Things I learned from talking with Ned Colletti, Stan Kasten, and the Dodgers marketing crew while attending Blogger Night at the Stadium Friday...
- The Dodgers had planned to retire Fernando Valenzuela's jersey this season. It had been calendared and well prepared. But due to the sale of the club, Frank McCourt decided it was best not to break policy on his way out from the team. Previously, only Dodgers players who had made the Hall of Fame would be eligible to get their jersey retired (with the exception of Jim Gilliam in 1978).
- Stan Kasten is a very funny, friendly, humble, passionate, and sincere individual. We are lucky he is the leader of this franchise.
- Kasten has numerous ideas for improving the stadium experience, such as making wifi accessible for fans, adding a kids zone, creating more interactive features to the ballpark, a museum, adding more restaurants and bars and other such areas for fans to congregate. All of these things would be designed for "inside" the stadium yet in such a way as to not detract from the current view and setting that fans get while watching the game in their seats. Official announcements are expected within two weeks.
- Kasten says there have been no plans to develop the area around Dodger Stadium.
- Stan meets with Ned Colletti several times per day to discuss ways to improve the team. "I'm always in his office," he said. Stan stated that he has only had to veto a GM once or twice in his career and he does not expect he would veto a deal that Ned presents to him. To be sure, Stan does technically approve deals due to their financial impact on the organization. But by the time Ned has completed a deal and taken it to Stan for approval, Kasten says, "We will have talked about it up and down numerous times by then, so there will be no surprises. Ned and I will already be on the same page by the time we reach that point." Sounds good.
- Ned Colletti had a deal in place to land C.C. Sabathia in 2008, before acquiring Manny Ramirez. Ned said that the deal fell through due to financial concerns from the Dodgers' end. You can connect the dots from there.
- Ned seemed to indicate (though did not explicitly state) that Chad Billinglsey could head to bullpen in the event the team acquires another starter. My take: if that's the case, I would assume Chad has enough trade value to be included in a deal to upgrade the team. I can't imagine a scenario where Billingsley would be happy in a bullpen role.
- Colletti reiterated that he envisions upgrading the offense at either LF, 1B, and/or 3B this month, though he wouldn't mention other team's players by name. When asked if it was possible that Juan Uribe be released upon the acquisition of a third baseman, Ned replied, "Anything is possible. We'll cross that bridge when we get there." My take: not exactly a vote of confidence. It would have been reasonable (from his point of view) for Ned to suggest that given the contract length and Uribe's (supposed) value at many positions, we'll keep him around. But this was no where near what was said.
- Ned tried to sign Clayton Kershaw to a much longer deal in the off season. It was Kershaw who wanted to keep the deal shorter.
Overall, it was another fantastic event put on by the Dodgers. I wish to thank Yvonne, Jon, and the rest of the crew for setting everything up. It was great to meet some new Dodgers bloggers and to re-connect with some old friends. Again, I feel privileged.