New ownership group's willingness to spend should worry rival AngelsGetty Images
First baseman Adrian Gonzalez celebrates in the dugout after hitting a three-run home run in his first at-bat as a Dodger in the first inning against the Miami Marlins on Saturday night.
By JEFF MILLER
The Orange County Register
updated 1:14 a.m. ET Aug. 26, 2012
LOS ANGELES - Arte Moreno invested $250 million in December to get Albert Pujols.
Before Saturday, who would have thought that price was low-ball?
Had Guggenheim Baseball Management taken control of the Dodgers during last season instead of this one, Moreno, in the resultant, unavoidable bidding war for Pujols, might have lost everything up to and including his eyebrows.
Outspending the St. Louis Cardinals took some deep pockets. Outspending these guys would have taken some shallow oceans.
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So, Angels fans, embrace your good luck today. After what the Dodgers' new owners just did ? bought, pretty much, the Boston Red Sox ? they almost certainly would have parted with the necessary millions to sign Pujols. Plus another $50 million or so, just to be safe.
These guys have financial clout the same way Melky Cabrera had pharmaceutical clout. To an offending degree.
"We're fortunate," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said, "to have the backing that we have here."
Fortunate? That's one way to describe possessing the wherewithal to drop more than a quarter of the billion dollars on an All-Star first baseman, a broken outfielder, a pitcher with six victories in his past 25 starts and Nick Punto.
Now, just imagine how plentiful things will be around here after the Dodgers sign their new television deal after the 2013 season.If Moreno could sell images of the Angels to Fox Sports for $3 billion, the Guggenheim group might negotiate a TV contract that pays out in caviar made of plutonium spread on toast-points encrusted with diamonds.
"It's clear," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly announced. "We're just here to win."
Or spend more than the gross national product of Indonesia trying.
Hey, we're not whining, not bemoaning the lost art of player development or the newly found art ? at least locally ? of purchasing a pennant. If the Yankees can do it for generations, why can't the Angels and Dodgers do it for now?
When the Guggenheim guys took over the Dodgers in the spring ? price tag: $2.15 billion ? they promised to be aggressive in making home improvements and unafraid of investing the needed funds.
Asked about those claims Saturday, after his owners assumed 14 years and $262.5 million in contracts from the Red Sox, Mattingly had to admit, "Well, I didn't think it would be quite like this."
No one did. No one foresaw 53-year-old Magic Johnson leading a fast break that spews money. No one figured a guy named Mark Walter ? Guggenheim's CEO ? would be agreeing to purchase a $102.5-million outfielder (Carl Crawford) who, because of surgery, currently is incapable of picking up a baseball, never mind throwing the thing.
The Dodgers once built an empire on the backs of a homegrown infield. That was the old-fashioned way of operating, a blueprint as classic and quaint as a Dodger Dog.
Though they say grassroots baseball will remain the foundation, these Guggenheim guys also see no reason to wait around for the sprouts to appear.
The new Dodgers? They could be the first team in baseball history to field a solid gold second baseman.
"It is," Colletti said, "a different place now."
A few hours later, Dodger Stadium was an unglued place. Adrian Gonzalez, the main piece acquired from Boston, homered in his first at-bat, a three-run shot that was as well timed as a Cirque du Soleil routine and at least twice as theatric.
The Dodgers eventually won, 8-2, completing maybe the most dramatic day in baseball history that didn't include someone lifting the World Series trophy.
Gonzalez was born in San Diego, but he obviously understands Hollywood. After flying cross-country just to get here, what better way to continue establishing your new career path than by driving yourself home?
As the son of Mexican parents, Gonzalez would seem to be an ideal fit here, similar to how Fernando Valenzuela's presence once filled Chavez Ravine as sweetly as the sound of the Dodger Stadium organ.
"Wow," Johnson said. "I think we're going to get a different kind of mania going."
So this is what the National League West is now up against. This is what baseball is now up against. This is what the Angels are now up against.
Moreno used to reign over Frank McCourt, who had a paper fortune. The Dodgers' new owners have a paper fortune, too. It's green on one side, gray on the other and, when stacked real high, can buy enough potential and hope to maybe rescue an entire summer.
The rivalry between the Dodgers and Angels never has been more interesting than it is right now. Both teams are desperately pursuing the Southland's next World Series title, willing to pay whatever price ? literally ? is necessary.
It's a great time to be a baseball fan around here, whether you're L.A. or Anaheim, Tinsel Town or Disneyland.
And Gonzalez fit right in, even before that first at-bat. When he arrived at Dodger Stadium for Saturday's game, he did so in a T-shirt bearing the likeness of a cartoon character: Mickey Mouse.
Loney a hit in Red Sox debut
James Loney hit a tying single in his Boston debut as the revamped Red Sox bounced back from a nine-player trade and a 12-inning loss to beat the Kansas City Royals 8-6 on Sunday.