Ned Colletti and the Dodgers’ looming, uncertain offseason
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If there’s one thing most every offseason offers, it’s uncertainty. And then there is the coming offseason for the Dodgers, which may discover new doors into the unknown.
‘I think we have more questions this offseason than we’ve had in the past,’ General Manager Ned Colletti says.
From small to huge, from backups to star players, from short term to long, all the way to who is going to be the team’s owner.
Colletti is charged with piecing it all together -- determining who he wants to re-sign and which free agents and trades he wants to pursue. When to gamble, when to play it conservatively.
‘The offseason really is Ned’s time,’ Manager Don Mattingly said.
The team offense is the one area everyone agrees the Dodgers need to focus on improving. And the easiest way is to add a significant bat, which remain in shorter supply than love letters between Frank McCourt and Commissioner Bud Selig.
‘I say the most dramatic way we can improve the offense, that would be the way we would go,’ Colletti said.
Alas, there are only two big bats scheduled for free agency, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. Either will be looking at a $100 million-plus contract. McCourt has never spent $100 million on a single player, and that’s when he wasn’t in bankruptcy court. Only one player has ever received a $100 million contract from the Dodgers, Kevin Brown back in 1999.
‘The pitching and defense have been pretty good,’ Colletti said. ‘It’s the offense we have to try and impact, whether that’s from the inside or outside, we have to make the offense more productive. It’s a domino effect inside the lineup.’
The Dodgers have at least $25 million coming off the books this offseason, so the possibility of signing a Pujols or Fielder isn’t completely ridiculous. Yet even if they were to make a run at them, there certainly is no guarantee that they’d return the interest. Some players may not be attracted to a bankrupt team.
Colletti said he hasn’t been told by McCourt yet what kind of budget he’ll have in the offseason, though that’s standard operating procedure for this time of year. Most years, of course, the Dodgers aren’t bankrupt.
When he starts to piece it all together, here are some issues Colletti will have to address:
-- Colletti said he wants to re-sign right-hander Hiroki Kuroda: ‘We’d love to have him back here.’
-- If Kuroda returns, Colletti would still need a fifth starter: Nathan ‘Eovaldi has to be a candidate for that. I don’t want to count anyone else out. [Dana] Eveland has had two real good starts out of three. And there maybe somebody else in the system who can take that.’
-- Assuming he doesn’t get a Pujols or Fielder, Colletti may tender James Loney after all: ‘As of right now, I’d say he’s somebody we’d have back.’
-- Juan Uribe was a bust and then went out with injury but has two more years on his contract and will return next season, most likely at third: ‘We’re going to have to count on it. Everything is risky.’
-- When the big pieces are filled in, several of this year’s role players -– Tony Gwynn Jr., Aaron Miles, Jamey Carroll, Juan Rivera and even Casey Blake -- may return: ‘In the right situation, yes.’
-- Steve Dilbeck