Why does everyone seem to love Ned Colletti? | Sharapova's Thigh

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Clapp and I have a disagreement over certain aspects of the MLB Network. I think it's slowly devolving into a longer version of Baseball Tonight (which makes me sad), and I don't think he thinks it's that bad (or at least, he didn't). Because it's baseball, I'll watch it. I have been watching it. I will continue to watch it. It was through this watching that I came across something that really irked me.

It was about a week ago. As I stated before, I had to take some time off to finish up my graduate schooling, so I couldn't post on it immediately. It's also due to school-work that I don't have the exact quote or the exact person who said it, but I got the gist of it. It was the same sort of poor reporting and nonsensical speculation/analysis that has plagued Baseball Tonight for as long as I can remember.

I'm pretty sure the perpetrator was either Victor Rojas, Joe Magrane, Mitch Williams, or Jon Hart. The subject turned to Los Angeles Dodgers' General Manager Ned Colletti. As part of the praise being heaped upon Colletti, the MLB Network analyst pointed out his bringing in Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake as well as the young core that's in place in LA (Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Russell Martin, and James Loney).

I have nothing against Ned Colletti. I am not a Dodgers fan and I probably see fifteen Dodgers games a year, only watching whenever I have a fantasy pitcher starting or just want to hear Vin Scully. I do know that Colletti is a veritable treasure trove of poor reporting, but that has no bearing on me.

What does bother me, however, is people falling over themselves to give someone credit, even when that credit is undeserved. That young core? The only one that Colletti was responsible for acquiring was Andre Ethier (for Milton Bradley). The others? Kemp was drafted in 2003, Loney and Martin in 2002. During these drafts, Colletti was the Assistant General Manager for the San Francisco Giants. To give Colletti any credit for the accumulation of young talent is disingenuous unless he was part of the greatest tampering scheme of my lifetime.

Now, one might point out that, while he did not draft most of the "young core", he did call them up and he did put them in a position to play. But did he? Even with this young talent in the farm system, Colletti elected to sign Juan Pierre (who stinks) to a $44 million contract in 2006 and Andruw Jones to a two year, $36.2 million deal in 2008. Juan Pierre remains with the team, Andruw Jones was released at the Dodgers' expense and now plays with Texas. Juan Pierre received over 700 plate appearances in 2007 and over 400 last year.

I understand that it is laudable that Colletti appears to have recognized his mistake and turned the keys of the car over to Ethier and Kemp in the outfield (as well as allowing Loney to take over for the also Collett-signed Nomar Garciaparra), but doesn't the four year deal given to Pierre signify something less than flattering about Colletti? Doesn't it show either a concerning, Dusty Baker-like desire to play veterans, no matter how bad, over promising young talent and to pay a premium for said veterans?

Colletti defenders, wherever they are, often point to the Manny Ramirez deal as his crowning achievement. There is no doubt that Manny Ramirez was essential to the Dodgers' playoff run last year. No doubt. One wonders how the deal tastes now that the aftermath has involved Manny receiving a two-year, $45 million deal that he can opt out of after this year if he likes. Manny's a great player to have, no doubt, but he's also 38 years old and devoting that sort of money to him for one year had to play an effect in the loss of Derek Lowe. This entire paragraph has nothing to do with my original point, I just wanted to throw it out there. Oh, and I've always thought the Dodgers would have been more prudent to hang onto Andy LaRoche and attempt to just get Jason Bay for themselves, as opposed to having Casey Blake at third base. That's just me, though, and I have no idea if the Pirates would have moved Bay without receiving LaRoche.

Back to my original point. I have no real issue with Ned Colletti. I think signing Juan Pierre was beyond incompetent, but whatever. I certainly don't think as little about some of his trades as this guy. I also don't hate him as much as these guys. What does irritate me, though, is the MLB Network just tossing out whatever they deem to be facts without doing even the most modest research or critical thinking.

I fear baseball is starting to run out of knowledgeable, casual fans. That may sound elitist, and maybe it is, but it's just my two cents. I obsess over the sport. I watch it way too much. When my Baseball Prospectus comes in every year, I tear through it like Prince Fielder through an apple pie. Thankfully, I don't rely on Baseball Tonight, ESPN, or TJ Simers for my baseball news. Nonetheless, it is a bit disconcerting that hordes of fans are hearing what John Kruk and whoever the MLB Network guy was that said the Colletti bit and taking it as news.


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