The LA Times’ Tim Brown, in defense (well, almost) of the recent moves by Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta.

Weep over Adrian Beltre if you must. They screwed up and if they’re lucky it won’t grind at their souls for more than 12 years, maybe 13. But before we turn Paul Lo Duca into Campanella, and Jose Lima into Drysdale, and Alex Cora into Robinson, and the ’04 Dodgers into the ’98 Yankees, let’s not fire up the torches and march on Chavez Ravine just yet.

It is quite possible these Dodgers won’t win as often as those Dodgers.

But who among the departed ” other than Beltre, they screwed up ” could not be replaced?

The pitching staff is better. That is indisputable, if for no other reason than there is enough depth to keep Kaz Ishii bound and gagged in the players’ lounge for months.

A healthy Brad Penny (they say, they hope, they duct-tape) for a damaged Brad Penny. Derek Lowe for Lima. A trim Odalis Perez for a flabby Odalis Perez (and at three-fifths the price!).

What we’ll say for the defense is, well, the pitching staff is better. But by June 1, Jeff Kent will be your first baseman, Antonio Perez will be your second baseman and Hee-Seop Choi will be your 25th man. It’s how the world works outside the Matrix.

Paul DePodesta (above ) said at the first news conference of the week that he has three center fielders. And, at a minimum, four good knees between them. Curiously, J.D. Drew can walk after two years of a five-year contract. If it’s without a limp, though, that’s money well spent.

The defense and pitching are a wash. One gets worse, the other slaps its head and takes the ball back and gets on with it, and if DePodesta has been living clean maybe Cesar Izturis saves them all.

These aren’t the pitching-and-defense Dodgers of your elderly uncle whose choice of headwear screams “Cap Day 1976.” For the moment, until June 1, they’re the pitching-and-backing-up-third Dodgers. The good news, there’s less of third to back up now, thanks to the off-season skip-loader rental.