Monday, November 14, 2005
More On Colletti
Colletti began his career in the early 1980s as a public relations executive with the Chicago Cubs and has written several sports-related, nonfiction books. He soon moved into baseball operations, presenting the team's position in arbitration hearings and eventually negotiating contracts, including those of Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson and Greg Maddux.Greg Maddux? Uh, isn't that a call for Dodger fans to panic? Wasn't that one of the Cubs' most infamously botched moments, the time when they tried to get Scott Boras to blink -- and off went his client to the Braves, where he garnered three more Cy Young Awards, and five seasons with 19 or more wins?
Well, it wasn't quite that simple. Boras played north side against south, shopping Maddux to the White Sox, who in 1992 finished 86-76, good for third place in the AL West. But the man who actually told Boras to blow off was Cubs general manager Larry Himes, with their chief negotiator and/or consultant Dennis Homerin as next in line for the blame.
Colletti was the subject of a two part interview in Baseball Prospectus in 2003 in which Colletti reveals himself to be principally an old-school talent evaluator of the sort Tommy Lasorda must be very comfortable with. He's also the kind of guy who, when asked whether the team thinks about park factors when constructing a team, replied "We haven't thought about it much, except with pitching." Hoo boy.
We saw Ponson in the same vein we saw Jason Schmidt two years ago. Tremendous upside, on the verge of turning the corner from a good pitcher to a potential standout pitcher....I guess you could get away with saying that, considering he was 26 at the time, but if they really believed that, why did they let him go after only pitching 68 innings?*
About the Barry Bonds deal:
...whenever we'd talk to Scott Boras about a deal, he'd say 'whoever signs Barry would get home run number 700, 715 and hopefully number 756 included,' plus the farewell tour and everything else that went with him. We all believed in keeping all that in San Francisco. But we also knew we couldn't pay high dollar figures for a player who wouldn't perform in the later years of the deal. We also didn't want to have to play Bonds and eight Fresno Grizzlies every day.Well, it sure looks like that's what you got, Ned. Oh, and about that great shortstop you signed, Neifi Perez, what about him? Didn't you pick him up off waivers, and keep him for a year and a half to the tune of $4.25M, and release him in August, 2004 after a .232/.276/.295 season?
When we were first in conversations with Neifi, we didn't know what would happen with Kent, or David Bell, and we had players like Reggie Sanders and Kenny Lofton possibly leaving too. So we really wanted a player who was versatile, who could play a bunch of positions for us to help make up for those losses. Talking to Felipe (Alou) about him, he said Neifi could play second, short and third, that he'd be an above-average fielder, a guy who'd occasionally get a big hit and who knew how to play the game. We felt that was a player we could use.Wow, what a great deal. At no time did interviewer Jonah Keri get too pointed asking about the blowup of the 2002 squad, but that has to be one of the more fascinating aspects of recent Giants history, probably their best team in a dozen or more years. I get the impression Colletti would be another Dan Evans, leavened with an eagerness to trade that's likely to backfire.
*In the original version of this post, I wrote that Ponson was traded for Joe Nathan, who's now Minnesota's closer. Ken Arneson corrects me in the comments below, and indeed that was a separate deal, the object of which was A.J. Pierzynski. Now, you could argue that the Ponson trade was a move of junk for junk, with journeymen Kurt Ainsworth and Damian Moss being the returns; neither of them is anything special, and Ainsworth seems to be out of baseball. But Pierzynski... Nathan is something special, but for Minnesota, while the Giants ended up releasing Pierzynski. As an organization man, you expect Colletti to say positive things about his team's decisions, but as Jon points out, one Barry Bonds makes up for a lot of screwups like these.