Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti participated in an online chat with fans Dec. 12. The GM answered questions regarding Eric Gagné, Juan Pierre, the Dodgers bullpen, trading for a power hitter and his thoughts on the Dodgers winning Baseball America's Organization of the Year.
Ned Colletti: Thank you all for being a part of the chat. Let's get started.
1baddesire: Ned, who was your favorite team and player when you were young?
Colletti: The Cubs were my favorite team and Ernie Banks and Ron Santo were my favorite players.
kenedodger: Are the Dodgers interested in trading starting pitching for a power hitter?
Colletti: It's tough to acquire a power hitter. If the right hitter came along, someone who we felt could be an impact bat in the middle of the lineup and someone who we could retain for more than one season, we'd be inclined to move pitching or a young player. If it were to be a player for only one year, we would still give that serious consideration, but considering that the player might only be here for a short period of time, it would be reflected in our offer back to that club.
Thomas_Decker: How much time do you think Matt Kemp will get next year?
Colletti: A lot depends on how Kemp plays this spring and if he does not make the club out of Spring Training, how he adjusts at Triple-A. We just saw him in the Dominican Republic a week or so and it looked like he was more selective and patient at the plate. His play in the outfield looked like it was still somewhat of a work in progress. We feel he has a chance to be not just a Major League player but a terrific Major League player -- an impact player. He still has areas that need improvement and as far as his playing time is concerned, how he plays will determine how often he plays and where he plays.
Base_Ball_2: Have you set a deadline when you are going to get a power hitter? Or are you close to any deals right now?
Colletti: We are not close to acquiring a power hitter at the moment. That can change overnight. I'm not one to set a deadline on improving your club or adding a particular type of player. I think that when the situation presents itself, it has to be right for the organization. When that will happen, I don't know if it'll be today, tomorrow, July 31 or some day farther along than that. While much has been made about our need for a power hitter last season, while we did not finish in the top half in home runs in the league, we were fourth in runs scored. I felt at the end of the season that run production did not cost us a chance to go deeper in the postseason. I felt that had we pitched better, not just in the postseason but throughout the course of the season, that our bullpen would've been in better shape and our starting pitching would have been able to take us deeper into games. With that in mind, I wanted to see if we could shore up the pitching staff and if a power bat was out there, to see if we could take a shot at it. If you don't have pitching, you're always going to be at a disadvantage. With pitching, and with speed and defense, you always have a chance to win a game.
Base_Ball_3: Now that Gagné is gone, could you list the '07 bullpen as it stands now. Is Yhency Brazoban expected to return healthy?
Colletti: Right now, the bullpen is comprised of Takashi Saito, Jonathan Broxton, Joe Beimel and Elmer Dessens. With the number of starting pitchers we have, the bullpen will also have a combination of Brett Tomko, Mark Hendrickson, Hong-Chin Kuo and perhaps Chad Billingsley, who pitched very well out of the 'pen in the postseason. One of my few regrets here was not having Eric Gagné actively on this club. Within a day or two of me taking this position last November, I heard from Eric. We spent a couple hours on the phone that day and the next few days. His passion and desire for a championship club was evident in our conversations and after being with a club that played against him 19 times a year, I was really looking forward to having him on our team. I wish him all the best. For a period of time, he was the most dominant closer maybe in the history of baseball and I only wish that I could've seen him pitch for us more often. In terms of Yhency Brazoban, we may see him by the end of Spring Training in some game activity. We think that at some point early in the season, he may be able to pitch at the big-league level.
bumsrap: Sorry, I was trying to find the chat in progress and just remembered it wasn't 2:00 in California. So, I am worried that some key prospects could still get traded. Are there any of them that are untouchables or very close to it?
Colletti: I wouldn't want to say that anyone is an untouchable because you never know what offer may come your way. I do put great value in our young players, especially after we saw how they competed at the big-league level last year.
bradalban: Are you looking to trade Brad Penny?
Colletti: I think we'd all like to see Brad be more consistent. I think there are only a few pitchers in the big leagues today who have his stuff. He can dominate a game and be a leader in the rotation so I'm not looking to trade that caliber of a player. Players are asked about all the time from other teams, but there's a difference between being asked about and shopping a player.
nalyd: Word is that Jason Schmidt was drawn to sign, in part, because Stan Conte moved over to the Dodgers. Did you envision that Conte's move would provide this incentive?
Colletti: Not really. I think there are many factors that lead a free agent to make his decision. I get the sense that Jason's familiarity with Stan and myself didn't hurt in his selecting the Dodgers, but I highly doubt it was the determining factor at the end of day.
txdodger73: Mr. Colletti, with the signing of Luis Gonzalez, will James Loney likely start the season in Las Vegas to get regular at-bats as opposed to a backup role on the Dodgers' bench?
Colletti: As of right now, I think James Loney is going to have a chance to make this club. Providing we're at full health, I think he'll still get opportunities to play first base from time to time as well as the outfield. He is also someone, because of his defensive strengths, who could come into a game late defensively.
Jake_Reiner: What numbers will Jason Schmidt and Luis Gonzalez wear?
Colletti: Jason Schmidt will wear No. 29 and Luis Gonzalez will wear No. 26.
ladodger25: Why sign Juan Pierre if you guys have a young man in Matt Kemp?
Colletti: At the time we signed Juan Pierre, Andre Ethier was our only returning starting outfielder who was signed for 2007. We felt we needed another outfielder who could play every day and in Pierre, we have someone who does play every day who has great speed, is a great leader by example who can play center field. Matt Kemp has one month of big league experience and is still developing. A year ago, he had never played above Single-A. Kemp has the ability to play any outfield position and he may arrive faster in the big leagues by virtue of playing a corner spot than asking him to play center field.
Jonathan_Folgar: How is Jeff Kent coming along this offseason recuperating from his injuries and do you see him at 100% coming into Spring Training?
Colletti: Our medical staff has kept in touch with Jeff throughout the offseason. He says he feels better than he did at any point last season. He's obviously a key performer for us and if he can return to being as productive as he was in 2005, our offense will be much better off.
Moderator: Two final questions.
blucrew81: Ned, do you think Russell Martin and Andre Ethier can improve on their rookie seasons, thus not needing to trade for a proven hitter?
Colletti: I'm curious to see how both Martin and Ethier play in their second full big-league season. The challenges for any player at the Major League level are many. A year ago, very few people knew about Martin and Ethier. Now, every Major League team in baseball has a better feel for both players. Teams will adjust to them and they will have to adjust to the adjustments made against them. It'll be interesting to see how well they adjust. I do believe that Martin, Ethier, Wilson Betemit, Billingsley, Broxton, Loney and Kemp will also have a chance to improve upon their performance with the additional experience they have gained. From an offensive perspective, all the position players I just talked about have a chance to demonstrate more power, which is typical of a young player. Billingsley and Broxton should also feel more confident and be more at ease in their place and have a chance to play a bigger role on this club.
h8dgiants: Ned, How many Dodger Dogs and beers did you have last season?
Colletti: One Dodger Dog a week. One beer a season. One more question.
Base_Ball_3: What does it mean to be named Organization of the Year in your first year as GM?
Colletti: It's a great honor to have the Dodgers recognized as the Organization of the Year by Baseball America. What it means to me is that the organization, which is made up of many people who work long hours and sacrifice a great portion of the rest of their life for the game of baseball, have been recognized for their efforts and for the results of their efforts. That it's the first time in 25 years that the Dodgers have been so recognized speaks volumes for our scouting department and player development department and how they work hand in hand with the big-league club. As gratifying as that award is, it would pale in comparison to winning a world championship in Los Angeles.
Colletti: Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to everybody and thank you very much for your passion for the Dodgers and your time today.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.