[This series intends to introduce you to each of the legitimate Chicago Cubs GM candidates, and give you a quick, clean rundown of the most important information to know about that candidate as the Cubs’ search process continues. Previously: Brian Cashman, Theo Epstein, Andrew Friedman, Billy Beane.]
Name and Age: Ned Colletti, 56.
Current Role and Contract Status: Los Angeles Dodgers’ General Manager since November 2005. His current salary is unknown, and he’s signed through at least the 2012 season.
Record in Current Role: The Dodgers have made the playoffs three times in Colletti’s six years, and have generally been near the top of the AL West each year. Indeed, the Dodgers had the second-best winning percentage (.530, behind only the Phillies) in the NL in Colletti’s first five years running the team.
Notable Prior Experience: Before taking the reigns with the Dodgers, Colletti was a long-time assistant GM under Brian Sabean in San Francisco. He had come to San Francisco from the Chicago Cubs’ organization, first in the public relations department, and then as a staffer in baseball ops.
Reason(s) for Including as Candidate: As noted, Colletti started his front office career with the Chicago Cubs. He is from Chicago, and is currently the GM of a MLB franchise. I suppose those are legitimate reasons for mentioning Colletti’s name, but is it enough to make him the most frequently-mentioned name outside of the big three (Epstein/Cashman/Friedman) and Rick Hahn?
Tom Ricketts’ Criteria: Track record of success in a winning organization? Check. Demonstrated commitment to player development? Check-ish. Strong analytical background? Probably not a check.
Pros/Hype: Mustache-growing ability is above reproach. Almost unnaturally good.
Cons/Cynical Criticism: Colletti, by most accounts, is cut from the same cloth as the Cubs’ previous GM, Jim Hendry. He is a scouting-first, “old school” GM, whom his team’s own fans can’t wait to be rid of. He overpays for vets, and is slow to admit mistakes.
Desirability: Low. To my mind, the criticisms are fair, and the fact that the fans don’t want him is enough for me to pass. The Cubs have before them an entire dessert cart of choices – why take the Ho Ho? (Ok, Ho Hos are actually pretty great. But when they’re up against a molten chocolate lava cake with vanilla bean ice cream on top? Come on, now.)
Likelihood/Probable Outcome: Low, despite what local writers might want you to believe. Keep fixed in your mind that many in town hope someone like Colletti (or Rick Hahn) gets the Cubs’ gig because they already have long-standing relationships with him. That hope, whether subtly or overtly, can translate to slightly more positive takes on a candidate. For my part, I simply can’t see what Colletti brings to the table that Jim Hendry didn’t. Maybe he’d be a little less player-friendly (which, of course, cuts both ways) and a little more ML-level-player savvy. And he does tend to surround himself with well-respected assistants. And I suppose the Dodgers have been pretty consistently good under his watch. So, it’s possible that he could be a minor upgrade. The Cubs, however, have available to them any number of major upgrades. I think they’ll take one. Colletti might get a preliminary interview, but I have a hard time seeing anything more than that.