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This Is Not Dan Evans' Mess
2003-07-07 08:25
by Jon Weisman

With emotions raw over the state of the Dodgers, let's remember that their problems are no overnight occurence.

When Dan Evans arrived in Los Angeles:

  • ... the Dodgers were overextended financially, thanks largely to Kevin Malone. Evans has faced real and legitimate spending limitations.

  • ... the Dodgers had not had a good draft since the Cold War era. While they have signed some talented players internationally, catchers Paul Lo Duca and Dave Ross and outfielder Bubba Crosby are the only original Dodger draftees that have played for the team in 2003.

There is a dichotomy in the current era of major league baseball. Certain teams, such as the Yankees and Braves, make the playoffs every year. Other teams, such as the Diamondbacks and Twins, go from abysmal to accomplished in nothing flat.

The Dodgers are in the middle - and yes, it has all the feel of a treadmill. The team's makeup has evolved under Evans, to the point where its pitching is incredible and its hitting is indigestible, but the overall talent of the team remains roughly the same.

Though Evans does have the responsibility of improving that overall talent, it's simply unfair to deny the history working against him.

Is Evans alone among general managers in facing hurdles? Of course not. But are other GMs doing much better than he is in 2003? Not really.

The Chicago White Sox acquire Roberto Alomar and Carl Everett. Arizona acquires Shea Hillenbrand; the Red Sox acquire Byung-Hyun Kim. The mighty Yankees acquire ... Ruben Sierra and Karim Garcia? None of those moves will put a team into the playoffs.

The only way for the Dodgers to truly get better is to get good players cheap - primarily through smart drafting and smart signings. Kind of a difficult task in July. The trade market is sludge right now, and if Evans, who has made poor midseason trades in the past, doesn't see a deal that will help the overall talent level of the Dodgers, he is right to hold off - until the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline, or until the offseason if need be.

No one thought the Dodgers entered 2003 with the most talent in baseball; not many more thought they would make the playoffs. Just because the talent that the Dodgers do have is distributed in an easily identifiable way doesn't change the lack of overall quality in the organization. This has been true since March: Any postseason success for the Dodgers in 2003 will be a premature gift. And that was the truth before the fragility of Dave Roberts, Fred McGriff, Brian Jordan, Kevin Brown and Darren Dreifort asserted itself.

If there is a good trade to make, Evans should make it. But don't assume that there is one. This team has had problems to solve that go back years and years.

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