Jared Massey and I were both at Blogger Night in LA on Monday Night and during the six plus hours at Dodger Stadium we gained a lot of insight into the 2010 Los Angeles Dodgers. So,
here is some of what we have learned:
Ned Colletti spoke with us for nearly an hour and was forthright, honest, never-hedging questions and downright frank. He answered every question and gave Dodger fans some reasons to believe. Here’s some of what he said:
- Ned Colletti admitted that during his Dodger tenure, he’s made good and bad deals and said that in the beginning he tried too hard to make things happen, which resulted in bad deals. He showed me that he can be critical of himself and look at things with a rational and scientific mind.
- Is he worried about Russ Martin? Yes, but it’s not for a lack of trying – he’s still one of the hardest workers on the team (Vicente Padilla is another).
- Jerry Sands – “Professional approach and great leadership.” Cautious, yet very optimistic!
- Ned expects James McDonald to get back into the swing of things, and has not ruled him being a starter. It is natural for McDonald at this stage to be working on his pitch consistency and Ned likened him to Eric Gagne in this respect.
- John Ely – Ned Colletti shared a story of discussing options with Juan Pierre after the 2009 season. Colletti’s relationship with Ely’s college coach at Miami gave him confidence in Ely as part of the deal. Colletti had great things to say about Ely; he likes how he competes and “how his thought process adapts mid-game.” Colletti also gave Ely a lot of credit for his start at Wrigley Field, especially being a native Chicago boy and having the hometown pressure, but he was cautious about not reading too much into Ely’s early success and recent lack of it. Personally, I think Ely is AAA bound.
- Blake DeWtt – Ned appreciates how hard Blake works. He talked about DeWitt being a great guy to be on the team for his character, and Ned values character, which brings me to…
- Garret Anderson, who according to Colletti, still has a lot of value to the club and “can be a threat.” This is the part where I thought Ned was high on drugs. Put down the crack pipe, Ned!
- Xavier Paul has a lot of potential and his call-up hinges on Manny Ramirez’ status. Ned talked about how challenging it is to try to refine and advance a players’s development at the major league level.
- Matt Kemp – he liked how Kemp’s positive results the last couple of games. Not mentioning Kemp in particular, he did say how difficult this game is to play, and how the Hall-of-Fame Players that he has seen have had to keep working at it diligently even when they’re at the top of their game, and mentioned how particularly difficult that is to do in baseball.
- Ned emphatically stated that he Dodgers are very determined to sign Zach Lee, and he said it was a challenge to have their first pick in the draft so low in the order, which is why the Dodgers took a chance on him. He was Top 10 or Top 5 Talent and due to the Dodgers winning ways, they generally don’t pick so high, so Lee was worth the risk. I got the feeling from Ned that the Dodgers were willing to pay 3 to 4 million for Lee, maybe more!
- Ned said that he is also looking for relief pitching, but that it is is so volatile, it’s hard to find quality relievers at the trade deadline.
- George Sherrill? Ned has no clue why he is struggling (I told you to trade him, Ned). When asked if Sherill had been asked to go to the minors, Ned paused, long enough to let us know that the Dodgers had asked him and he had refused! When asked that, Ned didn’t deny it.
- Colletti thinks the time off for Ramon Troncoso will help him work out the kinks in some of his pitches. He said that his sinker wasn’t sinking.
- He talked about how the Vicente Padilla deal happened and how it involved personal face-to-face contact regarding Padilla’s reputation prior to joining the Dodgers. Colletti appreciates how Padilla has been “a model citizen” for the team. He said that Padilla promised he would not be a problem (he did not promise that he wouldn’t shoot himself in the foot, however).
- Scott Elbert – He hopes he comes back and fixes whatever was eating him.
- Ned is acting like he will be able to take on payroll if the right opportunity presents itself (which I have been saying all along).
- Ned says that Josh Lindblom’s velocity is down, and they have no clue why. By the way, I have observed that Jon Broxton’s velocity is also down. Hummmm….
- Ned recounted his first “disagreement” with Joe Torre. When Ned had first brought Clayton Kershaw up (because the coaches “begged” for it), Ned told Joe that he needed to be handled with kid gloves. One particular game, Joe left him in and brought him out in the 8th inning, during which Clayton had problems and was ultimately removed. Ned said he bit his tongue until he got home and asked Joe “can you explain your thought process in bringing Clayton back for the 8th inning?” To which Joe, said “I get it boss. I get it!“
- I also talked to another Dodger employee who said that he was convinced (through conversations with common friends) that Randy Wolf would have “almost certainly” accepted arbitration and would have probably gotten around $12 mil (their number, not mine) and that if Wolf had accepted arbitration, he could have offered the Dodgers a two year deal in the $18 to $20 mil range. He also went on to say that the Dodgers felt Wolf had his career year and was not worth that. He acknowledged that O-Dog was not as likely to have accepted arbitration, but that Ned says “When you OFFER arbitration, you had better be prepared to PAY it.” It’s easy to say the Dodgers should have offered arbitration to Hudson, but IT’S NOT YOUR MONEY! IT’S EASY TO SPEND OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY! He also said that Wolf is miserable in Milwaukee…
All-in-all, this was the best blogger night ever. The Dodgers had Roy Cey, Lou Johnson, Kim Ng, Dennis Mannion, Josh Rawitch, Ned Colletti, the High-Life Man and others drop by the suite for conversation. Mannion was as engaged as he was engaging. Josh Rawitch did an awesome job in putting this together and you have to give him credit for being way ahead of the curve by getting bloggers involved.
I left feeling that the Dodgers are in good hands with Ned Colletti as GM. Some talk about Kim Ng and Logan White being GM’s, and while they may or may not ever become one, Ned is the consummate professional in this respect. He delegates, is through, thoughtful, scientific, personally probing and level-headed – perfect for a GM! He admits to learning from his mistakes and is not eager to repeat them. What more can you ask?
Eleven Things That Will Happen in the Second Half
- I expect the Dodgers to acquire an arm. They didn’t have that hitter to get Cliff Lee that the Rangers did. Oswalt is still a possibility…. However, Ned plays his cards close to the vest. Speculation who the Dodgers will get is just that – speculation. I do predict that they will get a top-of-the-rotation starter.
- Manny will get hot and carry the team for a spell. I think Joe will “ease” him back in.
- Ace? Clayton Kershaw is just improving little-by-little EVERY start. Joe is about ready to anoint him the ace. Clayton will step into the #1 spot after the All-Star Break. It will be Kershaw, Kuroda, Billingsley and Padilla. All Ned has to do is find a Number 2 or Number 3, but Oswalt would do too.
- Ely will return to AAA. Classic case of the league catching up to him.
- Rafael Furcal will continue his hot ways. He only needs a handful of at-bats to qualify for the lead in the batting average race. He looks like the Young Raffy! He is the Dodgers spark plug. It was good to see him make the All-Star team and he deserved it over Reyes anyway.
- George Cheryl will be given a few more weeks, but the Dodgers can’t continue to ride a limping horse. At some point, that horse will have to be “put-down” if it can’t recover.
- Brad Ausmus will be back and play a large role off the bench, both as a backup to Martin and a pinch hitter.
- Garrett Anderson will have to be replaced by Xavier Paul. Jon Weisman made an excellent case why Paul is the better choice and why AAA does nothing for him. By the way, how about the play where Paul threw to the cutoff man and got the runner at the plate? Good block by AJ too! AJ is who we thought he was – a .214 hitter.
- Look for a hot streak by both Ethier and Kemp. Kemp is climbing out of the doghouse and is slowly getting his act together.
- The surprise of the second half will be Vicente Padilla, who has some of the best stuff in all of baseball. I still think this team will win 94-95 games.
- The pitching will become rock-solid the second half. Write it down. You may see some new faces: McDonald, Troncoso will be back and maybe a pitcher or two acquired by way of trade. Cheryl and Miller and Ely will likely be gone soon.