Colletti to Focus on Player Development

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said after the conclusion of the club's recent organizational meetings, which were scheduled so if the Dodgers had reached the World Series, those would have been the dates of their home games. "So it was symbolic to look out at the field and see nothing but grass and look out at the seats and see nothing but seats," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said.

Colletti was saying that this club might have made it to the National League Championship Series for the first time in two decades, but there still is another step to climb and there still is a lot of work to do.

"We need to get better in a lot of ways, stronger and more fundamentally sound throughout the system, and we need to start with the kids as soon as they are drafted," Colletti said.

"I think the Glendale (Ariz.) facility will give us an opportunity to kind of restore a lot of the player-development methods and approaches that made this organization so strong and so good for a long, long period of time. That is our goal."

The Dodgers will hold their first spring training in Glendale starting in February, and the facility they will share with the Chicago White Sox also will serve as the home of a Dodgers short-season rookie-level affiliate that primarily will be stocked with high school draftees. The front office will be able to keep closer tabs on those players than in the past, when both spring training and an equivalent farm club were based in Vero Beach, Fla.

"Every organization struggles with the 'little things' in the game, things that have been put aside because players don't want to be 'bothered' with little intricacies of the game, and some staffs have let that happen," Colletti said. "I don't want to let that happen. It drives me crazy when I am watching a game and what people view as small intricacies of the game get overlooked, and we can't be that way."

The Dodgers are making several minor league coaching changes this winter, including their all-important roving pitching coordinator. A story about those appointments is on the site now.

Notes and Quotes
--LF Manny Ramirez has filed for free agency soon. General manager Ned Colletti said he and Scott Boras, Ramirez's Newport Beach-based agent, have exchanged voice mails but have yet to actually talk about Ramirez. The Dodgers are expected to make an initial offer to Ramirez of no more than two years at a salary somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million each season, but Boras is expected to be seeking a lengthier deal for Ramirez.

--C Russell Martin could benefit from catching fewer games, general manager Ned Colletti said. Martin caught 149 games this season, a career high, after catching 145 last year, and he also showed an ability to play adequately at third base, which could give manager Joe Torre an option for keeping Martin's bat in the lineup while occasionally relieving him from the physical pounding of catching. But Colletti also conceded it was easier for him to make such a proclamation from the front office than it would be for Torre to actually make out a lineup without Martin in it.

--RHP Brad Penny will learn by the first week of November whether the Dodgers will exercise his $9.25 million contract option for next season, something that seems highly unlikely. Penny missed most of the season with shoulder problems, then chose not to stick around for the team's playoff push. Colletti declined to say whether he was leaning one way or the other on Penny's option, but it also is possible the club could decline the option, pay the $2 million buyout and then try to re-sign Penny at a lower salary.

--INF Blake DeWitt is expected to receive one-on-one instruction at second base sometime this winter, although it isn't clear when that will happen. The Dodgers' Rookie Development camp, which is a two-week program in January at Dodger Stadium, would seem like the most likely setting. General manager Ned Colletti said DeWitt is a virtual lock to make the major league roster next season, but it isn't clear whether DeWitt will play second base or third base.

--INF Nomar Garciaparra could return to the club, after all. The oft-injured veteran batted .435 (10-for-23) in September, meaning the Dodgers might be interested in re-signing him for one year as a backup who can play at least three infield spots. General manager Ned Colletti said he had a preliminary discussion with Arn Tellem, Garciaparra's Los Angeles-based agent.

--Colletti indicated that he is on the lookout this winter for a backup catcher who would eliminate the need for Russell Martin to continue to catch as many games (145 in 2007, 149 in 2008) as he has the past two seasons. "I don't want to speak for Joe, but I think it would benefit Russell to not play as often behind the plate as he did," Colletti said. "(But) sometimes, that is easier to be said by somebody who isn't making out the lineup card than by the guy making out the lineup card."

--The Dodgers are expected to soon announce the hiring of a vice president for security, an individual whose name hasn't been released but who has extensive experience in large-crowd safety and is believed to have formerly worked for the U.S. Secret Service. Lon Rosenberg will continue to serve as the Dodgers' vice president for stadium operations, but will no longer oversee ballpark security.

--Tampa Bay got into the World Series with the lowest player payroll in the American League, knocking off baseball's biggest spenders -- the Yankees and Red Sox -- in the process. The Rays got close to $40 million this year in revenue sharing, putting it to smart use by opening academies in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, adding a seventh minor league team and signing young stars such as Evan Longoria, Scott Kazmir and James Shields to long-term contracts before their salaries could rise steeply in arbitration.

By The Numb3rs: 101 -- People who attended the Dodgers' organizational meetings, including every scout from all three scouting departments, every player-development official and every member of the front office. Colletti hadn't held organizational meetings after either of his two previous seasons. His predecessor, Paul DePodesta, had been fired immediately after the Dodgers' most recent organizational meetings in October 2005.

Quote to Note: "I am very disappointed. But I have a great job with a great organization, and we have work to do. We had a great year, going to the National League Championship Series, but we aren't where we want to be yet. We need to take it to that next step." -- Dodgers assistant general manager Kim Ng, after losing out to Milwaukee Jack Zduriencik for Seattle's GM job. Ng was one of four finalists for the position and was interviewed twice.

Roster Report
The Dodgers figure to be a dramatically different team next season. Although the core of young players remains under organizational control, there could be a slew of free agent defections among the veterans. One of the biggest decisions of the winter will be whether to pony up whatever it will take to re-sign LF Manny Ramirez or to spend that money on a host of other acquisitions that could make the team better as a whole.

Biggest Needs: --The Dodgers must add a starting pitcher. RHPs Derek Lowe and Greg Maddux are free agents, and RHP Brad Penny appears to have worn out his welcome after he and manager Joe Torre made what Torre called a mutual decision for Penny not to have him stick around for the playoffs when he wasn't able to pitch because of shoulder problems. The Dodgers probably will decline Penny's option, making the two-time All-Star a free agent, as well.

Free Agents: --LHP Joe Beimel, RHP Derek Lowe, RHP Greg Maddux, RHP Chan Ho Park, 3B Casey Blake, SS Rafael Furcal, INF Nomar Garciaparra, 2B Jeff Kent, INF Mark Sweeney, LF Manny Ramirez, C Gary Bennett, RHP Jason Johnson, INF Pablo Ozuna, RHP Brad Penny.

Kent probably will retire, Lowe probably isn't interested in returning, and Garciaparra isn't likely to be invited back because of his history of injuries. Furcal could be back, and his asking price figures to be dramatically reduced by the fact he missed most of the season with a back injury. Beimel will test the market, but he probably will return. Blake is a small-town guy from Iowa who enjoyed playing close to home in Cleveland, so Los Angeles probably isn't a long-term destination for him. Ramirez is believed to be seeking a long-term contract for about $20-25 million per year on the open market.

Arbitration Eligible: --RHP Jonathan Broxton, RHP Scott Proctor, SS Angel Berroa, RHP Yhency Brazoban, RHP Takashi Saito, OF Jason Repko,

Once the Super-2 list comes out, C Russell Martin and OF Andre Ethier could be joining Broxton, who is a first-timer, and Proctor, who avoided arbitration last winter by agreeing to terms on a one-year, $1,115,000 contract.

In Limbo: --OF Juan Pierre appears to be untradeable with three years and $28.5 million left on his contract. But if he isn't dealt, it won't be for a lack of trying. The emergence of OFs Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have reduced the once-valuable Pierre to a speedy fourth outfielder and left-handed pinch hitter, hardly making him worth what he is being paid.

*M*A*S*H* 4077 Watch:
--RHP Jason Schmidt (shoulder surgery in June 2007) hasn't pitched in a year and a half, but he finally might be ready to return by the start of spring training. But given the pace of his rehabilitation, club officials aren't holding their breath.

--C Gary Bennett (plantar fasciitis in left foot) might not have his option picked up because of the injury and because of his yips throwing the ball back to the mound.

--OF Andruw Jones (sore knees) missed most of the final two months, but a bigger concern than his health is whether he will regain his lost stroke next season.

--RHP Scott Proctor (sore right elbow) was scheduled to undergo elbow surgery in mid-October. He was to have a partial tear repaired in his flexor tendon and a bone spur shaved down. He is expected to be ready for spring training.

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