Column: Angels, Dodgers prove money not everything

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 8, 2013 at 11:50 pm •  Published: May 8, 2013

Don Mattingly talked about moving furniture around, though the way the Dodgers have played this season there must be a couple of chairs missing in Chavez Ravine. Two six-game losing streaks and sole possession of last place in the National League West isn't exactly what Magic Johnson and company had in mind when they coughed up $2 billion for the team and $215 million for their first opening-day roster.

Things aren't much better 31 miles down Interstate 5, where the team that always seems to be playing in the shadow of the Dodgers is shadowing them loss for loss. The Angels lineup that was supposed to instill fear in opposing pitchers is sputtering so badly that starter C.J. Wilson suggested the club either needed to get a pin cushion out or sacrifice something other than a fly ball.

Money can't buy happiness, at least so far in Los Angeles, where two teams full of big-money players are floundering. Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton have done little to justify their massive salaries, while the Dodgers were better at this time last year with a lineup that consisted largely of Matt Kemp and an assortment of utility infielders.

The Dodgers, of course, were the grand experiment in spending, with new owners acting like George Steinbrenner in his prime, swinging big trades and throwing wads of cash at free agents. But even the Yankees — now trying to reduce payroll —have learned in recent years that big salaries don't necessarily translate into big World Series celebrations.

The Dodgers have had injuries, yes, but all teams have injuries. What they may not have is team chemistry, something Mattingly alluded to a few days ago when he talked about his team not having much energy in some early season games.

That's partly the manager's fault, since it's his job to integrate new talent and put the team in a position to win. Indeed, the jury is still out on Mattingly, who served an apprenticeship under Joe Torre but failed in his first two seasons at the helm to get the Dodgers in the playoffs.

The same could be said about general manager Ned Colletti. After several years of not being allowed to spend money under former owner Frank McCourt, he was handed the combination to the bank vault under new Dodger owners and promptly began throwing money at any player he could find.

That got the Dodgers Carl Crawford, who so far has been a pleasant surprise. But it also saddled them with a past-his-prime Josh Beckett, who has yet to win a game this season and who pitches so slowly that Dodger fans who used to arrive fashionably late in the third inning now find themselves getting there in the first inning on days he's on the mound.

Adrian Gonzalez, meanwhile, has been a steady hitter but is suffering from a mysterious lack of power. With Kemp struggling to find his groove, too, the Dodgers have hit only 23 home runs.

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