One year ago we were looking forward to a productive winter which would turn us from pretenders to contenders. We'd been swept in the playoffs but many of us thought that if we'd had better base running acumen we might have made a series of it. Still after the sweep we knew our infield was probably going to be Loney/Kent/Furcal/Betemit with an outfield of JD/Kemp/Ethier/Marlon and with Martin at catcher it looked liked we wouldn't need to do much tinkering with the offense. JD had made some public statements that he didn't plan on opting out, and if anything we were just looking for pitching help. Last year at this time I felt more confident about the team then I do right now. Ned had only made a few deals and his biggest one had paid off handsomely with Furcal giving us a top 10 MVP season. He threw a bunch of the kids under the bus but none of them looked like they would bite us in the ass in the future. He had made one great deadline deal when he reeled in Maddox, another deal to bring in Betemit, and then in a smaller deal snagged Marlon the Magician. I could be found being Ned's biggest backer as he got slagged around the internet. He had made his share of mistakes in 2006 (Tomko, Hendrickson, Lugo) but overall I felt optimistic. Lofton was gone and I wasn't worried. I felt confident that Kemp or JD could play CF as well as Lofton had done in 2006.
When I reviewed the Free Agent list of 2007 I quickly saw two names that I put on my yuck list and they were JP and Gonzo. Gonzo because of the comments he'd made when he lost playing time to Carlos Quentin, and JP because I'm just not a fan of slappy, speedy, no power players, with popgun arms. I wasn't worried that we'd end up with them because we had no place for them to play in my mind. Then JD opted out and the dominoes started falling. Ned panicked and signed not only Juan Pierre to the anchor contract but also inked Gonzo and Nomar thus sealing the fate of Kemp and Loney to sit on the bench for 2007. In a span of one month he knocked me off his side into the "let's wait and see crowd'". I wanted Lilly but wasn't disappointed in Schmidt or Wolf. Once in a while I'd try to defend Ned but my heart wasn't really in it but I'd rather look on the positive side then the negative. As it turns out Ned whiffed on all of them. You couldn't have had a worse year then Ned, but he was almost saved by the contributions from Loney, Kemp, and Billingsley. Three players he had pushed to the back of the bus but luckily for Dodger fans they shoved their way to the front of the bus and salvaged what would have been an even more dismal season if not for their contributions.
So now as we head into the fall of 2007 I am now in the doom and gloom camp because until Ned proves to me otherwise, he has been a bust as our GM. It would not surprise me in the least to see him sign Mike Lowell and ignore Arod. To sign Kyle Lohse, and release Kuo to make room for him. To trade La Roche for pennies on the dollar. To sign Tori Hunter to a ridiculous contract and stick JP in LF. To trade Kemp not for some worthwhile stud but for Jason Bay. At this point, the nuggets are in danger and until March 1st I will be expecting the worse.
Normally I'm optimistic but at this point I'm losing faith. The whole Kent debacle took the wind out of me. After Kent mouthed off I would have loved to have seen something from the front office like so:
"While we understand Jeff's frustration with the team falling out of the playoff race, going to the media about his frustration is very unprofessional, and we wish he'd kept this in house. This team is in the midst of a transition and if it weren't for some key injuries to the pitching staff, we feel that we would have been right in the thick of the pennant race. As it was, the kids on this team played much better then anyone should have expected and kept us in the race until we weren't able to overcome the injuries and lack of production from key players."
A much more accurate comment would have been:
"While we understand Jeff's frustration with the team falling out of the playoff race, going to the media about his frustration is very unprofessional, and we wish he'd kept this in house. As it was, the kids on this team played much better then anyone should have expected, and kept us in the race until key injuries to the pitching staff, incompetent upper management, incompetent playing time decisions, and the lack of production from highly paid veterans did us in."
The front office made some belated comments but nothing to rebuke Kent for being so unprofessional.
Kent is still an offensive force at 2nd base. I couldn't care less. I go to a lot of games and I hate rooting for a team with players I don't like. If I lived in Omaha and only watched the Dodgers on TV, then it probably wouldn't bother me as much as actually having to get off my ass and cheer for the red necked prick. Hopefully he'll go home this winter and shoot a bunch of animals and realize he likes killing things more then he likes playing baseball and just stay in Texas.