Dodgers Tab Colletti as New GM

Ned Colletti, for nine years the assistant to San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean, was named general manager of the Dodgers and will be formally introduced at a Dodger Stadium news conference today (Wednesday). He worked mostly behind the scenes during his 11 seasons with the Giants. Colletti negotiated the contracts of every player on the 40-man roster since becoming assistant G.M. in 1996.

The Giants have averaged 91 wins a year since 1997, winning the division in 1997, 2000 and 2003, and the National League pennant in 2002, losing to the Angels in the World Series.

He takes over a team that went 71-91 in 2005, the second-worst record for a Dodger club since the team moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn. The offense finished 15th of 16 in team average, the pitching 12th in team ERA. Injuries decimated the roster and resulted in operations for closer Eric Gagne, All-Star shortstop Cesar Izturis, and outfielders J.D. Drew and Jayson Werth.

Colletti replaces the fired Paul DePodesta. The Dodgers reportedly wanted to hire Pat Gillick or Gerry Hunsicker, but when they took other jobs, the Dodgers sought permission to interview Colletti. Giants' owner Peter Magowan granted it even though the timing, he said, "isn't something that thrilled me to death."

"You have to weigh all of that against the human situation," Magowan said. "How could I say to Ned Colletti, who might never get another job offer as interesting or challenging or rewarding as this one, how could I ever look him in the face and say, 'Because of our selfish interest we've made a decision not to let you interview?'

"I think the Dodgers have hired the perfect guy. He richly deserves the honor of being a general manager. It's come much later than it should have. He's been a big part of our success the last eight years. I'm very happy for him. He deserves this."

Colletti, 50, is a former sportswriter and Chicago Cubs public-relations man who worked his way into Chicago's front office by researching arbitration cases. Although he does not have a player-evaluation background, former Giants GM Bob Quinn said Sabean cut Colletti "a wide swath" in helping to run the front office.

Quinn hired Colletti away from the Cubs 11 years ago and said Colletti "has really become a student of the game. I just feel confident that he's going to do a tremendous job for the Dodgers. He's more than well deserving."

Working weeks behind the rest of baseball, Colletti must decide whether to rehire free agents Jeff Weaver, Olmedo Saenz and Elmer Dessens while looking for free agents from outside the organization.

Internally, Colletti must decide who will fill the first and third base positions and what the future holds for talented but erratic center fielder Milton Bradley, among other issues.

Colletti also has a history with All-Star second baseman Jeff Kent, who met with ownership just before DePodesta's dismissal after telling teammates that he would request a trade if the club wasn't committed to winning immediately. Perhaps he could quell the Kent-Bradley standoff, allowing the Dodgers to keep the talented outfielder.

Colletti will be the seventh person to fill the role of Dodgers general manager in the last eight years and the 10th in Los Angeles Dodgers history. A native of Chicago and graduate of Northern Illinois University, he has authored four books.

As one wag close to the scene put it, "We've had front office people here over the years that haven't even read four books."

Colletti, 50, beat out Dodgers assistant G.M. Kim Ng and the announcement comes just one day before Ng's 37th birthday. There was also no word out of Los Angeles on whether Colletti would retain Ng, one of only two women to hold a high-level baseball operations position.

Ng, having been passed up for the top job, might decide to move on. Reached on her cell phone Tuesday night, Ng declined to comment, saying she would attend today's news conference and field questions from the media there.

Colletti has developed a reputation for shrewd contracts. He twice brokered the biggest deal in baseball history: In 1992, he gave Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg a four-year deal for $28.4 million. In 1997, he made the Giants' Barry Bonds the highest-paid player with a three-year deal for a guaranteed $30.7 million.

Here's guessing that Kent recommended Colletti and will give him the clubhouse support to make tough decisions. And here's guessing that if Colletti spent last season with his finger on the clubhouse pulse, maybe the Kent and Milton Bradley feud ends before it starts.

Logan White, the Dodger scouting director, has built one of baseball's best low-level minor league systems, with last year's double-A Jacksonville club voted the minors' best.

Some think White will become one of Colletti's top evaluators, moving up perhaps even as assistant general manager, a situation that will work because Colletti will listen.

Colletti learned the art of negotiation as a kid in Franklin Park, Ill., when his parents were too poor to afford their bills for the week. Colletti managed his family's credit at the local delicatessen so that there was always enough to eat.

"It helped me, the way I grew up,'' Colletti once told the Mercury News. "My parents didn't have a surplus of anything, so you always had to watch what you did. I carry that to this day.''

His knack for getting bargains rarely affected his relationship with the players. Colletti was an affable and popular figure in the Giants' clubhouse, which was another plus in his talks with the Dodgers.

Colletti will now take over the managerial search. And that search could lead directly to Texas pitching coach and Dodgers pitching legend Orel Hershiser. The fact DePodesta had no interest in Hershiser as a candidate is believed to have been a key factor in DePodesta's demise.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Former Dodger Minor league player and manager Dino Ebel was promoted to the Los Angeles coaching staff Wednesday -- however it was the wrong Los Angeles -- filling the spot on manager Mike Scioscia's staff left vacant when Joe Maddon became manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Ebel guided Triple-A Salt Lake to a 79-65 record and second-place finish in the North Division of the Pacific Coast League this year, his first in the Angels' organization. He will serve as the Angels' third base coach, with Ron Roenicke moving over to bench coach to fill Maddon's role. Ebel spent 17 seasons in the Los Angeles Dodgers' organization as a minor league player, coach and manager. He has a 531-496 record in eight-plus seasons managing in the minors.