Signs point to return for Dodgers GM Colletti, not a shock considering success

While the Dodgers' new ownership team just took over and nothing has been firmed up yet, signs point to Ned Colletti and Don Mattingly remaining in their jobs as general manager and manager of the Dodgers into next year, and probably beyond that.

New Dodgers president Stan Kasten made clear he wants the subject of the job status of the team's top decisionmakers publicly "off the table,'' to the point where Kasten won't even confirm that Colletti has a dual option on his contract after this season and Mattingly has a year to go on his deal -- even though those situations are known. Kasten, who said it'll be their policy not to even announce new extensions for top brass as they happen, explained that he always wants the team leaders viewed as being in charge permanently and never wants it seen as a situation where the "clock is ticking.''

In any case, word is that the intention is to keep both men into next year, so barring an unusual turn of events, expect both back. That shouldn't come as a shock, as the Dodgers have the best record in baseball.

While Kasten declined to address the specifics of the situation, he did at least allow, regarding Colletti and Mattingly, "It's been a real treat dealing with them. I look forward to lots of success with them.''

Not too much should be read into any one of Kasten's comments regarding this subject, of course, as he obviously closely guards this type of information. Kasten said a big goal for him always has been "stability'' and "continuity,'' and his Braves teams exemplified those aspirations better than any team. Kasten kept Jim Bowden when Kasten took over as president of the Nationals, keeping him for four years before firing Bowden and ultimately replacing him with Mike Rizzo, who held the interim job upon Bowden's ouster.

In general, Kasten did say particular contractual situations won't factor into decisions about whether to keep key decisionmakers, which makes sense since the group that spent $2.15 billion for the Dodgers will want the best people and wouldn't be swayed by amounts of money that presumably represent a tiny fraction of the sale price.

Mattingly's popularity has grown to the point where he doesn't even seem to have the stain of his history in pinstripes anymore, so no one would expect a change in the mamager's chair. While there was skepticism over strategy when he started last year as a neophyte manager, there appears to be almost none now, a clear credit to him in a town that's tougher than folks realize.

Colletti also is having a banner year so far. The Dodgers hold two years of options on Colletti's deal, and he also has his own "out'' after this year, meaning he could opt out if the Dodgers pick up his option years. That was an understandable feature since he worked in difficult circumstances in the Frank McCourt regime.

Now, of course, the Dodgers' GM job is one of the most desirable in sports, and the new ownership group very likely could attract many hot names for the post. But Colletti appears to be in excellent position, as he cut the payroll from $110 million in 2010 to $100 million last year and again to $90 million this year, at a time the team is showing stark improvement. The Dodgers' on-field performance was the one successful part of McCourt's controversial reign.

The Dodgers have been bolstered by the astute picks of scouting director Logan White, and Colletti scored big this winter by taking the $14 million that incumbent veteran starter Hiroki Kuroda sought and instead using it to buy Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, Jerry Hairston Jr., Juan Rivera, Tony Gwynn and now Bobby Abreu, utilizing some backloading to add several nice complementary pieces. The biggest coup, though, was keeping superstar Matt Kemp with a $160-million, eight-year deal.

Colletti was also behind the arrangement that led to Mattingly becoming the successor to Joe Torre when he Torre stepped down, so that's another plus for Colletti.

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