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T.J. SIMERS


T.J. SIMERS
I think I understand why CC Sabathia wanted to play for the Dodgers, then talked to Frank McCourt on the telephone and signed with the Yankees.

It will be five years next month since the Boston Parking Lot Attendant bought the Dodgers after a failed attempt to buy the Red Sox and told everyone at a news conference the Dodgers have the best fans in sports.

I immediately followed that up with a question: Had you been successful in buying the Red Sox, what would you have told Boston fans?

Never have trusted much of what the guy has to say after that, and he hasn't given much of a reason the last five years to change my mind.

We're not talking mistakes here, the hiring of Lon Rosen and his plans for loud music and a Dodgers mascot, or the Tipper Gore Lady, $2 Tuesdays, the wife's sudden affection for Little League fields or flip-flopping on Paul DePodesta and Grady Little.

It really doesn't have anything to do with the ridiculous chants of "Hee-Seop Choi," or J.D. Drew's escape clause. This isn't about Jason Schmidt, Andruw Jones or Jason Phillips.

And it's more than keeping the poor folks from using the new concession stands and restrooms on the field level once the game has started, or the decision not to upgrade the concession stands and restrooms everywhere else this off-season.

It's a matter of trust, McCourt promising five years ago at a packed news conference to be "transparent" in everything he does, while saying, "I know what it takes to inspire and to lead," and "I'm not afraid to spend whatever it takes to bring a world championship back to Los Angeles."

Now that you know him, do you believe him?

Do you believe he's not afraid to spend whatever it takes to bring a world championship to Los Angeles?

Do you think he knows what it takes to inspire and lead?

Do you feel McCourt is transparent, as the dictionary defines it, "open, frank and candid?"

OK, so I'll give you "Frank."

SIXTY DAYS until pitchers and catchers report and do you have any idea what the Dodgers are trying to do this off-season?

Is McCourt following last year's blueprint for success, hanging tough in a lousy division until he can take advantage of desperate free agents late into the off-season and then improving again on the cheap at the trading deadline?

I put in a call to McCourt, knowing his desire to always be transparent, and got his secretary's voice mail.

When she didn't return the call, I contacted Josh Rawitch, one of the team's many PR guys. He took down my request, and I never heard from him again.

But I did read his "Inside the Dodgers" blog.

"I want to make sure everyone remembers that it's a long off-season and that we are far from a finished product," Rawitch wrote. "And to be honest, as we learned last year, the team that you go to Spring Training with is hardly a finished product either. Manny [Ramirez], [Casey] Blake, [Greg] Maddux, [Angel] Berroa, and many others never set foot in Vero Beach."

The Dodgers have made a pretty big deal about inviting fans to their new spring training site in Arizona, but if I'm reading the PR guy correctly, it's not like you're going to see the players who really end up there making the biggest difference later this season.

I tried McCourt's office again, and got his secretary, who said he was traveling. Don't you hate it when you leave your cellphone at home?

I just wanted to ask if he's given any thought to how Dodgers fans might take it if Angels owner Arte Moreno, missing out on Mark Teixeira and maybe deciding already he won't bring Vladimir Guerrero back in 2010, opted now to sign Ramirez?

We already know this, both New York franchises have jumped at the chance to improve, while the Angels made an eight-year offer to Teixeira. Boston wants Teixeira, and so do the Yankees.

The big-market teams are responding like most fans might expect big-market teams to react.

I believe Teixeira is the best free agent available, and by far, and if the Dodgers were to sign him you'd never hear me mention Ramirez's name again.

But we've all been trained here in the Entertainment Capital to know better, never thinking of the Dodgers as big-time bidders, and doesn't that say something about the McCourts' ownership reign?

Maybe if Teixeira is free, McCourt pounces -- the acquisition of Ramirez and Boston's agreement to pay the remainder of his salary the highlight so far of the owner's time on the job.

As for offering money, the Dodgers gave a five-year guaranteed deal to Juan Pierre a few years back and recently a three-year guaranteed pact to Blake.

But they have offered only two guaranteed years to Ramirez, the only player in the last 20 years to put the Dodgers within a sniff of the World Series. The Dodgers pick the oddest places to play hardball.

Now maybe McCourt and Ned Colletti have already put their heads together and come up with a winning plan, and for the record, I did not laugh out loud while typing that sentence.

But as transparent as McCourt and Colletti have been to date, one wonders if they have anything in mind other than waiting and picking through the leftovers.

"It's all about winning championships," is the way McCourt put it five years ago at his opening news conference, while adding, "you fans deserve a world championship."

You just have to trust that he knows what he's doing.

--

t.j.simers@latimes.com


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 16, 2008

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