In fact, the Dodgers' biggest whiff, the most impactful trade they could have made but were not given the financial authority to do so by McCourt came in 2008, nearly 18 months before McCourt filed for divorce.
That was the year the Dodgers believed they had a deal in place to send five prospects -- none of whom were highly touted catching prospect Carlos Santana -- to the Cleveland Indians for CC Sabathia, Casey Blake and Jamey Carroll.
It would've been a game-changer. The kind of trade that could've pushed the still-young core group of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Russell Martin and James Loney to another level. And it would have added only about $5 million to the Dodgers' payroll the rest of the season.
A nominal price for a large-market club with designs on contending for a World Series. But when it got to the ownership level, McCourt nixed it, adhering to his plan not to take on salary, and indicating the Dodgers were not the kind of team that could sign Sabathia when he became a free agent that winter. [...]
Colletti never complained about the financial constraints he had to work with under McCourt. It's not his nature. Whenever I've asked over the years about it, he often says something like what he said when I asked again Wednesday, "I honestly try to spend my time thinking about what I can do rather than what I can't do. It just wastes your time."
But now that the new ownership group has empowered him to make "baseball decisions" without worrying about their financial consequences, now that he has capital behind him to follow through on his convictions, we may see a different version of Colletti than what he has had to be since McCourt hired him 2005. [...]
The real difference between the Dodgers and other large-market clubs, between the Dodgers and what they should've been but only now appear to be under their new owners, isn't really the ability to spend money, but the ability to blow money. To take a shot at something and be wrong.
Digest that for a minute.
No GM and no hitter bats 1.000. The best of both hit better than .300. Under McCourt, though, Colletti had very few appearances at that plate.
Of course the Dodgers still have holes to fill, but Shelburne's article gives me hope that the days of desperate two-year deals to creaky veterans are past us. If Hanley Ramirez returns to form and Yasiel Puig reaches the majors next year, 2013 could be the the first year Colletti's unfettered plans come to fruition — around a core of talented young players.