June 19, 2012
Painting the Black
The most telling aspect of the Ryan Dempster-to-Los Angeles rumors is not that the Dodgers, second in the majors in rotation earned run average, are looking for even more starting pitching. Nor is it that the Cubs are open for business. The most telling aspect about these rumors is that nobody trusts Ned Colletti. Take these carefully selected comments from True Blue LA as evidence:
I guess I’m not real confident of putting Ned and [Theo Epstein] in a room and hoping we come out on top.
The origins of the Colletti distrust date back to his first deal. About a month into Colletti’s tenure, he hooked up with Billy Beane and consummated a deal, sending mercurial outfielder Milton Bradley and forgettable utility man Antonio Perez to the A’s for Andre Ethier. In 2007, Nate Silver graded Colletti across various job requirements. In that piece he wrote, “This move was widely criticized at the time,” citing Ethier’s modest reviews as a prospect. In other words, people doubting Colletti is nothing new.
There are five levels of response to any given transaction based on the general manager involved:
In the middle is indifference. To the left is reverence, which is flanked by backlash to the reverence. This is the sweet spot for a general manager: when you’ve done such a good job that people actively mock you because of it. To the right of indifference is backlash; further to the right still is backlash to the backlash. Colletti seems to live on the right side of the scale, in part because of his willingness to trade young for old.
Colletti has traded 36 young players since taking over as GM. “Young,” in this case, includes players either in the minor leagues or at the beginning stages of their big-league career at the time of the trade. It’s a subjective measure, but that’s a given. Of those 36 players, 17 have never appeared in the majors. Fourteen of the remaining 19 have recorded one Win Above Replacement Player or fewer (with three finishing at less than -1 WARP). That means that, essentially, five players have had productive big-league careers since being traded by Colletti. Those players are Edwin Jackson, Dioner Navarro, Cody Ross, Carlos Santana, and James McDonald.