Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Ramona Shelburne of the LA Daily News writes an astoundingly absurd paean to financial genius Ned Colletti.
Last year the Dodgers took a $119million payroll into the season. This season, it will be approximately $90 million.

If you're doing the math, that's about a 24 percent reduction in labor costs to produce a product that looks - at least on paper - as good or better than the team that ended the season in the NLCS last October.
Shelburne suggests that Colletti should be running the show in Congress for his magnificent foresight. I don't see how it's even appropriate to joke about that. It seems unreasonable to give Colletti credit for reading the tea leaves when much of the dead money off the books comes from his own poor moves. The difference between the 2008 payroll and the 2009 payroll is essentially the same as how much the Dodgers are saving from not having Nomar, Esteban Loaiza, Jeff Kent, and Andruw Jones on the team.

The article doesn't even clarify what Colletti's "reading the market" accomplishment was. Not grossly overpaying for Orlando Hudson or Manny Ramirez in November? All credit to Colletti for not bidding against the Phillies on Raul Ibanez, I guess. It's not like Colletti has a string of bargain basement acquisitions this year. The deals for Hudson and Ramirez are short, but not inexpensive in terms of pay per 2009 value. Orlando Hudson came cheaper than perhaps would be expected, but the Dodgers weren't about to run out a replacement-level player at 2B - they paid Hudson to bolster their depth and improve their lineup by not more than a win. Is there supposed to be any value in Randy Wolf's contract, or Will Ohman's contract, or Ramirez's? I see a bunch of players who got contracts they would have gotten most years. Just because you wait them out - knowing you have pretty similar caliber players already in the organization - does not mean you're a predictive financial genius, certainly not with the Schmidt or Pierre contracts still in full force.

I agree that Colletti has done a good job this offseason. He basically did exactly what I thought he should do - leverage the Dodgers financial advantage into free agent signings and ignore the trade market. But it is also the first stretch of his career as GM where he has been successful, in my studied opinion. He didn't make any earth-shattering moves, and he did nothing even remotely brilliant. He just calmly paid reasonable amounts for reasonable players in an offseason where even some pretty well-run teams simply abstained from doing so.

Wait a minute - years of less-than-competent management for questionable bosses followed by a few months of prudence when the competition was going through too much turmoil to compete? Wow, Colletti sounds exactly like a newly-elected Congressperson!


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