Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti is poised to make moves at the Winter Meetings to improve the team. Colletti discussed several topics during a live Web chat with fans, including the search for a new manager, adding a power hitter to the lineup and bolstering the bullpen.
mrgoodbar: As a true Dodgers fan, I almost hate the Giants more than I love the Dodgers. I know you remain friends with Brian Sabean and know Jeff Kent from his days with the Giants. Is it hard to switch sides and join your formerly bitter rivals?
Ned Colletti: Brian and I are very good friends and always will be, but we're both ultra competitive. I'm excited about not only joining the Dodgers, but about competing in the Western Division against the Giants.
Base_Ball_2: Will our new manager have a strong say in his coaching staff?
Colletti: I believe that the manager should have great latitude in selecting his coaches. I would ask for the right to refuse or say no, but by and large, the manager will have a lot of say in who his coaching staff will be comprised of.
glygn: Welcome to the Dodger family. What are your plans to bring in power hitter?
Colletti: No question, we need to improve the offense. Power hitters are becoming tougher and tougher to come by. There have been some successful teams without a power hitter, including Dodgers clubs. That said, we're looking to bolster the middle of the lineup with a proven hitter and if it's a power hitter, so much the better.
Mike_Getz: Are the Dodgers looking to pick up Bengie Molina or another seasoned player? Or are they relying on prospects like Dioner Navarro to take over?
Colletti: Without commenting specifically on Bengie Molina or other players that are out on the market, we're very proud of the farm system that we have. That said, we are exploring a lot of different free agents in an attempt to put the Dodgers in a position to win in 2006.
blucru85: I hope that you will preserve our talent-rich Minor League system and build on it, but you can look at the past few champions and say they were built on homegrown talent, but trading key prospects to acquire top players. What are your plans with the farm system?
Colletti: In an ideal situation, you keep the farm system intact. Any player that we would trade from the farm system, we would only do so if we were certain that the player we were acquiring is going to make an immediate and very strong contribution to the current club. I'll depend greatly on our player development people and scouts in determining which prospects we would consider moving, always keeping in mind that the farm system is the lifeblood to an organization many times.
fernandomania4ever: There are a lot of rumors about the payroll being slashed to $70 million. In the second-largest media market in America, that looks a little on the cheap. Will the Dodgers be able to compete in the signing market?
Colletti: I believe the payroll will not be slashed and as I've said before, at no time have I brought up the name of a player to the McCourts and been told not to pursue him because of financial reasons. It's not so much how much you'll pay a player, but who the player is. Throughout the history of free agency in Major League Baseball, there are numerous examples of clubs whose payrolls were at the top, yet the club failed to meet expectations. At the same time, there are many clubs that have done the most with their resources and turned out champions. A great example is this past World Series. That said, I'm confident that we'll have enough financial flexibility to do what we need to do in a thin free agent market.
mrgoodbar: What's your opinion of the recently passed steroid/drug policies?
Colletti: I am in full agreement with the new policy. Baseball is the greatest game and it should always be played talent vs. talent.
dodgergirl: Do you see the Dodgers in a rebuilding state or competitive state?
Colletti: With the Winter Meetings coming up next week, we will have the opportunity to improve this club via trade and/or free agency. We're in a great position where we have a lot of talent in the Minor Leagues right now, but we're also expecting to challenge for the division title in 2006.
bistheman2: Mr. Colletti, what is your timetable in regards to Chad Billingsley and Andy LaRoche?
Colletti: We added Andy LaRoche to the 40-man roster recently and we have a very high opinion of Chad Billingsley. There is no question that both players have tremendous upside. The road to the Major Leagues and success at the Major League level is many times more difficult than meets the eye. As far as a timetable goes, I wouldn't want to predict when they'll be full-time players in the big leagues.
blucru85: What bullpen help will be provided to solidify the returning 'pen? And what will you do to bolster the rotation?
Colletti: We are in the market for a left-handed reliever or two and I've been talking with Eric Gagne, who assures me that he's doing fine and should return to full strength. I think our bullpen from the right side is as good as any team's. I am looking to add a starting pitcher, but I'm not sure if it'll be via trade or free agency. The season is a test of all your players, particularly your pitchers, and I believe that for a team to be successful, you not only need five solid starting pitchers, but another pitcher or two at Triple-A who you can call on in the case of injury or lack of productivity.
mrgoodbar: The media in L.A. can be really tough, particularly on the Dodgers lately. As a GM, how do you deal with the heavy criticism? Do the opinions of writers or fans matter to you?
Colletti: Criticism is indicative of passion and the Dodger fans are among the more passionate fans in baseball, which makes this one of the greatest franchises in all of sports. Baseball lends itself to debate, criticism and an exchange of ideas and that is all healthy in my mind.
hrdodgers: Which team do you see as the biggest threat in the West this upcoming season?
Colletti: For the most part, the teams in the National League West all have strengths and weaknesses. I'm not sure that there is a dominant team, and a lot will depend on the moves teams make this offseason, how healthy they are during the season and how well they execute.
Thank you all for taking the time to participate in the chat. I really appreciate your support in my first couple of weeks with the team and I also appreciate your patience as we continue to improve the club and prepare for the Winter Meetings.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.