Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rosenthal Stokes Trade Fire...or Perhaps Just Colletti Effigy?

It's tough to tell where Ken Rosenthal of Fox is coming from in this column, as the headline is all about whether the Dodgers will have the intestinal fortitude to acquire a game-changing player that will lift us above mediocrity. But reading to the end of the piece (which is rare for me given my attention span), one comes to what should have been the real point of the article--that Ned Colletti has not made any significant value-adding trade in his tenure as GM; and this is the real issue at hand:

Under Ned Colletti, who became general manager in November 2005, the Dodgers have spent heavily — and often poorly — on free agents. But quick, try to name Colletti's biggest trade.

Maybe it was Milton Bradley for Andre Ethier. Maybe it was Cesar Izturis for Greg Maddux. But none of Colletti's deals have been franchise-rattlers, or even close.

Some in the industry cite McCourt's interference. Others believe that assistant general manager Logan White exerts an inordinate amount of influence, discouraging trades of players that he once selected as the team's scouting director.

The portrait that emerges from virtually every rival club is of a dysfunctional front-office dynamic that hinders the Dodgers' decision-making process and makes them a near-impossible trading partner.

When does it end? The hiring of Joe Torre as manager put the team in win-now mode. If McCourt has lost faith in Colletti, he should replace him. Otherwise, the owner should let the GM do his job.

Many other blogs have opined on this point and speculated whether it's a bureaucratic issue within the Dodgers' organization (i.e., interference from McCourt or White or someone else). The longer Colletti sits in this GM position, however, it becomes less and less plausible that he hasn't figured out how to work the politics of the organization--and frankly, if he hasn't figured this out by now, then he should leave.

But the bigger issue is that Colletti has tried to make the game-changing play, on multiple occasions, and each time has fallen flat. Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre, and Jason Schmidt have all been sets of concrete boots anchoring our payroll to the bottom of the muck; and meanwhile, two-time All-Star and face-of-the-franchise player Russell Martin plays without long-term deal security, just like many of the other vaunted Dodger youngsters that us fans want to keep. Sure, this could be a string of bad luck, but it's a pretty long string.

The danger, then, of articles like Rosenthal's, is that Colletti or McCourt or whoever is pulling the strings here becomes compelled to catalyze a deal for the sake of dealing, a trade for the sake of trading. And with our track record of deficiencies in evaluating talent, screening for potential injuries, or valuing deals in the framework of rational market activity (i.e., not paying $18M/year for a 400-lb. .171 hitter), we're bound to make a move that is value-detracting, rather than value-enhancing.

The issue is not when the Dodgers will make a move; it is why and how we would make a move, as well as the value that it brings. Don't be fooled by the headline; there is no rush for rampant action here, Ned.

The Dodgers are indeed "on the clock," but it's not to make a deal before the trade deadline. Rather, we're on the clock to figure out an effective strategy to build value and talent in the franchise, not erode it. One could argue that we've waited for that solution for too long. However, the deadline for that clock extends well beyond July 31.


QuadSevens said...

So Richie Sexson of the Mariners has just been released. The Mariners are eating the rest of his $14 million salary for this year. For a $1 million salary prorated, he might be a decent bat to have coming off the bench. His slump could have been due to the terrible surroundings in Seattle. A change of venue might break him out of it. He hit 21 dingers last year, which is more than any Dodger last year, and he has 11 dingers this year (more than any Dodger now). All I'm saying is, he can't be much worse than Sweeney right now.

Orel said...

He can play first too. I think a lot of teams will go after him.

QuadSevens said...

Couldn't hurt to have a backup first baseman. This way, King James can have a day off every now and then. I think he's played every game this year.