Colletti plans no radical roster changes
GM disappointed by lack of progress with certain players
LOS ANGELES -- The day after announcing a change in managers, Ned Colletti said he is not looking to radically change the player roster or unload any of its young nucleus in the offseason.
"A year like this makes you look at every aspect of the team and makes you more apt to listen [to trade overtures], but it won't make me aggressively tear it up," Colletti said on Saturday. "I am more apt to listen."
Speculation has already begun that Colletti will put outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, as well as first baseman James Loney, on the trade block. Other clubs might believe that the Dodgers have soured on their talent, meaning they might pick up a young player on the cheap.
While acknowledging that each had a disappointing second half of the season, Colletti said he hasn't given up on any of them.
"If I hadn't seen them perform well the previous two years, I'd be more concerned," Colletti said. "Whatever the reason, they all leveled off. Whether it was nagging injuries or focus or whatever. That's really the group we highlighted to be sitting in the middle of the lineup. As of right now, I still have a lot of faith in them, but they all need to be better next year for us to be successful."
And in a message he no doubt passed along to his next manager, Don Mattingly, Colletti said he expects a higher level of play all around.
"Besides any roster changes, we need to be sharper, we need to play with more edge and focus than we did this year right from the beginning," Colletti said. "We need to have a relentless passion to succeed and win games."
Colletti acknowledged that he wants to add a productive left fielder to replace Manny Ramirez. The biggest name on the free agent market will be Carl Crawford, but it's a leap to think the Dodgers will have the resources to bid for him. Neither do they have anyone in the farm system qualified to make that kind of impact in the near future.
The catching situation is a question mark, because it could be months before Russell Martin can demonstrate he can still catch after suffering a broken hip. Only on Friday was Martin cleared to walk without crutches, five weeks after being injured.
And at age 37, it might be time for Casey Blake to transition from everyday third baseman to utilityman with some pop.
Colletti said his biggest disappointment this year was the bullpen, undermined at the start by George Sherrill's slump and the ongoing problems of Ronald Belisario, which led to the overworking of Ramon Troncoso. Then there was closer Jonathan Broxton, who never showed the velocity or effectiveness of past seasons. Broxton, like Kemp and Ethier, received a multi-year contract in the offseason.
"The bullpen was our greatest strength last year, but didn't show it this year," said Colletti. "[Hong-Chih] Kuo's been terrific and [Kenley] Jansen has been a pleasant surprise, but there's no guarantee he'll make the club out of Spring Training. The bench was probably our truest bright spot, and you shouldn't be saying the bench is the most dependable part of the club."
Colletti said that Clayton Kershaw's "advancement was one of the year's highlights" and that Chad Billingsley "reclaimed his ability," but an offseason priority will still be adding starting pitching.
Of the Dodgers' nine free agents, the club is expected to make runs at pitcher Ted Lilly, catcher Rod Barajas and outfielder Jay Gibbons. The team also is expected to have interest in bringing back starters Hiroki Kuroda and Vicente Padilla, depending on salary demands and, in Padilla's case, health issues.
Colletti wouldn't discuss next year's anticipated payroll or how current ownership uncertainty will impact it. There is as much as $38 million coming off the payroll from 2010 from free agents and players who have already left.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.