Dodgers Adding 'Bums' at Record Pace

Willard Mullin, Hall of Fame cartoonist for the New York World-Telegram for some 30+ year, began to depict the Brooklyn Dodgers as "Bums," an affectionate connotation taken from the colorful language of the Brooklyn fans. Shouting "Youse Bums, Youse" was perfectly acceptable from Dodger fans but fighting words when fans of other teams called any Brooklyn player by that moniker.

Joe Louis was the most accommodating heavyweight champion of all time. During his prime years he fought nearly every month, sometimes not always opposing legitimate contenders and his "tour," if you want to call it that, was called "The Bum of the Month Club."

This is not for a moment to suggest the Dodgers are adding over-the-hill players at a record pace, rather that they are gathering in talented "Bums" in the best tradition of Mullin's beloved character -- delighting Los Angeles and Brooklyn fans in the bargain -- and adding them almost every second day.

The newest addition to the Dodger roster is Brett Tomko, whose was 8-15 over a two-year span with the Giants. The righthander, who will turn 33 on April 7, has agreed to a two-year contract worth $8.7 million that includes a club option for a third year and a $1-million buyout. The deal will be officially announced today when Tomko passes the obligatory physical.

And if you have trouble with adding a Giants pitcher, I have one word for you: "Sal Maglie." O.K., that's two words but Maglie, once the most hated member of that most hated team, arrived in Brooklyn just in time to go 13-6 and help them to their final pennant (1956) before they moved west.

This boosts GM Ned Colletti's remarkable record to six players and a manager since December 7: Grady Little, Dec. 7, shortstop Rafael Furcal, Dec. 8, catcher Sandy Alomar Jr., Dec. 10, outfielder Andre Ethier Dec. 13, third baseman Bill Mueller, Dec. 14, first baseman Nomar Garciaparra, Dec. 18, center fielder Kenny Lofton, Dec. 20 and Tomko Dec. 22.

Tomko, who also was coveted by the Padres, Orioles, Devil Rays and Nationals, seems destined become the Dodgers' fourth starter behind Derek Lowe, Brad Penny and Odalis Perez.

Tomko has won double-digit games in five of his nine Major League seasons and is 81-73 with a 4.26 ERA while pitching more than 190 innings. He made at least 30 starts in each of the last four seasons.

Tomko, whose fastball is consistently 92 to 93 mph, has pitched well at Dodger Stadium, going 4-2 with a 2.93 ERA in 13 career starts. His career has included stops in Cincinnati, Seattle, San Diego, St. Louis and San Francisco.

Owner Frank McCourt should receive his share of the credit. He has allowed Colletti to commit more than $90 million for 17 signed players. About half the amount will be paid out in 2006, taking the Dodger payroll $90 million and probably beyond.

Colletti wants to add another starting pitcher before spring training -- preferably one who fits in the front of the rotation. At the present time D.J. Houlton, Edwin Jackson and Chad Billingsley would compete for the fifth spot, but the Dodgers prefer Jackson and Billingsley begin the season in triple A.

Colletti continues to have discussions with Scott Boras, the agent for right-handers Kevin Millwood and Jeff Weaver, the best pitchers remaining on the free-agent market, not counting Roger Clemens.

The Dodgers have until Jan. 8 to negotiate with Weaver, who expressed a desire to re-sign with the Dodgers near the end of last season and is thought to be seeking $9 million+ per year over four-years.

Other free-agent and trade possibilities include free agent Byung-Hyun Kim, who pitched well against the Dodgers for the Colorado Rockies last season, and left-hander Shawn Estes-- both low-budget options.

The Chicago White Sox are shopping right-hander Jon Garland, but the asking price would be high and the Dodgers don't want to trade top pitching prospects.

Garland posted an 18-10 record and 3.50 ERA while leading the Sox to the World Championship. He made $3.4 million and is arbitration eligible, but he turned down a three-year offer.

A trade with the White Sox would probably include one or more top minor league starters such as Billingsley, Justin Orenduff and Chuck Tiffany and Colletti has said he would not trade the young Dodger pitchers.

The Dodgers re-signed outfielders Jon Weber and Tydus Meadows to minor league contracts. Both spent last season at double-A Jacksonville.

Other Moves in December involving former Dodgers includes:
Baltimore signed INF David Newman and C Geronimo Gil
Boston signed RHP Rudy Seanez
Cleveland signed OF Todd Donovan, INF Jose Flores
Colorado signed LHP Steve Colyer, traded RHP Marcos Carvajal to Seattle
Florida signed RHPs Buddy Carlyle and Ryan Rupe, traded C Paul Lo Duca to Mets
Kansas City signed 2B Mark Grudzielanek and C Paul Bako
NY Mets release LHP Kaz Ishii; signed RHP Jose Parra and LHP Pedro Feliciano
NY Yankees signed OF Chris Prieto
San Diego traded OF Steve Finley to San Francisco
Texas traded RHP Ricardo Rodriguez to Phillies
Washington signed LHP Joey Eischen