Magic Johnson 'happy' with moves
LOS ANGELES -- As promised by their new owners, the Los Angeles Dodgers were among the most active teams at baseball's trade deadline this year. And Magic Johnson was happy about the haul of slugger Hanley Ramirez, outfielder Shane Victorino and relievers Randy Choate and Brandon League. But in Johnson's eyes, it's never enough.
"We're happy with where we are," said Johnson, one of the Dodgers' new co-owners. "Of course we wanted to do more, but that's how it goes sometimes.
"We definitely want to win this year. We're not sitting back waiting on next year or the year after. We want to win now. As much as we can do, we did. We wanted to do more. But sometimes you don't have the prospects or sometimes you don't want to pay the price the team wants. But we're happy."
Johnson was alluding in part to the Dodgers' pursuit of Chicago Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster that ended when the Cubs instead opted for the package of prospects offered by the Texas Rangers on Tuesday.
We definitely want to win this year. We're not sitting back waiting on next year or the year after. We want to win now. As much as we can do, we did. We wanted to do more. ... But we're happy.” -- Magic Johnson, Dodgers co-owner
However multiple sources have told ESPNLosAngeles.com that the Dodgers felt they were close on several other impact trades that didn't come to fruition before Tuesday's 1 p.m. deadline but could still be made in August if the players involved clear waivers.
Johnson said his first experience as a baseball owner at the trade deadline was fairly different than what he's experienced in the NBA, with the Los Angeles Lakers.
"To go through it the first time, it's really interesting," Johnson said. "Going through it with the Lakers, usually you only make one move. Here, we can make four or five. (Team president) Stan Kasten actually taught me a lot about how baseball works."
Johnson said he and controlling owner Mark Walter were involved in all the highest-level discussions, but their role was to authorize them, not consult on whether they made for good baseball moves.
"That's not my job," Johnson said. "We got two capable people. Ned (Colletti) is great. Stan is outstanding. I can't make baseball trades. That's not who I am. I listened to Stan when he was coming by every couple innings (Monday night)."
Walter, the CEO of the investment firm Guggenheim Partners, echoed Johnson's sentiment.
"I think we are a very competitive team now. But you can always get better," Walter said. "Do you really ever want to say we did enough? That's not an attitude I really want a lot of around here. I guess if the entire All-Star team is on your team, you could feel like you had enough. But I don't want to think that way. That's not how you want to look at it."
Johnson has drawn some criticism locally for not spending as much time at Dodger Stadium as he initially said he would. His commitments as an NBA analyst for ESPN kept him away for much of the spring, then he took a vacation to Europe, where he was photographed on a yacht.
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Walter told ESPNLosAngeles.com that he had no problem with Johnson's vacation.
"He was on vacation. I don't know if people know that he does that," Walter said, laughing. "He booked that boat a year ago. It's not the kind of thing you just walk away from. I was like, 'Yeah, of course, Magic. Go.'"
Asked how involved Johnson has been, Walter and Kasten said they talked to him almost every day, multiple times a day.
"He's completely focused," Walter said. "We have meetings once a month where we go over what we're trying to get done. We talk all the time."
Walter added that Johnson played a key role in recruiting Cuban star Yasiel Puig, whom the Dodgers signed to a seven-year, $42 million contract in June.
For his part, Johnson said he regretted saying he'd be at the stadium every day but insisted that he's been deeply involved in Dodger business even when he was away.
"Everybody has the intention to do the right thing. But once I got in, I just saw that I couldn't do that.
"I found that I physically can't be here every day, but that's not saying I'm not in contact every day. No owner has to be at the park every day. What we have to do is make sure we put this team in a position to win. That's what we've done."