So Ned Colletti wasn’t fired by the Dodger brass when the team failed to advance out of the NLDS. In other news, it was revealed Colletti wasn’t allowed by upper management to make any trades that might have improved what almost everyone knew to be the Dodgers’ monstrous Achilles’ Heel entering the playoffs – the horrid L.A. bullpen.
According to Dylan Hernandez in the Los Angeles Times ,
"“Colletti was prevented by ownership from making any midseason adjustments to the bullpen, people familiar with the situation said. Top prospects Corey Seager, Julio Urias and Joc Pederson were labeled as untouchable by President Stan Kasten. So were some mid-tier prospects, including Zach Lee, a former first-round pick whose development has stalled.”"
My interpretation of all this is Dodger ownership purposefully chose to not allow Ned Colletti to do his job – which was to evaluate and improve the team in order to have it ready for the run to the World Series. Why did they take that stance? Why gamble on the longshot chance that a bullpen full of untrustworthy veterans and raw rookies would be good enough to beat every other team and ride all the way to the World Series championship?
While Ned Colletti can list an impressive stat line of Dodger won/loss records and visits to the postseason, it had become unavoidable that his habit of overpaying for aging or injury prone players had come home to roost and bloated the 2014 Dodgers. The Guggenheim Group clearly had enough of unmovable player contracts and they weren’t about to let ol’ Ned create a couple more – especially since they had probably already settled on dumping Ned as G.M. long before the postseason. That said, I was under the impression that winning the World Series was the goal.
So they didn’t completely trust Colletti’s baseball judgement then, but they apparently trust him enough now to keep him on as a “special advisor”. Why not let him special advise on a trade to shore up that bullpen? Why not put together a braintrust of Colletti and the Dodgers’ top scouts and talent evaluators specifically to find a way to improve that bullpen at the trading deadlines? Why not get creative with the rest of the players in the farms, and make an offer in order to get an insurance policy arm – IF the World Series was the true goal? It wouldn’t have been the first time a team bought a mercenary specifically for the postseason.
Most of us in the Dodger Nation felt the team was jelling pretty well and had a legitimate chance to win it all – if not for that dang bullpen. Deep inside we – including Don Mattingly – all hoped Kershaw, Grienke and Ryu could pitch complete games, or at least pitch up to the 9th inning every time out, or we’d be in trouble. If the Dodgers were going to win the championship, a whole lot of things were going to have to work perfectly. If I ever saw a bullpen that needed insurance, it was this one. Dodger brass had to have seen the same thing.
Why were Kasten and Co. willing to let the Dodgers roll into the playoffs in a truck with four bald tires and loose lug nuts all around – especially if winning the World Series was the true goal? Why, oh why would they think that bullpen was good enough to hold leads all the way to the championship when it was only good enough for one inning? The cynic in me wonders if they knew they were betting on a team with iffy chances, but it didn’t matter. Was it similar to the way they knew 70% of their hometown fans couldn’t watch the games on TV, but it didn’t matter?
Ownership could have gone to bat for all the Dodger fans who were blacked out from their beloved team. They could have leaned heavily on TWC to creatively ease the situation, but it sure looked like they didn’t. Why not actively show they believed the fans deserved their team on TV? Because they already had $8.35 Billion guaranteed. Everyone could watch on TV, or no one could watch; they were still up $8.35 billion.
The Dodger Nation, the fans who bleed Dodger Blue, absolutely cared if the team won the World Series. That’s why so many of us were upset and bewildered when Colletti didn’t make any moves to shore up the bullpen. We didn’t know about it, but his bosses had tied his hands with a big blue bow. They decided the team was good enough as it stood.
Ownership cashed in on nearly 4 million paying customers at the stadium in 2014. Despite a near-blackout on TV, attendance steadily rose throughout the season. The TV money would keep rolling in for the next 24 years no matter what, 2015 season ticket orders would surely be up, and ticket price increases were probably already on the table for next year. Heck, even Matt Kemp jerseys were flying off the shelves again. Of course it would have been great if the team made it to the Fall Classic, but 2014 was already a huge financial success.
Was the Home Run Bubble Machine making it to the World Series a priority for you? If the team won, it would have been a big blue cherry on top, but boom or bust, Dodger ownership was already awash in cash, with more of the same promised for 2015.
Take a short quiz with me, Dodger fans. When you hear the name O’Malley, do you first think of baseball or money? When you hear the name Guggenheim, do you first think of baseball or money? Just asking.