If the Dodgers… Ned Colletti in particular
(i.e. the Human ****)… let Sabathia go to the Angels, it
will be deja-vu all over again. Last time we idly sat back
and let the top free agent on the market (Vlad Guerrero) go
elsewhere (who just happened to want to sign with the
Dodgers) the team was up for sale and the front office was
virtually non-existent. This time there’s no excuse… of
course, other than the front office being non-existent. The
team is not for sale this year so the Ned Colletti’s of the
world will have absolutely no excuse whatsoever if they
sleep on Sabathia. Face it, the Dodgers thought Sabathia was
going to take a hometown discount to come play here but now
that the Angels have entered the fray… and are claiming
they will come close to Yankee money… the Dodgers cannot
lowball him with a half-*** offer. If the Dodgers want him…
which they should considering he’s by far the best pitcher on
the market and our de-facto ace, Chad Billingsley, just broke
his leg… they are going to have to play by the same rules
as everyone else. Ned can’t go cheap on Sabathia just because
he screwed up on signing Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre, Jason
Schmidt, Nomar, etc… He’s going to have to open up the
checkbook, match the Yankees offer (or come close to it) and
make CC Sabathia the top paid pitcher in all of baseball if
he wants him in Dodger blue next
Plain and simple, the Dodgers are vastly overrating veteran 3B, Casey Blake, who they acquired at the trade deadline from the Cleveland Indians last season. The prospect we gave up for Blake, catcher Carlos Santana, is now considered by many (including Baseball America) to be the Indians top prospect, over Matt LaPorta (who they got for CC Sabathia). Why would the Dodgers give up such a great prospect for a lame-fielding, light-hitting, below average OBP guy; a player that would cost most teams a C or B level prospect at best? Because the Dodgers were strapped for cash and needed the Tribe to cover Blake’s salary. So what we have here is a team totally overrating an average player and giving away a future star to get him.
How should I say this?… Dodgers’ GM, Ned Colletti, is inept and is unfit for the position he currently holds. I honestly cannot think of a single move he’s made that has actually benefitted the team. This guy brought us the likes of Andruw Jones (over Aaron Rowand), Juan Pierre (over Carlos Lee) and resigned Nomar to play 1B, even though James Loney was already firmly entrenched at the position he was signing him to play. What really bothers me about Ned is his philosophy towards trades. Even if you do hear the Dodgers linked to some big-time, premiere, power hitters, you can be pretty sure that it will never happen. He only seems to target, average, middle of the road players who end up becoming more of a burden than an asset. Esteban Loaiza is a perfect example. Instead of targeting Rich Harden from the A’s, Colletti wanted Loaiza. He often complains about prices for these players but when you see what the Cubs gave up for Harden or what the Brewers gave up for Sabathia, it makes you wonder. Either Ned doesn’t know how to negotiate, doesn’t know how to evaluate talent or other teams are constantly trying to rip him off.
Sure… it’s well after the fact but the more I think about it, the more it becomes obvious that former Dodgers’ GM, Paul Depodesta, wasn’t given a fair shake during his tenure in Los Angeles. Dodger fans and the media essentially crucified the guy over trades that have proved to be excellent deals for the team in the long run. At the time, certain Dodger fans were irate that the team would trade steroid kingpin, Paul Lo Duca, for future ace and Cy Young candidate, Brad Penny, because Lo Duca was an undeserved “fan favorite”. Of course, the fans had no idea what was going on behind the scenes… They had no idea that Lo Duca (along with Guillermo Mota, who was also included in the deal) were known steroid using cheats and were major detriments to the clubhouse… just the opposite of what everyone assumed. There was literally a belief back in those days that Lo Duca was a “team leader” and was basically the glue that held the clubhouse together. We found out that couldn’t be further from the truth from former Senator, George Mitchell, when his investigation into the use of PEDs in Major League Baseball, The Mitchell Report, was released before the season began. Lo Duca was pegged as not only a user but also as a supplier who turned many players on to PEDs. Needless to say, the fans and media jumped the gun when they called for Depodesta’s head over that trade.
Heading into the ’08 season, the Dodgers had massive expectations placed on them. New Hall of Fame manager, Joe Torre, brought a handful of rings with him to Los Angeles and that championship mentality was supposed to rub off on the Boys in Blue. GM Ned Colletti, shelled out the cash this offseason in order to sign high-priced slugger, Andruw Jones ($18mil per year), and Japanese pitcher, Hiroki Kuroda. Many analysts out there were not only picking the Dodgers to win the division…they were picking them to go all the way to the World Series. It seemed like the team had everything in place heading into the season; an excellent pitching staff and bullpen and a multitude of young offensive players with just as much potential as any others in the game. Add in the “big bat” of Jones that we always needed and the Dodgers looked like a force to be reckoned with…or so we thought. The team is already in the basement of the NL West not even a month into the season. What had all the makings of a tight division race is turning into a bloody massacre. As of April 22nd, the D-Backs are already 6 games ahead of the Dodgers in the standings. It pains me to say but the Dodgers are only a half game in front of the lowly Giants in the standings. It can’t get much worse than that.
is looking more and more like he may be banished to the bench until (or if) he gets over whatever is holding him back.
Within this specific blog, “What’s in Ned’s Head”, I will try to make sense of some of the curious moves made by Dodgers’ GM, Ned Colletti. There’s no doubt that he has made some strange moves during his short tenure in Los Angeles, some that leave you scratching your head, some that make your jaw drop and some that can be explained when looked at in a different light. I will try to extract logic from seemingly senseless bufoonery. It’s not an easy task but I’ll do my best. Some moves are justifiable and others are hopeless. This is a topic that will be revisited because I do not have enough time to cover all of the odd moves made in one blog.
#1. The Julio Lugo Trade
At first glance this was a complete and total waste of time. We had absolutely no need whatsoever for Julio Lugo. Furcal and Kent were injured at the time but neither guy was expected to be out for long. Lugo completely bombed in LA and saw his playing time disappear when the incumbents got healthy. This trade appeared to be a major mistake on the surface but when you look a little deeper you will see the genius involved. We traded two minor leaguers, Joel Guzman and Sergio Pedroza, to the Devil Rays for Lugo. Guzman was a once highly touted, power hitting, middle infielder who’s stock had slipped in recent years and was converted to the OF due to his poor fielding ability. Many saw Guzman as a solid regular in time but hasn’t reached his potential in Tampa. When you dig a little deeper you will find that this trade was essentially a minor league/prospect exchange because Julio Lugo became a free agent once the season ended and signed with the Boston Red Sox during the offseason. Due to Lugo’s production over the years, he was classified as a Type A free agent by Elias Sports Bureau. ESB has devised a system that ranks MLB players based on production. A Type A free agent is considered to be ranked in the top 20% of their position. If another team signs your Type A free agent in free agency, the team is required to pay a compensatory 1st round draft pick to the team that free agent is leaving. In Lugo’s case, the Boston Red Sox gave us the 20th overall pick in the ’07 draft. With that pick the team drafted 18 year old high school pitcher, Chris Withrow, out of Midland Christian High School in Texas. Assistant GM and former Director of Scouting, Logan White, describes Withrow as a “frontline starter” with “outstanding mechanics”. So in essence we traded Joel Guzman for Chris Withrow. When this trade is viewed from that angle, it looks a whole lot better than it did at the time. If Withrow really does fulfill the potential that Logan White sees in him, this could be one of the greatest moves of Colletti’s tenure with the team.
#2. The Juan Pierre Signing
I’d like to be able to point to something under the surface as to why this deal made sense but I can’t and it didn’t. This deal was absolutely mind-boggling and was the definition of a “panic move”. Once again, Colletti missed out on the big name, free agent, power hitters like Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee and ended up with Pierre as a passable consolation prize, or so he thought. Pierre was always a popular player with the fans ever since his World Series days with the Marlins. Colletti must’ve thought that fans would be satiated by a big name, well-liked, nice guy in celebrity-hungry Tinsel Town. However, most Dodger fans are from places other than Hollywood and just want a winning team. They saw thru the facade and never understood the deal from day one. We already had a superior centerfieder in Matt Kemp and a far better leadoff hitter in Rafael Furcal. Not only was Pierre pushing better players like Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Jason Repko to the bench, he was no better than a #7 or #8 hitter on this team. Due to Ned’s frenzy to sign an outfielder, any outfielder, we ended up with a feeble-fielding, noodle-armed, inconsequential featherweight who kept a rising superstar (Matt Kemp) on the bench for half the season. Of course, part of the blame should go to Grady Little (who’s another story all to himself) for playing the guy but I’m sure there was substantial pressure from the front office to play their new ten million dollar man. All in all, Colletti managed to grossly overpay for an under-skilled, unneeded outfielder that he locked up for way too long (5 years). The length of the deal was astonishing when you consider Ned’s disdain for long-term deals. As it was reported (and evidenced by the contract) he was unwilling to give a far better outfielder (Andruw Jones) 3 years let alone 5. Not only did Ned go berzerk on the number of years for Pierre, he also (reportedly) gave him a limited no-trade clause. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!! There really is no explaining this one. All I can say is that if I were a professional baseball player, I’d sign Pierre’s agent immediately.
#3. The Luis “Gonzo” Gonzalez Signing
This one really bothered me because it showed Colletti’s true colors. Ned was signed right out of our most hated rival’s front office…the Giants. He was mentored by popular media punching bag, Giants’ GM, Brian Sabean. Sabean is world-renowned for his infatuation with elderly players. The teams that he assembles are often referred to as “geriatric” and “ancient”. Of course, Sabean had the unenviable job of mixing personalities with the volatile Barry Bonds, something that doesn’t really allow for a young, inexperienced team. He needed guys who had been around the block a couple of times and knew how to deal with the media circus that was constantly surrounding the team. The Dodgers, on the other hand, were in far better condition. The case can be made that Jeff Kent is has somewhat of a mercurial disposition but the Dodgers were in the opposite position of their cross-state rivals. Our farm system has been stocked to the brim with top prospects for years now (thanks to former Director of Scouting and current Assistant GM, Logan White). Many of those prospects are now coming into form and taking their place on the big league team. Many had thought that emerging stars like Matt Kemp, James Loney, Andre Ethier and Chad Billingsley would be fixtures of the everyday lineup for the Blue Crew in ’07. That belief was ruthlessly crushed when Ned signed the 39 year old, ex-Diamondback to an incentive-laden one year contract. At least he didn’t go the Juan Pierre-route and lock him up to a half-decade-long deal but again, the move pushed worthier players aside. Had the deal been made 10 years earlier, it would’ve been a great move for the team. Ten years ago Gonzo was the type of power-hitting outfielder that this team needed but at the ripe-old age of 39, his power had been sapped, his bat speed slowed and his range in the outfield virtually cut in half. All he did was eat up at-bats that could’ve gone to much more productive players. Colletti was quoted at the time as saying that he didn’t want to give a starting job to young players who hadn’t “earned it”. That statement really blew me away because Gonzo had only hit .271 with 15 HRs the previous year which wasn’t any better than the numbers that the “unproven rookies” would’ve put up if given the chance. Since then, Ned seems to have learned his lesson. About midseason or so, Gonzo was surpassed on the depth chart by the young players previously mentioned and started causing problems in the clubhouse. He had underperformed throughout the season and added fuel to the clubhouse fire on top of that. By the end of the season the clubhouse had fractured down the middle between vets and young players, the team suffered a historic collapse that ended any chance that they may have had at making the playoffs and former manager Grady Little’s fate was sealed. Gonzo was released when the season ended and made statements that he wanted nothing to do with team. When Grady Little was fired and replaced by future Hall of Famer, ex-Yankee skipper, Joe Torre, Gonzo changed his tune and said that he would welcome a comeback now that the team had new leadership. That was wishful thinking on his part because the team had no use for him and wanted nothing to do with him. He’s definitely worn out his welcome in LA. When factoring in all of the ill-effects that emanated from this deal, it proved to be one of the more costly decisions that Colletti has made as general manager.