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.

Neal Huntington thinks players should be allowed to re-enter games after concussion testing

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Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has suffered many concussions throughout his 12-year career, was hit on the back of the helmet on a Joc Pederson backswing Saturday against the Dodgers. Through Cervelli remained in the game initially, he took himself out of the game shortly thereafter and went on the seven-day concussion injured list on Sunday.

Perhaps inspired by Saturday’s event, Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggested that players should be allowed to re-enter games once they have passed concussion tests, the Associated Press reports. Huntington said, “Any player that had an obvious concussion risk incident should be allowed to be removed from the game, taken off the field, taken into the locker room, assessed by a doctor, assessed by a trainer, go through an extended period of time and then re-enter the game. Because right now, all of this has to happen on the field.”

Huntington added, “The player has to feel pressure as he’s standing there with 30,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 eyes on him. He has to feel pressure to make a decision whether (he’s) in or (he’s) out of this game. He knows if he takes himself out and he’s the catcher, there’s only one other catcher, and the game becomes a fiasco if that other catcher gets hurt.”

Huntington, who has been forward-thinking on a number of other issues, has it wrong here. The concussion protocols were created because players frequently hid or under-reported their injuries in order to remain in the game. Especially for younger or otherwise less-proven players, there is pressure to have to constantly perform in order to keep one’s job. Furthermore, there is an overarching sentiment across sports that taking time off due to injury makes one weak. Similarly, playing while injured is seen as tough and masculine. Creating protocols that take the decision-making out of players’ hands keeps them from making decisions that aren’t in their own best interests. Removing them would bring back that pressure for players to hide or minimize their ailments. If anything, MLB’s concussion protocols should become more stringent, not more relaxed.

The powers that be with Major League Baseball have no doubt followed the concussion scandal surrounding the National Football League. In January, the NFL settled for over $1 billion with retired players dealing with traumatic brain injuries, including dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. For years, the league refused to acknowledge the link between playing football and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia and has many negative effects, such as increasing the risk of suicide. Since baseball isn’t often a contact sport, MLB doesn’t have to worry about brain injuries to this degree, but it still needs to take preventative measures in order to avoid billion-dollar lawsuits as well as avoiding P.R. damage. In December 2012, former major league outfielder Ryan Freel committed suicide. Freel, who claimed to have suffered as many as 10 concussions, suffered from CTE. MLB players can suffer brain injuries just like football players.

Huntington seems to be worried about not having enough rostered catchers in the event one or two catchers get injured. That is really an issue of roster management. Carrying only two catchers on the roster is a calculated risk, often justified. Huntington can ensure his team never has to be put in the position of not having a catcher in an emergency by rostering a third catcher. Rosters are expanding to 26 players next year, by the way.