Finally -- Straight Talk

Finally straight talk from the Dodgers! Asked at his first press conference if the current Dodgers roster was competitive in the National League West, newly appointed GM Ned Colletti said "NO."

What a breath of fresh air.

Nobody -- except his wife, son, Gore campaign retread vp of communications and Tommy Lasorda -- takes for a grain of salt anything from the mouth of Frank McCourt, who is still learning baseball is different from parking lots.

Loyal to a fault to himself and the owner of the moment, few if any put stock in the utterings of 78-year-old Tommy Lasorda, huckster extraordinaire (who'll be 82 when Ned Coletti's contract expires). To Tommy, everything is right with the Dodgers even when it clearly isn't.

Vin Scully is too elegant to be blunt and Charley Steiner, if blunt, gets any pearls of wisdom lost amidst a torrent of words, many unnecessary.

But Ned Colletti, God bless him, said NO. What a change -- and none too soon.

Lots of folks will be looking for early signs that everybody with the Dodgers is finally on the same page. What will happen when, as surely will happen, Tommy Lasorda has one view and Ned Colletti another?

According the Lasorda's dictum, anybody who has never done the job before ain't qualified and while Coletti has been around a long time, he's never held the top job before. Does this, according to Tommy, mean he's unqualified?

Meanwhile, did you notice that across town, the Angels hired long time Dodgers minor league player, coach and manager Dino Ebel as their new third base coach?

Surely unqualified, since he's never done the job in the big leagues before.

Right Tommy? Please note the Dodgers currently do not have a third base coach.

But with the simple word NO, Ned Colletti demonstrated something. It says here he might not be as easy to push around or denigrate as his predecessor was.

Hey, Colletti had Bobby Bonds to control and having Bonds on board is probably worse than all the Dodgers prima donnas put together.

Now what does Coletti do with Orel Hershiser, a Lasorda favorite, who impressed owner McCourt when fed sweetheart questions to Orel at the dinner for three? He's never been a field manager or assistant gm before, so does that make Orel unqualified for those positions as well? (Tommy having already claimed him unqualified for GM.)

After weeks and months of silence from Dodgers headquarters, the Coletti announcement/press conference last a full two hours. That's more than the month of October and first two weeks of November combined.

Now that we are back to talking the talk, will there be any moves to walk the walk? Talk is cheap, and so is a $75 million player budget in a big city -- especially on the heels of increases in ticket prices.

On the day Colletti got his job, Yankees manager Joe Torre was on the phone with Brian Giles -- a clear indication that Colletti is beginning a tough job still at the starting gate while the rest of the horses in the race are already off and running.

Colletti visited with the Dodgers star scouting director Logan White before even being announced. A plus, even if suggested by McCourt.

What does he do with Terry Collins, a valuable guy who has to feel dispirited if not made manager? How does he keep Kim Ng motivated when she came so close to the job he got? If Hershiser joins the front office, is there enough work for three or four top assistants (White, Hershiser, Ng and Roy Smith)?

Surely, money conscious Frank McCourt has already thought of that.

The upside of Colletti's loud NO is that he said it. The downside is that everybody else in baseball already knows the same thing.

Getting rid of some of the dross on the Dodgers roster will have all the earmarks of a midwestern yard sale -- at giveaway markdowns just to free space.

The appointment of the Dodgers number 7 or 8 or 9th choice for the GM's spot had all the earmarks going in of a ho-hum non-event in this fall of disaster after disaster for the Dodgers.

With a simple one word answer NO, Ned Colletti has given the Dodgers faithful the first glimmer of hope.