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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
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Eventually, All Things Merge Into One, and a Mustache Runs Through It
2006-02-16 10:52
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

The two most recent Dodger general managers, Ned Colletti and Paul DePodesta, aren't as different as they seem. That's been my theory recently, and today I expand upon it for the SI.com audience.

Note that I'm not trying to claim that the two guys are identical by any stretch, nor that they are perceived the same way. Just that in practice, they are closer on the GM spectrum than would appear.

My column is a sidebar to John Donovan's National League West preview, which parallels my belief that the division will be led by the Giants and Dodgers, with Barry Bonds' health the determining factor. Regarding San Diego, Donovan writes:

Back in San Diego, credit has to be given to GM Kevin Towers, who saw the flaws in last year's team and wasn't about to stand pat, division winners or not. ... The Padres still have some good-sized holes to fill. Hoffman needs help in the bullpen and San Diego is banking on a rookie (Josh Barfield) at second base and the Padres still lack a big bat or two. But at least they didn't sit still.

Not that everyone likes the Padres' changes, but if only people had been so understanding with DePodesta last season. And it wasn't as if he didn't explain his rationale over and over again ...

Comments
2006-02-16 11:04:18
1.   Colorado Blue
[lets out big sigh]...
2006-02-16 11:26:14
2.   Colorado Blue
Actually, just read Donovan's article and I think he's overrating the Pads and underrating the D'Backs.
Your article Jon, as usual, was dead-on. I also liked your use of his DT nickname "DePo" in the title :)
2006-02-16 11:29:28
3.   Jon Weisman
Thanks, Blue. I don't write the SI headlines, though. And I don't think DT invented "DePo" - it's just more convenient.
2006-02-16 11:31:11
4.   Bob Timmermann
Assuming SI.com works like a print magazine, I think an editor put in the word "DePo".
2006-02-16 11:31:56
5.   regfairfield
Right now, the Padres look like one of the three worst teams in baseball. Only two of their hitters project above league average and are all either well past their prime, or unproven. Outside of Peavy, their pitching staff is terrible.

I didn't think I'd say this, but the Rockies probably won't finish last this year.

2006-02-16 11:47:02
6.   Colorado Blue
3 - I did not know that. However, I still like to believe that DT coined "DePo"... you're just being modest.

5 - To re-iterate my NL West predictions from an earlier post (and I'm stickin' to 'em!):
1) Dodgers
2) D'Backs
3) Gnats
4) Rockies
5) Pads

2006-02-16 11:53:56
7.   Jon Weisman
Someone's going to bring this up, so I'm going to try to get ahead of the news curve.

http://tinyurl.com/cndgv

Key quote: "We don't want to risk our core mission of rocking out and bringing funk to the funkless," Urmy said.

2006-02-16 11:55:07
8.   Daniel Zappala
I will be the first to admit I have a really bad memory. Well, not bad for important things (e.g. papers in my research area) but less important things. I prioritize. Once a year goes by, I usually can't remember much about a movie other than I remember seeing it. But I was still surprised that I forgot, as I was reading Donovan's SI article, that the Dodgers lost 91 games last year. I remember it being a bad season, just not that bad. Whew, I guess I can count myself lucky that I don't have those memories replaying through my head on a daily basis.
2006-02-16 11:56:37
9.   Daniel Zappala
Maybe that is what makes Steve so cynical -- he's STILL replaying Jim Tracy's moves in his head. Poor guy.
2006-02-16 11:57:50
10.   jasonungar05
That article was fabulous. Great job Jon!
2006-02-16 12:03:28
11.   LAT
7. My favorite part of the story is "Fifth-year senior Erin Lashnits, who dresses as a tree for the university's irreverent band. . ."

Fifth year senior. Now there's an over-achiever. I'm guessing the terms "fifth year senior" and "public drunkeness" often show up in the same sentence.

2006-02-16 12:04:36
12.   Marty
Sounds like the Stanford mascot was burnishing the cat.
2006-02-16 12:06:39
13.   Daniel Zappala
Fantastic article Jon. Great conclusion on the state of the Dodgers. Almost fooled me with the use of "downstopped" until I realized where you got that from.
2006-02-16 12:07:46
14.   Daniel Zappala
Hey, don't be too hard on her. She's a diver and she writes for the Daily, so she can't be all bad.
2006-02-16 12:19:11
15.   Jon Weisman
She is also "the first undergraduate at Stanford to design her own major in astrobiology."

http://daily.stanford.org/tempo?page=content&id=14028&repository=0001_article

2006-02-16 12:21:58
16.   LAT
Frankly, Jon's article at SI is much better written and far more informative than Donovan's. How can you have a NL West preview and not discuss the Rocks or the D'Backs. At least address their off-season moves and explain why they won't contend. Moreover, the premise for Jon's article is original. Donovan's is just a rehash of the same stuff: Bonds and off season moves.
2006-02-16 12:22:30
17.   Humma Kavula
May I also add my compliments for "downstopped." The whole article is excellent work, but finding the mot juste there is genius.
2006-02-16 12:33:23
18.   Bob Timmermann
15

Apparently she designed a major like "astrobiology" while she was drunk.

I think the whole upshot of this is: Parents, don't let your kids dress up in a styrofoam and felt tree costume and cavort on a basketball court while drunk.

I'm going to tell my nephews and nieces that exact story repeatedly.

2006-02-16 13:39:46
19.   mcrawford
#11 -- When I graduated college just several years ago, about 50% of graduates did it in 5 years. And more than 50% if you include 6+ years. That number is going down, so now it's about 35-40% (probably because tuition is going up so much), but it's not like 5th-year seniors are uncommon.

http://www.aim.ucla.edu/data/students/gradoutcomes/fall04webpersistfr.pdf

2006-02-16 13:46:44
20.   Linkmeister
Heck, I started college at the U of A in fall 1968 and finished at Hawai'i Pacific in December 1979. Did that make me an 11th-year-senior?
2006-02-16 13:58:30
21.   Bob Timmermann
19
I started at UCLA in 1983 and the 4-year graduation rate was likely lower then. But it didn't cost nearly as much to go to UCLA. Most of my friends graduated during their fifth year. Some of us made it out in four.

My 3 older brothers and I all graduated from college in four years and that was about the only thing my mom ever bragged about. Although now I wonder if she was just bragging about saving money on college tuition.

2006-02-16 13:59:53
22.   Gold Star for Robot Boy
Moved into the correct thread...

As far as Colletti's fondness toward "vets past their primes," that may be true but only to an extent. To his credit, he didn't offer any of those vets contracts that were ridiculous in terms of length. Also, he seemed to know the difference between "past their primes" and "over the hill." Remember, there was serious concern on DT that Colletti's fetish toward Giants and veterans would saddle the Dodgers with the likes of J.T. Snow. Ick.

2006-02-16 14:01:27
23.   Gold Star for Robot Boy
I started at Arizona in the fall of '88, and graduated from Arizona State in May '94. In between, there were two semesters off and two community colleges.
2006-02-16 14:05:37
24.   dagwich
20 Linkmeister, we're tied at 11 years. But those years were back in the days of little or no tuition and plentiful federal college grants.
2006-02-16 14:08:42
25.   Sam DC
I'm at work on a conference call with six four other people right now -- they're adults, not little children mind you. And none of them got my Wondertwins joke. And then on questioning I learned that it wasn't because the joke was bad, it was because none of them had ever heard of the Wondertwins.

Egad.

2006-02-16 14:15:15
26.   oldbear
22. Weird I thought for sure I was posting in the right thread. Anyways, I believe DePo had a philosopy of cheap, high value youngsters to go along with the superstar caliber talents he then could afford and sign.

Whereas Colletti goes I guess the safer route of proven mid priced vets, but with little upside and no room to add a superstars.

Sort of this contrast and I simplify:

DePo roster:
Young Player A- 333K
Young Player B- 333K
Young Player C- 333K
Superstar- D- 10 mils

Colletti roster:
Mid Priced- Vet-4mils
Mid Priced Vet-5mils
Mid Priced Vet- 6mils
Mid Priced VEt- 3.85 mils

A DePo team seems more volatile. Could be great. Or could be terrible.

Whereas Colletti's team is built on more 'proven' vets, but less real high priced stars.. So a greater liklihood the team wins around 85 games. But not much upside to do better than that.

As a fan, I'd always like a team with great upsides and great downsides, rather than a steady above average team that could never be truely great.

Because really, there's not much difference in winning 85 games and missing the playoffs, or winning 70 games and missing the playoffs. At least to me.

2006-02-16 14:15:53
27.   Vishal
i've been mentioned in the stanford daily.
2006-02-16 14:25:41
28.   Linkmeister
24 In my case there were 2+ years in the Navy and 3+ years on Kwajalein working on a DOD contract which intervened.

U of A had cheap resident tuition; HPU is private, but at the time was $1,000/semester. I think it's now up to $8K per. I spent most of what I'd saved on Kwaj paying for the 18 months I spent at HPU (well, along with the MG Midget, the tix and parking for Hawaii Islanders ballgames that summer, etc.).

2006-02-16 14:28:16
29.   overkill94
There's a difference between finishing in college in five years out of necessity or out of laziness. When I look at the requirements for north campus majors (history, english, communications, etc.) it seems like you could slide through in three years if you wanted to.

On the other hand, in our engineering class guide, the path to graduate has you taking 16 units every quarter - with some quarters having 18 units - to fulfill all the requirements in 4 years. Needless to say, I along with every other engineering student I know, stayed for a fifth year.

2006-02-16 14:33:24
30.   Bob Timmermann
29

For those who didn't go to UCLA, the "north campus" reference is to the fact that most of UCLA's social sciences and humanities departments and classes are offered on the north end of campus. While "south campus" people major in the sciences or engineering.

Akin to the Dodger-Giants rivalry (with the locations reversed), "south campus" majors hold "north campus" majors in disdain for being able to take easy classes, while "north campus" majors tend to forget about the people in engineering, chem, physics, etc.

Or maybe it's more like the Dodgers-Padres rivalry.

2006-02-16 14:36:17
31.   CanuckDodger
Jon, about the chart on SI.com that shows where the Dodgers' farm system has been ranked by Baseball America since 2001, the chart is screwed up, I'm afraid. The problem is it simply reproduces the mistakes that are on page 9 of the 2006 Baseball America Prospect Handbook. If you own all of the Baseball America Prospect Handbooks going back to 2001 (the first year of the Handbook's existence), check where the Dodgers are ranked in each year's book. It goes like this:

2006 -- #1

2005 -- #2

2004 -- #2

2003 -- #14

2002 -- #25

2001 -- #28

In short, the Dodgers' farm system has been ranked #2 TWICE in recent years, in 2004 and 2005, instead of just once. Whoever was in charge of putting together the chart for the 2006 Baseball America Prospect Handbook made an error, and whoever reproduced the chart for SI.com copied the mistake.

2006-02-16 14:44:05
32.   LAT
11. Commenting on my own comment here. This fifth year discussion is my fault. Stupidly, I was thinking of law school which is only three years. So a fifth year student was, shall we say, a late bloomer. I forgot that an undergrad is four years. The more embarassing part is that I made that comment and yet, I did undergrad in 4.5 years.

Let's just forget I brought the whole thing up.

2006-02-16 14:45:47
33.   Jon Weisman
31 - Thanks, Canuck - I'll pass it on.
2006-02-16 14:50:43
34.   Jon Weisman
There is ... gulp .. Scott Erickson news. See new post up top.
2006-02-16 15:09:54
35.   overkill94
30 I realized the north/south campus thing was UCLA-specific, which is why I put some examples. I couldn't think of a good category, is liberal arts relevant? I'd go by College of Letters and Sciences vs. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, but that doesn't quite divide correctly.
2006-02-16 15:23:57
36.   Bob Timmermann
One of my best friends at UCLA majored in physics came in with 0 AP credits and got out in four years and didn't break a sweat.

It helped that he was really smart.

At UC Berkeley, the relative positions of liberal arts classes vs. science classes are reversed for the most part.

And at UCLA you have to figure out what you consider psychology majors to be. Franz Hall is sort of in the middle of everything, but more southern.

2006-02-16 16:00:06
37.   natepurcell
OMG jon is that a picture of you!?!?!

finally, you are not a mystery figure that haunts my dreams at night anymore.

2006-02-16 16:01:39
38.   natepurcell
ps: you look a little bit like brian cashman :)
2006-02-16 17:11:04
39.   bigcpa
36 FWIW all of my Econ classes at UCLA were on north campus so there is some math going on up there. And I got through in 4 but it's no easy task.

And Jon I did like your SI piece. Your central thesis is strong- that both are working with a long-term view. But I'm gonna side with oldbear 26 that DePo was far more of a risk taker and value investor. Most of Colletti's moves strike me as "safe." On the Bradley and EJ/Tiffany trades he sold low with most of the upside going the other way. I felt DePo's best quality was his creativity and daring in seeking out real value in trades/signings. I just can't envision Colletti ever pulling a LoDuca/Penny deal or a Mulder for Haren/Barton/Colero type deal that could net 8 wins/year. I know you touched on this, but to me this is a material difference between them.

2006-02-16 17:50:28
40.   ToyCannon
If we didn't have a boatload of prospects coming up the pipe I could understand the criticism of Ned signing vets instead of trading for young upside players. He needs to find out if Loney at 1st, D Young/Aybar/DeWitt at 2nd, LaRoche at 3b, Navarro/Martin at catcher, Guzman in RF, Kemp in LF are for real. If they are, why would he trade for young talent when that is what we are sitting on? Some of these guys aren't going to pan out, it is prudent for him to see 1st hand what all the hullaballu is about and then make his decisions. He saw that we needed a SS, knew Guzman couldn't cut it at the ML level, at least not as a rookie for a championship team and made a fantastic signing of Furcal who I think qualifies as a young player with upside.
2006-02-17 08:35:20
41.   oldbear
40. I think Furcal qualifies as an "in his prime" player, but the upside is minimized when he's making 13mils a season. I did like the signing, but if were talking true upsides. I think keeping Joel Guzman at SS had a tremendous upside. (25-30HR's for 333K a year at SS)...

As for carrying him as a SS on a championship team, I think it could have been done. However, I dont really think signing Furcal or not signing Furcal is the difference between a championship level team. This current Dodgers team is not championship caliber.

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