Too soon for Colletti to focus on sure-to-be-busy winter
GM has plenty to address in offseason, though Dodgers not expected to spend as much
ST. LOUIS -- The Dodgers have a manager, his coaching staff, 12 free agents and a couple of high-priced contract extensions to resolve in the coming months, not to mention the occasional front-office reassignments that sometimes fly under the radar.
General manager Ned Colletti wasn't ready to deal with any of that late Friday night, when the season ended and the clubhouse emptied. It's hard to look at the glass half-full when they're spraying champagne across the field, but he tried.
"I think we made great strides, but unless you finish with a parade, you're not satisfied," said Colletti. "I'm always sorry to see a baseball season end, and this one I really hate to see end because of the guys in the room."
Colletti reeled off the highs and lows -- the injuries, sinking to last place, winning 42 of 50 to take over first, running away with the National League West, beating the Braves in the NL Division Series.
"[There are] a lot of good things to take from this," Colletti said. "Where the organization was a year ago, 16 to 17 months ago, a lot has transpired in a good way."
The billionaire owners from Guggenheim Baseball Management spent lavishly to get within two wins of the World Series, but don't expect the free spending to continue at the same pace. Don't expect a Robinson Cano signing.
The Dodgers know they must lock up Clayton Kershaw long term and will consider the same for injury-prone Hanley Ramirez, but management has no intention of being the annual big spender for free agents. The business plan calls for a shift to homegrown talent, sooner rather than later.
Reports, including one that surfaced on Saturday, indicated that negotiations between the Dodgers and Kershaw have ranged between $200 million and $300 million, but no ballpark figure has been confirmed.
The Dodgers will have some immediate holes to fill, with starting second baseman Mark Ellis, starting third baseman Juan Uribe, starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco and setup man Brian Wilson among the potential free agents. They hope to fill one of the infield spots by signing Cuban free agent Alexander Guerrero.
The Dodgers also will spend time and thought on their current Cuban star, Yasiel Puig, who can be undisciplined, as he showed throughout the NL Championship Series. Gifted but wild, Puig is the kind of player you can't take your eyes off of, because you never know what he will do, good or bad. But when he shows up an umpire, as he did in Game 5, you never know how that might affect Game 6. Puig has much to learn about Major League protocol. If you're the employer, you take the pros and try to work on the cons, many of the latter occurring out of view and generally unknown to the public.
On the pro side, however, Puig is entertaining in an entertainment business. Puig brought energy to a roster already loaded with big names, the Dodgers re-emerging as a national story and attendance spiking.
"It's tough to capsule a season a half hour after it ends, but it was exciting," said Colletti. "Sports are supposed to be entertaining. I think this group was very entertaining in a lot of ways. We won a lot of games, we stuck together in tough times. I'll miss this group. Even if everybody returns, it's never the same group. The dynamics change. That's why I hate to see this season end. It's a special collection of people."
Mattingly is expected to return for 2014, but the status of his coaching staff is unknown. Third-base coach Tim Wallach already is rumored as a candidate for a managerial vacancy, and his departure could trigger other dominoes to fall.
The complete list of free agents: Chris Capuano (mutual option, $8 million or $1 million buyout), Ellis (club option, $5.75 million or $1 million buyout), Jerry Hairston, J.P. Howell, Carlos Marmol, Nolasco, Nick Punto, Skip Schumaker, Uribe, Edinson Volquez, Wilson and Michael Young.