Giving the deposed their dues
There’s something like a 30-percent chance that the Dodgers and Mets will face off in the National League Championship Series, the winner of course losing to the Rangers in the World Series.
Coincidentally, just in the last couple of days we’ve seen apologia in big-city newspapers — come to think of it, big-city newspapers owned by the same newspaper conglomerate, which makes this even more coincidental — for the men who used to run the Dodgers and the Mets.
Friday in The Los Angeles Times, Bill Plaschke enumerated all the good things Ned Colletti did before ownership elbowed him aside last winter. Thursday in The New York Times, Michael Powell enumerated all the good things Omar Minaya did before ownership fired him five years ago.
And these enumerations are impressive!
Just a sampling:
Let’s take a stroll around the current Mets infield. That big power-hitting lug Lucas Duda at first base? He was a Minaya-era draft pick, as was second baseman Daniel Murphy, whose hands are iron-coated but whose bat is gold-plated. Shortstop Ruben Tejada, completing a smart comeback year, was a find from Panama.
Now we arrive at the golden heart of the matter: pitching. Starters Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Jon Niese were Minaya draft picks. In the bullpen, there is Familia and his heavy fastball and heavier sinker, along with Robles and Bobby Parnell.
And another sampling:
In Colletti’s first trade, the Dodgers acquired Andre Ethier. With the first pick of his first draft, the Dodgers selected Clayton Kershaw.
One of the biggest trades in his tenure brought Adrian Gonzalez. The biggest free-agent signing during his time was Zack Greinke.
Under Colletti, the Dodgers’ front office folks did the little things that became big things. They signed Justin Turner when he was a mediocre utility guy. They promoted A.J. Ellis to become the full-time catcher even though he was already 29. They smartly snatched reliever J.P. Howell out of Tampa.
Under Colletti, the Dodgers’ front office also did little things that became enormous things, like converting Kenley Jansen from catcher to reliever.
It’s fair to suggest, I think, that if Colletti had been a significantly worse general manager, the Dodgers wouldn’t be where they are. I think it’s fair to suggest that if Minaya had been a significantly worse general manager, the Mets wouldn’t be where they are.
But these lists can get you only so far. Every general manager except the very worst — or rather, the most unsuccessful — can point to many moves that worked out well. But every general manager’s critics can point to many that didn’t work well, at all. Baseball’s just too hard to consistently beat, so — all things being equal — a good GM bats maybe .520 or something, and then maybe a lotta luck and a little money gets you the rest of the way.
This year the Mets have been lucky and the Dodgers … well, you know about the Dodgers’ money. What they’re doing is essentially unprecedented, and must be considered whenever we’re evaluating their front office, past or present.
What we can safely say about Colletti and Minaya, though, is that both are pretty good baseball men. As the saying goes.