Ned Colletti has been the chief architect of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ roster since 2006. In this time, Mr. Coletti has undoubtedly sampled the fine and eclectic cuisine of that region. But perhaps he should sample some of the goods shipped east. How about a little Duncan Donuts? Without the emergence of two Red Sox clubhouse feuds, he would be on life-support as General Manager. Simply put: His track record has been that bad.
According to “Cot’s Baseball Contracts”, since he took over in 2006, the Dodgers are the only team in the NL West to average a $100M+ payroll ($107M plus a yearly average). Six out of 7 years Colletti has had a $100M+ payroll, which is extremely high for the mostly mid-market National League West. Of the nine GMs who have been with a franchise as long as Colletti, only Brian Cashman ($203M+), Dave Dombrowski ($114M+) & Kenny Williams ($108M+) have averaged higher payrolls since 2006. Doug Melvin ($80M+) & Billy Beane ($61M+) deal with financial shortcomings from their respective ownership. Those two also happen to be the only longer tenured GMs to never reach the World Series. Compared to a majority of teams in MLB, money has never been an issue for the Dodgers while Colletti has been in charge. This was even true after the last few years of the McCourt divorce proceedings.
But the issue is that Colletti has horribly misspent the money given to him by the franchise. The following serves as a fine example of Coletti’s abysmal financial tenure. Here are free agents Colletti signed to multi-year deals prior to 2012: Juan Pierre, Jason Schmidt, Andruw Jones, Hiroki Kuroda, Rafael Furcal, Juan Uribe, and Matt Guerrier. None of the preceding players were traded for then resigned. Kuroda & Furcal were the only two that remotely worked out. The others were, in a word, gross. Pierre was traded, Schmidt was hurt, Jones was cut after 1 year, Juan Uribe rides the bench feigning an injury and seemingly lying in wait to be released, while Matt Guerrier has pitched in only 7 games this year. The pattern begins to emerge if you pay even the slightest bit of attention.
Colletti has always had money, but has invested little in the draft. Between 2007-2011 the Dodgers draft budget totaled 26th in the league. If you want to argue it was a result of the McCourt divorce, take a look at the major league payroll, operating at a high budget. Or look to Zach Lee, drafted 28th overall in 2010 and given a signing bonus of $5.25M under McCourt’s watch. Who has Colletti drafted since 2006 that is contributing to the Dodgers? Clayton Kershaw is a beast, winning the CY Young award last year. But not too much can be spotted beyond him. Of those being used regularly on the 2012 pitching staff, Colletti can claim credit for Scott Tolleson. Offensively, Dee Gordon was the opening day SS and played awful, but it is too early to write him off as a non-contributor in the future. There is not another contributor that he drafted in the lineup, which seems almost impossibly bad. Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, Kelley Jansen & AJ Ellis were drafted before Colletti took over; Luis Cruz, Ronald Belisario & Andre Ethier were not drafted by the Dodgers. After seven drafts, Colletti has failed to build a strong team. There is only one superstar and one middle reliever who have played on a regular basis after seven years. Amateur talent evaluation has been a weakness of the Colletti regime since day one, and it appears little is being done about it.
Andre Ethier is the only player on the Dodgers from the first major league roster Colletti constructed in 2006, meaning he has turned over the other 24 positions. He has had a consistently lavish payroll, of which has been the envy of his divisional rivals in the NL West. Yet in his seven years of massive financial advantage, the Dodgers have only been to the playoffs three times. He is closing in on a decade of draft picks with only two regular contributors to show for it. That is an epically bad track record.
While absorbing the context of his reign, one has to wonder how Ned Coletti has kept himself afloat. Well, Andre Ethier was an absolute steal of a trade for one. And Luis Cruz has been a solid free agent for ½ a year, as has Ronald Belisario. He overpays (by trade or sign) for medium talent that is enough to be productive. On the current team, he has brought in players like Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, and Mark Ellis. These players are usually categorized as “good, but not great.”
Now in steps the Boston Red Sox to “fire” star players. The Red Sox could not deal such talent to another AL team. To further ruin leverage for the Red Sox, only a few NL teams are big-market enough to afford Boston’s headaches. In 2008, the Dodgers, Mets, Cubs & Phillies were above .500 and classified as big-market. The Cubs & Phillies were set with high-profiles corner outfielders, leaving the Mets & Dodgers. If Boston wanted to alienate a fan base, they could have traded Manny to New York. In 2008, Colletti absorbed Manny Ramirez after Manny was “just being Manny” and was no longer allowed to play for the Red Sox. And just the other day, Colletti absorbed the monstrous contracts of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett. In 2012, The Los Angeles Dodgers were the only club compatible for The Boston Red Sox.
And so it seems like The 2012 Los Angeles Dodgers have already constructed their tagline: Texting, chicken & beer, golf, and Hanley.
The new Dodgers ownership clearly has multiple blank checks to sign. But I guess everything boils down to this. Is it wise to have a GM write the checks whose only success has been to absorb expensive clubhouse cancers?