T.J. SIMERS

Dodgers spend as if there's a tomorrow, and this makes him giddy

If money can buy baseball happiness, long-suffering Dodgers fans are now going to be richer for it, as Zack Greinke and a starting pitcher from Korea are set to join lineup loaded with All-Stars.

Everyone is going to be quick to praise the Dodgers for spending roughly $208 million on Zack Greinke and a starting pitcher from Korea.

But don't forget the Angels picked up Joe Blanton.

Now the only question remaining is who has assembled the better dream team, the Dodgers or the Lakers?

OK, so maybe it's not so good a comparison a day after The Times detailed what's gone wrong with the Lakers.

But as terrific as the Lakers looked on paper, the Dodgers are now worth watching, and isn't that a seldom-seen sentence written here?

Ultimately we might find the Dodgers' judgment in talent lacking, with folks paying $1,000 for a ticket in the upper deck and another couple hundred a month in increased cable bills to watch them.

But today the Dodgers rock, and kudos to them for doing what every sports fan hopes his favorite team will do in the off-season -- spend to get better.

Just think if Frank & Jamie had decided not to get divorced. Do we have a chauffeur to thank for all this?

Frank & Jamie did the impossible while here, turning fans away from Dodger Stadium, and fans remained slow to embrace the new Guggenheim owners.

But as flat as this franchise has been since 1988, if money can buy baseball happiness, Dodgers fans are now going to be richer for it.

It's all about money, with the Dodgers willing to pay what it takes to have a four-time All-Star at first, a three-timer at short, a four-timer in left, Matt Kemp and all that he means to the Dodgers in center, and a two-time All-Star in right.

They have a Cy Young winner in Clayton Kershaw and yet another in Greinke when he signs his Dodgers contract this week.

If Chad Billingsley is healthy and pitching as he did last season.... I can't believe what's happening to me. I'm so giddy I'm making a case for Chad Billingsley to be consistent.

Sorry, but I recall a season not so long ago when Dodger Manager Don Mattingly was excited because he was going to platoon Jay Gibbons and Marcus Thames in left.

I still don't know much about Guggenheim, Stan Kasten remains a blowhard and who knows whether Mattingly has what it takes to lead a team to a championship.

But I like watching the best players in the game, and thinking the home team has the best shot of winning.

And the Dodgers seem hell-bent on giving folks just that, rather than just talking about it as Angry Arte has done over the years as owner of Los Angeles' other baseball team.

Angry Arte has promised fans only the best, but too often he's seen a fiscal cliff while others have forged forward to nab the very best.

Emotional as he can be, Angry Arte went bonkers while trying to make up for every lost free agent by signing Albert Pujols to a 10-year deal. This season Mike Trout will be pitching, playing center for the Angels and doing commercials between innings.

In effect, the Dodgers and Angels have swapped Blanton for Greinke, and the Angels are the ones with the shaky bullpen.

Glory be, this might be the closest any of us ever get to an unlimited ATM, the Dodgers spending $25.7 million just for the chance to talk about paying even more to Korean starting pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin.

A year ago they signed a Cuban defector to a $42-million contract, and while the Giants keeping winning the World Series, isn't it fun to think the Dodgers might soon be the Yankees of old?

It hasn't even been a year and the Guggenheim owners have spent more than $600 million to acquire better players, and that's how crummy the Dodgers have been in recent years.

Now starting in left field for your Los Angeles Dodgers, Xavier Paul. Those were the days … just one year ago.

But right now the Dodgers are in first place with the league's highest payroll at almost $250 million, including the additional money spent on talking to Ryu.

No other team is above $200 million.

The Dodgers have already taken a giant leap over the luxury-tax threshold; anything spent beyond $178 million is taxed at 17.5%.

Smelling salts, please, for Angry Arte at just the thought.

But no sweat when it comes to the rich folk who now run the star-heavy team; there's every reason to believe the Dodgers are World Series bound.

Or, they really will be known as the Choking Dogs.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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