Responses from Ned Colletti
As we mentioned last week, you can now post your questions for Ned Colletti in the comments of the blog and he’ll answer a bunch of them every other week or so. The first group of questions came in and here are the answers.
I’ve got a question for Ned. Don’t you think that the team would be better with Either as the everyday left fielder? After all he’s a more complete player with some power, a better OBP, and a good throwing arm.
Posted by: firstname.lastname@example.org | February 28, 2008 06:53 AM
Andre is developing into a very good player. As Joe and the staff get more acquainted with Andre and others, I’m confident they’ll find a way to get a solid amount of at-bats from all the outfielders. There is another factor to consider as well and that is competition. There are many times that we feel a young player is better served when they must compete for a job and compete for playing time. The competition for playing time in the outfield will hopefully increase the focus and productivity of the entire group. We feel very fortunate that we have four proven outfielders plus Jason Repko and Delwyn Young. And there is always the injury factor to contend with as well. In the matter of a few minutes last Friday, we lost Andy Laroche for two months and nearly lost Nomar Garciaparra for a prolonged period of time. We would have went from having a perceived surplus at a position, to being almost without a clear cut choice. It can happen that fast. Today, we have some outfield depth as well as competition for playing time. The season is 162 games in length and many different unpredictable things will happen between now and the end.
Question for Ned. If you had it to do over, would you sign Pierre? I am sure he will say yes to save face but I think secretly he must be having second thoughts. At least on the length of the contract.
Posted by: email@example.com | February 28, 2008 09:45 AM
It’s constructive to point out where the club was when we signed Juan. With J.D. Drew opting out to Boston, we had one outfielder with every day Major League experience – and that was limited to four months. Andre Ethier was called up in May and had four good months and then struggled in September. He was the only outfielder on the Major League roster with an experience who had ended the 2006 season healthy. Prior to signing Juan, we made a strong bid to sign Soriano and Lee among others, but those players did not have an interest in playing in Los Angeles. If anyone is expecting Juan to carry the club, then we’ve signed the wrong player. We see him as a solid complementary player who has great speed and an admirable work ethic and with run-producing players around him in the lineup adds a strong deminision – without run production around him his value is dimininshed a lot. Last season, in my opinion, the club never got untracked. Even when we had the best record in the league in July, I didn’t see it. I believe Furcal’s injury added extra pressure to Pierre – especially when we remember how well Furcal played in 2006 for us. I think it was compounded by the middle of the order failing to deliever more with runners on and lacking power. We still feel that if Furcal and Pierre are healthy all season and if the middle of the order – Jones, Kent, Martin, Garciaparra, Loney and Kemp or Ethier produce in the clutch that Juan’s value to the club increases dramatically. If the players fail to hit in the clutch in the middle of the order, and Juan is healthy and gets 200 hits and steals 60 bases, then Juan’s value is diminished. As far as the duration of the contract is concerned, those terms are negotiated and sometimes you have to extend a player out longer than usual. If you look back at the history of our deals in the last three off-seasons, only Pierre’s contract extends beyond three years. Many deals were for one or two years. I believe in negotiating the short-term deal whenever possible. From time to time, that’s not possible and so you either sign the player or you pass. But at the end of the day, you’d better have big league players on your club. And the day before we signed Juan Pierre we didn’t have one everyday player on the roster who had played more than one full season in the big leagues as an outfielder.
How do you deal with so many non-roster players ? Are they really expecting to make the team or do they hope to get noticed by another team ? If another team is interested, do you trade them or release them or something else ? I feel for a pitcher like Jason Johnson who does well, but has little chance of making the team. There seems to be a lot of talent in this pool this year.
Posted by: firstname.lastname@example.org | February 28, 2008 02:04 PM
The players in camp as non-roster invitees serve many purposes. First of all, it provides the player with the opportunity to play in front of the Major League staff without being part of the 40-man roster. Spring Training performances do not tell everything, but the impression a player leaves with the Major League staff and front office lasts a long time. Even if a player doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, how they perform and carry themselves will go a long way in determining if they get called up during the season – or for that matter, picked up by another organization. If another team shows interest, we can trade them or sometimes a team will wait to see if a player gets released so they do not have to send a player back. From time to time, there are key players who make a club better by being a non-roster invitee – Saito and Beimel are two strong examples.
A second question is if you could change anything about today’s typical player contract or baseball rules, what would you do ? To me it seems that managers might have to make a decision based on a contract or rules rather than what is best for team. For example, a team might choose to keep a player who is "out of options" instead of someone else.
Posted by: email@example.com | February 28, 2008 02:13 PM
The option situation is dicey from time to time. In my mind, for us to outright a player who is out of options – thus exposing him to be selected by another team – I would have to know that we definitely have a better player available. There are times were a player who is out of options is kept, while a player with just a slightly better camp is optioned. While that might not seem fair to the player with the better Spring Training camp, it does provide the organization with an extra player in the event of injury or a lack of production. Players who can play in the Major Leagues are precious and having as many as possible in the mix is important.
Hey question for NED?:
First of all great job with the way you handled the job of GM this offseason, i think you did an exceptional job with the acquisition of Jones and Kuroda without letting go of the kids. Now onto the question, we all know the logjam is a somewhat problem but if a trade is necessary, wether it be Pierre or Ethier, what would you be looking for in return? Pitching, Fielder, Relief etc..
Posted by: firstname.lastname@example.org | February 29, 2008 09:25 AM
We’re always on the watch for pitching. As of now, the fifth starter spot is open and there is competition in the bullpen. Rare is it when a team goes an entire season with just five starting pitchers, so that is a priority – not only for the Dodgers but for practically every other club as well. We also feel that Clayton Kershaw and James McDonald are close to being Major League pitchers. If they do not make the club out of Spring Training, it is imperative that they continue to refine their games in the minor leagues. There’s more to pitching than just throwing. It’s vital to be able to hold runners, know how to field the position, know to lay down a bunt. That said, if we could find a bona fide starting pitcher who is easily better than who we currently have and the cost in players going back wasn’t excessive, we would do it. Same with a reliever, although we’re pleased as of now with the choices in the camp.
Another question for Ned is after seeing what Ariz. and Colorado did last year, why do the Dodgers block their younger players with declining veterans? Why not just let the young guys play? After all even Boston stuck with Pedroria last year after a slow start and he came around to be a valuable member of that squad.
Posted by: email@example.com | March 1, 2008 08:17 AM
It’s a tough call. Los Angeles might be a tougher place for a young player to play so we need to be as certain as possible that the young players are prepared as much as possible for everything that is going to come their way. In Colorado’s case last year, the key players for them, in my opinion, were Helton, Holliday, Atkins, Hawpe, Francis and Tulowitzki. Of that group, only Tulowitzki is considered a young player. The rest are in their prime. Arizona is a younger club and a more accurate reflection of your point. They however, did have a vast majority of their key players in their prime as well – Byrnes, Hudson, Webb, Davis and Valverde. When we have signed the veterans, it has been because we had not witnessed enough consistency the previous season to take that chance. For example, Matt Kemp has a chance to be a tremendous player. He had a wonderful 2007 season and had an historic early few weeks in the big leagues in May of 2006. From around July 1, 2006 through the end of the season he struggled, hitting about .180 without any power (11-for-62, .177 with 0 home runs and 6 RBI). His defense and base running are areas in need of improvement. So as we entered the 2006-2007 off-season, we weren’t convinced we should automatically make Matt the right fielder based on the last three months. Another example is James Loney, who looks primed for a great season. It took a little while for James to hit for power. During the 2006 season, he had hit 12 home runs in 468 at-bats and then started in Vegas in 2007 and hit one home run in 233 at-bats. So in more than 700 at-bats – most in AAA in a hitters league and ballpark – James had hit 13 homers. We knew the power would develop, we just didn’t know when – which turned out to be last September when he hit 9 homers in little more than 100 at-bats. In some cases, we would rather err on the side of the veteran. One of the reasons being, if the veteran can’t cut it, there is still a young player available. If there is no veteran available and the young player isn’t ready, the cost to acquire a veteran player from another club in season would be very prohibitive. As time goes on more and more of our young players will get the opportunity to play. And a year from now, we may be fielding one of the youngest teams in the National League.
Question for Ned: In your discussions with Nomar, is he more concerned with regular playing time or seeing his family during the season and playing for the Dodgers? Likeable as he has presented himself, I feel this may answer whether or not we see Nomar in LA after this season.
Posted by: firstname.lastname@example.org | March 1, 2008 03:43 PM
I think Nomar wants to play all the time and I know he enjoys being in Los Angeles near his family and friends. He is also someone who has consistently told us that he’ll do what is ever best for the club – just so it’s communicated to him so he can prepare himself.
And finally, here’s the lineup in Fort Lauderdale: