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BASEBALL

Ned Colletti wants to return to the Dodgers

The general manager, a day after acquiring Jim Thome and Jon Garland, says he'd love to be back next season.

September 02, 2009|DYLAN HERNANDEZ | ON THE DODGERS

A day removed from acquiring the final pieces of the team the Dodgers could field in October, General Manager Ned Colletti briefly turned his attention to free agency on Tuesday.

His own.

The decision of whether Colletti will remain with the club is half Colletti's, as his contract includes a mutual option for 2010.

Colletti said owner Frank McCourt hasn't spoken to him about his future, but he made his thoughts on his situation clear before the Dodgers' 4-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium.

"I'd love to be back," Colletti said. "I think that I have a great relationship with the McCourt family."

If anything, Colletti appears to know how to operate under the kind of limited budget that has become a trademark of the McCourts' ownership in the last couple of years.

"He's on top of everything," Manager Joe Torre said.

Colletti said he wasn't under orders from McCourt not to spend money this summer, but what did the King of the Closeout do?

He didn't spend money -- or when he did, he didn't spend much.

Jon Garland, acquired Monday from Arizona, is owed anywhere from $1 million to $3.5 million more in salary this season, depending on what the Dodgers decide to do with his 2010 option, and that entire sum will be paid by the Diamondbacks.

Of the $2.4 million Jim Thome, acquired Monday, is still owed on his $13-million salary, the Chicago White Sox are paying $1.4 million.

Garland, Thome, George Sherrill, Ronnie Belliard and Vicente Padilla will cost the Dodgers less than $2.5 million in salary.

Last season, the Dodgers acquired Manny Ramirez, Casey Blake, Greg Maddux and Angel Berroa in midseason deals and paid them a combined $500,000.

The Dodgers' front office said over the winter that by spending less on the free-agent market, they would be able to spend more in the summer.

So much for that idea.

If anything, the Dodgers' payroll will be less than it what it was projected to be at the start of the season. They saved $3 million this season and $4.7 million over the next few years when Ramirez was suspended without pay for 50 games for violating baseball's drug policy.

"That's the way they do deals here," one player said.

Quantity over quality appears to be the theme of the latest series of deals and how they'll affect the Dodgers remains something of a mystery, perhaps even to management.

With Garland in the fold, the Dodgers now have six starting pitchers, including Padilla and Hiroki Kuroda, who pitched for Class-A Inland Empire on a minor league rehabilitation assignment and is tentatively scheduled to start on Sunday.

The Dodgers are considering using a six-man rotation but Torre indicated that he would prefer to stay away from that, pointing to how his team has three off days in the next 20 days.

How much Thome can contribute is also uncertain. The 19-year veteran with 564 home runs was described on Tuesday as someone who will be limited to pinch-hitting duties because he is physically unable to play the field.

Then there are the questions of what this means for the Dodgers' future.

Because the White Sox were desperate to unload salary to help offset the costly additions of Jake Peavy and Alex Rios, they essentially gave away Thome in exchange for the Dodgers agreeing to take $1 million of his salary.

The player the Dodgers sent to the White Sox, Class-A infielder Justin Fuller, is considered a non-prospect.

But the trades for Ramirez, Blake and Maddux last season cost the Dodgers legitimate prospects, including top-of-the-line catcher Carlos Santana, who went to Cleveland.

The deal for Garland will do the same.

According to sources with knowledge of the situation, the player to be named later in the trade is Tony Abreu, who might be low on durability but is high on talent.

With the Dodgers not expected to retain Orlando Hudson, who could command a multimillion deal with an annual salary of $8 million to $10 million, Abreu might have gone into the spring training next year as the favorite to take over as their starting second baseman.

That leaves the Dodgers with Blake DeWitt, who is batting .256 in triple A.

Or Colletti to find another bargain.

--

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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