Los Angeles Dodgers fans from Eureka to El Cajon are complaining on message boards about the dismal product on the field this season.
Pick a website – any website – and if the topic of conversation is the Dodgers, then displeasure is the theme. Everyone wants a scapegoat when things go wrong. So, who’s to blame for the debacle that has become the Los Angeles Dodgers?
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Oftentimes, the manager is the first head to roll when a team is losing. You can’t pin this on Donnie Baseball, though. Don Mattingly is in his first season at the helm of the Dodgers and he inherited this mess.
Soon-to-be-former owner Frank McCourt is partially to blame, but he hasn’t actually pursued trades and signed free agents. Those duties fall to the General Manager with the best toupee in Major League Baseball – Ned Colletti.
Colletti has been running the show in Los Angeles since 2005. He has pulled the trigger on trades, pursued free agents and has cut players he deemed had outlived their usefulness. Overall, how has Colletti done in his first GM stint?
That’s a tough question to answer.
Colletti’s tenure with the Dodgers can be summed up with the old Clint Eastwood movie “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.”
The good? Unloading malcontent outfielder Milton Bradley on the Oakland A’s in 2005 for All-Star right fielder Andre Ethier. Dumping Bradley and seeing the untapped talent in Ethier is almost enough to let Colletti’s misgivings slide.
The bad? Releasing outfielder Jayson Werth, catcher Russell Martin and reliever Joel Hanrahan. We all know what Werth did in Philadelphia after Ned let him go. How about Colletti giving up on Hanrahan (26 saves and a 1.34 ERA for the Pirates this season)?
How about Martin’s 10 homers and 36 RBIs as the catcher for the Yankees? We don’t need that! We’ve got Rod Barajas and his 200 strikeouts and his 100 days on the disabled list (probably not accurate numbers, but they illustrate the fact that Barajas is a broken-down hacker).
The ugly? Signing pitcher Jason Schmidt in 2006 to a 3-year, $47-million free agent contract. Signing (fat) outfielder Andruw Jones in 2007 to a 2-year, $36 million free agent contract was another winning move for Colletti.
One thing you have to say in Colletti’s defense – he has kept our prized prospects in the farm system. Colletti has been adamantly opposed to trading the future for the present. Over the past few years, teams have clamored for young Dodgers like Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Dee Gordon, but Colletti refused to budge.
As a result, our future looks pretty bright…it’s just the here and now that resembles a half-eaten Dodger Dog that’s been tossed in the trash.
If you’ve managed to get this far in the story, it’s probably time to take your medication again. But I also know that you’re probably wondering: OK, all of this is fine, but is Ned good or bad for the Dodgers?
Based on what the man with the best hair that money can buy has done as GM of the Dodgers, here is what we can gather: 1. Colletti is pretty good at pulling off trades without mortgaging the farm (system); 2. Colletti should be forced to go on a winter vacation every year when the free agent period begins. Don’t let him anywhere near the free agent process; 3. Colletti had better thank his lucky stars for Ethier, because that trade makes up for a bunch of his other mistakes.