A common excuse for Ned Colletti defenders (here, in the comments) is to blame his recent lack of success on the current financial situation of the Los Angeles Dodgers brought upon by the nightmare ownership of Frank McCourt.
Generally speaking though, the lack of money hasn’t been the problem. Hell, it’s almost the opposite, as Colletti’s worst years as a GM were when the Dodgers had the most payroll flexibility due to an epic run of contributing prospects from the farm system.
#3) Los Angeles Dodgers — 95.5 WAR (3.98 WAR/player)
The recent legal troubles for the organization have sullied what was a solid run from 2006-2009. The latter portion of that stretch was driven by homegrown talent in every portion of the roster. Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw headlined the rotation; Matt Kemp — and to a lesser extent Russell Martin and James Loney — provided value in the batting order; and Jonathan Broxton locked down the closer’s role. The Dodgers reached two consecutive Game 5’s in the NLCS in 2008 and 2009. The organization hopes that more recent draftees Dee Gordon, Zach Lee, and Nate Eovaldi can complement Kemp and Kershaw over the next three or four years and help the organization to a postseason berth yet again.
The study dates back to 2002, but the bulk of the value was contributed in the stretch after Colletti took over as GM, and given that payroll flexibility, he did nothing but sign big ticket disaster after big ticket disaster.
The fact of the matter is that as his freedom to sign large contracts evaporated, so did his tendency to bury the Dodgers under the dead weight of horrible deals. Don’t get me wrong, he still finds ways to make puzzling moves, like giving three years to Juan Uribe, but those errors are no longer soul crushing like the Jason Schmidt contract. While having money is a luxury, the underlying problem was always the decision making process and how to distribute the payroll intelligently, not the raw amount of payroll itself.
Would the team have won a World Series or done any better with a different process? I don’t know, the playoffs are too much of a crapshoot to say.
What I do know is that the Dodgers squandered a ton of payroll flexibility on a lot of dead weight during the peak years of the team, and that’s not the fault of the owner, commissioner, or fans.
There’s nobody to blame for that mess other than Ned Colletti himself.