Ned Louis Colletti, Jr. – the Perfect Patsy
A brief, longer than tweet-length Dodgers commentary…
The natives are restless. They want blood. LA baseball fans, ripe from another quick exit in Oct (read my words and you’ll know this was what should have been expected); want to see someone pay for this latest Dodgers playoff debacle. In my last entry, I labeled three primary goats: Clayton Kershaw, Don Mattingly and Stan Kasten. So, to no great surprise, just as the U.S. invaded and occupied Iraq following Egyptian and Saudi Arabian terrorists attacking on 9/11, the focus is on somebody different. Ned Colletti, he of Oscar appearances without product in his hair, cool retro mustache and more legit testosterone than pretty boys Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, is the publicized scapegoat whose job hangs by a thread.
I am not here to defend and beg for Ned’s GM life, though I have gone to bat for him many times over the years when ill-informed dipshits attacked him. I did so because they were either wrong or devoid of facts. The Dodgers, as I’ve said time and time again, alienating many Twitter nitwits and short-tempered “fans” whose idea of devotion is hand jobs for the players, are a poorly constructed baseball team. They are in fact the anti-Kansas City Royals. The Royals have balance, which is what wins in the post-season. The Dodgers have none of that. The Royals could have been assembled by former Dodgers GM Dan Evans, a guy who understood both Moneyball statistics (even before Billy Beane heard of them) and flesh and blood factors, such as human chemistry, heart, etc. But leave it to Bud Selig to allow a fake rich guy like Frank McCourt to be handed the Dodgers. He then hired “his Theo” – ultra geek and doofus Paul DePodesta – and Evans was sent packing. And now it’s Ned’s turn.
Ned is no Dan Evans. He doesn’t have Evans understanding and smarts. What Ned has (and why he earned my respect years ago) is baseball knowledge. DePodesta relied on Excel spreadsheets and his massive ego, tearing down Dan Evans’ team just because he could. He destroyed a Dodgers team that had just had a 21-7 July record, selling off parts for scraps. His Dodgers roster was a collection of AAAA characters that were overmatched and easily manhandled. Sure, a few good players were mixed in, notably Jayson Werth, who at the time was always hurt and wouldn’t blossom (as usually is the case in LA) until he left town. By and large the roster was – in delicate terms, an embarrassing piece of shit. DePodesta had to be fired to keep the then-hungry villagers from focusing on McCourt, who was busy using the Dodgers as a personal ATM machine and vehicle for real estate transactions. The difference between DePodesta’s ouster and Dan Evans’ and Ned’s is DePo deserved it – Evans not at all, Ned not very much.
I don’t want to go into an exhausting defense of Ned and his mustache. All I will say is you can point to the “bad deals” and I could point to the good – and more, explain the rationale of the bad deals. I also can defend – and have – Fred Claire dealing Pedro Martinez for Delino DeShields. I cannot defend Tommy for trading Paul Konerko.
Ned, in my opinion, quickly righted the shit show that was DePodesta’s team, turned the Dodgers into a fairly smart and well-functioning baseball team, and eventually a back-to-back NLCS team. Ned’s teams have won more than they’ve lost and one could argue (I do) that Ned’s two NLCS teams were certainly World Series type clubs, had the owner not been busy looting the pharaoh’s tomb and actually given Ned a bit more support (money) to get the last piece or two needed. This was the case under Dan Evans as well. Evans’ Dodgers were genius teams that played amazing defense, had speed, pitched, pitched in relief and didn’t lose games due to mistakes (again, the anti-2014 Dodgers). Evans though was a victim of Fox, who had tired of baseball and had seen village moron Kevin Malone squander their money on poor player acquisitions. By the time Evans took over, he was working with Confederate money and when a key pieces was needed down the stretch, he had to dumpster dive for old guys like Robin Ventura, Greg Maddux and Jeromy Burnitz. The old guys were game, but their best days had passed. Evans’ Dodgers, with those slick fielding and baseball smart guys like Cesar Izturis, Alex Cora, Dave Roberts, etc., were left at the altar.
My feeling on Ned’s eventual departure is – why? Ned, since Stan Kasten came aboard, is a glorified caddy. It would appear (at least to me) his chief function is finishing up the details after Kasten makes a decision. Ned may have come to the table with some ideas, but as “architect” of those Braves teams, and chief guy in charge of player personnel with the Dodgers, Kasten wasn’t allowing anyone to make deals without his fingerprints all over them. Ned served some purpose to Kasten – perhaps as human shield he could later execute in ISIS fashion, or just an assistant who could finish up the contracts and busy work Kasten didn’t want to.
If you’re a Ned hater – and there are many – ask yourself…
– Why is it that before Kasten arrived, the team’s payroll was always in check?
– Why is it that before Kasten arrived, Ned’s teams seemed to have more balance – defense, pitching, bullpen, especially?
– Why is it that before Kasten arrived, very frequently Ned would pull off sometimes stunning trades in July and even after?
– Why is it that before Kasten arrived, Ned always seemed to be busy? Even when he was coy about it (i.e. lots of rumors)?
So if you consider some of these things, either one of two conclusions could be drawn…
– With a massive influx of cash under Guggenheim, “GM” Ned went hog wild spending – a la Kevin Malone – and bought a bunch of crap – a la Kevin Malone.
– Ned just reaffirmed what suspicious fans long thought – that he’s an idiot and time finally caught up to him.
You know my theory. I think Kasten came in, had a plan – bought time by literally buying bloated contracts teams wanted to unload – and let his superstar big money team go as far as they could (first series ouster this year, as it turned out). With this plan, Kasten bought some International talent, refused to deal any kids, and looks at 2013-2015 as placeholder teams that will put butts in the seats, but the “real” Dodgers team will show itself more likely in 2016 (Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, Julio Urias, etc.).
I’m actually a fan of this plan but always thought if you were going to sink $235M into the current team, why not spend a little more to address the glaring needs – most importantly, the bullpen? The problem with a $235M team, whether it’s a placeholder or not, fans and the baseball world expect something from that investment. So, go all out – go up to $255M and add the relievers needed to win a World Series or two – and then, with all the kids falling into place, bloated fat cats sent packing, etc. – really have a dynasty situation that could linger into 2020. I guess my point is – if your only purpose for acquiring a lot of faded/fading superstars is to sell tickets, eventually you may have to answer for not winning more.
The average Dodgers (and baseball in general) fan isn’t exactly a Rhodes Scholar. They buy their tickets, wear expensive jerseys and hats, buy expensive beer and wilted hot dogs, pay too much for parking, etc., etc. When average people – and even some with more money than average – see a lot of big names dancing and taking selfies on and off the field, they assume this is THE team. They feel this is the team they have to live and die with, and therefore the team that should win. They don’t get it’s a placeholder, and that there really wasn’t THAT big of an intention for the current group to win. Ownership believed, but not that much.
So when Cinderella turns into a pumpkin, I saw it coming and wasn’t upset. I predicted it! I was agreed with by some, vilified by others, but the majority of fans of “the Azul” or “Doyers” just aren’t either smart enough to get it, or haven’t invested enough time to really study it. There was NO WAY the Dodgers were going to advance in Oct without a bullpen and with poor defense. It was a point of contention all season long, so much so I stopped sharing my thoughts via tweets. Just not worth the drama. How can you argue rationally with people who either want to fuck the players or think bubble parties are cool?
So it is what it is, and the Dodgers lost (no surprise). Someone has to be fired. Everyone wants Donnie fired, and again, refer to my last column for thoughts on old sawdust head. The easiest guy to can though is Ned, since most don’t like him anyway, and he wasn’t just handed a big extension.
Does anyone beside me think it’s funny that Donnie only gets aggressive when it comes to himself? He lets the inmates run the blue asylum and shows no emotion when the Cardinals (last year) are throwing at Puig’s head and breaking Hanley’s ribs, but if his contract is under fire – press conference!!!!
After the Dodgers humiliating defeat this time against the Cardinals, rather that discuss intelligently his thoughts on Kershaw’s collapse, the bullpen he was too afraid to use, Puig’s continued stupid play, Kershaw over Haren in Game 4, etc., Donnie speaks up on his job and even Ned’s. Donnie is an interesting cat. A guy who got the job due to being a good soldier under Joe Torre, not due to managerial experience, expertise of any kind, or having ties to Dodgers tradition. The fact he was extended, and likely will be the manager in 2015, is kind of interesting considering you could poke around and find a lot more “deserving” candidates, yet cockroach Donnie keeps living to see another day. He hasn’t mastered knowing when to change pitchers, how to use a bullpen, get creative with his lineup, etc., but he sure has proven excellent press conference skills. Donnie is a survivor!
So fire Ned, if you must. I don’t see how that will affect anything since Kasten is still running the show. You essentially make a middle-management guy the patsy and keep everything else the same. Names are being bandied about, but in honesty, super smart Dan Evans is still available and like the wise Dodger Oracle (@TheDodgerOracle) said in a recent post, why not just bring him back? It will never happen of course, but it would make the most sense. The Royals are a thing of beauty and I hope they don’t choke on the bigger stage in Baltimore, whose fans are almost equally as hungry for Oct superiority as those in KC, but if it’s balance, defense, pitching, relief pitching, chemistry, fundamentals and high baseball IQ you want, nobody does it better than Dan Evans. My two cents.
Enjoy the ALCS (if you’re watching the NLCS, you shouldn’t call yourself a Dodgers fan). If you squint, you can make believe the Royals are the Dodgers and the black and orange clad Orioles are the Giants – baseball in Oct continues! I just think that if you truly believe Ned is to blame for the 2014 situation, you’re misguided and probably not a very bright Dodgers fan. If that’s the case, and my blog here offended, please unfollow. There’s a Kardashian or other vapid moron you can have more enjoyment reading. Ned’s a pretty good GM; he proved it with fairly competitive Dodgers teams. He’s no Dan Evans, but then neither is Stan Kasten.