Dodgers of the Decade: The Race to 40%

As I write this, the GM of the Decade poll is basically in a three-way deadlock, with Dan Evans at 34%, Ned Colletti at 33%, and Paul DePodesta at 31%.

That’s no way to win an esteemed title such as this, but it looks unlikely that anyone’s going to end up with a plurality. So I’m going to keep the balloting open until someone at least hits 40%, and then we’ll choose a winner. Just no more votes for Kevin Malone, please.

Tuesday night update: no one seems to be pulling ahead, so for the sake of ending this already, I’ll call it a winner once we hit 500 votes. We’re at 421 right now with Dan Evans pulling 36%.

[polldaddy poll=2501657]

Dodgers of the Decade: General Manager

After nearly 600 votes in a controversal but not nearly as close as I thought it would be competition, Eric Gagne is the closer of the decade. I really thought his steroid allegations combined with the money he swallowed up while being hurt and useless in 2005 and 2006 would have hurt him and helped Takashi Saito, but I suppose not.

Dodgers of the Decade team:
C: Russell Martin (68%)
1B: James Loney (62%)
2B: Jeff Kent (88%)
3B: Adrian Beltre (80%)
SS: Rafael Furcal (87%)
LF: Gary Sheffield (62%)
CF: Matt Kemp (94%)
RF: Shawn Green (79%)
LH starter: Clayton Kershaw (56%)
RH starter: Kevin Brown (42%)
LH reliever: Hong-Chih Kuo (57%)
RH reliever: Paul Quantrill (33%)
Closer: Eric Gagne (71%)

So you thought that just because we filled out the roster we were done with the Dodgers of the Decade series? Well sit tight, because we still have two more spots to fill – general manager and manager. For a lot of teams, one or both of these wouldn’t even be a question (how much competition would Kevin Towers or Theo Epstein have, for example?) , but since the Dodgers have seen four of each, each with their own controversies, this might actually be worthwhile.

Today we’ll start with general managers. There is, of course, no stat like “WAR” for GM’s, so this is going to be a little subjective. I’m going to list a few of their notable trades and signings, both good and bad, and let you choose off of that. It’s not meant to be a full list, just highlights, and if I don’t list a major move it’s because it’s not a win or a loss. I know people like to give credit for things like “didn’t trade the kids”, but that would apply to most of these guys and is hard to quantify anyway since a lot of the drafting is due to scouting guys like Logan White.

Remember, this is in the 2000s only, so some of Kevin Malone’s “work” in the 1990s doesn’t get counted here. I’m also not counting Dave Wallace’s interim stint during 2001. Transactions are pulled from the always invaluable baseball-reference.

General Managers

Kevin Malone (2000 – April 2001)
Record: 93-84 (.525)
Playoffs: none

Good moves

  1. Signed Kevin Elster to a one-year deal. Say what you will about Elster, but $300,000 for a shortstop who puts up 14 homers and a 104 OPS+ is sweet.
  2. I’m going to cheat here a little bit, because even though this happened in November 1999 it didn’t impact the team on the field until 2000: trading Raul Mondesi to Toronto for Shawn Green. Uh, yeah: that worked out.

Bad moves  

  1. Gave Andy Ashby $22.5m over 3 years, even though Ashby had put up nearly a 5 ERA the year before. Ashby missed all but two games of his first year in LA with an elbow injury, and went 14-23 with a 4.26 ERA for the team.
  2. Nearly fought a Padres fan during a game, leading to his resignation in April 2001.
  3. Released Craig Counsell. Counsell may not have done much for the Dodgers in his short stint in 1999, but any time you cut someone loose for free and they’re still playing a decade later, it’s generally not your best move.
  4. What was that other thing? Something about “5 years, $55 million“. I can’t remember, my eyes are starting to bleed and I’m speaking in tongues.

Dan Evans (October 2001 – February 2004)
Record: 270-216 (.555)
Playoffs: none

Good moves

  1. Traded spare parts to Toronto for Cesar Izturis and Paul Quantrill. Neither Izturis nor Quantrill were stars, but each were useful pieces. Anyone miss Luke Prokopec?
  2. Traded two guys I’ve never heard of to Cleveland for Dave Roberts. Like the above, Roberts had his moments.
  3. Traded Gary Sheffield to Atlanta for Odalis Perez and Brian Jordan. I’m torn on this one. On one hand, Sheffield was dominant in LA, winning our left field all-decade spot. Jordan and Perez aren’t fair value for that. On the other hand, Sheffield was forcing his way out, diminishing his value, and Perez very nearly was the best Dodger lefty of the decade. All things considered, a win.
  4. Traded the last two years of Kevin Brown’s career (and about $30m in salary) to the Yankees for Jeff Weaver and Yhency Brazoban. Brown was about done, and Weaver & Brazoban each contributed.

Bad moves

  1. Decided a second go-round with Todd Hundley was a good idea. Hundley hit 48 homers in two years as a Dodger before signing with the Cubs as a free agent. Evans sent Eric Karros (who was done) and Mark Grudzielanek (who wasn’t) for the remaining 41 at-bats (and $13.5m) remaining in Hundley’s career.

Paul DePodesta (February 2004 – October 2005)
Record: 164-160 (.506)
Playoffs: Lost 2004 NLDS

Good moves

  1. Trading Paul LoDuca (& others) for Brad Penny and Hee-Seop Choi (& others). Shut up, Plaschke. Trading a declining catcher who you know is using steroids for a young pitcher with top skill and a first baseman with power potential is always a good idea.
  2. Trading bit pieces to Arizona for Steve Finley and Brent Mayne. The parts that went to Arizona never panned out, and do you think having Finley was a good idea on the last day of 2004?
  3. Signed Derek Lowe as a free agent. Widely panned at the time, this ended up being a steal, as Lowe provided four years of excellent performance.
  4. Signed Jeff Kent as a free agent. Kent became, in many ways, the best second baseman in Dodger history.
  5. Signed J.D. Drew as a free agent. I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of heat for this, but Drew put up over a .900 OPS as a Dodger, and his one injury was a freak one (a 95mph heater off the wrist).

Bad moves

  1. Knowing how to use a computer. A fatal sin, apparently.
  2. Having no backup plan at catcher after trading LoDuca. Once the Charles Johnson trade fell through, the Dodgers were stuck with Brent Mayne.
  3. Having zero depth on the 2005 team. When Jose Valentin and Nori Nakamura are your top choices at 3B, you know you have problems.
  4. Being unlucky enough to be the GM just before the vaunted young core arrived. Imagine what he could have done with Kemp, Martin, and the like?
  5. Allowed Shane Victorino to be selected in the Rule 5 draft. Oops!

Ned Colletti (November 2006 – 2009)
Record: 349-299 (.538)
Playoffs: Lost 2006 NLDS, 2008 NLCS, 2009 NLCS

  1. Good moves
    1. Trading Milton Bradley for Andre Ethier. I still contend this was dumb luck, but I can’t argue that it’s worked out and belongs on the good side of the ledger.
    2. Signed Nomar as a free agent – the first time. Nomar’s one-year deal for 2006 was fantastic, as he put up a 120 OPS+ and even garnered some MVP votes.
    3. Signed Takashi Saito. I think this was dumb luck too, but man was he great.
    4. Traded for Manny Ramirez. Giving up Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris is looking like a steal right now.
    5. Signed Randy Wolf and Orlando Hudson to cheap 1-year deals for 2009. Granted, the economy had something to do with this. And the decision to not offer them arbitration is indefensible, though I blame the ownership more for that. Still, each played very well in 2009.

    Bad moves

    1. Juan Pierre. Remember when Ned gave $44m to a below-average weak-armed outfielder? Me neither.
    2. Signed Nomar as a free agent – the second time. Nomar’s second deal was $18m of injury-prone, unproductive, disappointment – some of which is still being paid off today.
    3. Jason Schmidt. $47m for a pitcher who the Dodgers knew was injured at the time. Yikes.
    4. Bill Mueller. Two years and $9.5m for a guy with busted knees, who played just 32 games for the Dodgers.
    5. Andruw Jones. Yes, I was for it at the time too. Doesn’t make it less of a disaster.
    6. Every interaction with Tampa Bay. Leaving: Edwin Jackson, Chuck Tiffany, Dioner Navarro, Joel Guzman, Justin Ruggiano, Jae Seo. Coming: Danys Baez, Lance Carter, Mark Hendrickson, Toby Hall, Julio Lugo.
    7. Allowed Angel Berroa to ever put on a Dodger uniform. Sorry, I can’t ever get over this one.
    8. Traded Carlos Santana for Casey Blake. I don’t care that it was McCourt’s fault. You didn’t need Casey Blake that badly.
    9. Traded Tony Abreu for Jon Garland. See #8.

    So you have, in order, a complete pyschopath, two guys who got a very raw deal from Frank McCourt, and a guy who we all despised at first but has been better lately. Who to choose?

[polldaddy poll=2501657]

Important Things With Paul DePodesta

We’ve known for a while that a Moneyball movie adaptation was in the works, and that Billy Beane would be played, somehow, by Brad Pitt. Well, now thanks to Variety (via DodgerThoughts) we know who’s playing former A’s assistant GM and former Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta.

Because I know that when I think of “Paul DePodesta”, I think of a singing comedian with a mop-top…

depodestamartin.jpg

Now Serving Number 42…

I’m out at dinner tonight with some friends from MLB.com.

One checks his phone, and seeing the press release, says to me, “Brad Penny and Cory Wade to the DL.”

I reply, “no surprise on Penny. Too bad about Wade, he’s been really good. Who’d they call up?”

He says, “Eric Stults… and a former Yankee.”

Me, racking my brain for the AAA roster: “Scott Proctor? Mike Myers?”

Him: “Worse… Worcester’s own…”

Me: “Oh my god! Not Tanyon Sturtze! Really?!”

Sturtze is 37 years old, and he actually had to start his 2008 at Jacksonville this year, which is an experience I can’t even imagine for a non-rehabbing pitcher of that age. Look, we all know why he’s here; he’s another one of Joe Torre’s unexplained relief pitcher mancrushes, despite the fact that he was never even very good for the Yankees. In his 3 seasons in New York (2004-06), he was reliably below average, posting ERA’s of 5.47, 4.73, and finally 7.59 in 18 games in 2006 before being shown the door. Sturtze hasn’t been even league average since 2001, and suffered through a brutal 4-18 campaign for the 2002 Devil Rays. Last year, he didn’t even get to taste the majors. He somehow spent time at four different levels of the Atlanta system and put up a glowing 9.53 ERA. He’s at least been better than that this year with a 4.70 ERA at Jacksonville and a 4.13 at Las Vegas, but it’s like that’s very good either. Why him to be the 42nd Dodger we see this year rather than, say, Matt Riley, who’s outperforming him in AAA by a good margin? Why not Mike Myers, who had a 166 ERA+ in 55 games for the Yankees last year and is outperforming Sturtze in the minors this year? It’s not really that I think the last man in the bullpen is going to change the course of the season; it’s that, as we’ve seen with Scott Proctor and Brian Falkenborg, when Joe Torre gets one of his security blanket guys, he tends to put them into high-pressure situations no matter who else is available. And that does worry me.

Speaking of Falkenborg, former Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta - now working in the Padres front office - blogs about him today:

Fortunately for Brian, he has had stints in the big leagues in each of the past five seasons with the Dodgers, Padres, and Cardinals. Brian has always had a good fastball/curveball combination, but his stuff has really exploded in the past year. Typically armed with a 91-93 mph, Brian has been regularly touching 95, 96, and even 97 mph this season out of the bullpen.
Always showing solid command along with his stuff, this year he walked just 2.1 per nine innings and struck out 10.5 per nine innings before getting the call to the big leagues. So far he had pitched just 11.2 innings in the big leagues, giving up 11 hits, four walks, and striking out nine before being placed on outright waivers.

Our scouting reports from both Chris Gwynn and Randy Smith indicate that he has become an aggressive reliever whose fastball has been overpowering at times. We’re excited to have him back in San Diego and anticipate giving him a good look between now and the end of the season.

This blog wasn’t around during the DePodesta holy wars, but if we had been, we’d have been squarely on his side (how anyone can still say that the Penny/LoDuca trade was a bad one is beyond me). But in this case? Sorry Paul. If Falkenborg really had “solid command” and stuff that “has exploded”, he probably wouldn’t have, you know, sucked so much over his career. He’s all yours. But if you want to send us Greg Maddux, that’s fine by me.

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