Colletti more like DePo than media, fans will admit
Posted: Thursday February 16, 2006 1:20PM; Updated: Thursday February 16, 2006 5:50PM
Previous GM Paul DePodesta was criticized for bringing in players with baggage, but new GM Ned Colletti was praised for signing shortstop Rafael Furcal, above.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Dodgers' prospect talent rankings according to Baseball America
Chad Billingsley, RHP
Joel Guzman, SS/OF
Edwin Jackson, RHP
James Loney, 1B
Ricardo Rodriguez, RHP
Ben Diggins, RHP
Source: Baseball America Prospect Handbook
When the statistically unbridled Paul DePodesta became general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers in February 2004, some saw a changing of the guard as radical as replacing the soldiers of Buckingham Palace with Dennis Rodman and his party parade.
Twenty-one months later, Ned Colletti replaced the fired DePodesta, a move many perceive as a return for the Dodgers to traditional ways (never mind that Colletti comes from the Dodgers' rival across the metaphorical channel, the San Francisco Giants).
That's the storyline. The rebellion has been quelled. The upstart has been downstopped.
The problem with that interpretation is that DePodesta's revolution was never as dramatic as many portrayed it, and therefore Colletti's counterrevolution isn't much of a 180, either. While there are certainly differences between the two, Colletti is more DePodesta than many realize.
As a result, despite the pervasive front office chaos and major roster turnover since the McCourt family bought the team in 2004, the Dodgers remain on something of a consistent long-term trajectory.
Like DePodesta, Colletti is essentially continuing the work of Dan Evans, the team's general manager from 2001-04 who turned away from the profligate spending of one of his predecessors, Kevin Malone, and made the minor leagues the team's hope for the future. Perhaps by design, perhaps fortuitously, a Dodger farm system that had fallen near the bottom of Baseball America's rankings began to revive under Evans, thanks largely to the drafts of his scouting director, Logan White.
Still, because most of the top Dodger prospects were drafted out of high school, the team is only beginning to see them reach the majors. Many of the best played in AA- or A-ball last year and will begin 2006 in AAA or AA. So Colletti, who came on the job three months ago, has taken it upon himself to mind the gaps until the prospects grow up. And in this, his tactics resemble DePodesta's.
In his second month with Los Angeles, DePodesta traded two minor leaguers for a major leaguer, Milton Bradley -- then did not part with a significant prospect during the remainder of his tenure. Colletti has also made only one noteworthy trade of minor leaguers for major league personnel -- pitchers Edwin Jackson and Chuck Tiffany for Danys Baez and Lance Carter. While it's too soon to suggest that Colletti will lock the rest of the Dodger farm system in glass display cases, so far he has resisted the many other suitors looking to acquire prospects from what has now become a top-five minor league system.
Meanwhile, both Colletti and DePodesta risked creating additional holes in the team to avoid expensive long-term commitments to Dodger free agents. Most notably, DePodesta allowed third baseman Adrian Beltre to leave after 2004; Colletti stood firm against pitcher Jeff Weaver this offseason, and the right-hander eventually signed a one-year deal with the Angels.
At the same time, DePodesta and Colletti also had it in them to shock the world with their contracts for certain players -- namely, DePodesta's $55 million, five-year deal for outfielder J.D. Drew and Colletti's $39 million, three-year deal for shortstop Rafael Furcal. Both GMs approved generous twists to get those signings done: Drew was given an escape clause after two seasons, while Furcal was given an annual contract value approximately $2 million higher than the most competitive offer.