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Not-so-artful Dodgers when it comes to a deal

June 25, 2008|T.J. SIMERS

You might want to hold your nose.

Angel Berroa. Mark Sweeney. Scott Proctor. Thomas Perez. Brady Clark. Marlon Anderson. Julio Lugo. Greg Maddux. Wilson Betemit. Elmer Dessens. B.J. LaMura. Mark Hendrickson. Toby Hall. Ben Kozlowski. Danys Baez. Jae Sao. Tim Hamulack. Lance Carter. And Andre Ethier for Milton Bradley -- Bradley tied with Alex Rodriguez early Tuesday for the best batting average in the American League.

And now comes word Ned Colletti will be in meetings all afternoon, maybe the scariest news a Dodgers fan can hear these days if he's in there working on another trade before the July 31 deadline.

Look at the list of what Colletti has acquired since being hired in late 2005, and that doesn't include Esteban Loaiza plucked off waivers for $7 million, or the free-agent disasters.

"Hey, I was right there with Brian Cashman when we brought in Carl Pavano," said Dodgers Manager Joe Torre in trying to defend Colletti, and isn't that encouraging news, two guys now with no eye for talent putting their heads together to plot the Dodgers' future.

The phone rings, and it's Colletti. "Please, please, no more trades," I begin, while suggesting a vacation that might take him overseas for the next few weeks.

"I've never been to Europe," he says, and I think we could get a collection going and make that happen.

"Some of those are minor league deals and I had nothing to do with them," Colletti protests when I mention his trading track record, and while I find it odd the Dodgers' GM doesn't have final approval of all deals, he adds, "The player development people made five or six of those."

So we go over the list, and he distances himself from three of the stiffs.

"You're looking in hindsight, so your vision is perfect," says Colletti, who apparently works with blinders on, the only logical explanation for some of these deals. "Who has come back to haunt us?"

A better question, I said, "is who did you acquire who really improved the team?"

"Ethier helped us," he says. "Maddux helped us, Lugo gave us some support, Anderson certainly helped us in September of '06, and Hendrickson pitched. You do have to have players who pitch and play in the games."

No question Hendrickson made it possible for the Dodgers to put nine men on the field on the days he got batted around.

"Most fans probably have you pegged as a GM who hasn't done a very good job of bringing in talent," I suggest, and he disagrees.

"I don't know if that's fact or fiction," he says. "That's your opinion."

I offer to put it to the readers, but obviously so much hinges on the likes of Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Schmidt and Andruw Jones, and so a blindfold, please for Colletti.

Then again, the Dodgers could have those three players, Brad Penny and Rafael Furcal back by the trading deadline, giving the Dodgers the chance to win a division title -- taking into consideration the level of competition in the West.

In other words, "as long as I don't foul it up by making a trade," Colletti says, and had Dan Evans and Kevin Malone been so quick, they might still be here.

"The team needs to get healthy so we can figure out if we need any more help," he says. "We definitely need to play better. We need a better feel and plan at bat. We've pitched pretty well and our bullpen has held up pretty well.

"But constituted as we are today and the approach we're taking at the plate, it'd be a tough go the rest of the way."

The Dodgers have God as manager, though, so why wouldn't they be taking the proper approach at home plate 75 games into the season?

"Let's not go with that [nickname]," Torre says. "What was it you called me the other day?"

"The great Joe Torre."

"Let's go with that," Torre says with a laugh, and OK, so the great Joe Torre apparently is getting nowhere when it comes to managing the ability of his players at home plate.

"We have to find a better way to communicate," he admits. "I'm concerned as Ned is; we need to be more consistent. Damn right 75 games is a long time, and so we have to find a better way to explain it so they understand."

Torre says he likes the approach Juan Pierre and Jeff Kent take, and Russell Martin does well at times, but the rest of the Dodgers' lineup is too impatient and swings at too many bad pitches.

Some of it is the young players inexperience and more so -- their stubbornness to change what has worked for them in the minor leagues. So 75 games into the season, the Dodgers have been unable to find a winning rhythm on offense.

Put it all together, and you have a GM who has yet to identify talent, a high-priced manager who has yet to make a connection with the talent brought in by previous GMs and the Diamondbacks just lost again.

So far, the Dodgers' idea of a winning formula.

IN MEMORY of Jim Healy and Howard Cosell: "Who goofed? I've got to know."

Goof No. 1: My mistake. I wrote about former Dodger Gary Carter, who said, "I went three for four against the Braves, throwing out three runners, one of them Deion Sanders and Tommy is playing Mike.

Carter said, "Mike," and parenthetically I goofed and added, [Piazza], missing the fact Carter was talking about Mike Scioscia. My apology.

Goof No. 2: According to the Dodgers official media guide, on this date (June 24) in Dodgers history, "Sandu Kofax made his Major League debut." Eventually, the guy would make a name for himself.

Goof No. 3: A Dodger advertisement in Sunday's Times proclaimed Friday, July 11 Universal Studios night at Dodger Stadium; Friday, July 12 Fireworks Night; Friday, July 13 Travel Mugs Night; Friday, July 25 Brad Penny Bobblehead Night; Friday, July 27 Autograph Day; and Friday July 29 Baseball Card Night.

I think we know what the folks who do Dodgers advertising are thinking most of the time: Thank God it's Friday.

AND FINALLY, when it comes to bragging rights, which local hockey team had the bigger crook as owner?

--

T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.

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