Off Base
And Not a Minute Too Soon

July 14 , 2008, 10:29 p.m.

So the Dodgers win the last game before the break and it's cartwheels all around. Things are looking up, yessiree Bob, and we'll miss the men in blue something awful by the time play resumes on Friday. Until play resumes Friday.

I'll dispense with the obligatory report card, boring you with grades for infield, outfield, starters, relievers, bench, etc., and bore you with the essentials only. Like, we really need to play a single solitary thing beyond the GM report card card to make the point, do we?

Ned Colletti gets a D. Fine, a D-minus. The Clayton Kershaw for Barry Zito trade didn't go down, so save the angry emails. Colletti gets credit for that one thing, like it or not, and a passing grade.

Stories of dysfunction in the front office are of little interest here. Colletti's the guy with the "GM" next to his name, he's the guy who saddled the club with Andruw Jones, and any and all discussion of 2008 Dodger lowlights starts and ends there.

Sure, it's not Colletti's fault Jones showed up thoroughly unprepared for major league competition. Joe Torre's continued writing of Jones' name into the lineup, and in the meat part of the order at that, can't be blamed on Colletti either.

But with Jones safely in Las Vegas, did it really take a brain surgeon to determine that the Pacific Coast League was the absolute best place for the portly fellow? That if there was a chance, however slight, that Jones just might work out his batting woes, that all Colletti had to do was leave him there until he did? I mean, c'mon.

Colletti's other major imprint on the season is his handling of the shortstop spot. Does the word "negligence" mean anything to you? Yeah, the doctors and the training staff might've been a little quicker on the draw, but let's remember it was Colletti who brought head medic Stan Conte with him from San Francisco. And Conte is the man who presided over Jason Schmidt's miracle therapy.

Six weeks to come up with Angel Berroa, and another six weeks to improve on that stirring event, with the clock still ticking. The Red Sox lost Julio Lugo to injury July 11. Just watch how long it takes Theo Epstein to reel in one of the shortstops the Dodgers might just as easily acquire. Just you watch.

If Colletti wants to trot out the old it's-difficult-to-make-a-trade-when-the clubs-know-you're-looking-poor-poor-pitiful-me excuse, again and again, like it's some original line of his, he can do that. And he can go right ahead looking like the second coming of Fred Claire in the process. More on Claire in a minute.

A glance at the Dodgers 40-man roster gives you an idea of the dead weight the team is carrying, along with the minor leaguers teams covet, beyond the usual Billinglsey, Broxton, Kemp, Kershaw, Loney five-some we hear about regularly.

You can't keep them all, nor should you. Despite the constant drone from the GM, there are good deals to be made. And that's deals, plural. There are. Who you can believe, me or your lyin' Collettis?

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Russell Martin Day Off-Oh-Meter: Well, Russell Martin survived the first half, along with that whole day off he got from the skipper. I don't know about you, but I left Martin's name off my All-Star ballot intentionally.

At least with Martin subbing, there's a chance he'll simply pinch hit or pinch run, or maybe catch just a couple innings. The four day break will be a spa retreat compared to what Martin's used to. Make sure to get the cucumbers on the face treatment, Russell. It'll cover up the messy eye black from Sunday. Enjoy…

Media Savvy: Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, along comes Hall of Fame baseball writer Ross Newhan, with among other things, a defense of non-Hall of Fame general manager Fred Claire. Newhan writes: "Claire, always dignified and composed, bit his tongue in a telephone interview and suggested that [Tommy] Lasorda is applying revisionist history" to explain the Dodger organization's decline post Al Campanis.

Yes, Claire was dignified and composed, professional and caring, and acted with integrity throughout his time here. But beyond that, the nicest thing we can say about the man is that of all the GMs to follow Campanis, Claire was the least qualified, yet served the longest, which says something about the ownership group in place at the time.

Draw your own conclusions. I just think that if this now ten-year old custom of pining for the O'Malley days is to continue, it ought to be a pining for the Walter O'Malley days, not the Peter. I could write volumes on the topic, and in fact, I have. But out with the old. Let's move forward already…

Here's what's Jayon Stark had to say about Andruw Jones. "Sheez, what happened to this man? If Andruw Jones' second half resembles his first half, he's potentially heading for (ready for this?) the Worst Offensive Season in Baseball History. At this rate, he'd finish with a .172 average, .261 slugging percentage, five homers, 21 RBIs, 125 strikeouts and only 64 hits. And you shouldn't be flabbergasted to learn that the all-time list of players who have had numbers that gruesome consists of, well, nobody. Heck, only three other players in history have even had twice as many strikeouts as hits (in a season of 100 or more whiffs): Rob Deer (175-80 in 1991), Dave Nicholson (126-60 in 1964) and Mark McGwire (118-56 in 2001). But at least those fellows made a few home run trots, or finished over the Mendoza Line." Ouch.

More importantly, Josh Hamilton is a nice story, but those in the media glorifying the Texas outfielder's comeback from substance abuse aren't doing the man any favors.

Contrary to the gushing commentary, Hamilton has not "kicked" or "beaten" anything. What he has is a daily reprieve, and I'm guessing he'll be the first person to lay it out for you. At least, I hope so. It's a day at time. A day at a time, OK? One day at a time. Easy does it, everyone…

And finally, if there's a person out there who can explain the wall-to-wall coverage devoted to Elton Brand's leaving L.A. for Philadelphia, please enlighten us. It's the Clippers, for God's sake!!!

Statue for Sandy: Very special thanks for Kevin Baxter for the awesome pub he gave us in the Los Angeles Times last week. The entire staff sends its heartfelt gratitude. Truly.

In case you missed it, check out articles one and two re baseball statues. All we're missing is just the one final monument. Stay tuned for that. The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all….







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