Colletti believes future lies in Minors
GM feels team needs to heat up, pick up slack
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti chatted with fans in a live Web chat Tuesday. Colletti fielded questions about when some top prospects in the organization will be ready for the big leagues. He also spoke about the lack of available free-agent pitching and how it will affect clubs in the future.
COLLETTI: We're sitting in the dugout in Cincinnati and are ready to start taking your questions.
Dodgers89: Hi, Mr. Colletti. I am a good friend of Steve Sax and a big fan of yours. I believe you are doing a great job right now but was just wondering about a few things. Will you try to add a starter through the waiver wire?
COLLETTI: We've been trying to add a starter for probably the last month and as evidenced at the trading deadline, there were only a couple of guys that changed teams. We were reluctant to trade multiple prospects for the starters who were traded. Like a lot of teams this time of year, we're trying to get more support for our pitching staff, be it starters or relievers. There hasn't been a lot out there the entire season, whether it was before July 31 or since.
bigcpa1: Andy LaRoche appears to be Major League ready. Will he find playing time in 2008?
COLLETTI: Had Andy remained healthy at Triple-A, there's a very good chance he'd be here right now, whether it be playing once in a while or coming off the bench. He's been unable to stay completely healthy this season but he certainly factors into our plans for '08.
dusto611: What is your plan this offseason with key contracts such as Jeff Kent and Luis Gonzalez expiring? Would you consider adding one of the big name center fielders? Maybe Torii Hunter?
COLLETTI: While there's a lot that can happen between now and the middle of the offseason when free agents file, we're certainly well aware of our needs. We'll find a way to make the club better, whether it's a major free agent, major trade or a seemingly non-descript transaction, we're always trying to improve the club.
jfore1: I'd just like to register my "attaboy" for not trading away any of our young talent. What, in your opinion, do we need to do to kick start our offense?
COLLETTI: Well, in the course of a long season, you're going to have an ebb and flow to every part of your game. For quite a while, the offense, with the same players involved, were very productive. No question, lately, we've struggled with the bats. Unfortunately for our club, it's been that when we do struggle, it seems to affect more players than it doesn't. What we really need right now is for some of the players who are here to start heating up and picking up the slack. At this time of the year, our shortcomings are not going to be solved through a major trade.
gelomac: Mr. Colletti, how do you feel about signing Juan Pierre? Do you think it is a mistake or do you think you did the right thing?
COLLETTI: One of the things you have to take into account is the makeup of the club at the time the deal was signed. We see Juan Pierre as a very good complimentary player. When we signed him, we didn't expect him to carry the club. Our expectations were for him to be on base over 200 times and steal 50-plus bases. It's also only four months into his first season in a new city, and I think we have to wait a little longer before we make judgments on what he can or can't do.
COLLETTI: If we hadn't struggled time to time offensively this year, I think the criticism about Juan Pierre might be a lot less. But when the offense struggles, as it has from time to time, everyone comes under greater scrutiny.
samuelgibb: When is [Randy] Wolf coming back?
COLLETTI: That's one of the more unsolvable questions we have right now. He pitched very well for us the first two months of the season and then hit a stretch where his shoulder started to bother him. Losing him has been a big blow to the staff and right now we're still waiting for him to become 100 percent. We think he's a competitive enough individual that when that day comes, he'll come back.
Robert24: When do you think Clayton Kershaw needs to be called up?
COLLETTI: Clayton was just promoted to Jacksonville a few days ago and I'm going there tomorrow after the first game in Cincinnati to see him and some of our other prospects. It's tough to say when a young player is going to be ready. He's got a very high ceiling and at this point in time, he only lacks experience.
scalino: Do you forsee any interesting guys coming to Major League Baseball from Japan next year?
COLLETTI: We scout Asia on a full-time basis and there are some interesting players over there, particularly pitchers. If the player is not a free agent, the process is a bit cumbersome with the posting mechanism in place. But we also have scouted players who will be free agents who will not be held to the posting process. Baseball has become such an international game, you have to spend your time not only scouting the States for high school and college players, but also Latin America and Asia. The makeup of our club demonstrates that we're open to that and will continue to do so.
shachory: Hi, Mr. Colletti. Did you ever consider trading any of the Dodgers top prospects for a power bat?
COLLETTI: In at least one deal, there was an impact player available. But the asking price of four prospects, including two or three from our current 25-man roster, may have filled one area while creating a void or two at the big league level. If the right deal presented itself, we would be open minded to moving anybody. But we're not going to gut the farm system for one or two players.
dodgrfn14: Hi Ned. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us. I think one of the biggest topics within the Dodgers organization, especially with the fatigue the bullpen has suffered, is the chances of Jonathan Meloan making the big league club. Is this something you see happening this season?
COLLETTI: There's a good chance that Jon could make his big league debut this year. Part of our reasoning for promoting him to Triple-A recently was to continue his experience and to get him closer to contributing at the big league level.
gabog: How often do you communicate with Grady Little and Frank McCourt?
COLLETTI: I feel we have great communication between the three of us. Grady and I talk every day at some point, sometimes more than once depending on the day. He knows my thoughts and I know his. We don't always agree, which is healthy, but when we make a decision, we both understand the reasoning for it. I believe the manager and GM need to be cohesive in their approach in order for an organization to be successful. I speak to the McCourts practically daily and keep them appraised to the status of the club and our thought process.
dodgerboy1953: Hi, Ned. I think Andre Ethier will become a premier hitter in the National League. I see him as a third hole hitter. Are you as high on him as any of our young players?
COLLETTI: I think collectively we're very high on Andre Ethier. He continues to be able to adjust. This year after the slow start, he's hit very well, especially since the middle of June. It's rare that a player comes to the big leagues out of Double-A, which is really what he did and doesn't have some learning curve. As long as he continues to adjust and continues to work hard at the game, he's got a chance to be a very good player. He's not somebody we'd consider moving easily.
1baddesire: What was the craziest trade offer you received this year?
COLLETTI: We had one American League club that offered us a middle reliever in exchange for two of our everyday players who are not yet 25 years old and are playing at the big league level. Needless to say, it was a short conversation.
scalino: Is [Chad] Billingsley going to be in the starting rotation permanently?
COLLETTI: For the most part, Chad has been one of our most consistent performers this season. He embraced the bullpen role at the start and when we needed him in the rotation, it didn't take him long to build up his arm strength to help us there. I would say that unless something unforeseen happens, Chad will be in the rotation the rest of the way.
nddodger: Hello, Ned. In the past we heard of can't miss prospects such as Edwin Jackson, Joel Guzman, Joe Thurston and Billy Ashley. My question is: Why not trade a couple of youngsters for a proven player or two?
COLLETTI: You make a very good point and we're cognizant of the difference between a prospect and an impact big league player. We have traded a number of prospects in the last year. Those that we have kept, we feel have the opportunity to become everyday players at the big league level. We also know that it's going to take a lot of hard work, effort and patience for them to achieve that and also stay there. If the right deal came along where we could acquire somebody that we would have for a period of time and would have an impact on the big league club, we would move a prospect or two. We find it difficult to move three or four prospects for one player, especially when two or three of them are contributing now at the big league level. Part of the dilemma we have is that while other teams' prospects are at Triple-A and would not impact the big league club right now, a major portion of ours are playing here right now in the big leagues. For us to move what other teams consider our top prospects, we have to take them off the big league club. While we're trying to provide the younger players with experience at the big league level, it has also limited our inventory to trade from within the system because they're up here already.
ksong: It is becoming more evident that starting pitching is a serious need. Do you believe that we will have to address this need in the free-agent market or what confidence do you have in bringing up starting pitchers from the farm (apart from Clay Kershaw)?
COLLETTI: As of right now, the potential free agent market is even thinner than last year. I think teams will find it more and more difficult to fill their needs from the free-agent market. I think the successful teams will be those that draft well, develop their players and are patient with them as they go through the system. Pitching is always the toughest commodity to come by and as you look around the league, the number of teams that are looking for pitching far exceed the numbers that have pitching. We're no different. One last question.
andy525: Is James McDonald ready for the Major Leagues? Since the Dodgers are in need of a starter, he seems to be having a great year.
COLLETTI: James started the season at San Bernardino and is pitching at Jacksonville now. He continues to get better and be impressive. I wouldn't rule out seeing him this year. It all depends on how he progresses in the next few weeks. Thank you all for taking the time to ask these questions. I hope to do it again soon. Thanks for your passion and your patience.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.