Great news for the rest of the NL: Dodgers keep Ned Colletti around

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Sure, these new Dodgers may have as much buying power as any three other National League teams combined, but at least fans of other clubs can take heart that Ned Colletti will remain the one doing the spending after inking a mulityear contract extension on Saturday.

Colletti’s Dodgers have the NL’s third-best record since he took over the team in 2006, trailing the Phillies and Cardinals, but they’ve been soundly beaten both times they’ve advanced to the NLCS. They’ve had one 90-win season, that partly fueled by a strong Manny Ramirez campaign in between drug suspensions.

Ignoring the huge 2012 moves for a minute, the Ramirez acquisition is the second biggest the highlight of Colletti’s first six years at the helm. After giving up just Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris, the Dodgers got 223 games of a 1.012 OPS from Ramirez. They also got the baggage that came with it, and by the time mid-2010 rolled around, they were happy to see him gone.

The biggest highlight was Colletti’s first significant move in the offseason prior to 2006; Colletti landed Andre Ethier in exchange for Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez in a deal with the A’s. The Hiroki Kuroda signing from Japan is also right up there.

The worst moves:

1/14/2006: Traded Edwin Jackson and Chuck Tiffany to Tampa Bay for Danys Baez and Lance Carter

4/24/2006: Traded Cody Ross to Cincinnati for Ben Kozlowski

11/22/2006: Signed Juan Pierre to a five-year, $44 million contract

12/6/2006: Signed Jason Schmidt to a three-year, $47 million contract

12/6/2007: Signed Andruw Jones to a two-year, $36.2 million contract

7/26/2008: Traded Carlos Santana and Jon Meloan to Cleveland for Casey Blake

7/31/2010: Traded James McDonald and Andrew Lambo to Pittsburgh for Octavio Dotel

11/29/2010: Signed Juan Uribe to a three-year, $21 million contract

I suppose the good news there is that most of Colletti’s worst moves came early. However, it likely had something to do with the fact that Frank McCourt’s financial troubles left him with less flexibility in recent offseasons.

Ned hasn’t been all bad, but he has his old boss Brian Sabean’s fondness for veterans without Sabean’s genius in drafting pitchers (though he did get Clayton Kershaw in 2006). I think the Dodgers could do better, but now that they’ve shaped their team for years to come with the additions of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Hanley Ramirez, perhaps the GM job there isn’t attractive as it would have seemed to be a couple of months ago.

Anyway, they’ve made their choice. But after such a huge outlay to upgrade the team, the organization will expect better on-field results next year. Even with an extension, Colletti’s contract is merely a drop in the bucket, and it shouldn’t buy him that much job security.

In  the meantime, fellow NL contenders should feel a bit better about things. Colletti can and will outspend everyone else and the Dodgers seem likely to remain contenders for years, but he’s probably not the guy to assemble any sort of juggernaut or dynasty.

The Phillies plan to spend money and “maybe even be a little bit stupid about it”

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In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.

“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.

“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.

Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.

How novel.