Colletti happy with new players

Times Staff Writer

To those who shake their heads at Ned Colletti while uttering the names of Andruw Jones and Jason Schmidt, the embattled Dodgers general manager can now offer a hearty retort.

Manny Ramirez is batting .615 with two homers and five runs batted in three games since the Dodgers acquired him last week from the Boston Red Sox, and Casey Blake is hitting .364 with one homer and two RBIs in nine games since coming over in a trade from Cleveland.

“I’m happy with both players,” Colletti said in a telephone interview Monday after arriving in St. Louis, where today at Busch Stadium the Dodgers open a six-game trip. “Casey has been everything advertised. Solid guy, solid player. Understands how to win a game. Manny has been pretty electric. . . . “

Widely panned for the free-agent acquisitions of the ineffective Jones and the injured Schmidt, among others, Colletti said it was too early to celebrate the success of the players he brought in last week via trade.


“We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “I’m just happy that we had a chance to improve the club.

“I could have probably done a lot of things that were more selfish for me but less beneficial for the organization, but I refused to do that. I could have campaigned to trade younger players and sold off the future for the present, but I refused to do it.

“I believe in what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.”

Asked about widespread speculation that owner Frank McCourt, a Boston native with strong ties to Red Sox Chief Executive Larry Lucchino, was the driving force behind the trade for Ramirez, Colletti said, “We were both involved, as were many people in baseball operations. The last hour or two, Frank and I spent a lot of time talking about it and a lot of time on the phone with Boston.”


Colletti said it was important not to place too much emphasis on what Ramirez could do for the Dodgers over the season’s final two months.

“We still have to pitch, we still have to play great defense and maximize everything we do,” he said. “Adding one power hitter to the lineup isn’t going to drastically change what you do if you can’t execute.”

Short hops

The Dodgers drew an average of 54,251 fans for the three games since Ramirez joined the club, 9,182 over their season average. Two of the games were sold out. . . . Outfielder Juan Pierre, on Ramirez’s ability to play left field: “He can play it. I don’t see his defense hurting us any.” . . . Colletti said there had been no push to ask Jones to work out his season-long struggles in the minor leagues.