Dodgers noted on each box that Penny was a pitcher for the team just in case some folks might've forgotten.

I JUST had a thought. Former Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley is going into the Hall of Fame, his family seemingly having to wait forever. I sure hope the same thing doesn't happen to McCourt.

OK, BACK to the Dodgers, and a crabby Joe Torre.

The Dodgers manager, who has been the congenial host before each game, appeared on edge Saturday night, and admitted as much, although he said it had nothing to do with his team.

He probably noticed the Yankees' score earlier in the day, beating the Red Sox for their eighth straight win, and then had to fill out the Dodgers' lineup.

Torre made the mistake a night earlier of benching Andre Ethier, who has proven he belongs in the everyday lineup, but because the Dodgers didn't give him Juan Pierre and Jones-like money, he has to sit. And the Dodgers are trying to win the division?

Jones has no business being in the lineup the way he has failed, but Torre is trying to buy some time for hitting instructors Don Mattingly and Jeff Pentland, who were brought in to make a player again out of Jones.

That seems to be going well, Jones getting four hits in his last 54 trips to the plate with men in scoring position, and striking out 31 times.

I asked Colletti about Ethier and the team's four outfielders, and he said, "We have three everyday outfielders and somebody struggling to get his game together."

And what about that struggling outfielder, who continues to be in the lineup? "That's up to Joe," Colletti said. "I don't make out the lineup."

A collective "thank heavens" would probably be appropriate right now.

THE ANGELS have averaged a little more than 10 runs a game since Page 2 suggested the team needed to add more offense. Matt Kemp is hitting almost .360 since Page 2 made the case in Arizona he should be here to stay.

Motivational writing is just part of the job, and watching Jones, it just goes to show you what happens when people don't read their morning newspaper.

T.J. Simers can be reached at To read previous columns by Simers, go to

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