Monday, January 4, 2010

Colletti's free agent history.

Slow day in Dodger Divorce land. Embele Awipi of the Salinas Californian says that, in an "awful year in sports," the Manny Ramirez suspension wasn't even the strangest story surrounding the Dodgers in 2009. Instead, says Awipi, the oddest moment occurred when "Frank McCourt tried to fire [...] his estranged wife Jamie." Of course, he did more than try. And I'm not certain at all that Jamie's firing was the most curious moment of the saga; Jeff Fuller's ambassadorial trip gets my vote.

So with not much else going on, I took a gander at MLB Trade Rumors' Brendan Bianowicz's GM history for Ned Colletti. The 'Signings' tab caught my eye, and here are my quick thoughts on Colletti's top and bottom free agent acquisitions.

Ned's Best

1. Takashi Saito

2006-08 ($0.5M, $1.0M, $2.0M)

In his three seasons with Los Angeles, Saito was paid $3.5 million and produced $27.5 million of Fangraphs value. Wow! Of course, it was relatively predictable that his production would go down as his salary increased, and that's exactly what happened. Still, the Saito signing was brilliant. And a unique story, at that. Has any major leaguer who debuted at or after age-36 been as good?

2. Randy Wolf II

2009 ($8M after reached incentives)

This is really odd. I barely remember Wolf's first tenure with the Dodgers. I mean, it only lasted about 100 innings, but he wasn't awful. There was just something goofy about that club, the only Dodgers team not to make the postseason of the last four. Wolf was superb the second time around, providing $13.6 million of value for an $8 million salary. And that Fangraphs figure doesn't account for just how badly this team needed Wolf last year. Given the September swoon, it's not unrealistic to think the club might not have reached the playoffs without Wolf.  Now if only he'd been offered arbitration.

3. Orlando Hudson

2009 ($8M after reached incentives)

He and Wolf did nearly the same thing: provided about $5 million of excess value on one-year deals. Hudson was more responsible for the club's success than he was given credit for, especially late in the year. He also exposed Torre's tendency to ride the hot hand despite evidence of the availability of a better player. Hudson's a pretty frustrating figure in retrospect because of his benching and Colletti's failure to offer him arbitration. With Wolf and Hudson, Ned did so much right. And just couldn't finish the process.

Honorable mention: Kenny Lofton, Jeff Weaver,

Ned's worst.

1. Jason Schmidt

2007-2009 ($12.5M, $12.0M, $12.0M)

Oof. He made more than a million bucks an inning. I mean, sometimes these things happen. But check out Schmidt's average fastball velocity from 2003-06:

03:  95.0 mph
04:  93.5 mph
05:  91.8 mph
06:  92.4 mph

That '06 bounceback season cost the Dodgers $47 million. '05 was a down year in a major way, and if he'd hit the market that offseason, he wouldn't have approached this kind of deal. But he had a very nice '06 campaign and got paid as if that would be his standard going forward.

It was not.

2. Andruw Jones

2008-09 ($36.2 million in combined salaries and bonuses)

Oof. He's only below Schmidt on this list because hitters are safer investments than pitchers. But my goodness, was this a stinker. His acquisition was much different from Schmidt's. While the pitcher had the courtesy to post a bounceback season before robbing the Dodgers blind, Jones managed to get his cash despite having already hit the wall. After a string of fabulous seasons with the Braves, the then-30-year-old Jones had a dismal final season in Atlanta. Ned Colletti rewarded him with this deal, and the Dodgers will be paying the ghost of Andruw Jones through 2014 after reworking his deal to make him go away.

3. Rafael Furcal II

2009-11 ($6.5M, $8.5M, $12.0M (!), club option for '12 at $12.0M which vests with 600 PA in '11)

I'm not looking forward to 33-year-old Furcal making $12 million in 2011. Even if the club has to eat some salary, I sure hope Devaris Gordon makes Furcal expendable by then. Because, if not, a warning: Furcal has eclipsed 600 plate appearances twice in his four-year Dodger career (and missed by just 19 trips to the plate in 2007).

Honorable mention: Rafael Furcal I, Nomar Garciaparra, Juan Pierre, Luis Gonzalez


Casey Blake

2009-11 ($5.0M, $6.0M, $5.25M, club option for $6M in '12 and up to $0.5M in performance bonuses each season)

This wasn't a good deal at all, but then something funny happened: Blake had a career year in 2009. At 35. In fact, Fangraphs says he's already been worth more than he'll be paid over the course of the entire deal. So I can't really say whether it was a good signing or a bad one. A bad decision that turned out well, maybe?

Hiroki Kuroda

2008-10 ($5.0M, $10.0M, $13.0M)

He's worth the money when he can take the mound. Whether he can give the Dodgers 175+ innings in 2010 is up in the air. But as a signing, it was a decent one, I suppose. It's a lot of money, but these are the risks you take when you aspire to compete for a World Series. Or at least those are the kinds of risks the Dodgers used to take.


  1. Casey Blake could have been given Manny money for 9 years and he'd still be underpaid. Not only is he a stellar clutch performer, but the leadership and inspiration he provides makes him a bargain. How dare they say this is a bad deal. Bunch of damn nerd heads that have never put on a glove. They should be beaten. If the Dodgers do anything this year, it will be because of Casey Blake. Mark Cuban is not our saviour. Casey Blake is our saviour.

  2. poesgrave, perhaps you're distracted by Blake's beard?

    or from Cleveland?

    Can't say, but saviour?