17 August 2007

A Matter of Principle

by Joshua Worley

I have to say, in opening, that what follows may be a bit of a reach, but this interpretation of events makes the most sense to me.

I've been trying to figure out why the Dodgers wouldn't sign Kyle Blair for 1.1 million dollars. My best guess is that it became a matter of principle for Ned Colletti.

When Colletti does something that appears to most neutral observers to be against the interests of the team, it's either because he doesn't understand how to value certain players, or because he's turned a decision into a matter of principle, divorced from baseball reasoning.

Colletti wanted J.D. Drew back for this year. When Drew opted out of his contract, Colletti was understandable upset, especially since Drew has said earlier that he wouldn't opt out. But instead of swallowing his pride and negotiating with a player he wanted back, Colletti just burned his bridges. I'm not saying he should have tried to resign Drew for 70 million over 5 years. Obviously that deal is looking rather bad for the Red Sox right now. But to me it makes no sense to do what Colletti did, which is to want a player back but make no effort at all to retain him out of some sense of principle.

Then Colletti failed to sign Luke Hochevar. It can't have been about money, because the price of a talent like Hochevar relative to a mediocrity like Tomko made Hochevar a bargain. It had to be about some principle regard what was proper to pay a draft pick. Hochevar's agent switching and brief acceptance of one offer must have also offended Ned's principles. And I don't blame him for being offended. But in the end you need to push that aside and do what's best for the team.

Apparently Colletti considers 1.1 million to be too much for a fifth round draft pick as a matter of principle. Because it's clear a talent such as Blair is worth 1 million dollars, when you look at the high cost of even league average pitching these days. Colletti must have realized the value of a player like Blair, because he did authorize the drafting of him. Did Colletti honestly think the Dodgers couldn't afford 1 million dollars to help their minor league pitching depth? It had to be a decision based on what he felt was right, not what made sense from a baseball perspective.

I wish we had a less principled general manager. Or maybe, one whose principles didn't all seem to revolve around his sense of personal honor. When you're a GM, it's about the team, not you.

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