Lest anyone think the New York Times’ partial ownership of the Boston Red Sox would guarantee only favorable coverage of the Olde Towne Team, there’s always Murray Chass’ regular contributions to provide a counter argument.

One general manager said that many people at the general managers™ meeting, after hearing that J.D. Drew would sign with Boston, urged the Dodgers to file a tampering charge.

œWe haven™t reached a decision yet, Ned Colletti, the Dodgers™ general manager, said by telephone yesterday before leaving the winter meetings in Orlando, Fla.

Others described Colletti as angry about the Drew development and said that relations between Colletti and Theo Epstein, Boston™s general manager, had become strained to the point where Colletti wasn™t returning Epstein™s telephone calls.

Epstein denied tampering with Drew, whom he tried unsuccessfully to sign two years ago and then signed earlier this week to a five-year, $70 million contract.

œThat™s not true, Epstein said by telephone yesterday. œThere™s nothing to that.

Epstein said he had no conversations with Scott Boras (above) before Drew became a free agent. That occurred when Drew opted out of his Dodgers contract Nov. 10. Skeptics suspect that the Red Sox let Drew know that if he exercised his right to leave the Dodgers, he could get a more lucrative contract from them.

An executive of one club said the Dodgers™ owner, Frank McCourt, was certain tampering had occurred. McCourt™s office said he was traveling yesterday and was not available to comment.

Two years ago, Drew signed a five-year, $55 million contract with the Dodgers with a clause that allowed him to terminate the deal after two years.

Six days before the end of the season, Drew told Bill Plunkett of The Orange County Register that he was happy in Los Angeles and had not thought about the opt-out clause. He said he did not plan to use it.

Even closer to the opt-out deadline, several days before it, Drew told Rich Donnelly, the Dodgers™ third-base coach, how much he was looking forward to the 2007 season and talked about what the Dodgers needed to do for the season, saying he couldn™t wait for it to arrive, according to a baseball executive.

A few days later he left the Dodgers, walking away from a guaranteed $33 million. Drew is a talented but fragile player who has been on the disabled list seven times in his eight-year career and has never played as many as 110 games two years in a row.

œI don™t think he™s the kind of player who would walk away from $33 million without some idea of what was out there, a baseball official said.

Boras said Drew walked away from the contract because he had told him what the market was for a player of his caliber.

I don’t ordinarily spend much time sitting around thinking of reasons to defend Scott Boras, but the Dodgers were the club that signed Drew and included the opt-out clause, a guy as well connected as the agent in question certainly didn’t need to have a conversation with Theo Epstein to know which way the market was headed. For all of the knocks on Drew’s ‘tude and durability, there were a limited number of power hitting outfielders available this off-season and no shortage of clubs looking to fill vacancies.

So the player and agent screwed the Dodgers. Big deal. Frank McCourt’s been fucking his paying customers since the day he took over and as far as the commissioner’s office is concerned, it’s all above board.