Colletti ready to help in new advisory role with Dodgers
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers' hiring of Andrew Friedman to run baseball operations was "purely about the long-term big picture" of the organization and not a reflection on the work of former general manager Ned Colletti, club president Stan Kasten said Tuesday.
Colletti was given the new title of senior advisor to Kasten and a new contract. After leading the Dodgers to the postseason five times in nine years, Colletti almost sounded relieved.
"They believe I have a chance to make an impact in a positive way and that's good enough," said Colletti. "I want to work, be held accountable and be responsible. Nine years is a long time, especially these nine years. It hasn't been smooth as glass."
Kasten would not define Colletti's role, while Colletti merely said he will "help Stan and help Andrew."
"Pride and ego can get in the way and deter from what is progress," he said. "I refuse to do that."
Colletti said he's been friends with Friedman since their "first general managers meeting" together and called him "a tremendous addition to this group. He'll bring another view, a successful view. His personality here will play great. Nobody better than this guy. Really, that's how I feel."
Friedman was hired away from the Tampa Bay Rays to the newly created position of president of baseball operations. He will be introduced at a Wednesday press conference, but Kasten said, based on their conversations, Friedman will hire a general manager, as well as supporting staff. Kasten also said he will remain active in baseball decisions and he "expects" Don Mattingly to return as field manager. Kasten dismissed theories that Colletti was replaced because of the Dodgers' early exit last week from the playoffs by St. Louis.
"That's just silly," he said. "I don't have a quick trigger. That's not how we do things here. It's not about this season. It was a good season, we won 94 games. It's purely about the long-term big picture."
Kasten also said Colletti shouldn't be criticized for player contracts the Dodgers signed since Guggenheim Baseball Management took over three years ago.
"That's on me," Kasten said. "No contract gets done that I don't approve. It's for none of those reasons and that criticism is unfair."
Former owner Frank McCourt hired Colletti to replace Paul DePodesta as the 10th general manager in franchise history and the fifth in an eight-year span. Colletti inherited a 71-91 team and since then, the Dodgers have won four NL West titles, reached the NL Championship Series three times and compiled a 783-674 (.537) record. He has the winningest record of any NL general manager in that time.
The Dodgers had a losing record in only one of his seasons, in 2010, when an ownership crisis financially handcuffed baseball operations. During his tenure, the Dodgers have the third-best win-loss record in the National League.
Guggenheim Baseball Management purchased the Dodgers in 2012 and kept Colletti in place with a dual mandate of trying to win a World Series immediately while rebuilding a farm system neglected during McCourt's era, which saw the Dodgers abandon the international talent market and, eventually, fall into bankruptcy.
Those years "taught me a lot," Colletti said. "You can get caught up in things you have zero control over. In this job, you're better off spending time on things you can control than what might have been. I didn't have time to wish, hope and wonder."
Except for rare exceptions over the last decade (most notably Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp), a fallow farm system forced Colletti to plug holes through trades and expensive free agents, and he has come under fire for expensive mistakes like Jason Schmidt, Bill Mueller, Andruw Jones and, most recently, Brian Wilson.
Conversely, while Colletti has been criticized for dealing catching prospect Carlos Santana to Cleveland in the 2008 Casey Blake trade, weeks later he made one of the great deadline trades ever by obtaining Manny Ramirez, who carried the Dodgers into the playoffs with the greatest two months of offense in club history.
Colletti also made one of the most shocking blockbuster deals baseball has known, obtaining Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto from the Red Sox. His deal last summer for Ricky Nolasco solidified a starting rotation that had lost Chad Billingsley for the season.
Some of Colletti's most successful acquisitions, however, have been on the cheap. From Takashi Saito to Justin Turner, from Wilson last year to Nomar Garciaparra, Colletti and the Dodgers have been rewarded by longshots when internal options fell short.
On Colletti's watch, the club made expensive quick-fix international expenditures that paid off, such as Yasiel Puig, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Hiroki Kuroda. His first trade after getting the job was one of his best, dealing away the troubled Milton Bradley for Andre Ethier, who became a two-time All-Star.
And whether it was mandated by ownership or Colletti's call, the Dodgers have resisted the temptation to deal away any of the organization's current jewels -- Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Julio Urias -- even though it meant passing on deals that might have made winning now easier.
"You try to leave something better than you got it and after a bit of a dry spell, we went to the postseason five out of nine," Colletti said. "We not only have Joc and Seager and Urias, but a lot of talented people. That's pretty good."
Colletti has spent 33 years in baseball. Before joining the Dodgers, he was assistant general manager for the San Francisco Giants. Before that, Colletti was with the Chicago Cubs, first in the publicity department, then in baseball operations.