“And each time I fail, I get my people together and say, ‘Where are we going?'” -Calvin Trager, Sports Night
Without a doubt, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti had the most successful 2nd half of a season imaginable. The last few months have been more fun for Dodger fans than that last 20 years combined. But Ned, now is the time to prepare for an encore—we have tasted postseason baseball, and it tasted good. We have seen the Angels, Giants and 20 other teams all make the World Series since the last time the Dodgers made it. Ned, you’ve made some mistakes (one rhymes with Shamdruw Shones) and you’ve made some brilliant moves (I mean Manny! For Free!), so to help you out I’m going to give some very unsolicited advice about how to lead us to the promised land. So, Ned, I’m asking you: where are we going?
First: Re-Sign Manny
Ned, I realize this is like driving to Victorville and seeing a road sign for Las Vegas. Yes it’s not going to happen, and yes it would require going way out of the way. But man would it be worth it! Look, I know the Yankees are going to overpay Manny this off-season. They’re going to come in with something ridiculous like 4 years, 100 million. And he’s going to want to do it because he loves the Bronx and because, let’s face it, Scott Boras is going to tell him where he’s going––which is wherever offers the most money (although the Angels are a dark horse to sign him too. Keep that in mind). The Dodgers opening day payroll for last year was over $118 million and that was before Manny. So I know that it would be asking a lot to pony up the nine figures it would take to keep him, but Ned, let me throw some numbers at you: .396 batting avg, .489 On base, 53 RBIs (in 53 games!), .533 avg during the NLCS, 10 RBIs this postseason. This guy is crazy good. And I understand it’s not going to happen, but that would make it all the sweeter if it actually did.
Second: Avoid Mistakes
Look, Manny Ramirez is worth $20+ million a year. And CC Sabathia probably is too. But there are a lot of free agents available that are a waste of money. Carlos Delgado, Mark Teixeira, Pat Burrell, Ryan Dempster, even Frankie Rodriguez; these guys are going to get huge money and they are probably not worth what they will get. Next season you will be paying Andruw Jones $15m, Jason Schmidt $12m, and Juan Pierre $28.5m over the next 3 years. That’s about $36 million next season that is going to be wasted. That’s as much as the entire Tampa Bay payroll! Just in wasted money! And there is nothing you can do about it now. But don’t make it worse.
Re-sign Furcal, re-sign Russell Martin, get Ethier and Broxton and Billingsley to long-terms. I know Clayton Kershaw had a rough postseason, but that kid is gonna be an ace. Keep with the youth and they will serve you well. But please, please, don’t sign any more washed-up veterans to long-term contracts.
Third: Represent the LBC
Like I said, the youth is the key. Want to know where to find the youth? The five six deuce is a good place to start. What if you had the policy of going after every Long Beacher available? Well, an infield of Longoria, Tulo, and Utley would be pretty nice right about now. Jered Weaver starting, with Mcdonald coming out of the pen? That doesn’t sound nice? Yes, I know you tried Milton Bradley and he has his issues, but we’re still the same city that provided professional So Cal baseball teams with Tony Gwynn and Tim Salmon. This past June Long Beach State had 7 draft picks on the first day, and 4 more the next. A team’s entire draft could be spent on Dirtbags and they would have had the best draft of anyone. Aaron Hicks went one pick before you were up. You’re telling me it wouldn’t be worth it to trade a 5th round pick to move up one spot to get the most-talented player in the draft? Not only would you have the most talented team, but how many tickets would you sell if you fielded 9 guys from Long Beach? Heck, with Longoria at 3rd, Tulo at short, Utley at 2nd, you could even have Bobby Crosby backing up the middle infielders, that means all you’d need is a first baseman. And Jason Giambi could be a free agent this winter…well, okay, maybe you should only have 8 guys from Long Beach.
Fourth: Change Is Something We Can Believe In
Blue is a wonderful color. Simple. Easy to remember. I like it. It’s a good year to cheer for the blue team. But there’s also something to be said for mixing it up a bit.
Before the 1997 season the Denver Broncos changed their uniforms. I don’t mean they took of their dirty ones and put clean ones on. I mean color scheme, design, etc. They went with a whole new look. The next two seasons they won the Super Bowl.
Around that same fall, the Angels unveiled their new uniforms. Some pinstriped thing involving some color called “perrywinkle.” Suffice it to say, it wasn’t a good look. So before the 2002 season they changed again, this time to an attractive red and white look. That very same season, they too won the championship.
Sensing a trend yet? Before the 2006 NHL season, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim changed. A lot. They changed their name (dropping the “Mighty”) and, you guessed it, changed their uniforms. That very same season they went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Look, I’m not saying you go back to being the Trolley Dodgers, or even the Bride Grooms. But there clearly is something to be said for changing your luck by changing your uniform.
I mean, this time last year there was a last place team in the AL East named the Devil Rays. This offseason, they dropped the Devil and changed their uniform. I wonder how that’s working out for them?