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Colletti's moves have Dodgers on rise

Colletti's moves have Dodgers on rise

LOS ANGELES -- All the trades have long been finalized, the contracts have been negotiated and agreed upon.

There's little Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti can do at this point in the season except sit back and watch his team play.

And the architect of the National League West champion Dodgers is pretty content with where the club stands with the NL Division Series set to begin Wednesday at 6:37 p.m. PT on TBS at Dodger Stadium.

"I think we're a little bit deeper than we were a year ago," Colletti told reporters Tuesday at Dodger Stadium.

"There's nobody in there that's soft, nobody in there that's not tough-minded and either hasn't been to this point in the season or has been preparing to get to this point in this season."

In making moves that have ranged from blockbuster to, at the time, barely noteworthy, Colletti has built the Dodgers into a World Series contender.

He traded for third baseman Casey Blake and slugger Manny Ramirez before last season's Trade Deadline. He brought in second baseman Orlando Hudson, left-hander Randy Wolf, infielder Mark Loretta and catcher Brad Ausmus in the offseason.

This season, he traded for lefty reliever George Sherrill, right-hander Jon Garland, infielder Ronnie Belliard and slugger Jim Thome and signed right-hander Vicente Padilla, who is slated to start Game 3.

"I think Ned has a sense of what needs to be done," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "And it doesn't need to be a blockbuster thing. I think he has a sense of players' presence, players' ability."

Torre pointed to the Blake trade as a moment when the Dodgers started to turn into the club it is today.

Division Series
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"I think when Casey Blake showed up here, that started changing the whole personality of the ballclub," he said.

This season, Colletti points out the late August trade that gave the Dodgers the versatile Belliard, who will start at second base in Game 1.

"Getting Ronnie here was an important pickup," Colletti said. "He's replaced Casey when Casey went down. He was able to play for Orlando from time to time. He's gotten a lot of key hits for us."

Colletti said that he looked into acquiring Belliard last season before the 2008 waiver wire deadline, but the money wasn't right.

And getting Belliard provided Dodgers the offensive boost they needed to advance to the postseason.

Belliard hit .351 in 24 games with the Dodgers and had the RBI hit that broke a scoreless tie in the seventh inning of the club's NL West-clinching win over the Rockies on Saturday.

It hasn't always been easy this season, but the Dodgers are in the position they are today in large part because of Colletti.

"To lead for as long as we've led this year, to have the best record for as long as we did -- save for one day -- that's not easy to do," Colletti said. "It's not easy to be the one chased all year long and continue to hold everybody off."

David Ely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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