I am an avid TBLA follower and an occasional poster. This is my first fan post, and I thought, what the heck, I’ll jump in with what is probably a minority view among TBLA followers and Dodger fans in general. This will be not so much a defense of Ned Colletti, but rather a different perspective on his performance and his qualities in general. Be gentle.
Let me start by saying that I believe the Dodgers probably should make a change in the GM position. Due to the ownership situation, the roster will likely be undergoing some significant (but not dramatic) changes for 2012 and beyond. With two disappointing seasons in a row, why not bring in a different vision as those changes take place.
Having said that, what spurred me to write this was not a fondness for Colletti’s work, but more a frustration with comments made in his direction. Frankly, they have grown tiresome for me. I am speaking of certain descriptors of Ned Colletti, i.e. “moron”, “idiot”, “incompetent”, etc. I am a believer that most men who rise to the top of their profession are nowhere near accurately described in any of those manners. Ned Colletti currently possesses one of only thirty such positions in the world, positions sought by many who have devoted their lives to the game, as well as, more recently, people who were dedicated enough to their studies and career goals to complete educations at some of this country’s top universities. Colletti has spent decades in the game, coming up through the PR ranks, to an assistant GM, to a GM of one of the most storied franchises in professional sports. I would find it amazing to think that he has fooled everyone along the way, and is truly a “moron”, an “idiot”, or is “incompetent”.
Certainly, like all baseball GMs, Colletti has had his successes and failures, particularly when it comes to player acquisitions. The debate lives in the levels of successes vs. failures. Clear successes may be Ethier, Kuroda, Saito, Wolf (2009), the Manny trade, Carroll, even Miles. Obvious failures may be Schmidt, Jones, Uribe, the Blake trade, the Dotel trade. I could debate the ratings of the Pierre contract, the Manny extension, the years for Lilly, even the Blake trade, but that is not what this post is intended for. The point is that GM decisions are usually easiest to judge after the fact, once the player really takes over the conversation based on performance and health. Certainly, GMs and their assistants make their decisions based on their value of certain aspects of a player’s abilities, whether that be based on stats, a scout’s opinion, personal observations, or all of that. Still, it is my belief that the evaluation of the prudence of an individual acquisition is really only complete once future performance is recorded.
The record shows that since Colletti took over prior to 2006, the Dodgers have made 3 playoff appearances in 6 seasons, counting this season, including two NLCS appearances. Had both of those, or even one, resulted in a WS appearance, would Colletti still be as maligned as he is by some Dodger fans? By contrast, Billy Beane has 5 playoff appearances in 14 years as GM, including one ALCS. His teams have not finished above .500 for the last four years, about to make it five years as they are 14 games under with a month to go. Yet, Beane is lauded and respected more than most GMs in the business.
Let me finish this by again stating that, for many factors, Colletti’s time as GM should probably be up. Whether the Dodgers promote White or Watson, re-hire Ng, or go for a younger generation assistant like Ben Cherington, I do not know nor have I given it much thought. I just think Colletti deserves a little more credit, and definitely more respect, for the job he has done in LA, and moreover for the career he has built.