Smith chats trades, prospects with fans
Vice president says player development a balancing act
Vice president of scouting and player development Roy Smith chatted with fans online Tuesday about how the Dodgers acquired Greg Maddux and his role leading up to the trade deadline, top Dodgers prospects and being a member of the 1987 world champion Twins.
Roy Smith: Hey everyone, thanks for taking time to be a part of this chat. Let's get started.
andrew_magers: How long did take it take to get Greg Maddux?
Smith: It was a trade that Ned Colletti asked about the availability about six weeks before the deadline. It started heating up about a week before. We didn't consummate the trade until about 15 minutes before 1 p.m., which was the deadline.
Base_Ball_2: I'm a long time Dodgers fan. Just wanted to say thanks for returning the Dodgers to the days of a great farm system. How do you think Chad Billingsley is comming along and what do you see in his future with the Dodgers?
Smith: Thanks for the kind words. Our staff takes great pride in the farm system. As for Chad, he is getting better every start. He still needs to improve his fastball command, which is coming and is common with young pitchers. But he has great stuff, makeup and is an outstanding competitor and we expect him to be a top-of-the rotation pitcher when it's all said and done.
Base_Ball_3: What are your thoughts concerning Mark Alexander? He wasn't even listed as a top prospect and had an incredible run at Double-A.
Smith: I saw Mark pitch a couple times in Jacksonville this year before he moved to Triple-A. Mark's an outstanding competitor who did a great job as a closer for Jacksonville and we'll just see how he fares in Triple-A. But he's someone we definitely have an eye on.
Scott_Wiggins: Roy, what direction do you see the Dodgers going in as far as Major League development? We have so many promising prospects. Do we wait for these young guys to blossom, thus abandoning big name free agents? Or do we act when those big name players become available?
Smith: Those decisions are always fluid. We're in a market with a fan base that demands a winner, so we'll put our best 25 guys on the field with an eye always towards the future. It's a balancing act and it's incumbent on us to make sure we evaluate our own players better than other people evaluate them so we make the right decision on who to keep and who to trade.
iddodger: Who are some of the Dodgers' top pitching prospects and do you think they will make it the Major Leagues?
Smith: The names to watch out for, just to name a few, are Scott Elbert and a young man out of this year's draft, Clayton Kershaw. A lot of the better guys, you've already seen in the big leagues like Billingsley and Jonathan Broxton. D.J. Houlton is also coming on and has had a good last three weeks.
zapatoviejo: What are the organization's plans with the development of Delwyn Young?
Smith: Delwyn's having a very good offensive year. He's had to adjust to the outfield and we've been pleased with his progress this year. He's on the 40-man roster and he's knocking at the door, but right now he's got some guys in front of him.
scalino: What is your role in the days leading up to the trading deadline? How involved are you in the decision-making process?
Smith: Both Kim Ng and I work very closely with Ned on pretty much all baseball-related issues. So no matter what the subject is, there's not much that I'm not involved in. Dealing with Major League trades is part of my job description and I interact not only with our own people and their opinions, but with other clubs -- proposing trades, finding out what they're thinking, etc. It depends on my relationship with that particular club and Kim acts in the same capacity.
boogyman222: How long to you forsee until Andy LaRoche joins up with the club? Has Wilson Betemit blocked his path?
Smith: LaRoche is having a very good year and is progressing at a pace that we're very pleased with. One of the things about our acquisition of Wilson is that he's very versatile and he's not necessarily blocking anyone's path. Andy is swinging the bat very well in Triple-A and I'm sure we'll see him in Dodger Stadium soon.
Base_Ball_3: How much is a player's character considered in an acquisition?
Smith: When considering any type of player acquisition, whether it be in the draft, Minor League or Major League free agents or trades, character is always an issue. Logan White and his scouts do a great job in researching the players he drafts and weighs good character very heavily. At the Major League level, we research, to the extent that we can, a player's character and talk to as many people as we can who have come in contact with that player during his career.
Base_Ball_3: I loved the 1987 Twins. Any favorite memories?
Smith: Being a member of the 1987 Minnesota Twins is one of the highlights of my career. The thing that sticks out is how a young team came together and jelled at the right time. The great pitching of Bert Blyleven, Frank Viola and Jeff Reardon and the way Kirby Puckett came of age is probably what sticks in my mind the most. Also, how the Metrodome became such an advantage for us with the fans.
iddodger: What are some of the biggest things you worry about in young hitting prospects?
Smith: The first thing a player has to have is bat speed and hand-eye coordination. Given that, the biggest thing is their ability to identify different pitches and that's probably what you worry about the most.
scalino: How does your playing career help you in your current position? Do you feel it enables you to better analyze talent?
Smith: Having played for 15 years definitely gives me a certain perspective, but one thing I learned early in my scouting career is that player evaluation is a craft and there was a multitude of things I had to learn. Luckily, I had some veteran scouts like Ronnie King and Lenny Yochim to teach me. You never stop learning scouting.
zapatoviejo: With Hong-Chih Kuo seemingly getting his act together as a starter, does his development schedule now change to that of a starter?
Smith: More than anything, we want to get Hong-Chih more innings and allow him to improve his fastball command and the development of his secondary pitches. He's progressing nicely and he'll probably be back in whatever role is most needed in the big leagues.
thinkblu21: When can we expect to see Matt Kemp stay in Los Angeles permanently?
Smith: That's up to him, really. Matt has tremendous talent and is a great kid. We foresee a long career for him. However, I always take the attitude that the player will tell us when he's ready.
Kian_Dukes: Which rookie do you think is most impressive right now?
Smith: Rather than pick out one, I would say that what has undoubtedly saved our season up to this point is the fact that all of our rookies have come up and contributed right away, which is something that is not common. Andre Ethier, Russell Martin, Broxton and Billingsley have stuck out, but Matt Kemp, Joel Guzman, Kuo and James Loney have all contributed and have shown the potential to be very good Major League players.
kenedodger: Will the Dodgers pursue top-flight pitching during this offseason?
Smith: It's a cliche, but you never have enough pitching and I'm sure we'll be in the market.
slauro: When deciding on moving young players to and from the bigs, is there ever much controversy between you, Ned, or any staff member and how is that resolved?
Smith: When to move a prospect can be one of the most difficult decisions in player development. Luckily, Terry Collins, with his wealth of experience, has done an outstanding job in putting our young players at levels where they can succeed, but also challenge them at the same time. Yes, there are times when there are differences of opinion, however, in my experience since I've been here, we have always been able to work them out to the player's benefit. That has been very gratifying.
trueblue38: Can we expect any more moves to be made now that the trade deadline has passed?
Smith: We are in a constant dialogue on how to improve the club. At this time of the year, Ned, Kim, and myself along with our pro scouts are scouring the waiver wire to see if we can get lucky and improve the club further.
Sean_Robinson: Do you see any similarities between this current Dodgers team and your world champion team of '87?
Smith: I'd say the emergence of young players back in '87 like Puckett, Tom Brunansky, Kent Hrbek and Gary Gaetti and the acquisition of veterans like Don Baylor and Reardon, which pushed us over the top in 1987. Let's hope history repeats itself.
slauro: Are you guys expecting much more development from big Andre, or has he proven himself a starting position?
Smith: Ethier has been a godsend for us. His offense has been a welcome addition. As a young player, Andre will still be faced with challenges as the other teams adjust to him and I'm sure there will be some struggles, as there are with every young player. However, with his mature approach to the game, we feel that he's going to be a solid big league player for years to come.
dodger01247: Do you think the Dodgers' 10-game winning streak is just luck or do you think they can really make an impact in this division?
Smith: While we don't think we'll go undefeated the rest of the season, this is more indicative of what this team is capable of.
indodfan: I want to congratulate the Dodgers general management team on what looks like a very good trade deadline this season. It seems as though you were able to make some moves without trading a lot of the better kids that we have on the farm.
Smith: Thank you very much. That very thought has been paramount on Ned's mind since he was named general manager. Thanks to all of you for taking part in this chat. I enjoyed doing this and posting to the blog, so hopefully we'll keep this dialogue going.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.