Prizefight: Simers vs. Colletti

You know, sometimes I sit here and I say, “what should I write about today?” Usually, if I don’t already have a topic in mind, I hit upon something pretty quickly. And sometimes, I’m given a gift from the gods: Captain of all Clownshoes, TJ Simers, discussing the trading history of Ned Colletti.

Here’s the hard part, though. Simers is well-known for antagonizing, provoking, and mostly just being a pain-in-the-ass, and is probably my least favorite “reporter” in the world. On the other hand, he’s going to say that Ned Colletti hasn’t done a great job of trading, and that Dodger fans ought to be scared of what might happen leading up to the deadline – which is completely true. Ugh. How do I support either side here? This is going to be interesting. For the sake of brevity, I won’t dissect every word here, but just the fun pertinent parts.

You might want to hold your nose.

Angel Berroa. Mark Sweeney. Scott Proctor. Thomas Perez. Brady Clark. Marlon Anderson. Julio Lugo. Greg Maddux. Wilson Betemit. Elmer Dessens. B.J. LaMura. Mark Hendrickson. Toby Hall. Ben Kozlowski. Danys Baez. Jae Sao. Tim Hamulack. Lance Carter. And Andre Ethier for Milton Bradley – Bradley tied with Alex Rodriguez early Tuesday for the best batting average in the American League.

Right off the bat, a lot to get through, here. It’s amazing how one “paragraph” of proper names can bring up so many different emotions in a person. Emotions such as:

You’re right, TJ: Angel Berroa, Mark Sweeney, Julio Lugo, Mark Hendrickson, Danys Baez, Jae “Sao” (for the moment, we’ll ignore that a “professional reporter” couldn’t be bothered to spell “Seo” right. Wait, no we won’t. Do some research!), and Lance Carter. Colletti acquisitions that were either surprisingly bad (Seo), as mediocre as expected (Hendrickson), and pretty much hated from Day 1 (Berroa, Sweeney).

You’re wrong, TJ: Really? We’re going to kill Colletti over Greg Maddux? I’d give up a good-glove, no-hit, injury-prone backup shortstop (Cesar Izturis) for a guy who was excellent down the stretch for us in 2006 11 times out of 10. And Marlon Anderson – I assume you’ve forgotten that in exchange for a pitcher who currently has a 5.75 ERA in A-ball (Jhonny Nunez), the Dodgers got a guy who absolutely raked in September 2006 to the tune of .375/.431/.813 with 7 homers, including being part of the great 4+1 comeback. I’m no Colletti supporter, but credit where credit is due. Plus, while Proctor’s been terrible this year, he was excellent after being acquired last year.

bradleyNo, really, shut up, TJ: I feel like I shouldn’t even have to discuss this, but saying “oh, Colletti shouldn’t have traded Milton Bradley” is the worst kind of second-guessing. Has anyone really forgotten why Bradley had to go? Did you not notice how acquiring Andre Ethier from a position of zero leverage was considered a steal? This is ridiculous. Hell, if not for the fact that Rangers GM Jon Daniels was in the right place at the right time just a week ago, the stories would be less “tied with A-Rod for AL batting lead” and more “Bradley incarcerated for murdering Royals broadcaster.”

No one cares about these guys, TJ: The fact that I know who B.J. LaMura and Ben Kozlowski are without looking them up just goes to point out that I really need to get out more, but I’m at a bit of a loss to explain why we care all that much about guys who were acquired for 40-year-old Sandy Alomar, Jr., and Cody Ross. And Brady Clark and Tim Hamulack? A fifth outfielder and a fringe bullpen arm. Big deal.

What the hell are you talking about, TJ: I see “Thomas Perez,” and I have no idea who Simers means. Typing “Thomas Perez” into baseball-reference gets me George Thomas Perez, who pitched in four games for the 1958 Pirates. So keeping in mind that Simers doesn’t care enough to make sure he spells names right, I can only assume he means Tomas Perez – but his only association with the Dodgers was 36 games in AAA last year, and and I can’t even find anything that says the Dodgers gave up anything to get him. Talk about a stretch.

Look at the list of what Colletti has acquired since being hired in late 2005, and that doesn’t include Esteban Loaiza plucked off waivers for $7 million, or the free-agent disasters.

“Hey, I was right there with Brian Cashman when we brought in Carl Pavano,” said Dodgers Manager Joe Torre in trying to defend Colletti, and isn’t that encouraging news, two guys now with no eye for talent putting their heads together to plot the Dodgers’ future.

Point: Simers. Colletti and Torre haven’t exactly been endearing themselves to us lately, what with decisions like batting Pierre leadoff every day and letting Mark Sweeney have a job. If Colletti feels he’s on the hot seat, who knows what sort of crazy moves might ensue.

You’re looking in hindsight, so your vision is perfect,” says Colletti, who apparently works with blinders on, the only logical explanation for some of these deals. “Who has come back to haunt us?”

A better question, I said, “is who did you acquire who really improved the team?”

“Ethier helped us,” he says. “Maddux helped us, Lugo gave us some support, Anderson certainly helped us in September of ’06, and Hendrickson pitched. You do have to have players who pitch and play in the games.”

No question Hendrickson made it possible for the Dodgers to put nine men on the field on the days he got batted around.

And Colletti ties it up with a left hook! Lucky for him, this is a conversation about trades only and not free agents, or we could bring in Pierre, Schmidt, Jones, and Nomar to discuss who’s haunting us. But he is right on here: while the players who’ve come back from his trades may not have always worked out, he has at least shown a knack for trading away the right players. Sure, Edwin Jackson has shown glimpses of figuring things out in Tampa, but he still wouldn’t be one of the best 6-7 starters on this team right now. And like I said above, TJ: Maddux and Anderson were superb.

Most fans probably have you pegged as a GM who hasn’t done a very good job of bringing in talent,” I suggest, and he disagrees.

“I don’t know if that’s fact or fiction,” he says. “That’s your opinion.”

I offer to put it to the readers, but obviously so much hinges on the likes of Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Schmidt and Andruw Jones, and so a blindfold, please for Colletti.

Crack! Simers lands one to the jaw. Sorry, Ned. I can’t stand TJ, but you can’t possibly defend most of the free agent signings, and Juan Pierre and Brett Tomko haven’t even come up yet. While he’s done a good job of not trading away the good young talent that’s on the team right now… he didn’t acquire any of them either.

In other words, “as long as I don’t foul it up by making a trade,” Colletti says, and had Dan Evans and Kevin Malone been so quick, they might still be here.

And… the ref isn’t sure who to award this point to, because no one has any idea what Simers is talking about. Kevin Malone got fired because he fought other team’s fans in the stands and gave out expensive contracts to hurt pitchers (Kevin Brown, Darren Dreifort). Dan Evans got fired because he happened to be in charge when Frank McCourt bought the team and decided he wanted his own people. Where’s the comparison?

“The team needs to get healthy so we can figure out if we need any more help,” he says. “We definitely need to play better. We need a better feel and plan at bat. We’ve pitched pretty well and our bullpen has held up pretty well.

“But constituted as we are today and the approach we’re taking at the plate, it’d be a tough go the rest of the way.”

Unfortunately, yes. Last night’s game was a microcosm of the whole season, right? A very good starting pitching performance wasted due to the complete lack of offense.

Torre says he likes the approach Juan Pierre and Jeff Kent take, and Russell Martin does well at times, but the rest of the Dodgers’ lineup is too impatient and swings at too many bad pitches.

That’s a penalty on Torre, for a low blow into the groins of Dodger fans. Kent’s a Hall of Famer, so I suppose I can look past his lousy season and be okay with Torre praising his approach. But Pierre, really? We’re going to hold him up as one of the top two examples of plate approach? So what you’re saying is that you want everyone else to be 28% worse at the plate than the average NLer? You want other guys to be on a stretch where it’s been nearly three weeks since Pierre drew a walk? Forget Colletti, forget Simers. We might be hopeless. Oh, and I particularly like how Martin does well at times. His OPS is only a full 200 points better than Pierre’s, and he’s clearly one of the three best catchers in baseball. Yeah, shape up, kid!

Put it all together, and you have a GM who has yet to identify talent, a high-priced manager who has yet to make a connection with the talent brought in by previous GMs and the Diamondbacks just lost again.

So far, the Dodgers’ idea of a winning formula.

Pay attention, friends, because these are words I never thought I’d write: TJ Simers is dead-on right here. He may be a jerk and his schtick hasn’t been funny, well, ever, but if the Dodgers want to turn things around, it’s not going to be from looking for outside help – it’s going to require fixing the internal problems. And that starts right with the GM and manager.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg