Dodgers tab Colletti as new GM

Dodgers tab Colletti as new GM

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers raided the front office of the archrival San Francisco Giants on Tuesday, hiring Ned Colletti as their general manager.

Colletti, 50, will be introduced at a press conference at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday morning.

Colletti had been vice president and assistant general manager to Brian Sabean for the past nine seasons. Granted broad authority by Sabean, Colletti's duties with the Giants have included assisting in the acquisition of players, overseeing waiver and rule compliance, formulating salary arbitration cases and managing roster payroll.

Prior to joining the Giants in 1994, Colletti worked 12 years for the Chicago Cubs, in the media relations and baseball operations departments. There he conducted contract negotiations, helped prepare salary arbitration cases and assisted in player acquisitions.

Colletti replaced Paul DePodesta, who at age 31 was hired shortly after Frank and Jamie McCourt purchased the club from News Corp. DePodesta, signed to a five-year contract on the eve of the 2004 season, was dismissed 2 1/2 weeks ago, three weeks after manager Jim Tracy exercised an escape clause in his contract, citing philosophical differences with the general manager.

DePodesta launched a search for a manager, interviewing five candidates, although farm director Terry Collins was known to be his first choice. McCourt interceded, interviewing former Dodger and Cy Young Award winner Orel Hershiser. Less than a week later, DePodesta was dismissed, and the manager search was shelved pending the hiring of a general manager.

At the press conference announcing DePodesta's dismissal, McCourt said that the traits he would look for in a general manager were leadership, a keen eye for baseball talent, communication skills and experience. Colletti, with 24 seasons in baseball, seems to fit the profile.

Although the Giants finished only four games ahead of the Dodgers in 2005, they have averaged 91 wins a year, dating back to 1997. San Francisco won the division in 1997, 2000 and 2003, and the National League pennant in 2002, losing to the Angels in the World Series.

If McCourt's interviewing of Hershiser is an indication of where the managerial search will lead, it should be noted that Hershiser pitched for the Giants in 1998, and Colletti worked on his contract. Another candidate interviewed by DePodesta was Ron Wotus, the bench coach for Colletti with the Giants.

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. Colletti was involved in the trade that sent Kent to the Giants from Cleveland in 1997.

Colletti inherits 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.

Of immediate concern, Colletti must decide whether to pursue his free agents -- primarily Jeff Weaver, Olmedo Saenz, Elmer Dessens and Paul Bako -- as well as free agents from outside the organization. The removal from the payroll of Darren Dreifort, Shawn Green and, possibly, Weaver would free up money to acquire talent.

Internally, Colletti must decide who will fill the corner infield positions and what the future holds for center fielder Milton Bradley, among other issues.

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.

The Dodgers also considered for the job former Boston GM Theo Epstein, new Philadelphia GM Pat Gillick, former Texas GM John Hart and current Dodgers assistant GM Kim Ng. At last week's general managers meetings, the Dodgers were represented by Ng and Roy Smith, the vice president of scouting and player development.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.