Being a general manager in baseball isn't easy, especially for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Two NLCS appearances in two years are merely a consolation for the Dodger faithful; and zero World Series appearances since 1988 is almost insulting to the Dodger legacy.
On July 20, with 68 games remaining on the schedule, GM Ned Colletti finds his club in fourth place in the NL West, trailing the division-leading San Diego Padres by a whopping six games.
Luckily for the Dodgers, they're not a member of the American League East division, where a team with an identical record may consider becoming sellers instead of buyers at this point before the MLB trade deadline.
However, it must be said that it's unfair to put the entire blame of the team's misfortunes on the shoulders of Colletti. After all, he's not out there holding the players' hands on the diamond. Losing streaks are going to occur, and the bottom line is that the players need to take the field every day and play their hearts out—they need to stop blaming the injuries, the humidity, the coaching decisions, and the umpires.
It must also be said that up until Tuesday morning, Colletti was making an effort to improve the squad. He's been on the phone and meeting with dozens of teams—he's exploring every possible angle, and he's not leaving any stone unturned.
But two small decisions made by the Dodgers' general manager may have slipped through the cracks in the eyes of everyone in Dodgertown—one of which is completely inexcusable for Colletti.
The first is the obvious, and that is the continued utilization of lefty reliever George Sherrill. At this point, it's totally unacceptable to have him pitching at all.
There's really not anything Colletti can do except part ways with Sherrill and pay him the balance of his $4.5 million salary. Sherrill won't accept an assignment in the minors, and there's no team in the Majors brainless enough to make a deal for him.
It may not seem visible to the naked eye, but the stress and tension that is created by Sherrill's presence is having an effect on the club. It's time to cut out the cancer and move on. Colletti needs to accept responsibility and realize that there's no more mileage left in Sherrill's arm. Sherrill has officially reached negative value.
The most inexcusable decision occurred Tuesday when Manny Ramirez was placed on the 15-day disabled list with an alleged calf injury.
Brad Ausmus was reactivated to fill the spot vacated by Manny, which under some circumstances may be seen as a sensible move, but now, the Dodgers have three catchers on the active roster—three catchers.
It's senseless to even think that Ausmus or A.J. Ellis could possibly be utilized as an effective pinch hitter off the bench. Ellis is batting .204 in 49 at-bats with zero home runs and 18 RBI with a slugging percentage of .224. Ausmus has few numbers to analyze in 2010, but over the course of the entire 2009 season, he had a meager 28 hits, one home run, and nine RBI in 95 at-bats.
So with Ausmus and Ellis joining Ronnie Belliard, Garret Anderson, and Jamey Carroll on the bench, it's safe to say the Dodgers have probably one of the least productive benches in the National League.
Belliard is batting .218 with two HR and 14 RBI, Anderson is hitting .187 with two HR, 12 RBI, and a .288 slugging percentage, and Carroll, who is having the best year of all the reserves, is completely incapable of hitting the ball out of the yard.
Reed Johnson, who normally contributes off the bench, says he feels better than ever, yet he sits on the 15-day disabled list with what is described as a "sore back."
In May, it was blatant that Los Angeles was in need of starting pitching help. At the end of June, it became clear that the Dodgers needed to revamp both the starting rotation and the bullpen (yet they continue to utilize Sherrill on almost a daily basis); and now as July passes, it becomes obvious that there's zero productivity on the bench.
Sure, Colletti is limited in terms of a spending budget and the resources to make an eye-popping trade, but at this point, he's totally mismanaging the player personnel that he does have.
Even if it's for a short period of four days, players like Kenley Jansen, Jay Gibbons, John Lindsey, Trayvon Robinson, Kyle Russell, and Josh Lindblom would kill for a spot on the active roster.
Colletti needs to stop thinking about not getting any bang for his buck, put the players' salaries aside, and start doing what's best for the team. So what if a veteran's feelings get hurt for being DFA'd?
The Dodgers should have been experimenting with calling up the farm in the first half of the season. Now, with their backs against the wall, a bullpen that is nonexistent, and a bench with a combined batting average in the very low two-hundreds, it's getting close to the point where they are falling from contention.
You have about a week left to redeem yourself, Ned. Let's get moving.