Seeing the title of this blog post and knowing I am a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, one would naturally assume I am about to inviscerate Bucs general manager Neal Huntington. After 115 games, the team is thirty-seven games under .500. If they lose their next two they will have twice as many losses as wins. It almost goes without saying they have the worst record in all of major league baseball. Of course Neal Huntington is today's pinata, right?
Nope. I actually think Huntington is on the right track. He was given a Herculean task when he took over the team three years ago, and while his work has borne no fruit at the major league level, I like his plan. The Pirates are still a couple years away from contending for a playoff spot, but there is a newfound hope. I'm a Neal Huntington fan.
No, today's whipping boy is Ned Colletti, general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers are in the news most recently because of manager Joe Torre's decision to remove Jonathan Broxton from the closer's role. Torre's logic appears sound. Since July 9, Broxton has given up 10 runs in 10 innings and opposing batters have a .954 OPS in that span. In his place, up steps Taiwanese left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo. Kuo has been Rivera-like this season. He has a WHIP of 0.825, an ERA of 0.90 and a K/9 rate of 11.0 in 40 innings. While better, this season's numbers aren't far off Kuo's career numbers.
Kuo has a history of elbow problems so he won't often be used in back-to-back games. It is reported that relievers Kenley Jansen and Octavio Dotel will be called on to fill the closer's role in such situations. Jansen has pitched 7.1 career innings in the majors and struck out 11. He's yet to give up a run since coming up in mid-July. Dotel has pitched 3.1 meaningless innings since being acquired from the Pirates
How does Ned Colletti keep his job? I'm not here to tell you what a great trade Neal Huntington made in getting James McDonald and Andrew Lambo from the Dodgers in exchange for Dotel--but he did make a great trade. I'm asking how a general nanager can possibly give up TWO useful pieces for a guy who is slotted to be the third or fourth most-useful pitcher in his bullpen when his team is battling for third place in its division, seven or eight games out of first, and a similar long-shot for the wild card?
Seriously. Ned Colletti gave up a 25 year-old starting pitcher with a history of minor league success and a 21 year-old outfielder holding his own in AA for a 36 year-old reliever they might control next year if they mutually agree to exercise a $4.5 million option. McDonald already has more swing-and-miss potential than any Pirates starter above AA and Lambo has gotten off to a great start in Altoona.
This trade will go down as the best trade Neal Huntington's ever made if these two young players even approach their respective ceilings. It should go down as the worst trade Ned Colletti's ever made regardless of how they pan out.
Adding this move to a litany of others, again I ask, how does Ned Colletti keep his job?