Dodger Blue Vs. Cubbie Blues

By Chris Rewers on Saturday, July 10, 2010

There's a soft place in our hearts for Ned Colletti, a former sportswriter and native Chicagoan who grew up a Cubs fan, and in the span of a little over two decades worked his way up from the bottom of the Cubs front office to become the general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Colletti was a guest Saturday on Talking Baseball on WMVP (1000-AM) and was asked by host Bruce Levine to share his thoughts about the Cubs' current predicament.

Levine: Is there a tougher or lonelier situation as general manager than what Jim Hendry is going through right now with a team that has a high payroll, had high expectations, and now faces the fact that he now needs to start trading some veterans and look toward the future?

Colletti: You mention an interesting word - "lonely job." It is. It's a lonely seat sometimes. I've been in it myself. I really like Jimmy Hendry a lot. I respect him as a person and think he's done a great job. Sometimes you can't predict how things are going to go. We all end up being evaluated by how other people perform, which is a rugged way to do life. I think in his situation, he's done the best he can. That team should be very competitive . . . There's a lot of talent there. But you can't predict how it's going to go. You can't predict injuries and you can't predict if a guy's going to go from hitting .300 to .200. It's part of the trials and tribulations of what you go through.

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Colletti says he can relate to Hendry's predicament, but that the distinction between his team at 48-38 and tied for the NL wild-card lead and the Cubs who are languishing at 38-49 is patience. Colletti has demonstrated it in waiting for young players like Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, James Loney, Russell Martin, Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, and Jonathan Broxton to develop. Hendry, with access to an open checkbook, has far too often opted for the quick fix.

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Levine: Are the smartest moves you've made as a GM the ones that you haven't made by holding on to the Ethiers and the Kemps and the Loneys when temptation was there two or three years ago to maybe trade one of the young guys for a veteran to compete that year?

Colletti: I'm grateful that I have an ownership that understood the plan and understood the need for patience. One of the toughest things in sports is patience and you have to be able to chart a course and stay with it. This is a great baseball city and you hear 1988 (the year of the Dodgers' last world title) all the time like with the Cubs you always here '45 for going and 1908 for winning. But you have to be patient and we believe with our younger guys - they were high school drafts and sitting in Double A when I got here (in 2006). And Ethier, who we acquired four or five weeks after I got here for Milton Bradley. We had to be patient with it, and we fast-tracked some of them and they went through a little bit of a growing pain, because it's not easy to play in the big leagues every day with consistency. It has to get established and solidified. A place like L.A. is a tough place to play, tougher than you think from the outside. But we're glad we waited for them to grow into better players and develop maturity as they've gone into their middle 20s. After we established our foundation, we've seen it get better.

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