Mitch ChortkoffMirror Sports Editor When the Dodgers and Angels failed to acquire a much-needed starting pitcher by baseball’s trading deadline at the end of July many fans were disappointed.However, there was another way.A far less publicized way exists — deals involving players who have to clear waivers. This happens in August. It’s not as easy as making a trade in July but in many instances it serves the same purpose.Because of this method, the Dodgers now have Vicente Padilla, who pitched an important win over second place Colorado last week. And the Angels have Scott Kazmir, who is only 25 years old, is signed through 2011, and has a lifetime major league record of 55-44 with more strikeouts than innings pitched. Kazmir was the winning pitcher for the American League in the 2008 all-star game. He’s been on the disabled list twice this season but has pitched well lately.It’s wise to be wary of players made available in this manner. Often there’s a reason why teams are making them available.In Padilla’s case the issue is character. He’s been involved in some ugly incidents on the mound. In 2006 he twice hit White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski with pitches that caused the teams to fight. The same season he threw at Angel’s slugger Vladimir Guerrero several times, causing a brawl. Then in 2007 he caused a brawl with the Oakland A’s by hitting Nick Swisher.Texas is chasing the Angels in their division race, and the Rangers had to be very much fed up with Padilla’s antics to give him up in this manner while they seek a championship. He had an 8-6 record when he was recently released.But Dodgers’ General Manager Ned Colletti asked Randy Wolf about Padilla, knowing they were once teammates with the Phillies and he asked coach Larry Bowa, who was also with the Philies. Either man could have cautioned the Dodgers about making the move, but they didn’t.And when Padilla was given a start in Denver when the Dodgers’ division lead was dwindling, the veteran pitched well enough to earn a victory. After that the Dodgers increased their division lead to five games going into Sunday’s play.Pennant contenders often take risks by acquiring players via waiver deals while fans are wondering “Do you want this guy on your ballclub?”With Padilla, it’s so far so good.Kazmir has no such character questions on his resume, but he suffered a quad strain early this season, was ineffective early and fell out of Tampa Bay’s plans.But in baseball’s complex financial muddle, he is regarded as a bargain for the Angels. That’s because he’s not only a legitimate major league starting pitcher but because they won’t have to pay John Lackey a huge salaryLackey is expected to be one of the premier free agents after this season. He’s earned that distinction and deserves to get the many millions he desires. But the Angels have other free agents to sign, most notably Bobby Abreau and Chone Figgins. Lackey will be out of their price range.So they’ll emerge with a quality starting pitcher within their budget.The Angels, who have been reluctant to give up their top prospects in a deal, did sacrifice one to acquire Kazmir. He’s Alex Torres, a pitcher most likely on his way to the majors in a year or two.But they’re still loaded with highly regarded players in their farm system.
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