Colletti Not Sure What Hand He's Been Dealt

After Frank McCourt agreed to sell the Dodgers, even general manager Ned Colletti didn't know how that would impact his ability to construct the team's 2012 roster. This is unchartered territory: a team getting sold in the offseason, with the previous owner cash-strapped, no favorite to be the new owner, and differing opinions on whether adding payroll increases or decreases the value of the team.

Commissioner Bud Selig would like a new owner by Opening Day for the Dodgers. That might be possible, and the euphoria that McCourt is finally out as owner will drive legions of Dodgers fans back to the ballpark they deserted last year in a non-organized silent protest.

But that doesn't do Colletti any good right now, with free agency starting, the general manager meetings on deck, and the winter meetings a month away.

Colletti made it clear his top offseason priority is a "big bat," and that means first baseman Prince Fielder. But with his price tag expected to go way over $100 million, Colletti will need to get approval from baseball officials in New York, if not bankruptcy mediators in Delaware, before he can spend that kind of money.

At season's end, Colletti was told by McCourt there was enough money to re-sign the team's star players -- Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and Andre Ethier -- and still add payroll to make the Dodgers more competitive next season.

Now? It's anybody's guess.

If it's any consolation, Colletti is used to this state of unknown. It's been a little more than two years since the Frank and Jamie McCourt made their separation public. Colletti has seen his payroll fluctuate from a high of about $120 million in 2008 and drop to around $90 million the year after, only to improve a little the previous two winters.

Typically, the biggest-named free agents don't sign early in the baseball offseason. Those who are represented by agent Scott Boras sign closer to Christmas than Thanksgiving. Fielder qualifies under both categories, so that buys the Dodgers baseball operations staff additional time for others to give them direction on how much they can spend.

NOTES, QUOTES
--CF Matt Kemp received his second Silver Slugger award for being one of the top three hitting outfielders in the National League. The choice was a no-brainer. Kemp just missed a 40-homer, 40-steal season by one home run. His 39 home runs and 126 RBI led the National League, and he finished third with a .324 batting average. He's a strong candidate for Most Valuable Player.

--LHP Clayton Kershaw, CF Matt Kemp and RF Andre Ethier were awarded Gold Glove awards. Kemp was the least surprising, since he won the award in 2009, even though advanced defensive measures (such as Ultimate Zone Rating) indicated he's slightly below average. Pitchers are the hardest to measure because the sample size is so small, it's often purely on reputation. Ethier was the most surprising because he's never been considered a strong defensive outfielder and he didn't have the breakthrough offensive season that somehow lends to the defensive awards, although Ethier's UZR went from worst in the National League in 2010 (-16.5) to fourth in 2011 (+5.3).

--OF Juan Rivera re-signed with the Dodgers for one year and $4 million. Rivera drove in 46 runs in 62 games after the Dodgers acquired him for minimal cash at the All-Star break as the primary hitter protecting Matt Kemp in the lineup. The Dodgers have a $4 million option for 2013 with a $500,000 option.

--OF Alfredo Silverio was added to the 40-man roster, protecting him from getting selected in the Rule 5 draft. Silverio turned himself into a legitimate prospect last year, batting .306 with 16 home runs and 85 RBI with Double-A Chattanooga. He was selected to the All-Star Futures Game in July as well.

--1B/OF Scott Van Slyke was also added to the 40-man roster, and he's got an outside chance to make the Opening Day roster. That will depend on what players are signed, injuries and, of course, his own performance. Van Slyke won the Southern League batting title with a .348 average, slugged 20 homers and drove in 92 runs. The son of former all-star Andy Van Slyke, he was a little old for Double-A at age 25.

BY THE NUMBERS: .863 -- OPS (on-base plus slugging) for outfielder Juan Rivera in his first 34 games as a Dodger. After that, from Aug. 24 on, Rivera's OPS was 604. Rivera went just 3-for-27 down the stretch, which could be a simple slump, him regressing back to the mean, or more likely, a sign that he was worn down from playing every day. Rivera is most effective when he is kept fresh -- starts against lefties and an occasional start against right-handers.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "This is special to me on so many different levels. Number one is just being entrusted with this type of position with an organization such as the L.A. Dodgers. That alone is special. As far as being a woman, it's surprising it's taken until 2011 for this to happen. There are so many women athletic trainers in high school and in college, it was just bound to happen at some point." -- Sue Falsone, who was named the Dodgers' head athletic trainer for the 2012 season. She becomes the first female head athletic trainer in United States professional sports history.

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