Main Entry: de·po·si·tion
Pronunciation: "de-p&-'zi-sh&n, "dE-p&-
Function: noun 1 : an act of removing from a position of authority 2 a : a testifying especially before a court b : DECLARATION; specifically : testimony taken down in writing under oath
Sheez, I guess it was a slow news day or something yesterday. I'm glad they didn't close down the Senate or anything.
I mention in passing (parenthetically even) that Paul DePodesta deserved getting canned in LA amid an homage to Star Wars, Fung Fu, Alfred Hitchcock, and a novel with a murder by blood pudding, all in the form of a screed promulgating the apparently waning world of sabermetrics.
And then people actually expect me to stand behind my statements!?! Appalling!
OK, now how do I defend my slapdash comments? Hmm
I guess first I should say that I took it as a given that DePodesta has been doing an atrocious job in the LA GM seat. To continue with my Star Wars imagery, DePo has been the Annakin Skywalker of the sabermetric world. Raised at the teat of sabermetric poster boy and Obi-Wan analogue Billy Beane, DePo was given his shot to manage, generally speaking, the Dodgers by parking lot mogul Frank McCourt, right before pitchers and catchers reported to spring training 2004.
He replaced Dan Evans, who had a year left on a three-year contract when he was let go. That's one criticism that I've heard over my DePodesta comments, that he was only given two years to turn the team around. Well, I don't remember too many people bemoaning the plight of Evans when he was shown the door after just two seasons even though he was burdened by the bloated excesses of the Kevin Malone era for most of his tenure. (They also cited Jim Duquette on the three-year minimum for a GM, the same man who was given just 15 months at the Mets helmsour grapes much, Jim?)
Sabemetricians rejoiced when DePo got his chanceEvans be damned.
Maybe two seasons is too quick especially when one's team has new ownership and one is trying to overhaul the roster, but hey, it happens. Especially when one's team was as bad as the Dodgers were in a division that was both atrocious and wide open.
During the entire 2005 season the only roster turnover I could find was that Scotty Erickson was released (surprise!) midseason and that Jose Cruz Jr. was picked up from Boston, where he had a four-game layover, with two months left in the season.
Yes, the Dodgers had major injuries throughout the season. Almost everyone in their lineup and their rotation, not to mention they star closer, spent time on the DL. And yes, that hamstrung DePodesta to some degree, but injuries were just a symptom, not the sole cause of the Dogders' demise.
Looking back at DePo's tenure, he sought to overhaul the time in each of his two seasons; however, via divergent means.
In 2004, he made three big trades, one to pick up Milton Bradley at the start of the season, the Lo Duca/Mota/Encarnacion for Choi/Penny deal at the trade deadline, and the Steve Finley-for-prospects deal also at the deadline.
In 2005, his methodology changed to pursue free agents. Maybe this was his preferred method, but he couldn't enlist it 2004 probably because he took over the club so later in the offseason. Anyway, he signed Jeff Kent, Derek Lowe, J.D. Drew, Jose Valentin, and Odalis Perez, and Japanese vet Norihiro Nakamura as free agents. Well, I liedhe also had two big trades, first dumping Shawn Green for prospects and then getting Jason Phillips for Kaz Ishii.
I have culled the DePo-era, large-impact Dodgers transactions from Baseball Reference and the Dodgers site and list them below.
It seemed that DePodesta was on the clock starting from the time he traded the popular though extremely overrated Lo Duca. He got panned by many for the move. I liked the gamble though it was an incomplete overhaul. Here's what I said at the time and I stand by it now:
The Dodgers moves can be viewed as daring to unwise depending on your point of view. Stark picked them as the biggest losers of the trading season, which is as good as omen as you can probably get. The did make changes at basically five positions, including the entire outfield. Finley takes over in center, an upgrade. Bradley replaces the useless Encarnacion in right, a major upgrade. Young Werth had already replaced Dave Roberts, whom they traded at the deadline, potentially a very big upgrade. Choi is a curious pickup given that struggling incumbent Shawn Green is also left-handed and has one year left on his huge contract. Green may move back to right field and Bradley to left with Werth spot starting. And LoDuca was at worst serviceable and his replacement, Dave Ross, is largely untried although newly acquired Brent Mayne mitigates the risk. They also failed to pull off a deal to bring Charles Johnson to LA. Losing Mota and Martin may be risky as well, but the Dodgers probably felt (rightly) that they had the depth and that adding Penny outweighs the minuses (though Dreifort's efforts in the first post-Mota game won't help instill confidence).
Overall, I think the Dodgers were attempting to pull off a Beane-like redesign of the team for the postseason and for the future. I view it as a success on both counts, especially the future. Now, they'll have to play 'em to see if that assessment holds true.
The Dodgers did make the playoffs so that would seem like a win (though their winning percentage dropped 50 points after the trade). Some will say that these moves helped precipitate their quick exit in the division series, losing 3-1 to soon-to-be NL champ St. Louis.
Some will also point to the acquisition of clubhouse cancer Bradley as a big mistake. He has disappointed to a certain degree after his great 2003 season in Cleveland, but a) he still is 27 and b) hasn't been bad.
I think that DePo tried to make some smart, creative changes via the trade in 2004. It wasn't until the offseason that he turned to the dark side.
Depodesta went from the small-marketedly-minded A's to the huge-marketed Dodgers. I think he said that he had two or three times the resourcesnot just money, but general wherewithalonce he took the new post. I think he then went a bit nutty, like a kid in a candy store. He saw all the nice baubles and couldn't contain himself.
Jeff Kent for 2 year @ $17 M at 36 years old? Sure!
Derek Lowe for four years and $36 M after posting a 5.42 ERA in 2004? Why not?
J.D. Drew had a tremendous year in 2004who cares if it was his only healthy, effective season in six tries? I say five years and $55 M.
Who needs Adrian Beltre signed to a big contract? I'll take Jose Valentin for one year at $3.5 M. I don't care that he is 35 and he played short in 2004 .and that his park-adjusted OPS has been declining steadily since 2001 and it was below average last year (2004). [Though I do have to agree that Beltre's 2004 seemed like a good bet for a career year/free agent bust candidate. Why not go after a steady Joe Randa type though?]
We'll sign unproven Japanese third baseman Norihiro Nakamura (who'll own a -6 adjusted OPS in a brief and disastrous stint) for good measure. I couldn't find what they paid Nakamuram but I know the Mets almost landed him for two years at $7 M. The Dodgers at least made it a one-year, minor-league contract.
Odalis Perez has had some good seasons in LA. OK, we'll reward you with $24 M over three years. Anybody else?
DePodesta loaded up on high-price, aging vets. Guess what? They tend to get injured and have diminishing returns. He also went after guys who walked infrequently and had bloated triple-crown stats.
I know he's a popular dude in the sabermetric world, but I defy anyone to demonstrate how the moves he made especially in 2005 were sabermetrically minded or even sound.
I know that I criticized Billy Beane's moves in 2005 as sabermetrically unsound if the A's want to compete in the short term. I was wrong there and have admitted it. However, I can't see how the Dodgers moves make or sense in the short or long term.
OK, I hope that explains it.
Paul DePodesta's major moves as Dodger GM:
March 29, 2004
Traded Jason Frasor to the Toronto Blue Jays. Received Jayson Werth.
April 3, 2004
Traded a player to be named later and Franklin Gutierrez to the Cleveland Indians. Received Milton Bradley. The Los Angeles Dodgers sent Andrew Brown (minors) (May 19, 2004) to the Cleveland Indians to complete the trade.
Traded Jolbert Cabrera to the Seattle Mariners. Received Aaron Looper and Ryan Ketchner (minors).
July 30, 2004
Traded Paul Lo Duca, Guillermo Mota, and Juan Encarnacion to the Florida Marlins. Received Hee Seop Choi, Brad Penny, and Bill Murphy (minors).
July 31, 2004
Traded Koyie Hill, Bill Murphy (minors), and Reggie Abercrombie (minors) to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Received Steve Finley and Brent Mayne.
Traded Tom Martin to the Atlanta Braves. Received Matt Merricks (minors).
Traded Dave Roberts to the Boston Red Sox. Received Henri Stanley (minors).
November 5, 2004
Signed Mike Edwards as a free agent.
December 15, 2004
Signed INF Jeff Kent to a two-year contract.
December 21, 2004
Signed INF Jose Valentin to a one-year contract and re-signed LHP Wilson Alvarez to a two-year contract.
Alex Cora granted Free Agency.
December 23, 2004
Signed OF J.D. Drew to a five-year contract.
January 3, 2005
Signed Paul Bako as a free agent.
January 7, 2005
Signed LHP Odalis Perez to a three-year contract with a club option for a fourth year.
January 11, 2005
Traded Shawn Green to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Received Dioner Navarro, Beltran Perez (minors), Danny Muegge (minors), and William Juarez (minors).
Signed RHP Derek Lowe to a four-year contract..
February 3, 2005 Agreed to terms with Japanese 3B Norihiro Nakamura on a one-year minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
March 20, 2005 Acquired C Jason Phillips from the New York Mets in exchange for LHP Kazuhisa Ishii.
April 3, 2005 Purchased the contracts of RHP Scott Erickson and LHP Kelly Wunsch from Triple-A Las Vegas
July 29, 2005 Designated RHP Scott Erickson for assignment.
August 9, 2005 Acquired OF Jose Cruz Jr. from the Red Sox for a player to be named later.