Colletti’s Crowning Achievement–Staying Employed   Leave a comment

Ned Colletti, since being hired by Jamie McCourt and her assistant, Frank, in 2005 has consistently shown the Dodgers and its fanbase why he’s not qualified to lead a Major League Baseball team. Sure, he’s made some good deals, but he’s fishing in an ocean of professional baseball players–he’s bound to hook one that isn’t bad. (And to his credit, he has–although they have been few and far between).

A soundbite from Ned is all that is needed to show his complete ineptitude in baseball management: “Do I use VORP (a baseball sabermetrics statistic called Value Over Replacement Player)? I may be using it and not even knowing it, and if I am, it’s nobody’s business. There are a lot of different criteria in judging players. I think I use, um, esoteric qualitative mathematical review times five. That’s one of them.”

Case closed. Need I say more? Nope, but I shall because Ned is like a cockroach–whether its a nuclear bombing or horrible multi-year signings of horrible players, he is able to survive it all while those around him die off.

Ned and his buddy, Frank (also known as the husband of Jamie McCourt, the owner and President of the Dodgers).

Ned and his buddy, Frank (also known as the husband of Jamie McCourt, the owner and President of the Dodgers).

Firstly, however, I do want to give credit where credit is due. Ned has made some good deals, much to our surprise–and to his, most likely. The following are the top 5 greatest acts Ned has made since taking the GM position vacated by Paul Depodesta. (Yes, I know, Depodesta was fired… but I’m trying to show some respect where respect is due.)

1. Ned sent volatile outfielder Milton Bradley and the overweight Antonio Perez to the A’s for their star outfield prospect out of Arizona State, Andre Ethier. Ethier has been the largest saving grace in Ned’s career, as he has developed into a power-hitting rightfielder (with suspect defense) who should be a mainstay for the Dodgers at the 3-5 position in the lineup. Since Ethier was traded to the Dodgers, he has produced a very promising statline in four seasons: .296/.366/.496/.862 (AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS). Ethier has steadily improved his power numbers in each of his four seasons, especially in terms of home runs (11, 13, 20 and 27) and RBI’s (55, 64, 77 and 87). Currently, he is having his best season to date and is being recognized around the league as a legitimate home run threat. With around a fifth of the season remaining, Ethier’s numbers are impressive: .287/.372/.539/.911, 27 HR, 33 2B, 87 RBI and 76 R. In addition to the success of Ethier, Bradley has been largely injured for parts of each of the last four seasons, never playing more than 126 games, and Perez is now out of the League. So, I say, congrats Ned… you closed your eyes and threw your hook down–and you nabbed a big one.

2. Ned does not trade away James Loney, Matt Kemp, Russell Martin, Chad Billingsley or Clayton Kershaw. Ned’s assistant GM, Logan White, spent a lot of his genius drafting those five, among many other top talents, and Ned’s second largest achievement as the GM of the Dodgers is not screwing it up with those five.

Loney, despite his lack of power hitting, has shown that he a skilled hitter who will bat .280-.310 for many years to come while holding down first base and bringing in some Gold Glove hardware.

Kemp is the “raw” hitter who is currently batting .313 with 19 HR, 80 RBI and 76 R. Plus, he also has 27 stolen bases and regularly makes “did he just do what I think he just did” plays. Here’s a few for your enjoyment: http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=6105113, http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=6019027, http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=5794729.

Loney and Kemp are like peas and carrots.

Loney and Kemp are like peas and carrots.

Martin, although having a difficult season at the plate, is doing a superb job of leading a pitching staff racked with injuries. Although he’s batting only .257 this season, he has consistently proved that he is a .280-.300 hitter, albeit one with little to no home run power.

Billingsley looked to be the clear ace of the staff at the start of the season. However, his numbers have been hurt by some injuries and some bouts of ineffectiveness. Still, Billingsley is doing a good job facing off against the aces of other staffs. Aside from a horrible stretch in July, where he had an ERA of 7.52, Billingsley has been solid and has kept his team in the game. Although his ERA currently rests at 3.73, he has a 2.35 ERA in his last four starts.

This is the best young righty-lefty combination the Dodgers have raised since Koufax-Drysdale.

This is the best young righty-lefty combination the Dodgers have raised since Koufax-Drysdale.

Kershaw has a left arm annointed by God. He has a 2.96 ERA, but will most likely walk over 100 batters this season while potential striking out over 200. His stuff is nearly untouchable, but no more than his location is unpredictable. Still, given his unbelievable stretch of nine starts where he lowered his ERA from 4.13 to 2.76 by only giving up 5 earned runs, I think Kershaw and Billingsley will make a formidable 1-2 combination for years to come.

3. Ned trades Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris to the Pirates to get Manny Ramirez from the Red Sox in a three-team trade. Despite the steroids and his current hitting slump, Ramirez nearly single-handedly took the Dodgers to the Big Show last year. In half a season with the Blue Crew, he went .396/.489/.743/1.232.

4. Ned signs Manny Ramirez to a 2-year, $45 million deal. Despite Ramirez’s human-like 2009 season, it is still a great deal for the Dodgers who get several benefits from the Ramirez signing. First, Ramirez is having a “bad” season by batting .308/.427/.542/.970. Hopefully, he can rebound from his slump next season and put up some real stats. Second, the younger hitters, most notably the obsessive Ethier have learned considerably from Ramirez’s prepare-hard-and-don’t-sweat-the-small-things approach to hitting. Third, the fans love Manny being Manny and they fill the seats so that Frank and his boss, Jamie, can get rich.

Im baaaack.

"I'm baaaack."

5. Ned trades Cesar Izturis to the Cubs for Greg Maddux. Maddux was to the pitching staff what Ramirez was to the hitters. He had a solid 3.30 ERA in his 12 starts for the Dodgers. More importantly, however, Maddux was Yoda to numerous young padowans. Most notable among his disciples was Derek Lowe who has been a steadying factor for the Do… wait… what? The Dodgers let Lowe sign with the Braves without even making him an offer?

Maddog Maddux is my third favorite pitcher of all time, behind Satchel Paige and Pedro Martinez.

Maddog Maddux is my third favorite pitcher of all time, behind Satchel Paige and Pedro Martinez.

With that transition (smooth, huh?) it’s time for the five worst deals in Ned’s career with the Dodgers. Hmmm… so many to choose from… hmmm… in descending order this time. (There were so many to choose from that I had to create five categories rather than just five transactions.)

5. Players he traded for.

I will just choose the worst offense for this one. He traded for Danys Baez and Lance Carter during the 2006 playoff push, which, in and of itself, isn’t too horrible of a trade, but it’s ridulous when considering who he traded away… (wait until we get to #2).

4. Players he didn’t trade for.

Most notably, Cliff Lee, he of 0.68 ERA in 5 starts since moving to the NL. The Phillies gave up beans to get Lee; the Dodgers could have easily given up some rice in addition to those beans, but Ned presumed that the trade deadline would be a great time for a family vacation. The Roy Halladay deal falling through was not his fault, since Blue Jays GM JP Riciardelli wanted a package starting with either Billingsley or Kershaw. (I’m sure White was in his ear, begging him to drop the phone as Ned was contemplating taking the deal.) There is also the case of Ned allowing Derek Lowe and Joe Beimel to walk without so much as making an initial offer.

He couldve been in a Dodgers uniform.

He could've been in a Dodgers uniform.

3. Players he traded.

This brings me to the point I made earlier about Baez and Carter. Who did Ned trade for these two middle relievers? Chuck Tiffany and… Edwin Jackson. Yes, Jackson–the pitcher for the Tigers who is mowing down hitters and boasts an amazing 2.96 ERA. Thanks, Ned.

Edwin Jackson has been a beast for the Tigers. Can you imagine what mightve been if Depodesta was still the GM? Jackson-Kershaw-Billingsley

In addition to that, here are some others…

Cody Ross: Since trading Ross for beans, he has moved on to become a starting outfielder for the Marlins. In two season, Ross hit .265 with 42 home runs and 140 RBIs.

Dioner Navarro: Navarro has been solid behind the plate for the Rays, calling the pitches for a young staff. Although not a dominant hitter, Navarro has held his own, averaging .250 with 20 doubles per season.

Andy LaRoche: Yes, I know that he was traded for Ramirez and that’s a great thing. But I’m still bummed that the Dodgers weren’t able to keep him. He’s doing a serviceable job for the Pirates while showing some signs of why the Dodgers were so high on his power potential.

2. Players he signed.

Depodesta was ridiculed for his signing JD Drew to a 5-year $55 million contract. Yet, in his 1.5 seasons with the Dodgers, before he turned coat and signed with the Red Sox (under Ned’s watch, I might add), Drew was productive: (approximations) .285/.400/.510/.910.  He was overpriced, but not a bust. However, though Depodesta was humiliated and eventually fired, in part, for his decision on that deal, Ned has been allowed to get away with much greater blunders.

Tops on the list is a guy by the name of Andruw Fat Jones. Ned signed Jones to a 2-year, $36 million contract after he put up the following lines in 2007: .222/.311/.413/.724. I’m sorry, but those are not $18 million per year numbers. In his one season with the Dodgers before his buyout, he hit .158/.256/.249/.505. .158? Mendoza who? .249 slugging percentage? Merely 3 home runs and 14 RBIs in 75 games? Entering the season more than 20 pounds overweight? Many consider Jones to have resurrected his career this season with the Rangers. However, that’s only in comparison to the absolutely atrotious season he had with the Dodgers. His numbers this year aren’t spectacular. He’s still batting .217, although he does have 17 home runs on the season. So, wait, his numbers in 2007 weren’t a fluke? You mean, Ned really did give a $36 million contract to a .220 hitter with moderate 20-25 home run power. Ouch, that must be embarrasing Ned. But keep your head up… you’ll have time for wallowing in self-pity after I’m done.

Jones ESPN page used to list him as 210 pounds but they have changed it this season to reflect a more accurate 240 pounds.

Jones' ESPN page used to list him as 210 pounds but they have changed it this season to reflect a more accurate 240 pounds.

Ned also brought over his San Francisco buddy, Jason Schmidt. Schmidt was going to be the ace of the Dodgers rotation because he possessed a 2.34 ERA–in 2003. So, it made sense for Ned to sign Schmidt to a 3-year $47 million contract in 2006. And Ned’s trust in Schmidt (and not in the doctors who said he had a torn rotator cuff) was rewarded with 3 wins in 3 seasons. For those of you calculating at home, that’s $15.67 million per victory. To become a solid 90-win a season team, the Dodgers, under Ned’s philosophy of success, need to commit merely $1.41 billion a season. But, hey, what’s money got to do with it when you’re rich from your parking lot business like Frank and Jamie (or Jamie and Frank, as most of you will know it). Let the Dodgers beat the Yankees at their own game. Schmidt, after having his arm sliced into, has a fastball that compares with Jamie Moyer (hovering around the low 80’s) but unfortunately also has the control of Kershaw. And, let it be noted that one can only succeed with Kershaw’s control if one has… Kershaw’s stuff. Schmidt’s 81 mph fastball is closer to my high school fastball (70 mph and proud of it!) than to Kershaw’s 94 mph.

I used to bring the heat!

I used to bring the heat!

I won’t go into too much detail with Juan Pierre because I really like and respect him as a player and as a person. But it was still a horrible signing.

1. Getting in the way of Logan White’s career.

White has one of the greatest eyes for talent in all of baseball. The only thing in his way and a shot at being a GM–Ned. White has made smart picks throughout the drafts, but his acumen for talent evaluation is seen in the fact that his first round picks have been successful, especially praiseworthy since finding and evaluating pitching is one of the most difficult things to do. The following are White’s first round picks over the years. (This was originally researched by James Park.)

2002: James Loney, high school, 1B
2003:  Chad Billingsley, high school, RHP
2004: Scott Elbert, high school, LHP
2005: Luke Hochevar, Tennessee, RHP (did not sign)
2006: Clayton Kershaw, high school, LHP
2007: Chris Withrow, high school, RHP
2008: Ethan Martin, high school, RHP
2009: Aaron Miller, Baylor, LHP

2008 first-round pick Ethan Martin

2008 first-round pick Ethan Martin.

The following are some other notable picks by White.

Future Dodgers GM Logan White stands with Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda.

Future Dodgers GM Logan White stands with Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda.

2002 (2nd round): Jonathan Broxton, high school, RHP
2002 (4th round): Delwyn Young, Santa Barbara City College, 2B
2002 (11th round): James McDonald, high school, RHP
2002 (17th round): Russell Martin, Chipola College, C
2003 (6th round): Matt Kemp, high school, OF
2003 (39th round): Andy LaRoche, Grayson County College, 3B
2004 (2nd round): Blake DeWitt, high school, 2B/3B
2004 (10th round): Cory Wade, Kentucky Wesleyan College, RHP
2004 (19th round): David Price, high school, LHP (did not sign)
2005 (2nd round): Ivan DeJesus, high school, SS/3B
2005 (4th round): Josh Bell, high school, 3B

Let’s do a short recap of all this information. Ned’s five best moves include two dealing with Manny Ramirez  and not screwing up White’s farm system. His worst moves include signing an overweight outfielder hitting around the Mendoza line, trading a future ace pitcher for middle relievers, not trading away no-name prospects for a bona-fide ace, and signing a pitcher with a torn labrum and a frayed bicep tendon in his pitching arm. With all that, I guess I did forget his greatest achievement–fooling Frank and his master, Jamie, to hiring him and retaining him despite blunder after blunder. Unfortunately, to Doyers fans, Ned is the cockroach that just won’t die.

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Posted August 28, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

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