MSTI.com’s 2008 in Review: General Manager

Almost there! I was going to do Ned Colletti and Joe Torre together as one “management” post, but what the hell – might as well drag this death march out as long as we can. Today! Colletti! Soon! Torre!

87toppsnedcollettiNed Colletti (D)
Before we get into Colletti, let’s be clear: this is only for work he’s done between the end of the 2007 season and the end of the 2008 season. Unfortunately, this means no ragging on him in this space for Juan Pierre… probably. Ned made 5 moves that had a huge impact on the club in that time:

1) Signing Andruw Jones. Fail on an asbolutely epic level. That said, I can’t kill Colletti as much as you’d think – partially because absolutely no one saw Jones being as pathetic as he was… and partially because even we liked the signing at the time.

2) Signing Hiroki Kuroda. This worked out pretty well, but in the same sense that I won’t destroy him for Jones, I can’t really give him a huge amount of credit on Kuroda. I have a pretty hard time believing that Colletti was spending a lot of time in Japan in 2007 watching Kuroda pitch. From what I read, this one was almost entirely Logan White.

3) Trading for Angel Berroa. Look, I know the team was in a bad situation at shortstop, but come on. Angel Berroa? We were aghast at the move from the second it came down, and Berroa – despite the inane protestations of the local media – was predictably awful. I don’t care how bad things were at shortstop; there’s always a better option than Angel Berroa. Always.

4) Trading for Casey Blake. I won’t go through this yet again, because if you’re a regular reader you know how against this we were – as recently as, oh, Wednesday. Suffice to say, this deal was horrifying all around.

5) Trading for Manny Ramirez. I don’t deny how well this deal worked out. We got two of the most productive hitting months in history and we didn’t even have to pay the man. But come on. Are we really going to say this was some masterstroke of a deal in which Colletti hoodwinked Theo Epstein? Everyone on the planet knew that Manny simply had to go, and between his no-trade clause and teams being out of contention, it’s not like there was a huge market that Colletti had to compete against.

Now, I’m not going to say that Ned didn’t do anything right this year, not when we can still look at the roster and see Russell Martin, Matt Kemp, James Loney, Clayton Kershaw, Andre Ethier, Jonathan Broxton, Chad Billingsley, and James McDonald. I can only imagine the sheer number of trade offers the front office has recieved for these kids, and I commend Colletti for standing strong and keeping the young prospects right where they belong. But more often than not, we saw bad decisions rather than good coming down from the front office.

…like signing a backup catcher who can’t throw, much less hit. Or the shameful way in which our top infield power prospect, Andy LaRoche, was neglected (both by being stuck in AAA and on the LA bench) before he was traded. Or sending down Blake DeWitt when Nomar first came back off the DL, leaving no backup third baseman (other than Russell Martin) behind one of the most notoriously fragile players in the game. Or the insistence on claiming a never-was utility infielder, Pablo Ozuna, and then placing him on the playoff roster. Or allowing the Corpse of Mark Sweeney to take up space on the bench all year despite obviously superior options both at AAA and the local Little League. Or the bizarre bullpen roster decisions, like promoting Brian Falkeborg and Tanyon Sturtze. Now I understand that those bottom-of-the-roster decisions may have been influenced by Joe Torre, but you’re the general manager, Ned. At some point, you’ve got to put your foot down and say, “Look, it’s adorable how much you like Tanyon Sturtze, but I’d much rather have ballplayers who can still play the goddamn game.”

Oh – and that time you traded one of the top catching prospects in baseball for CASEY FUCKING BLAKE. Have I brought that up yet?

Really, in the final accounting, you need to ask yourself this question: Is there any way that Ned Colletti still has his job if both of the following two improbable conditions didn’t apply: 1) A once-in-a-lifetime situation where a Hall of Fame slugger is dropped into your lap, and 2) a division that featured zero teams that won more than 84 games. If Manny doesn’t miraculously appear, the Dodgers finish under .500. If the Dodgers play in any other division, they finish at least 6 games out (and that’s without even taking into account that in any other division, they wouldn’t have been able to play patsies like San Diego, San Francisco, and Colorado so often). And I truly believe that if the Blue had finished under .500 and/or been unable to make the playoffs, Frank McCourt would have shown Colletti the door. I understand that all the injuries weren’t his fault, but still, if you’re almost certainly being fired if not for the confluence of two historically unlikely events, I have a hard time saying you’ve done a good job.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

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  1. [...] November 20, 2008: Look, I know the team was in a bad situation at shortstop, but come on. Angel Berroa? We were aghast at the move from the second it came down, and Berroa – despite the inane protestations of the local media – was predictably awful. I don’t care how bad things were at shortstop; there’s always a better option than Angel Berroa. Always. [...]