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Dodgers trade lacks playoff impact

September 1, 2009 | 12:24 pm

Thome So the Dodgers traded for one of baseball's great sluggers and a pitcher with a long streak of seasons in which he has reached double digits in victories.

Well, kudos to General Manager Ned Colletti for getting that done just before Monday's trade deadline. But I'd be a lot more impressed had he made a deal that would really help the team once it got to the playoffs.

Is Jim Thome going to play in front of James Loney at first base? No. He's going to pinch hit. So what the Dodgers now have is their own version of Matt Stairs -- an over-the-hill power hitter who once in a while still might run into a pitch at a magic moment. Hey, it worked last year for the Phillies.

And what about Jon Garland? The Dodgers in announcing his acquisition reminded everyone that the right-hander out of Kennedy High in Granada Hills had won at least 10 games in seven consecutive seasons. That's some good public relations spin. Let's not forget that Garland spent those seasons as a member of very good teams -- the Cubs, White Sox and Angels.

While it's true that Garland has been durable and consistent, it's also true that he's not the top-of-the-rotation starter that would really make a difference to the Dodgers. For the playoffs, is a guy with a 4.29 earned-run average going to supplant Chad Billingsley, Randy Wolf, Clayton Kershaw or even a healthy-again Hiroki Kuroda in the rotation? Dodgers fans should hope not.

Garland pretty much is another Vicente Padilla -- only with better mound manners. Adding him to the back end of the rotation at the start of the season would have been fine. Now, his impact is negligible.

More than anything, Garland is an insurance policy -- a very expensive one. He's due more than $1.1 million this year and has a $2.5-million buyout clause if the Dodgers don't pick up his contract next season. (Although it's been reported that Arizona is still on the hook for his salary the rest of this year and any buyout.)

As for Thome, he'll be a nice option at designated hitter if the Dodgers somehow reach the World Series.

Getting there, of course, would be a lot easier had Colletti acted earlier and more dynamically by adding a Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee.

-- Mike Hiserman

Photo: Jim Thome breaks his bat on a fly ball during a game between the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals on July 4. Credit: Denny Medley / US Presswire