The 10 Worst Ned Colletti Signings
Except for maybe one offseason when Frank McCourt was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, Dodger GM Ned Colletti has been like a kid with dad’s credit card—wildly spending with little or no repercussions.
As the team is on the verge of offering Clayton Kershaw a contract in the $200-million range, and after Colletti received a contract extension in the offseason and Don Mattingly did not, it’s time to go back and look at some of the worst deals Colletti has handed out.
While he has swung some good trades in his time—Andre Ethier for Milton Bradley, getting Manny Ramirez for nearly nothing, landing All-Stars Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez—Colletti has foolishly spent gobs and gobs of money since he took over the Dodgers general manager duties in 2005.
Here are the 10 worst contracts he’s doled out:
10. Nomar Garciaparra
10. Nomar Garciaparra – 2 years, $18.5 million
It’s not that Nomar didn’t warrant a two-year deal after being named Comeback Player of the Year in 2006 when he hit over .300 for the first time in two years and had double-digit homers for the first time in six years.
It was his age (33), his declining stats prior to that season, his penchant for getting injured and the fact that he couldn’t play shortstop anymore (he became a powerless first baseman) that made the deal look worse as it dragged on. Garciaparra played in just 55 games in the final year of the deal.
9. Brett Tomko
9. Brett Tomko – 2 years, $8.7 million
It really wasn’t the money or the length of the deal, it was the idea of giving a subpar pitcher the comfort of the money and time where he might not have to work on a year-to-year basis.
Tomko had talent but really never put it all together. That’s why he bounced around so much in his career—everyone thought they could fix him.
Nicknamed “Bombko” for his propensity to give up homers, he had a 4.73 ERA in his first year of the deal, and then got designated for assignment after a 2-11 record and 5.80 ERA in 33 games.
Way to add to the staff, Colletti.
8. Jonathan Broxton
8. Jonathan Broxton – 2 years, $11 million
This wouldn’t be the last time that Colletti threw too much money at a closer when baseball has clearly shown over the years that handing out mega-deals to closers rarely, if ever, works out (see: Heath Bell, Jonathan Papelbon, Francisco Rodriguez).
Broxton saved a total of 29 games in the span of the contract and had a 5.68 ERA in the final year of the deal. Oh, by the way, he got torched by the Phillies in consecutive NLCS—both pivotal Game 4s—when Matt Stairs changed the 2008 series with his home run and Jimmy Rollins changed the 2009 series with his walk-off hit.
7. Zack Greinke
7. Zack Greinke – 6 years, $147 million
Colletti screwed everyone in baseball—especially his own team—when he made Greinke the highest-paid right-hander in baseball at the time of this signing.
Grienke had one great year (winning the Cy Young in 2009) and has been an above-average pitcher over the years, but not dominant, while his withdrawn personality likely prevents him from being that bona fide true staff ace.
Baseball-reference.com lists his top two similar pitchers as James Shields and Ben Sheets, who combined aren’t worth $147 million combined. That set the standard for deals that Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez and Matt Cain got at $180 million, $175 million and $127 million, respectively.
Clayton Kershaw’s agents immediately licked their lips and said “Thanks, Ned.”
6. Juan Pierre
6. Juan Pierre – 5 years, $44 million
Pierre was lauded as the ultimate team player and filled in admirably when Manny Ramirez was hit with his 50-game PED suspension.
But $44 million for a singles hitter? Wow.
In his time with the Dodgers, Pierre posted a .696 OPS and was a platoon guy and a corner outfielder.
5. Andre Ethier
5. Andre Ethier – 5 years, $85 million
Ethier has been a clutch hitter, a cornerstone outfielder and—until Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez came aboard—a middle-of-the-order hitter.However, by the time he inked the extension that will pay him $17.5 million in 2017 (the last year of the deal) he has regressed into a platoon outfielder.
His splits over his career are horrendous (.653 OPS against lefties vs. a .908 OPS against righties) and prove that he’s nearly an automatic out against left-handers.
In fact, Ethier was benched on Wednesday—against a righty, no less—and this is what Don Mattingly had to say, clearly questioning Ethier’s fight:
“It’s not just all, ‘Let’s go put an All-Star team out there and play games and the team with the All-Star team wins.’ It’s trying to find that balance of a team that’s got a little grit and a little fight. They’ll fight you and has enough talent to get there also, with that. All grit and no talent is not going to get you there and all talent and no grit is not going to get you there. There’s got to be a mixture of both.”
4. Brandon League
4. Brandon League – 3 years, $22.5 million
This wannabe-hipster reliever had one good month and was rewarded with a ridiculous three-year contract despite the Dodgers having Kenley Jansen ready to go and bringing in Kevin Gregg in spring training (0.00 ERA, now dropping zeroes with the Cubs).
League has never been more than a middle-innings pitcher because he gets lit up far too often to be trusted late in games (only three seasons in his decade-long career with an ERA under 3.00).
Everyone talks about how good his stuff is, but you know who also had a good arm? Jeff George. Yeah, how’d his quarterback career end up?
3. Juan Uribe
3. Juan Uribe – 3 years, $21 million
Remember Larry Brown, the NFL cornerback? He was named Super Bowl MVP when Neil O’Donnell threw two balls right to him in a Cowboys win. The Raiders, trying to ride this momentum, signed Brown to a big deal, and Brown went back to being a below-average player.
Same thing here with Uribe. He had one good year with the Giants in 2010 (24 home runs but just a .248 batting average), got hot in October (actually not true despite what you may think) and then got rich in the winter.
He’s hit barely better than .200 in his three combined seasons in L.A.
2. Andruw Jones
2. Andruw Jones – 2 years, $36,2 million
This was classic Colletti.
Throw heaps of money at a player who has clearly relapsed because at one time he was an All-Star.
Jones never hit his weight, which would have been good because then he would have been a .280 hitter.
His best contribution came when he told a group of reporters — although nobody printed it — that he could lose five pounds by taking a dump, leading to a press box conversation of how much the average deuce weighs (the consensus was one pound).
Jones was released with $15 million still on his deal.
1. Jason Schmidt
1. Jason Schmidt – 3 years, $47 million
Colletti came from the Giants' organization. He saw first-hand that Schmidt had lost something on his fastball and had previous arm trouble.
So he should have been the 31st team out of 30 vying for Schmidt to come to his new team.
Instead, he ended up paying this guy $4.7 million per start as the righty was rarely healthy. When he did pitch, he was dreadful, posting a 6.02 ERA in his 10 starts for the Dodgers.
Not only is Schmidt one of the Dodgers’ worst signings ever, he has the distinction of being one of Major League Baseball’s all-time worst free-agent signings.
Total spending on this list: $440.9 million
Former Giants on this list (where Colletti came from): 3
Total playoff appearances by players in these contracts: 2
Total All-Star Games by players under these contracts: 1
Total World Series wins: 0
Matt Hurst is the founder and editor of Throwback Attack, a retro sports blog. Read more at throwbackattack.com