Time to Finish Retooling for 2007

Six weeks until pitchers, catchers, players changing positions and players coming off injuries report to the Dodgers perhaps last ever major league spring training camp in Vero Beach, Florida, and time is short.

GM Ned Colletti thought he had filled his pantry with an abundance of major league pitchers. The plan, or so it was said, was since no really good power hitters were available at the Dodgers price in the free agent market, he'd fill up on a shortage area and thus pick off a hitter through the trade market.

The problem is (a) there is no market at all for overpaid, underachieving Brett Tomko, much less for a quality hitter, and (b) the teams that really need a Brad Penny, i.e., the Cards, the Mets, Seattle and others, do not really seem turned on by Penny in the first place, and don't have a spare power hitter to spend in the second place.

It could be the Dodgers go into spring training with ALL their pitchers, and sometimes the move you don't make is the best move after all. For all the depth of pitching the Dodgers apparently have, there is this to consider: Randy Wolf is coming off two injury years.

While Jason Schmidt hasn't made any DL's, he has lost time. The depth in the bullpen is depth of mediocrity so far. Sure there is talent, but it is talent that needs to break through and break through consistently.

Rarely does any team's fans root for an injury, but there is this: the only way James Loney gets into the lineup is (a) is somebody is hurt, (b) if one of the pampered, overpaid oldsters suddenly feels sick at the thought of facing on of the major pitchers in the league and decides to sit with a hangnail problem.

When a Duke Snider or Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays came up, the did NOT sit. They played. They played everyday. They played as they felt their way. They played through slumps. The teams knew what they had and went with it.

Some baseball teams still do this. In Miami, Miguel Cabrera played from the day he hit the door. In Tampa, ditto with speedy Crawford. In Philadelphia, the Phillies dumped a superstar with plenty still left to rush Ryan Howard into the lineup.

Youth and inexperience did not prevent young talent from getting into the everyday lineup in Minnesota - and they came up with both the young hitting batting champion catcher of all time and the most underpaid league MVP ever at first base.

This is not the thinking in LA. Or at least on the Dodgers side of town. James Loney is talent, big talent. In other towns he would be playing. Not in LA. Did the Dodgers get burned by Hee Sop Choi-itis (too much too soon)?

Haven't they remembered that it wasn't so long ago they dumped a young talented corner infielder because he wasn't deemed ready yet - one Paul Konerko?

The pitching half of the equation is okay, its not the kind of problem that will hurt you. You can never have too much piching. Pitching is still 90 per cent of baseball.

Having too many pitchers gives the manager and staff the chance to avoid Brett Tomko (they won't because they have to pay him big bucks- at least for him big bucks). After all, what would the Dodgers be without a worthy successor to the overpaid, underachieving Odalis Perez?)

The Loney half of the equation stinks. He will win games. The old guys will win fewer than they won before - which was not enough as the Dodgers haven't been in the World Series since 1988 - which was before Brittney Spears was born.

We have this question: why do the Dodgers go through to motions to scout, sign, train, teach, bring along good young players with a legitimate chance at stardom, if they are not going to take the last step in the chain and put the kid in the lineup and leave him there.

This is how baseball was always fundamentally structured (and how they are still doing it in places like Minnesota and Philadelphia and elsewhere) but not in LA.

In LA, whether blinded by smog, weather or man made, the baseball types are beginning to act like the movie star bunch, i.e., for whatever luck or talent got them where they are now, these guys think they are geniuses on every subject. Heck, we only want them to be semi smart in the base business of baseball.

Ole' Leo Durocher, no saint or no genius, did not need to be told when he had a real talent on his hands. His kid glove handling of Willie Mays was right on, not as the Dodgers are doing with Loney, right off.

GM Colletti seems infected with "I Still Love San Francisco-itis." Field manager Grady Little seems equally enamored with anything from Boston, which ran him out of town.

Remember, it was Colletti who helped the Giants get really old fast. He looks for all the world to be doing the same in LA. Is this good? Is it going to work any better in LA than it did in Frisco?

It took the Dodgers a very long time to find a guy who'd take their job. Maybe it would be a good think to look back and see how the guys who turned the Dodgers down turned out, what they did with the teams where they went.

This is year two of the Colletti and Little team. How the Dodgers do will be a big determinant in how long the two will be around. They have placed their bets and their futures on an AARP program of age. They had better be right or the fancy new seats wont be enough and the updated (and more expensive) parking lot slots (the real expertise of the owners) may be empty.

If the Dodgers don't get off to a decent start and stay there, things could begin to turn sour by the All Star break. And don't forget, the Dodgers have a master lurking in the background constantly who has run more then one or two guys out of town while pretending to be their friends.

Our take is this: if Loney sits and we get more of the same, we will get exactly that, more of the same. And since what he have had of late is not winning, it is its antithesis, it is losing.

However, if Loney is plugged into the everyday lineup and the old vets are used judiciously and wisely around the young core, then there may be a program of hope rather than a plan of mediocrity.