Tagged: Ned Colletti

Dodgers Winter Meetings 2014: This Is What I Think

I have no isolated insight, no secret sources, no magic metrics on the Dodgers flurry of activity under the Andrew Friedman/Farhan Zaidi/Josh Byrnes regime. What I do have is an objective fan’s outlook about both the Chavez Ravine management team and the club that will perform there this coming summer (and autumn).

I first want to address Matt Kemp, as he is the largest name involved in these transactions. For me, I’ve enjoyed his talent but have not consistently praised him as some (many) have. With effortless speed & power, we saw what Kemp could do – nearly a 40/40 season in ’11 when he finished second in MVP to Ryan Braun (Granada Hills HS). We saw the precociousness after the ferociousness, literally moping upon his move to left field. He was disinterested at times, downtrodden at others, and along with Andre Ethier, formed a really needy core.

Especially for really good players. Both of these guys needed to play, but they also needed to be loved. Ethier was nearly despised by some fans, though that chapter will be closed come January or February, when Friedman engineers that deal. In fact, I think both Ethier and Crawford are going to be moved prior to the first pitch of 2015, with management taking a wrecking ball to The Team That Ned Built. But I digress. . .We know Kemp is an undeniable talent, and in fact – I think he will play well in San Diego. The relaxed environ, the spacious field for him to gallop in Center and Right, the Man status; this will all play well to his soul, and he’ll perform. Plus, .280/25/90 on the Padres is performing, so good for him.

And good for the Dodgers. I don’t think the overhaul is so much due to lack of capable ballplayers on Colletti’s roster; I think the entire club ethos needed to change.

Letting Hanley walk, and I LOVED Hanley, was a must. He was the most exciting hitter I’d seen at Dodger Stadium since another Ramirez (99 on his jersey), and has a laserbeam line drive ability (I’m talking absolute screamers, check out his 2013 homer in San Diego, coincidentally) that I’d only seen previously with Gary Sheffield. But he had to go. He needs to have the option to DH, and the Dodgers needed to look for a real shortstop. That bat is irreplaceable, but he commanded too many years; 120 games played would soon be his highwater mark, and the Dodgers don’t need that albatross.

One deal that went nearly unnoticed is the acquisition of Joel Peralta. A professional; unspectacular and easily overlooked, Peralta is more a signal than anything – the bullpen is not a place to invest outside the organization. You can make prudent acquisitions, guys that will calm the ship, eat innings & understand their roles, but as evidenced by the Royals, Giants and Cardinals, you need to build your bullpen from within. Develop guys as starters in the minor leagues and let them hit their preordained innings mark through a variety of roles. But honing in on the pen – especially during formative years – is the most productive way to build pitchers and a safety net.

The Cardinals, in my mind, pioneered this with Adam Wainwright (he was their closer during the ’06 pennant run), converted Rosenthal to perma-pen status, but have brought up the youngsters this way. It’s smart, and it needs to be stated – the bullpen is for guys that aren’t good enough to be starters; they are inherently worse than the guy they’re replacing. Or at least that’s how it was, and why so many bullpens implode. But if you use it as a platform for your best arms, you’re making the bullpen a strength. It makes a ton of sense, and that, along with LaRussa’s inning specialization, will make the biggest impact on the makeup of ballclubs in the last half century.

In short, the Dodgers simply had too many old, crappy arms on the books (Wilson, League, Perez), which weren’t allowing the maligned Scott Elbert, the injured Chris Withrow, and the overlooked Paco Rodriguez to slide into natural roles that could have enhanced the team. I think that Peralta and Friedman acquisition Juan Nicasio will provide a stopgap for the pen while they’ll look to build in 2016 and beyond from the inside, which was luckily left fruitful by Logan White.

And speaking of stopgaps – Jimmy Rollins. What a dude. At least in the 00’s. He still seems like a good guy, a leader type, but is older than the guy the Dodgers let walk. Now, we’re talking a different iteration of player, as Rollins game is/was predicated on quickness & speed with a burst of pop instead of all brawn with a flash of speed. Rollins has been slightly above average for the past four years, yet is remarkably consistent. In today’s game, you don’t need your shortstop to light up the scoreboard, and Rollins’ .260, 14 hr, 55 RB, 29 steals will suffice until Corey Seager snatches the position.Seager, Julio Urias, Joc Pederson. That’s the future right there and Friedman, et al, understand that. The ability to make so many maneuvers (10 trades in 25 days at one point) and upgrade without dealing the three kids is a major coup for this team. I really think the underlying statement that was made is the following:

we have a huge budget and aren’t afraid to use it, but we realize that the future is built on the backs of SABR-minded individuals that also understand that baseball is, and always will be, based on the eyeball test. 

Which brings me to Dee Gordon. Talk about a likable ballplayer; always smiling, always improving, a genuine good person on and off the field. Dodger fans loved his improvement this year, after teetering on the precipice of being a 4A player. “He was an All-Star,” they’d say. Shoot, I said it too. He was exciting. Sixty four stolen bases this year! But the dude couldn’t hit, and I worry that he’d end up being a .262 guy with no pop, and – well, there’s a reason Pat Listach didn’t have a long career. I wish him well in Miami, but most of all I thank him for turning into Andrew Heaney (who’s going to be damn good, ps, and really made me crack up on Twitter), who was flipped for Howie Kendrick.I’ve always likened Howie Kendrick to Kirby Puckett, my favorite player growing up. Free swinging, joyous dudes that came out of junior colleges to light up the big leagues with their smiles & their sticks. Kendrick, of course, isn’t the hitter Puckett was but he can swing it. Especially for a second baseman – and in my mind, the jump offensively from Gordon to Kendrick offsets the perceived drop from Ramirez to Rollins on the other side of the second base bag. Kendrick has a decent glove, and with only one year left on his contract leaves the Dodgers with options heading into 2016, the first real year of the new regime.

Lastly, the Dodgers aren’t done. I don’t know if that means David Price, Cole Hamels, Jordan Zimmermann, James Shields or all of the above (just kidding, I think?). I do think that Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw are untouchable, and Adrian Gonzalez, Kenley Jansen & AJ Ellis aren’t going anywhere.

Anything else is up for discussion.

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photo via fansided/lasportshub

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Dodgers Acquire Mark Grudzielanek, Randy Wolf

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With ongoing uncertainty about adding payroll, a minor league stock of prospects hovering at the lower levels (thus negating trade value), and the trade winds hurricane-ing around him, Ned Colletti managed to make another Houdini-esque deal. Escaping the wrath of media throngs, bloggers and interested naysayers, Colletti not only manged to acquire  Randy Wolf err, Ted Lilly –  in a trade, but “The Riot” as well, as in Mark Grudzielanek – err, Ryan Theriot – as well.

The pickups came at little expense; the scruffy, hustling, endearing – and ultimately underwhelming offensively – Blake DeWitt, as well as Tim Wallach‘s son, Brett and Kyle Smit. That said, they’ll help the Dodgers stay competitive, but neither player is that final piece in what is quickly becoming more and more of a dismal season.

Kudos to Colletti, though, for picking up cash – $2.5 million. Somehow he keeps that Magician’s Toolbox close at hand, adding to the proverbial war chest while picking up serviceable ballplayers. . .

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Ned Colletti Rips Matt Kemp, Dodgers

Though a great find, Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times buried the story of the day for the Dodgers, as Ned Colletti ripped into the team, specifically Matt Kemp.

“I talk to Joe [Torre] all the time. He understands my position and my frustration level,” said Colletti. “I grabbed a couple of players one on one and let them know I’m not satisfied with their approach. It’s not an easy game, and when you think you’ve mastered it and you can take it easy and walk to your position and not hustle, the game catches up to you. And some guys think they’re better than they are and they think the opposition will roll over and get beat by them. That just doesn’t happen.

“We lost two of three to Cincinnati, we lost two of three to Washington, we lost two of three to Pittsburgh. No offense to those clubs, but we’re better than they are. It’s frustrating. We can continue to work at it and talk it through, but at the end of the day they’ve got to execute it.”

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“It’s below average. The baserunning is below average, the defense is below average. Why is it? Because he got a new deal? I can’t tell you,” Colletti said of Kemp. “But it’s below average.

“If this was the last day of the season and you were voting for Gold Glove, his name would not be on the ballot. It’s a shame to go from where he was, to where he was a year ago, and to revert back to, when the ball goes up in the air, you’re not sure where it’s going or if it’s going to get caught. It’s not right.”

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YKI has been particularly disenchanted with the club this year, as the McCourt Divorce Cloud will continue to create a milieu of paranoia, dissatisfaction & distraction. The team is playing very underwhelming baseball, and though the pitching is at fault, the chemistry is just not apparent. Kemp is a wonderful ballplayer but his continuous bad jumps in center can not be made up for by his natural tools, and those same tools cause negative havoc with his questionable decision-making on the base paths.

I think Colletti is very accurate in his comments, if not expressing the underlying frustration of not being able to spend money due to the McCourt regime’s constraints and stipulations. It’s going to be a long season in the Ravine, and hopefully the situation will be sorted sooner rather than later. . .or else the kids are going to be wayward, and fans will continue to be frustrated.

DodgerBlast: More HUGE Signings

Wow, gotta hand it to Colletti & Co. for really taking risks, opening up the checkbook and making just a major splash in the free agent market. To recap, here are those really significant moves by the Dodgers this week:

Dylan Hernandez breaks the huge news of the Reed Johnson one year, $800K  deal– Johnson is a decent player, a good fifth outfielder that might hit .282 in limited playing time, with a handful of homeruns. Plays hard, is a good clubhouse guy, deceptively good glove man but reminds me of Jason Repko. Why not just stick with the oft-shuttled, four-A Repko and at least have somebody from the farm?

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Tony Jackson resurfaces to announce that Jeff Weaver puts down the Xbox long enough to resign – now anybody that follows YKI knows that I love the Valley Weaver, and in fact he pitched extremely well last year as Utility Pitcher. That said, the resigning is just a harsh reminder that Colletti & McCourt missed out on all of the big name free agent pitchers this year, leaving us with Weaver as a potential fourth or fifth starter.

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Alfredo Amezaga accepts a Minor League deal with the Dodgers, though he will probably start the season in the Bigs. Now Amezaga is a versatile fellow – and it will be a pleasure to hear Vin Scully say his name here & there as he racks up the Southwest Rapid Rewards flying frequently between Las Vegas (AAA) & Los Angeles (The Bigs) – but he just can’t hit all that well. Reminds me of a slightly worse Jose Vizcaino, circa 1999.
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McCourt’s Dodgers: One Last Hurrah?

I was initially leery at the Dodgers’ attempt to pretend their financial situation is well with the ‘signings‘ of Matt Kemp and Chad Billingsley. The respective two-year and one-year deals did nothing to assuage concerns about the club’s financial wherewithal and viability.

That said, today they tacked on two-year deals for both Andre Ethier and Jonathan “Cannibal” Broxton, as well as avoiding arbitration with organizational stalwart Russell Martin, and homegrown talents Hong-Chih Kuo and James Loney.

While the offseason ‘big move’ has yet to come to fruition, Colletti is doing his best with limited resources (and literal handcuffs) to at least keep the Dodger foundation intact for another couple of years.
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Colletti tells Dylan Hernandez: We’ll Spend as Much as Last Year

General Manager Ned Colletti says Dodgers’ payroll unlikely to decrease, according to Dylan Hernandez

Reporting from Indianapolis – In response to widespread speculation that financial troubles could significantly compromise the quality of the Dodgers’ on-field product next season, General Manager Ned Colletti said on the opening day of baseball’s winter meetings that the club intends to spend at least as much on players as it did last season.

Asked whether the Dodgers’ payroll could decrease, Colletti said, “Not at the moment.”

Colletti didn’t rule out that the payroll could increase, and downplayed concerns that have been raised about owner Frank McCourt’s divorce proceedings and the club’s decision not to offer any of its free agents salary arbitration. The club began last season with a payroll of around $100 million.

“A lot of it depends on how the winter unfolds with revenue and different things along those lines,” Colletti said. “If we see good signs, it goes up. If we don’t see good signs, it probably doesn’t go up.”

Colletti said there was no basis to a FoxSports.com report that the Dodgers were encouraging teams inquiring about their relievers to submit trade proposals for setup man George Sherrill, in part because the left-hander is eligible for arbitration and could earn as much as $4 million in 2010.

“I think George Sherrill pitched great for us,” he said. “I think he gives us the same component he gave us last year — that’s somebody who can close, he can pitch late in the game, he’s left-handed, a compliment to our right-hander, [closer Jonathan] Broxton.”

The Dodgers issued a news release Monday to announce that team President Dennis Mannion, who has been in charge of business operations for two years, would also start overseeing baseball operations. Colletti will report to Mannion instead of McCourt but the GM said that shouldn’t result in any noticeable changes. Mannion started sitting in on baseball-operations meetings last winter and has handled the club’s day-to-day operations.

“He’s going to leave baseball to us,” Colletti said.

So what exactly will be different?

“It’s different because of where he’s at, his title and the formality of it,” Colletti said.

With all this said, Colletti acknowledged the Dodgers are unlikely to sign any players this week. Of the Dodgers’ free agents, Colletti said he has been in contact most frequently with catcher Brad Ausmus, whom he would like to re-sign to back up Russell Martin.

Colletti said the Dodgers continue to shop fourth outfielder Juan Pierre, who is owed $18.5 million over the next two seasons. Multiple teams have expressed interest in Pierre and the Dodgers expect to have a better idea by the end of the winter meetings whether they will be able to move him this off-season, sources said.

If the Dodgers trade Pierre, Colletti said, they would want pitching in return.

Colletti said he remains in talks with Manager Joe Torre about a contract extension.

Torre, who has one year remaining on his current deal, wants to manage in 2011 and move into a front-office role in 2012, according to Colletti.

Asked what he envisioned Torre doing for the Dodgers in his post-managerial days, Colletti replied, “Depends on how much time he wants to spend on it. Obviously, he’s a great evaluator and a great motivator and he could probably help us in a lot of different ways.”

Dodgers Again Refusing to Spend

Los Angeles Dodgers getting rid of ace reliever George Sherrill?

Originally By Mark J. Miller

“GeorgeBringing reliever George Sherrill(notes) from the Baltimore Orioles via trade last season was one of the things that really helped the Los Angeles Dodgers get over the hump and back into the National League Championship Series against the eventual National League champions, the Philadelphia Phillies. Now the word from FOXSports is that the Dodgers have Sherrill up on the trading block.

MSNBC claims that this is a sign that the Dodgers don’t have any money since the team is skittish about giving Sherrill a lot of dough through arbitration. He’s probably going to get a salary worth more than $4 million next year. The Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays are likely very interested in snagging a guy who is under team control through 2011 and has saved 52 games over the past two seasons with a 3.02 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 122.1 innings. The Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers might get into the talks as well.

FOXSports is saying that plenty of teams have come to the Dodgers to ask about relievers Ronald Belisario(notes), Hong Chih-Kuo, and Ramon Troncoso(notes) but the team always turns the talk to Sherrill. L.A. apparently would like a starting pitcher in return for Sherrill.