McCourt: Colletti and Little will return in ’08

first_imgAlso, the club failed to re-sign free agent pitcher Greg Maddux, who went on to have a productive season for playoff-bound San Diego. Colletti committed five years and $44 million to weak-armed center fielder Juan Pierre, who was never embraced by fans despite the fact he batted .293, stole 64 bases and has an engaging personality. Colletti also was criticized for not acquiring a middle-of-the-order bat at the trading deadline, despite the fact the only such player available, Texas first baseman Mark Teixeira, would have cost the Dodgers several of their prized young players. Little, meanwhile, was skewered, not only for a handful of questionable in-game strategic decisions late in the season but also because of the perception he waited too long to address the clubhouse acrimony that developed between the club’s young players and its veterans. McCourt had no such criticisms of either Colletti or Little, and said he plans to meet with both of them, as well as other personnel, sometime soon. “We will share our thoughts as an organization in the weeks to come, and we will reflect on what went right and what went wrong,” McCourt said. “We’re going to address those things and find ways to be better at them. … I wouldn’t be surprised if there are changes. I will be listening very, very carefully to their thoughts.” The Dodgers probably will make at least a couple of coaching changes. Hitting coach Bill Mueller is expected to move back to the front office. But when asked over the weekend whether he anticipated such changes, Little said simply, “We’ll see.” McCourt also said he plans to spend $70 million to $80 million on this winter’s phase of ballpark renovation, which he said will result in a ticket-price increase only in the areas he plans to upgrade. He said he intends to keep about 10,000 of the stadium’s lower-priced seats affordable to “any fan who wants to … be part of the Dodgers experience.” Although McCourt wouldn’t say he plans to slash payroll, the fact the Dodgers’ roster figures to get younger means it might decrease on its own. McCourt spoke repeatedly of the need to stick to the plan the organization has had in place since Colletti was hired almost two years ago, a sentiment Colletti clearly shares. The club has been slowly integrating its stockpile of young players into the major leagues over the past couple of seasons and figures to keep doing so. To that end, Colletti, who met with reporters just before McCourt did, seemed to suggest that any veteran player who feels disrespected by being forced to compete for playing time with those young players doesn’t have much of a case for righteous indignation. Although Colletti didn’t name a specific player, he probably was referring to veteran left fielder Luis Gonzalez, who turned 40 a month ago, whose skills clearly are fading and who was signed to a one-year, $7.35million contract last winter based partly on his reputation as a clubhouse leader. Gonzalez’s demeanor shifted dramatically after he was relegated to a part-time role by the continued emergence of young outfielders Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, and club officials don’t plan to try to re-sign him. “A player can get aggravated, or provoked to aggravation, by having his individual role on the club or his lot in life on the club altered by the arrival of another player or two,” Colletti said. “But that’s baseball.” The loss to the Giants left the Dodgers with an 82-80 mark, giving them seven winning seasons in eight years during this decade. But Little said the club shouldn’t take any solace in the fact it compiled two more wins than losses. “If you’re not going to the playoffs, you lost, and we all realize that,” he said. “People talk about being proud of the fact you’re above .500 for the year, but we’re not going to the postseason, so in my heart, we lost.” [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! BASEBALL: But Dodgers owner says he’s disappointed with the failures in 2007. By Tony Jackson STAFF WRITER Although it already seemed apparent, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt made it official Sunday: General Manager Ned Colletti and Manager Grady Little will return in 2008. But as he addressed the media shortly before Sunday’s season finale, an 11-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants in front of 49,211 at Dodger Stadium, McCourt made it clear he wasn’t happy with the club’s failure to meet expectations. “I think the first feeling I have is one of disappointment,” McCourt said. “I feel that we could have done better, I feel that we should have done better, and I also feel that we need to do better.” McCourt seemed to absolve Colletti and Little of most of the blame for the season, but he also echoed their sentiments that everyone in the organization shares responsibility. “I think (Colletti) has done a good job,” McCourt said. “I don’t think this is about individuals. What we need to build, and are building, is an organization that stands for something. I know Ned embraces those values, and we are going to be successful.” Colletti came under fire from fans and the media this season because the club signed two free agent pitchers in Jason Schmidt and Randy Wolf for a combined $55 million. Both missed at least half the season. last_img

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