Lt. Dangle-baiter T.J. Simers of the LA Times has effectively taken Dodgers ownership to task previously for their tendency to spit in fans’ mouths and claim it’s Mr. Pibb, but today goes just a bit further in questioning the integrity of Frank McCourt (“never have trusted much of what the guy has to say…and he hasn’t given much of a reason the last five years to change my mind”).   “Sixty days until pitchers and catchers report and do you have any idea what the Dodgers are trying to do this off-season?” asks Simers, though it probably won’t involve issuing mesh caps to Manny Ramirez or Derek Lowe.

Is McCourt following last year’s blueprint for success, hanging tough in a lousy division until he can take advantage of desperate free agents late into the off-season and then improving again on the cheap at the trading deadline?

I put in a call to McCourt, knowing his desire to always be transparent, and got his secretary’s voice mail.

When she didn’t return the call, I contacted Josh Rawitch, one of the team’s many PR guys. He took down my request, and I never heard from him again.

But I did read his “Inside the Dodgers” blog.

“I want to make sure everyone remembers that it’s a long off-season and that we are far from a finished product,” Rawitch wrote. “And to be honest, as we learned last year, the team that you go to Spring Training with is hardly a finished product either. Manny [Ramirez], [Casey] Blake, [Greg] Maddux, [Angel] Berroa, and many others never set foot in Vero Beach.”

The Dodgers have made a pretty big deal about inviting fans to their new spring training site in Arizona, but if I’m reading the PR guy correctly, it’s not like you’re going to see the players who really end up there making the biggest difference later this season.

I tried McCourt’s office again, and got his secretary, who said he was traveling. Don’t you hate it when you leave your cellphone at home?

I just wanted to ask if he’s given any thought to how Dodgers fans might take it if Angels owner Arte Moreno, missing out on Mark Teixeira and maybe deciding already he won’t bring Vladimir Guerrero back in 2010, opted now to sign Ramirez.

I believe Teixeira is the best free agent available, and by far, and if the Dodgers were to sign him you’d never hear me mention Ramirez’s name again.

But we’ve all been trained here in the Entertainment Capital to know better, never thinking of the Dodgers as big-time bidders, and doesn’t that say something about the McCourts’ ownership reign?