Ned Colletti vs. Brian Sabean: Who’s Worse?
Back when Ned Colletti was crowned the General Manager of of the Los Angeles Dodgers, there was a certain aire of betrayal amongst the Giants community. Colletti was the assistant GM to our very own Brian Sabean, and skipped town to join the our age-old rivals down the coast. Much like our esteemed GM, Ned has made some controversial moves over the years, some good, some terrible. For all the criticism that Brian Sabean gets (much of which comes from myself), in recent years, Colletti has by far been the inferior front office presence.
His reign in Los Angeles is highlighted by two major successes: the deal that netted them Andre Ethier from Oakland for Milton Bradley, and the one that brought Manny Ramirez to Chavez Ravine from Boston for Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris. Past that though, there hasn’t been a whole lot to write home about. The Ethier trade was actually Ned’s first one as the boss of the Dodgers.
His third trade, made approximately one year and one month later, sent young pitcher Edwin Jackson to Tampa Bay for a couple of relievers. Jackson has gone on to be a more than effective starting pitcher, breaking out last season in Detroit to the tune of a 13 win season to go along with a 3.62 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. This year in Arizona he’s been stuck in a hitters park, but still has shown flashes of brilliance as evidenced by the no-hitter he threw in Tampa Bay. Even with the four years spent in south Florida twiddling his thumbs, Edwin Jackson has become a serviceable Major League starter.
In what was clearly a busy year for the new Dodger GM, 3 months later he dealt outfielder Cody Ross to Florida for a player to be named later. The following season Ross broke out, hitting .335/.411/.653 in limited at-bats. Since then, he’s been a respectable source of power and is a name being discussed right now pre-trade deadline. Given the need that many teams have for an outfielder who can hit (the Giants included), odds are Ross is going to fetch the Marlins some decent value come July 31st.
Then in November of 2006, Colletti outdid even himself, signing slap-happy outfielder Juan Pierre to a five year deal. To be fair, a certain Giants GM was rumored to have been pursuing Pierre as well. Mercifully, Ned stepped in and saved us, locking the defensive-deficient and power-deficient outfielder up for a lot more money than he was worth. Once Manny Ramirez arrived in Los Angeles, Pierre, much like our own Aaron Rowand, became a very expensive bench-warmer.
Since that fateful year, the volcano of Ned Colletti’s ineptitude laid dormant until July of 2008. In a deal that sent catching prospect Carlos Santana and Jon Meloan to Cleveland, the Dodgers brought in Casey Blake. And while Blake has been completely adequate for Los Angeles up until now, Santana has been pegged as the next big thing prospect-wise, in line with our Buster Posey. Soon thereafter, Mannywood arrived, erasing the memory of the Blake/Santana trade that was essentially a coup for the Indians.
Colletti wasn’t finished there though. Looking for some help for a beleaguered bullpen last season at the deadline, the Dodgers acquired lefty George Sherrill from Baltimore in exchange for third base prospect Josh Bell. Sherrill, now with an ERA over 7, was place on waivers earlier this week. Bell on the other hand was recently called up by Baltimore and sports a career minor league line of .285/.355/.474.
It’s easy to point out the flaws in our own GM, as we live with them on a daily basis watching the Giants. Yes, dealing Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano was a horrible travesty of a trade. And yes, Aaron Rowand and Barry Zito both received too many years for too much money on the free agent market. But Ned Colletti has screwed up more frequently and more recently than our esteemed general manager by a longshot. Brian Sabean’s most recent moves include trading Bengie Molina for a relief arm and top pitching prospect, not shipping Jonathan Sanchez off for Corey Hart, trading an overrated arm in Tim Alderson for a starting second baseman, signing Aubrey Huff, and picking Andres Torres, Santiago Casilla, and Pat Burrell up off the scrap heap.
Colletti, in all his inexperience, hasn’t had a sustained run of success like that in all his five plus years in Los Angeles. The success of recent Dodger teams has been largely due to the farm system (Matt Kemp, James Loney, Russell Martin, etc.), which is largely in control of the scouting department, not the GM.
With that, credit must be given where credit is due. At times, Brian Sabean has made me want to pull out my hair and run screaming through the streets. Over the last year and a half though, there’s been a marked difference in his judgment. He’s a man who seems to have learned from past mistakes and become a better General Manager as a result. When it comes to renewing his contract a year from now, I’m still not quite on board. But in light of recent dealings, as well as the fact that he’s not Ned Colletti, I bestow upon our Fearless Leader the very temporary Croix De Candlestick Stamp of Approval. This stamp is of course subject to revocation should the trade deadline result in complete disaster. As a Giants fan I reserve the right to be as mercurial and bipolar as the team I root for.