Monday, October 31, 2005

Paul DePodesta Fired by Dodgers

Paul DePodesta was fired as GM by the Dodgers or more specifically by Frank "Lasorda's Ashes" McCourt. Some people have painted DePodesta as a one-dimensional embodiment of "Moneyball" but that's an argument for another day. Today I just wanted to take a look at DePodesta's moves as Dodger GM to see if he did a good or bad job.

Move: Re-signed Brad Penny back in June to a 3-year $25 million contract with a team option for a fourth year. Penny is just 27 and compared to what Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano got last year and what AJ Burnett will get this year - he may be considered a steal by the time his contract is up. I'd say this was a good deal.

Move: Trade catcher Dave Ross to Pirates for cash. Money motivated move. Personally I like Ross but the Dodgers had better options at catcher. I'm neutral on this move.

Move: Trade Kaz Ishii to Mets for catcher Jason Phillips. Ishii went 3-9 with a 4.19 ERA while Phillips and Dioner Navarro give the Dodgers a pretty solid and young catching duo. I'd say this was a good move (especially when you consider that the Dodgers saved money in the deal).

Move: Sign Milton Bradley in January to a one year deal for $2.5 million plus incentives. Peter Gammons may say that Bradley is one of his "special" players but I say he's a headcase. Good move to just make this a one-year deal. I'm really hoping that if Johnny Damon leaves Boston that Theo Epstein has nothing to do with Bradley (speaking of Epstein - do you think Boston native McCourt has the hots for young Theo?). Good move given the circumstances (plus remember that DePodesta traded for Bradley in the first place giving up just one prospect in the deal).

Move: Sign the team's most popular player and arguably the best closer in the game - Eric Gagne - to a 2-year $18 million deal with a $12 million option for 2007. No brainer good move.

Move: Sign JD Drew to 5-year $55 million contract. Different people have different opinions on this deal. When healthy Drew is capable of MVP type numbers but that's the big "if". Drew played only 72 games this year but still managed 15 HR and a .931 OPS. Adrian Beltre got an even bigger contract than Drew's from the Mariners but he only hit 19 HR in 156 games (.716 OPS). DePodesta let Beltre walk and signed Drew instead. It's as if the Dodgers needed a big name signing in order to make up for not signing Beltre. McCourt had to sign off on this deal - so I can't see how you can hold it against DePodesta. Neutral - too early in the deal to tell.

Move: Sign Derek Lowe to a 4-year $36 million contract. Ahh- Derek Lowe - the rich man's Don Aase. This year he pitched 222-innings and had a 3.61 ERA. He led the NL in starts with 35 and was second in shutouts with 4. Lowe got off to a rough start but in the second half he had a 3.17 ERA in 102 IP. Strangely Lowe had a much better road ERA 3.74 than home ERA 3.48 (and Chavez Ravine is one of the best home parks for a sinkerball pitcher). Lowe's well documented extra-marital affair may have harmed his image but overall I think he'll end up being a good deal for the Dodgers (and yes I agree that they overpaid him). Neutral to good move by DePodesta.

Move: Traded Shawn Green to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Dioner Navarro, Beltran Perez (minors), Danny Muegge (minors), and William Juarez (minors). Make no mistake - Shawn Green making $12.5 million this year and having another $19.5 million due over the next couple of years was just as an important component to this deal as getting the highly rated Navarro. Green was a crowd favorite but honestly is 22 HR and 73 RBI really worth $12.5 million? I say this was a good move fiscally, and in terms of restocking the minors with talent.

Move: Sign Jeff Kent to 2-year $17 million deal. Kent hit 29 HR and drove in 105 while still scoring 100 times. Team chemistry-wise Kent is a cancer but you can't argue with his production. If Kent was still in the Astros' lineup I think Houston is celebrating a World Series win right about now. I say this was a good move by DePodesta.

Move: Sign Elmer Dressens to one-year $1.5 million contract with team option. Good move for the bullpen. It should be remembered that DePodesta traded for Dressens and gave up nothing in the process.

Move: Trade flotsam and jetsam to the Diamondbacks in July of 2004 for Gold Glove outfielder Steve Finley and catcher Brent Mayne. Finley was an important part in the Dodgers making the playoffs for the first time in years. Very good move. Even better move - not re-signing the 40-year old Finley in the off-season.

Move: Trade Paul Lo Duca, Juan Encarnacion and Guillermo Mota to Marlins for Brad Penny and Hee Seop Choi at the trade-deadline. Lo Duca was heading towards a big payday if he stayed in LA. Instead he got dealt and the Dodgers avoided paying a 32-year old (at the time) catcher the kind of money he eventually got from the Marlins (3-years $18 million). Consider that Lo Duca hit just 6 HR and had just a .717 OPS this year (Jason Phillips had 10 HR for the Dodgers this year but cost the Dodgers only $339,000). Penny is signed to a long-term deal and Mota has basically been awful for the Marlins. I'll argue that this was a good move - no a very good move by DePodesta.

Move: Traded Worcester's Tanyon Sturtze to the Yankees for a PTBNL. Bad move. Bad move.

So if you look at the moves DePodesta made - with the exception of the Sturtze trade all the moves are easily justified. Not only that but as the steward of the pursestrings for the notoriously cheap McCourt the moves were also fiscally responsible. I would even say the JD Drew signing is justified when you consider that Drew replaced Green who would have cost the Dodgers $40 million over 4-years.

DePodesta's Dodgers made the playoffs in his first year and I think the team is poised to be very good in the next few years. The Dodgers only have 8 big contracts on the books for next year (Alverez, Drew, Gagne, Izturis, Kent, Lowe, Penny, and Odalis Perez). Those players plus the young arbitration eligible players make up a pretty good core for the next GM. Factor in that Darren Dreifort's albatross of a contract is now off the books and the next Dodger's GM will find that DePodesta left LA in very good shape.

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