The Dodgers hopes rest on Joc Pederson

The reviews from computer simulators matched the forecast from the number crunchers in the Dodgers front office. Both think the Dodgers are the best team in baseball. Why, our algorithms match your algorithms! Let’s watch “Big Bang Theory” and imagine Mayim Bialik in a purple teddy!

They’re not the best team in baseball. Oh, the Dodgers are a pretty darn good baseball team, but they’re not the best.

The defending champion Chicago Cubs are better. They didn’t lose talent during the offseason with a young roster that only figures to improve. The Cubs knocked out the Dodgers 4-2 in the National League Championship Series and that divide was larger than two baseball games if you watched it. The Cubs exposed the holes in the Dodgers roster, so it was incumbent on LA to upgrade.

Which the Dodgers did — albeit incrementally by improving their infield. The Dodgers traded for second baseman Logan Forsythe in what could be a genius move. LA has an elite infield to go along with the best starting pitcher in the game, possibly its best closer and depth that is the envy of virtually every front office in baseball.

But its outfield is suspect at best, which is why the Dodgers hopes for ending a World Series drought at 29 years fall on center fielder Joc Pederson.

The Dodgers relied on the depth of their roster to plug outfield holes throughout 2016. Andre Ethier was injured at the start of that season. Ethier was by no means a superior talent but the drop off in performance — from Andrew Toles, Trayce Thompson, Will Venable, Enrique Hernandez and Scott Van Slyke — was stark. A midseason trade for Josh Reddick wasn’t fruitful, and he’s gone.

It’s also time for even the most ardent Yasiel Puig supporter to admit he’s not the Cuban Mike Trout. Relying on Puig to figure out breaking pitches, baserunning and throwing to the right cutoff man is not a reliable wager.

Pederson improving is a bet with the odds more in your favor. Here’s why:

“Young Joc” arrived in Los Angeles two seasons ago with the fanfare befitting a can’t-miss prospect. Only after the All-Star Break of his rookie season, he missed a lot. He struck out 170 times in his rookie year and he average plummeted to a cringe-worthy .210.

Under the radar last season, Pederson’s performance spiked. Believe me, I recognize a .246 average with 130 strikeouts is no reason to crack open a bottle of champagne, but that’s 40 fewer strikeouts and an uptick of about 40 points in batting average. Anything approaching that level of improvement this year will put the 24-year-old on the fringes of being an All-Star because he slugged 51 home runs in his first two seasons. Consistent contact plus power is a frightening combination.

Simply put, Pederson is the only Dodgers outfielder with the potential to help close the gap on the Chicago Cubs. Ethier can’t do it. Puig won’t do it.

And that matters, because winning the National League West again simply won’t cut it.

Dodgers winter theme: Make it complicated!

The ironic thing about baseball’s winter meetings being held next week in Washington, D.C. is that it’s symbolic of Dodgers fans to their team.

Sports fans are like the electorate: Win for me. And in doing so, keep it simple because I’m a little drunk.

The Dodgers front office is like Hillary Clinton’s campaign: Making things so much about process they get lapped by a guy with a catchy slogan.

Which is why you shouldn’t expect much from the Dodgers other than directionless complex rumors that will involve dozens of names, multiteam deals and discussions of mind-blowing salaries. It will be a week of sound and fury. It will signify nothing.

It’s highly unlikely they will get the stars you’ve heard about online: Ian Kinsler? Nope. Chris Sale? Chris Archer? Ryan Braun? Hell, even Brian Dozier? Naw.

Here is what the Dodgers need: a second baseman, a third baseman, better starting pitching, a closer. Hopefully, the incoming infielders can hit left-handed pitching better.

You, the fan, shrug and say, “OK, resign Justin Turner, Rich Hill, Kenley Jansen and try to upgrade at second base. Simple.”

But the Dodgers have six former general managers in the front office. Much like last season, too many cooks will complicate this broth. Consider the first offseason with team president Andrew Friedman two years ago. One of his first “moves” was a three-team deal that involved eight players. The Marlins got a leadoff hitter in Dee Gordon. The Angels got a starting pitching in Andrew Heaney (who admittedly got injured in Anaheim, but he’s only 24). 

The Dodgers? All they have left on the roster from that deal is backup outfielder in Keke Hernandez and situational relief pitcher Chris Hatcher. Sound. Fury. Nothing.

The Cubs are still the world champs and there’s no reason to believe the Dodgers will close the gap despite having a vault of money that would make Scrooge McDuck jealous and a farm system that is the envy of the rest of professional baseball.

The Dodgers front office is everything that makes people break relationships: Sure, they’ve got sweet digs up in the hills. They’re also processors, addicted to admiring their own intellect, micro-managers and even worse, hoarders.

The Dodgers new philosophy for starting pitching was summed up by … Which of their six GMs said it?… Farhan Zaidi. You know how most teams want five guys they can rely on in the rotation? Well…

“We always talk about building a 162-game rotation, not necessarily a five-man rotation,” Zaidi said. “I think we have the guys to get through 162 games. Now it’s just a question of whether we can improve the quality and target some high-end guys that would really change the configuration of where guys slot in.”

Fascinating. Here’s the problem. To win the world championship, you have to play more than 162 games and that’s why the Dodgers got their asses kicked by Chicago in the National League Championship Series. 

Because Chicago kept it simple while the Dodgers patted themselves on the back marching out 31 pitchers.

Sound and fury to earn a playoff berth. Nothing in the playoffs.

Sure, the Dodgers will likely make some deal happen. But after hearing a flurry of big-time stars that will give you hope that the team will break its 29-year World Series drought, you’re going to be left with a trade for more injury-prone pitching and a hack reserve minor-leaguer who will make Trayce Thompson look like Andrew McCutcheon.

They are more likely to lose Hill, Jansen and Turner than to upgrade.

But hey, six GMs think they’re stronger together.

Curbing the enthusiasm at Dodger Stadium 

At some point, baseball sportswriters will give me whiplash from all the head shaking their brilliantly crafted flights of fantasy during the so-called hot stove league cause. In other words, if you thought every political pundit blew it on the presidential election — and except for Ann Coulter, they did — the sports department is following suit with their biannual roundup of all the great things the Dodgers are planning.

It’s all crap.

They’re not adding big-ticket free agents. If anything, they’ll be cutting payroll. It’s more likely they will bid adieu to virtually all of their free agents, including third baseman Justin Turner and closer Kenley Jansen.

But wait, fellow Dodgers fans wave their tablets in protest: Every website, even reputable ones such as ESPN, Fox and CBS, claim the Dodgers will go big-game hunting to catch up to the Cubs. After all, they have billions coming in from their TV deal and they attract almost 4 million fans every year. Besides, dammit, Magic Johnson wouldn’t let us down.

Oh, you’re going to be let down. An article in Saturday’s edition of the Los Angeles Times appears to have shed light on why the Dodgers have behaved like cheapskates since Andrew Friedman became the team’s grand poobah.

The upshot is this: The Dodgers lose money, lots of it. According to Forbes, they’re on the hook for as much as $400 million. You could even say all of that debt could be attributed to former owner Frank McCourt. The Guggenheim ownership group assumed $419 million in debt when it bought the team.

Moreover, the Dodgers are paying players handsomely for filling rosters on other teams, or for just staying at home. LA forked out $100 million to the likes of Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Dee Gordon, etc.

Major League Baseball will only let a team have so much debt over time. The formula is 12 times annual revenue minus expenses. Should a team not lower that debt in a certain amount of time, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has 16 options for punishment. Those options include seeking league approval for any new expenses or suspending ownership/management.

What does that mean in the interim? The Dodgers $300 million payroll in 2015 is on a drastic downward arc. Think a cut of one-third from 2015 in a few years. Granted, a $200 million payroll should be a team that qualifies for the playoffs.

But improve enough to knock out the Cubs? That’s not happening next year unless Chicago gets destroyed by injuries.

I’m a Dodgers fan. I wish it weren’t so.

It is.

We’ve seen this act from the Dodgers before

Earlier in the season, when the Dodgers were under threat of getting buried by the San Francisco Giants — L.A. was behind by 7 1/2 games at one point — some dude kept trying to troll. According to him, I should be satisfied that the Dodgers have won the National West Division three years in a row. According to his words, I’m spoiled by success.

At risk of sounding like a brat — I’m not, I’m not, I’m not.

But seriously folks. Sports fans need a quick reminder of what the point is for all those tickets, caps, parking, hot dogs, beer, kids toys, nights in front of the flatscreen while your wife fumes over putting her shows on DVR. You want your team to win the championship, to hoist the trophy, to have that silly parade through your town.

There is no such thing as a division champion, no matter what that T-shirt says. That’s MLBshop.com trying to pull another $25 out of your credit card. Winning the division three consecutive years doesn’t constitute a dynasty.

There is no such thing as a league champ. You win a pennant for winning the league. Your team is not a champion for reaching the World Series.

The only championship comes from winning the World Series. The Dodgers haven’t won it, or for that matter been in one, since 1988.

The Giants have won three championships since the Dodgers last went to the Series. Arizona won one. The Padres and Rockies have been to one since. Only six teams have not reached the World Series since L.A. last went.

The Dodgers get ready for six uncomfortable hours flying across the continent — through that hurricane-generator known as the Gulf of Mexico — for a series in Miami this weekend. They’re in a good place, otherwise. They’re five games up on San Francisco, with a magic number of 19 to qualify for the playoffs. Number crunchers a fivethirtyeight.com estimate the Dodgers have a better than 99 percent chance to reach the playoffs. (Although they are the same guys who give Donald Trump a 20 percent chance to win the presidential election and current polls don’t seem to indicate that to me.)

As to the Dodgers reaching the playoffs, so what? We’ve seen this before.

Can anyone give me a rationale that the Dodgers will win the World Series that doesn’t involve blind hope? From where I see it, the current roster is the weakest of the last four Dodgers seasons. The last three included Zack Grienke, who they let go in a cost-cutting move. This is the year L.A. finally put its foot down on an immature Yasiel Puig, because his production slipped drastically. We still have no idea if Clayton Kershaw can pitch again.

The only position where anyone can argue the Dodgers have upgraded significantly is at shortstop. Corey Seager is that good.

But the way I see the NL West, the Dodgers good fortune stems primarily from a fantastic Giants collapse. San Francisco had the best record in baseball going into the All-Star break. For reasons I do not know, since then the Giants are the worst team in baseball at 16-33.

So you’ll have to excuse me if I’m a tad skeptical about L.A. Oh, I’m watching. I’m even going to Miami to watch the Dodgers play.

But my skepticism will end when the Dodgers finally stop settling for mediocrity and win the World Series.

Then I’ll consider myself spoiled.

The week in L.A. sports (8/12/16-8/18/16)

I didn’t post about SoCal sports last week because I was too busy ripping the flesh from my ankles in New York. I averaged 10 miles per day in dress shoes, despite the subway system. I don’t know how women do it in heels. I really don’t.

On the plus side, I learned that my blog needs focus to grow an audience. What type of focus? No idea. So there’s that.

What happened with our favorite teams over the last week? Glad you asked:

Dodgers: The boys in blue took over first place in the last couple of days, which is nice but — and I have daily arguments with people about this — the point is not to win the division. The point is to win the World Series. And this team is unlikely to do that.

Consider these excellent points brought up by the Los Angeles Times on the Dodgers pitching staff.

As a side note, you’ve likely never heard of Joe Davis because Los Angeles doesn’t get to watch Dodgers games on TimeWarner SportsNet, but he’s apparently the heir apparent to Vin Scully — on a year-to-year basis. Davis is a 28-year-old self-described “broadcasting nerd.” Seems nice enough. He currently works with a partner on Dodgers road games, last night with Orel Hershiser.

Davis doesn’t live in Southern California, though, which makes me wonder: If he’s such a broadcasting nerd, wouldn’t you want to hang with Scully for a while?

Rams: More than 90,000 people went to the LA Coliseum to watch an exhibition football game. That’s how stupid the NFL was for not bringing a team here earlier. Angelinos missed football so much that 90,000 of them were willing to leave the Coliseum after the game into that funnel of broken dreams known as the USC parking lot.

Damn, last time I was there for a crowd that big, it was for a Rolling Stones concert. It took more time to leave the parking structure than Mick and the boys spent on stage.

The Rams won with fourth stringers in the fourth quarter, which isn’t good.

An inspired thought from CBSSports.com: Coach Jeff Fisher isn’t as good at assembling a team as you think.

Galaxy: The team has struggled to score recently as its lineup has been missing Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes. LA escaped Colorado with a 1-1 result. Keane returns to action when the team travels across the country to take on New York City FC at Yankee Stadium tomorrow.

Lakers: Nick Young appears to be done with the team, not by his choice. The guy, who in his defense was the victim of the D’Angelo Russell videoclip prank in the spring, has actually attempted to mend fences with the teammate who stabbed him in the back. It doesn’t matter. Russell was the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s NBA draft, and he’s Nick Young. The Lakers can’t find a trade partner. The talk now is that Young will simply be cut.

Meanwhile, the Lakers also signed Yi Jianlian from China. He was a draft bust from 2007. The No. 6 overall pick played 272 games over five seasons, first with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Clippers: Paul Pierce said he will return for a 19th NBA season, according to the Orange County Register.

Kings: People love lists, so the NHL Network created a time killer, “Top 20 Defensemen in the Game Now.” Drew Doughty is No. 1. Not a bad choice. 

The week in L.A. sports (7/29/16-8/4/16)

I would have had this earlier, but I was called in to work. So be it. I like talking sports. I love getting paid. There’s a clear difference…

Dodgers: Very little respect to the front office for finally getting a trade done before the non-waiver deadline on Monday. The primary swap was three minor leaguers for the top two players the Oakland A’s had to offer. Before we break down the trade, know that the Dodgers haven’t won a game since making the deal.

As for the trade, well … They brought in yet another injured starting pitcher (Rich Hill), because with Andrew Friedman’s way of thinking you can never have enough people under contract who are physically unable to compete. They also acquired a jolly good outfielder named Josh Reddick, in the process acknowledging that the deal is like the chemotherapy to rid themselves of their Puignoma.

Bottom line: yes, the rotation is in tatters, but it wouldn’t be in such a mess if Friedman hadn’t acquired so many injury-prone players in the first place.

Lakers: Earlier today, the team’s pursuit of guard Russell Westbrook for next offseason ended. Yeah, Westbrook figured why wait 11 months to give Jim Buss the finger when he could do so today. Westbrook re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder. A bench jockey for OKC took to Twitter to laugh at the Lakers, to which I would reply “You realize you’re no longer a title contender either, right? … Do you really want Kevin Durant to tweet what he thinks about you?”

Larry Nance Jr. apparently injured something and I don’t care much.

Clippers: The Los Angeles Times reports Paul Pierce spent $2.23 million on a residence in the area, which means he’s renting a closet in the back of a Whole Foods Market. Wakka wakka!

Galaxy: In securing a 1-1 result in Seattle on Sunday, the Galaxy pulled a remarkable little feat by not losing road games throughout Cascadia — Seattle (win and a draw), Portland (win) and Vancouver (win). For the uninitiated, it doesn’t sound like much. Portland is the defending league champs and the other two did reach the playoffs last year. Teams tend to mail their effort in when they travel in MLS. The Galaxy didn’t. Credit where it’s due.

Rams: I’m still genuinely thrilled that the Rams returned home. I honestly am. And then I recall they’re playing their first few seasons hereSigh.

Here’s an item to slide into your “no sh-t” file: ESPN wrote that in “position battles to watch for all 32 NFL teams,” it’s quarterback Case Keenum vs. No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff.

By the way, if you’re wondering why I’m in such a foul mood, I get that way every time I see some asshat with “lipstick” tattooed on his neck. Sure, playa.

Kings: They sold one of their minor-league teams to a group of trust fund babies in Boston and the sooner I finish typing that, the better.

It’s #NationalGirlfriendDay, because they don’t make enough demands as it is

Happy Monday. If you’re like me, you’re a little hung over.

I sat in the parking lot of the Burger King in Sanford, Fla., desperately searching Twitter to see if the Dodgers finally realized a pitching rotation of one and an underperforming outfield isn’t going to cut it and upgrade the team with a trade. Of course, they didn’t. After all, the Dodgers only paid their player personnel guy $35 million. What did they expect him to do, work?

So blockbuster trades to end a 28-year World Series drought, no. But on the plus side, it’s #NationalGirlfriendDay.

It’s a plus because I don’t have a girlfriend.

Seriously, what does that say about women who are in relationships that they would choose a Monday as a day where they should be celebrated? Women ain’t stupid. They know damn well everybody is in a mood that borders between light misery and talk-me-down-off-the-bridge. So stupid? No. 

But needy? Apparently.

It’s not that’s hate women. Not at all. I’ve worked under the counsel of female supervisors. As a comedian, I told jokes with funny women. I write books and desperately need the advice of women, because if you walk through a Barnes & Noble, they’re full of ’em.

But special? After all of these special days, months, etc., that encourage us all to contemplate alleged “female superiority,” I think it’s time to admit that woman aren’t that special. Not in America. Not anymore. If you keep creating special days, it adds up to one ordinary existence.

Women have “days” in abundance for them. We already know about Valentine’s Day. Who are you kidding? Men aren’t Valentines. Moreover, if you were too stupid to wear a rubber, your girlfriend also gets her due on Mother’s Day.

There’s a Women’s History Month in March, which is California’s latest silly attempt to think that anyone will pay attention to a cause for an entire month. There’s even an International Women’s Day, which to be real, I don’t have a problem with because the United Nations every so often needs to remind Pakistan and China to cool it.

At least all of these other special days — unlike #NationalGirlfriendDay — come at times where a man can at least get come to grips with the start of another work week. This is why a bigender commission of social media experts specifically chose WomanCrushWednesday — or #WCW to those ahead-of-the-curve types like me call it. By the time Wednesday rolls around, most of us are in a better mood. A couple of free days are ahead. How optimistic! Maybe I will run into Selena Gomez.

So anyway, I took a moment and ran the numbers of “special” times of year and we have 86 days every single year that are designed to make women feel good about themselves — and that’s before adding #NationalGirlfriendDay. We spend almost one-fourth of the year flogging ourselves over how great women are.

And that doesn’t include the percentage of time I spend hating myself for being Irish.

So hell no, today isn’t #NationalGirlfriendDay. It’s #MLBTradeDeadline day.

I await to be thoroughly disappointed again, Dodgers.

The week in L.A. sports (7/22/16-7/28/16)

The problem with these last two weeks is it has been all politics, all the time. It’s truly difficult to find other things to talk about.

Thank you, Major League Baseball.

So here goes. Let’s take a look at the Southland…

Dodgers: While the team has, in fact, climbed to within 2 1/2 games of the National League West lead after being down by at least seven, I don’t see much reason for optimism yet. First, this rally has been more to do with Giants ineptitude rather than Dodgers competence. San Francisco’s record since the end of the All-Star break has been 2-9, worst in the majors. Do you think San Francisco is going to remain the worst team in baseball for the rest of the year? I don’t.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers still have major problems in their rotation — with no timetable for Clayton Kershaw’s return — and their lineup — the outfield stinks.  The nonwaiver trade deadline is Monday afternoon. LA has been linked to at least three front-line starting pitchers (including a starting pitcher in the All-Star Game, Chris Sale), a handful of power hitters and today, a top-notch closer. The latter rumor is curious. There’s nothing wrong with Kenley Jansen.

The Dodgers are going to have to prove me wrong. I don’t accept any of it until it happens. The alleged smartest front office in baseball was in a similar situation last year and did nothing. It also struck out on free agency and trades last offseason. As previously reported, this franchise has six current and former general managers on the payroll and it strikes me that they are micromanaging the team into the ground.

Clippers: Yesterday, news broke the franchise was considering sites on the west side of town for its own arena. … Dude, maybe all this political crap has me too pessimistic but I just don’t see it happening. I think this is posturing for a better deal with Staples Center.

Here’s why: True, the Clippers would generate more income by concessions and parking in their own arena. True, it could possibly revitalize an area the same way L.A. Live sprung up around Staples Center. Triple true, they could recoup some of the money by selling off naming rights to the arena. Quadruple true, the Clippers would control their own scheduling as opposed to being a third wheel behind the Lakers and Kings.

But arenas in a metropolis can cost close to $1 billion now, such as Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Heck, even Amway Center in Orlando cost more than $400 million. You’re telling me that’s going to be paid off in hot dogs and parking vouchers?

Lakers: Let’s just ignore “trade rumors” for a few months, shall we? I mention this because the blogosphere is losing its grip again over Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.

What we can talk about is that ESPN projects the Lakers to be the worst team in the NBA Western Conference again. Oh, better than the 17 wins from last year, it claims, but still an awful 25. Sigh… I actually think they’ll pass 30, but that still means they’d stink.

Rams: They did the right thing last night by clipping last year’s starting quarterback Nick Foles from the roster. I can’t imagine the guy being a mentor to top draft pick Jared Goff. Having said that, the team released its preseason depth chart. If the season started today, your starting quarterback is Case Keenum and the best thing I can say about him is he doesn’t suck.

Ever notice how the Dallas Cowboys get linked to every “name” that becomes a free agent? Not that Foles is a big name, but if I were the Cowboys I’d take a flier on the guy. Dallas can’t afford another lost season if Tony Romo gets hurt. And Foles cut his teeth in the NFC East.

Galaxy: Last week, the lads dropped two thunderbolts in the first 12 minutes of the game and held on to knock off the defending champion Timbers 2-1 in Portland. The team is starting to look like one focused on winning a sixth title, playing like it deserved the hype when it acquired Giovani Dos Santos and Steven Gerrard last year. And they play defense, to boot, which was sorely lacking last year.

Kings: Hey, you can’t expect a hockey team to make news in July. Still, if you’re an Angelino, I dare you to look at this and not smile a little.

Too smart for the room; the fundamental flaw with the Dodgers

Typically on Thursdays, I like to give a roundup of all the Los Angeles pro sports teams to spark chit-chat with my pals back home. After yesterday, though, I can’t contain my disgust with the Dodgers to a tweet.

Yesterday, we learned that starting pitcher Alex Wood needed surgery and was likely done for the season. About an hour later, even worse news: three-time Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw might also need back surgery and if so, is likely done for the year.

If that comes to pass, it is likely the Dodgers themselves are done for the year.

Because don’t let the hype surrounding the alleged “smartest front office in the history of sports” fool you. The rest of the Dodgers are a hapless team. Since much of this team was assembled by a group I have little appreciation for, it is my hope that the owners of the team — who shelled out $2 billion for the franchise in the first place — realize their mistake and cut bait with almost all of the six general managers currently on the payroll.

Let that sink in: the Dodgers have six current and former general managers on the payroll. Your team should only have one with an assistant. Consider your own job. How would you function with six managers and their spreadsheets standing over you with their suggestions on how to increase output?

Is this not a recipe for micromanagement?

As such, it’s become apparent to me that the Dodgers front office, for all of their alleged brain power, are simply too smart for their own good. It’s all theory, no action. It’s trying to talk quantum physics in a game played by cavemen.

It’s all in the abstract, when the reality is the franchise the team hasn’t been to the World Series in 28 years.

This is not an argument in favor of “old school baseball.” There are benefits to what people call analytics. I read “Moneyball” and appreciated it. It can help a cash-strapped team become competitive. Only problem is, the Dodgers are not cash-strapped. When you have money — and with a multi-billion dollar television deal and almost 4 million fans filling the stands every year, they have money — you don’t need to make deals on the cheap.

And yet, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, general manager Farhan Zaidi and Vice President of baseball operations Josh Byrnes did. Because Friedman comes from Tampa Bay, Zaidi from Oakland and Byrnes from San Diego, all franchises with histories of miserly transactions. And I might add, lengthier histories of losing.

To save money, the smart guys let two-time Cy Young award winner Zack Greinke leave the team with the idea of patching together a rotation from cheaper alternatives. They are the ones who chose to pass on other elite free agent starting pitchers such as David Price and Johnny Cueto, the latter signing with the rival Giants, who currently lead the division. Instead, the Dodgers signed starting pitchers Brandon Beachy, Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy. The catch of investing in these cheaper alternatives is they had a lengthy history of injuries.

Surprise, they all spent a lot of time on the disabled list.

They also traded for Wood, who has a painful-to-watch windup that looks like he’s trying to amputate his own throwing arm. He finally succeeded.

The Dodgers are 14-2 in games that Kershaw starts and below .500 in games where he does not. 

Only now Kershaw is gone. Perhaps for the year.

Friedman, by the way, is getting paid. He signed a record $35 million contract and has a potential below .500 record to show for this pointless meddling. 

It’s becoming painfully obvious you can’t teach a cheapskate GM how to act when he finally has a payroll to use. These three pauper GMs, it seems to me, are so bogged down with impressing each other over the most cost-efficient deal that they simply won’t make a championship-winning deal. 

It’s a lesson the franchise should have already learned. The Dodgers tried the “smart guy/value over talent” approach before, heavy on the analytics and not on star power. Paul DePodesta’s creation led to the Dodgers losing 91 games in 2005.

The Major League Baseball trading deadline is Aug. 1. Rumors are swirling of big deals for the Dodgers. I’ll believe it when I see it. The gut feeling is the only way the Dodgers act like the big market team they are is if Magic Johnson storms into Friedman’s office and slaps him silly.

Because the team can’t hit or pitch.

The team doesn’t need any more mental masturbation. The Dodgers need men of action.

Because sports are games of action. And champions are the ones who act.

The week in L.A. sports (6/23/16-6/29/16)

If you inhale deeply through your nose — down to the diaphragm — you’d be a little confused. Sure, there’s the purification of the Dodgers that makes you want to gag, but wait, is that optimism I smell for other teams?

It is. To wit:

Lakers: Even if you hate the team — and like the Dallas Cowboys or New York Yankees, there is no middle ground; you either love or hate them — the Lakers held an excellent draft last week.

It would be most surprising if small forward Brandon Ingram didn’t start quickly for the Lakers this year, perhaps opening night. And if you’re a fan, you already knew that makes an interesting core of point guard D’Angelo Russell and power forward Julius Randle. 

That leaves 1 1/2 holes to fill. It’s possible Jordan Clarkson is a long-term solution to shooting guard, but I doubt that. Then there’s a great void at center. The kid drafted in the second round, Ivica Zubac, might play quickly. Pundits suggested he stay in Europe. I don’t see that, but I don’t see him starting, either.

The Lakers will not land one of the Crown Jewels in free agency — such as Kevin Durant. If they sign center Al Horford or Hassan Whiteside, though, the Lakers you have an outside shot of doubling the win total from last year. You’d still miss the playoffs with that, but it would make for a fun miss.

Quick side note: I read a story about the Lakers being surprised that Durant doesn’t want to come to L.A. There’s a reason the top free agents have snubbed the Lakers recently. It’s because there’s a big difference between Jerry Buss and Jim Buss. Jerry was revered. Jim is a trust-fund baby. End of story.

Clippers: I can’t help but like their draft pick of Brice Jordan. I don’t see him starting this year, but like most North Carolina players, he will perform like a professional in the NBA. Solid contributions. No disruptions. Every team needs that.

Free agency is another matter. The Lakers have $62 million of room under the league salary cap. The Clippers have about $8 million of wiggle room.

Rams: A few weeks ago, I was taken aback by an NFL columnist suggesting defensive lineman Aaron Donald was one of the top five players in the game. Since then, the hype has grown. J.J. Watt gets all the commercials in Houston, but Donald, some think, might be even better.

This team likely will miss the playoffs with a rookie at quarterback, but if you live in LA, you might want a Rams jersey simply due to Donald or running back Todd Gurley III.

Dodgers: The six-game winning streak turned out to be a fraud. They went on a road trip to play slumping Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. In the process, they are 2-4 with one more game later today, a full six games behind the Giants. In addition, three more players might be injured and they called up a guy who pitched in Single A earlier this year to start last night’s game.

There’s no getting around it. This team is suffering from the neglect of its front office. Injuries do play a part of the game, yes. But if you sign pitchers with a profound history of getting injured, why are you surprised when they get injured? That’s just logic.

If you let a man with one game of managerial experience lead the team, why are you surprised when the team plays poorly for long stretches of time? That’s just logic.

Make no mistake about it. This team is a whisker away from giving up and the season isn’t halfway over yet.

When injuries pile up, don’t forget it was Andrew Friedman who let this team go to seed over the last offseason, paving the way for this mess.

Galaxy: Soccer, for the uninitiated, is a funny sport. Other sports, you play in a league for a title and that’s that. The offseason starts. Where are the groupies?

In this sport, however, you not only play for a league title, but join these quirky side tournaments.

So the Galaxy last night beat the defending MLS champion Portland Timbers 1-0. Only it wasn’t an MLS game. It was an early round game in the U.S. Open Cup. I’ll leave you to determine if that makes your day better.

Kings: They didn’t even have a pick in the first round of the NHL draft. I’m not going to lie and claim I know anything about players taken after the first round.