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Colletti’s First Major Move Could Be the Real Turkey

I called the Dodgers Monday to talk with new GM Ned Colletti, but his secretary told me he was getting rid of some turkeys down at the stadium entrance.

Obviously I rushed over to Dodger Stadium as fast I could, thrilled to know the guy had already taken it upon himself to hand-deliver Hee-Seop Choi or Jason Phillips to another team.

When I arrived he was actually handing out free turkeys, and while that explained why Tom Lasorda was there, it meant the Dodgers were still stuck with Choi and Phillips.

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NOW AS you know, the Boston Parking Lot Attendant has described Colletti as a “born leader,” and you know how right on Frank McCourt has been to date.

The first thing our born leader did after becoming Dodger GM was to do what everyone else does who has no imagination and wants to play it safe, calling up one of his old pals, former Giant GM assistant Jim Fregosi, to see if he might like to retire here and manage the Dodgers.

“He’s not an old pal,” Colletti protested, which should be news to his old pal.

“It’s true, I’ve known him for a long time,” Colletti said, and you can see how difficult it’s going to be to get a straight answer out of this guy. The word going around is that Fregosi is a lock to become the Dodgers’ manager with the announcement coming Monday. That gives him six days to avoid his first mistake.

“I haven’t made a final decision,” Colletti said, while indicating he’s looking for someone who knows how to win, someone who knows how to win the World Series, and someone who can communicate with him.

Well, as we’ve learned now, Fregosi is no pal of Colletti’s, failed miserably in previous managerial stints with the Phillies, White Sox, Angels and Blue Jays, and would have to win his first 192 games as a Dodger manager to post the same career winning percentage as Jim Tracy.

“I think Fregosi does fill some of the criteria, if not all the criteria I’m looking for in a manager,” Colletti said, and when you’ve already gone through Kevin Malone, Dan Evans and Paul DePodesta, you really can’t be surprised by anything a Dodger GM might say.

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I’D EXPECT a born leader to break away from proven losers, and find the next great leader in baseball.

Colletti spent 11 years as a GM understudy, “and so what were you doing all that time?” I asked. “You had the chance to prepare for this and identify the ideal guy to be your manager in the event you were one day promoted to GM. And the best you could do was Fregosi?”

“I really am considering other people, too,” he insisted.

You would certainly hope so. What about Bud Black, whose pitching staff had the best earned-run average in the American League? That might be close enough for some Dodger fans who still can’t understand how Mike Scioscia got away.

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“Bud Black?” Lasorda screamed. “Bud Black?”

Lasorda was already irritated, standing there and waiting to see if any free turkeys were going to be left for him.

“Bud Black? Are you telling me you’d suggest someone to manage the Dodgers who has never managed a day in his life? You’d crucify us for that.”

No question, if he turned out to be Bill Russell, but then if Colletti is a born leader, I’d expect him to find someone like Ozzie Guillen, who had no managerial experience, but who now has a World Series ring.

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I have no idea if Black, or anyone else so inexperienced, is the right guy. That’s Colletti’s job to figure out.

But is it too much to expect an inspired hire from a guy who has been waiting most of his baseball career for his big break? Something at least a little more inspired than a guy packing a .484 winning percentage -- and failing wherever he has been.

The Marlins just hired Joe Girardi, who has no managerial experience other than sitting next to Joe Torre on the Yankees’ bench. There’s no way of knowing yet if they got it right, but it’ll be interesting to watch.

The Dodgers say the team’s future rests on a bunch of promising minor leaguers. Fregosi will be 64 two days into the 2006 season, and while I work with sports editor Bill Dwyre and have no problem with an old man nodding off in the middle of the day, you would think an up-and-coming manager growing alongside a group of promising recruits might buy some time for an organization that just can’t get it right.

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At the very least it’d be in keeping with the McCourt theme that everyone coming to work for the Dodgers these days is in way over their heads.

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I HAVE seen some awesome Super Bowl performances by Montana, Young and Elway, but nothing compared to the ground covered by Reggie Bush in the Coliseum Saturday night.

ESPN’S Chris Mortensen reported Bush is screening agents in preparation for going pro. Right now Bush would be headed to the Houston Texans, but had Michael Ovitz come up with the money at the NFL deadline, L.A. would’ve gotten the team awarded to Houston -- and Bush might’ve continued his career here.

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TODAY’S LAST word comes in email from Bob K.:

“I’m a local high school teacher and coach and one of the coaches in our office observed that the new Dodger GM looks exactly like the Bernie Lomax character in the popular 1989 movie, ‘Weekend at Bernie’s.’ ”

That would explain why I didn’t get anything out of him Monday.

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T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.


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