Dodgers Just Looking for a Pitcher

In an interview with Dodger owner Frank McCourt, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that The Dodgers] were not about to get into the silly money the Angels gave Torii Hunter. They would not go four years on Mike Lowell. They are unwilling to part with four or even three top prospects for Miguel Cabrera, although that could change if they really want Johan Santana.

The way McCourt looks at it, he's already ahead of the game because he hired Joe Torre to manage the Dodgers.

"I think we're in a good position right now," McCourt told him. "We don't have to make a deal. We made the biggest move we needed to make in signing Joe. I don't anticipate any nonsense in that clubhouse. He gives us instant credibility and we're thrilled to have him."

Apparently, McCourt wasn't about to pay a 32-year-old outfielder like Hunter $90 million over five years. He has faith that last year's free agent bust, righthanded starter Jason Schmidt, who made only six starts before his shoulder weakened, is stronger and healthier than ever, and that the Dodgers' youngsters -- Matt Kemp, James Loney, and Andy LaRoche -- are ready to take big steps in their development. Which is why McCourt isn't crazy about giving them all away for one player.

The Dodgers didn't have much in their farm system when McCourt took over the Dodgers [goes the interview] but now they have some of the best young talent in the game.

He lists Loney, a lefthanded-hitting first baseman who batted .331 with 15 homers and 67 RBIs in 96 games and Kemp, a righthanded-hitting outfielder, who batted .342 with 10 homers, 42 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases in 98 games.

Torre must find a use for the declining Nomar Garciaparra, who hit .283 with 7 homers and 59 RBIs. While he has battled injuries since being dealt by the Red Sox in 2004, Garciaparra, 34, was healthy for the most part last season; he just didn't have the same thump in his swing.

"It wasn't so much that we didn't win it all - which is our goal and what we want to do every year," McCourt said, "but what left a sour taste in our mouths was that we didn't fulfill the potential we had. At one time, I think we had the best record in baseball.

"Our younger guys are a year older. Our banged-up guys are healthy again. If there's a player or two out there that can make us better, I'm very interested."

McCourt has great respect and admiration for Grady Little, but he thought that Little never "reenergized his batteries" after the season was over, a sign to McCourt that he had had enough of managing. When Torre became available, said McCourt, Little agreed that he had to go in that direction.

McCourt feels media reports of the Dodgers' clubhouse being a mess were greatly overblown. There might have been a youth-vs.-veterans feud after a few choice words by veterans Jeff Kent and Luis Gonzalez, but for McCourt, the worst part was, "we kept waiting for our talent to get us through the tough times and it never kicked in. When that happens, frustration sets in, and we just couldn't get ourselves out of that."

He thinks Torre will get the most out of the young guys and will handle the veterans.

The Dodgers have one of the best young catchers in Russell Martin, who keeps getting better with the pitching staff. Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, Schmidt, and Chad Billingsley provide a very good starting foursome (if Schmidt comes back all the way). It's unlikely they will bring back Randy Wolf, unless he asks for another one-year deal at less money. The Dodgers will be in the market for another starting pitcher.

The bullpen is set with Takashi Saito (39 saves, 1.40 ERA), Joe Beimel (83 appearances), Torre's old Yankee middle man Scott Proctor (83 appearances between New York and LA), and horse Jonathan Broxton (83 games, 99 strikeouts in 82 innings). Nineteen-year-old lefty Clayton Kershaw and James McDonald are coming fast in the minors.

McCourt has great faith in the talent on the squad but the Dodgers have a tough challenge in the NL West with Arizona and Colorado coming off playoff seasons.