Colletti pleased with Dodgers' progress
General manager says team has never lost faith
Dodgers first-year general manager Ned Colletti chatted online Tuesday about the resiliency the team has shown this season, the young talent on the club and their role next season, bringing back potential free agents and his daily activities as GM.
Ned Colletti: Hi everyone. Let's get started.
stolenmonk: Ned, you have been particularly busy ever since becoming the Dodgers general manager, especially during the offseason. Do you plan to be just as active during this offseason, or is the Dodgers farm system ready to fill in some of those holes already?
Colletti: I believe that we've made a lot of progress this season and we've learned a lot about our younger players. Our offseason has a chance to be active, but at the same time, many of our young players will comprise part of the nucleus of this club. I don't expect to sign as many free agents as we did last season, which was more than half a dozen. But there is no down time in baseball.
gizmo33: Now that Las Vegas has ended its season, any plans to call up Adam LaRoche?
Colletti: He had a great season at Jacksonville and Vegas and we expect a lot from him in the future. At this moment, between the players who were here Aug. 31 and the callups we've made, we think we'll stand pat but of course, that's always subject to change.
Base_Ball_4: Will you please put the names back on the uniforms?
Colletti: They will be back next season, rest assured.
Christian_Lampon: When the team was rock bottom in last place, what was the first thing that came to your mind?
Colletti: As a group, we never lost faith in the players. We believe that you're never as bad as when you lose 13 out of 14 or as good as you look when you win 17 out of 18. It's been a resilient group all season. They've been through a lot and at that point in time, we believed that they would respond and get us back on our feet.
david122072: Can you give us a glimpse into what your day-to-day management duties are?
Colletti: The season has many different points of concentration. Prior to the July 31 and Aug. 31 deadlines, we spend a lot of time as a staff talking to other clubs and our scouts. Practically every day, we check in on the Minor League clubs and players' production and overall health. I try to spend some time every day with Grady Little and the staff to gauge their impression of where we're at. From time to time, I'll stop in and visit with a player, more times than not to offer encouragement during a tough time. I spend a portion of most days talking to the beat writers and media that cover the team and then around game time, I start to agonize over every pitch. I talked to Frank and Jamie McCourt every day and there are obviously a lot of things that go on every day, so I don't want to take up all the time of this chat on explaining them. But this is a good sense of what my day is like.
fawnkyjunk: Hi Ned, good job so far. I like how James Loney has played of late. Do you think if Nomar Garciaparra isn't re-signed, that Loney is capable of being the full-time first baseman? Has he played up to team expectations?
Colletti: Nomar has had a great year to date. I had a lot of respect for him before ever watching him play every day and seeing how he works and seeing his commitment to the club has just increased that respect. We will wait until after the season is over to make decisions on all our potential free agents. In terms of Loney, he has been a pleasant surprise for us. He's been up here three different times this season and I think he saw where the talent level was in his first trip to the big leagues. He went back down to Triple-A and adjusted. His second time up this season, he played much better. He went back and won the PCL batting title. That he can play the outfield is a plus and while his future is definitely bright here in L.A., we'll have to wait for the offseason to develop to make any definitive plans
akivisuals: Do you expect to sign any major free agent starters in the offseason, and will you re-sign Greg Maddux?
Colletti: The same holds true for Maddux as it does for Nomar and the rest of our free agents.
Aaron_Lawson: What role do you see Hong-Chih Kuo playing in this bullpen?
Colletti: Kuo has a chance to start this season. He started a few games in Las Vegas prior to the end of their season and pitched very well. As everyone knows who's watched him pitch, he's got a great arm. His biggest issue is his command. If he can become more consistent with his command and throw more strikes, he's got a chance to help this club as either as a starter or a reliever.
Base_Ball: As a GM, and as of right now, do you start thinking of next season and moves you are going to make or do you focus on the team now and their postseason hopes?
Colletti: As a general manager, you always think about today. As I tell Grady and his staff every day, today is the biggest day of the year. My primary focus is on today's game, but I always have to keep in mind the future, the short-term future of the next few days and weeks and the long-term future of the next year or two. I have yet to spend one day thinking about all facets of the operation, both the present and the future.
zaw_Naing: The Dodgers have been lacking 30-plus home run power hitters the past few years, so are you going to pursue Alfonso Soriano or Carlos Lee next season? If not, who do you have in mind?
Colletti: Power-hitting players are not easily acquired. This past offseason, there was perhaps one, maybe two power-hitting position players available on the free agent market. Power hitters are a commodity that will require either a huge free agent contract or a number of prospects going back in a trade scenario. I agree that our lineup would be more balanced if we could find someone who could hit 30 or more home runs in a season and we'll do all we can this offseason to see if we can find that type of player. At some point, we may have the players within our own organization -- Matt Kemp and Andy LaRoche come to mind as potential 25-plus home run men.
rizfactor: Will you make an attempt to re-sign Eric Gagné, or are his years with the Dodgers finished?
Colletti: One of the biggest disappointments of this season for me has not been having Gagné as an active member of this club. If it makes sense for both sides to bring him back, I'd look forward to the opportunity to have him be here. When you lose somebody who has a track record as one of the greatest closers in the history of the game and you lose him at the start of the season, it put an enormous strain on the entire bullpen. I commend everybody in our 'pen who stepped up in the absence of one of the truly great closers. He's not easily replaced at the outset of the season.
dodgerfanforeva: Who is your favorite all-time player?
Colletti: As a kid, it was Ernie Banks because of his enthusiasm, passion and love for the game, along with being one of the truly great hitters of his time.
gizmocosmo: Ned, who do you see as potential starting pitching prospects in our Minor League system that could help in the next year or so?
Colletti: Scott Elbert is the first one that comes to mind, but there are many starting pitchers, including some from this year's draft who we think will be good big league starting pitchers.
david122072: Just wanted to add that you made a great acquisition of Wilson Betemit, great person off the field as well as a good player. I met him here in Atlanta right before he got on his flight to LAX to say welcome to the team and he was very humble.
Colletti: Betemit has a chance to be a very good player in this game. In a very short period of time, he's demonstrated great power and he has humble character, you're right.
Luis_Hermida: How hard is it to make a trade? Is it as easy as calling another GM and saying, "I want this player?"
Colletti: It's a complicated answer. There are always many areas to look into. We talk to scouts, our on-field personnel and then when dealing with the other club, there's a long list of discussion points that take place, including health, salary, commitment, etc. Also, another team's position in the standings and their willingness to be active plays a big role. Not everybody has a desire to be active in the trade market. Not everybody has a desire to do a deal that could help both teams. Some clubs only want to do deals that they clearly win at the outset for fear of being criticized.
Base_Ball: What's been the best part about moving to the Dodgers, besides being in first place right now, and what do you miss most about the Giants? How different is the club atmosphere?
Colletti: Until you actually live within an organization and within in a city, you'll always possess an outsider's view. After being with the Dodgers for 10 months, I am continually blown away by the passion of the fans. I probably speak to 20-30 fans a night, either pregame or postgame, in and around the stadium, and their love for the team is very evident.
Colletti: I want to thank all the fans for participating in this web chat and for staying with us throughout the season. We're hopeful that the team will continue to play hard and be successful.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.