Dodgers of the Decade: Manager

After over 500 votes, I’m finally putting down the General Manager competition, but I don’t even feel like I can call anyone a winner… because Dan Evans finished with 35% (176 votes), just barely beating out Ned Colletti at 34% (174 votes). Paul DePodesta wasn’t far off, at 28%.

I have to say that I’m a little surprised, because Dan Evans wasn’t a big name and didn’t have any playoff success, while Colletti’s teams have made it in three of the last four years. Not that I disagree; I’d have voted for Evans too. With the voting that close, I’m going to have to include both of them on our team:

Dodgers of the Decade team:
C: Russell Martin (68%)
1B: James Loney (62%)
2B: Jeff Kent (88%)
3B: Adrian Beltre (80%)
SS: Rafael Furcal (87%)
LF: Gary Sheffield (62%)
CF: Matt Kemp (94%)
RF: Shawn Green (79%)
LH starter: Clayton Kershaw (56%)
RH starter: Kevin Brown (42%)
LH reliever: Hong-Chih Kuo (57%)
RH reliever: Paul Quantrill (33%)
Closer: Eric Gagne (71%)
General Manager: Dan Evans (35%)/Ned Colletti (34%)

We are, mercifully, nearly to the end of our team, and I thank everyone who put in a vote. There’s just one more position to fill. Now that we have a full team and a GM, who’s going to run this mess on the field?

I was going to do a list of good things and bad things like for GMs, but I really don’t remember much about Davey Johnson’s one season at the helm… and there’s only so much room to list bad things about Jim Tracy and Grady Little. I expect that Joe Torre will roll here, but don’t forget that he did bat Matt Kemp 8th for much of last year while consistently hitting Juan Pierre leadoff when Furcal was hurt and helping to run Russell Martin into the ground with his “days off at third base” idea.

Manager

Davey Johnson (2000)
Record: 86-76 (.531)
Playoffs: none

Jim Tracy (2001-05)
Record: 427-383 (.527)
Playoffs: 2004 NLDS

Grady Little (2006-07)
Record: 170-154 (.525)
Playoffs: 2006 NLDS

Joe Torre (2008-09)
Record: 179-145 (.552)
Playoffs: 2008 NLCS, 2009 NLCS

Who do you want filling out the lineup card?

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Is Anyone Buying This?

Since Joe Torre has yet to be named the official manager of the Blue, we’ll hold off on discussing what that’ll mean until it actually happens. In the meantime, there’s the simply astounding turnabout of the last 24 hours of the Reign of Griddle to discuss.

For the entirety of this drama, this was the chain of events we had all led to believe had occurred:

1. End of another disappointing Dodgers season
2. McCourt and Colletti each state that Griddle is back in ’08
3. After a few weeks, McCourt and/or Colletti change their mind about Griddle and reach out to Joe Girardi
4. After it becomes clear Girardi’s getting the Yankees job, they go to Plan B – Torre.
5. All the while, letting Griddle twist in the wind until he finally quits in disgust and/or before being fired.

120605_colletti_little_lasorda_1.jpgThis timeline has the positive outcome of not having Grady Little as the manager of the Dodgers; but the much more ominous one of making the front office and ownership look awful by letting a good man (though not a good manager) suffer for nearly two weeks before being tossed aside – an especially damning sign for a GM who’s biggest strength is supposed to be people skills. He talks to the fans so the software people don’t have to!

However, now we’re hearing this is how it went down (differences in italics):

1. End of another disappointing Dodgers season
2. McCourt and Colletti each state that Griddle is back in ’08
3. Griddle expresses to Colletti that he’s unsure if he wants to return in ’08
4. Colletti does his due diligence by contacting other candidates
5.
After it becomes clear Girardi’s getting the Yankees job, they go to Plan B – Torre.
6. Griddle finally decides to step aside, even though “I wanted Grady Little back,” said Colletti. “We discussed a lot of things, how he felt and how I felt, and we just felt it was best for everybody that this is where it ended up. I encouraged him a handful of times to think it through, that I wanted him back.”

Whew. So what are we to believe here? I have a difficult time thinking that Grady would really need an entire month to decide whether he’d come back in 2008. On the other hand, if it’s the first scenario, it’s mind-blowing to think how bad of a PR botch job this was by the higher-ups.

My best guess? The truth lies somewhere in between. The Dodgers.com article states,

But having taken an inordinate share of the blame for a season gone bad in many ways, Little privately voiced to Colletti that he had doubts whether he wanted to manage as a lame duck, lacking solid support from the front office and being increasingly unpopular among fans.

So what that says to me is, Griddle was going to be welcomed back in 2008 for the last year of his deal, but without a contract extension. Griddle takes that as a sign they don’t trust him and says he’s uncomfortable with it. Ned checks in on other candidates, and somehow the word leaks out and now Griddle is really cooked – it’s unlikely he really could have returned after the events of the last two weeks. But since everyone thinks that Colletti/McCourt are screwing over poor Griddle, in order to avoid a PR backlash they offer him a nice severance package in order to go along with the Scenario #2 story.

There’s also the possibility that Colletti came to the same conclusion most Dodger fans have had for the last year and a half – that Griddle isn’t much of a field general – but.. well, we all know that‘s not the case.

What do you think?

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

It's Official: Grady Little Out!

According to Tony Jackson of the L.A. Daily News, the Dodgers have officially parted ways with Grady Little and are scheduling a conference call at 4 P.M. Once all of this madness settles down, we’ll try and make some sense out of it, but until then…

GRADY IS GONE!! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Repeat after me…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwnqqj5Q1BU]

NA, NA, NA, NA, HEY, HEY, HEY, GOODBYE!!

Nintendo Baseball triumphs.

- Vin vinscully-face.jpg

Is This Silver Lining Coming With a Cloud?

I know this is like my 4th post on the subject, but the rumors just keep flying. With two more weeks before the Hot Stove officially opens, this is exactly the kind of stuff a blog depends on to keep going in the long, cold, off-season.

Latest updates in the managerial drama:

Joe Girardi has been offered, and will likely accept, the Yankees managerial position, says ESPN. Okay, so there go the Girardi-to-LA rumors, regardless of whether it’s as Griddle’s replacement as manager, or as bench coach to Griddle with the added role of yelling “Dead Man Walking!!” every time Grady strolls out to the mound. (Seriously, could we have given Girardi a black reaper’s outfit and a scythe instead of a uniform if that had happened? How awesome might that have been?)

Well, that’s that. A little uncomfortable perhaps, but now that Girardi’s out of the picture, Griddle can rest easy and prepare for Vero Be.. wait.. what?

According to two people with knowledge of the Dodgers’ universe, the club and Little are talking about a buyout that would leave the manager’s office in Chavez Ravine vacant for Torre to inherit.

So says the New York Post. Leaving aside the issue of whether “people with knowledge of the Dodgers’ universe” could be the janitor and Mrs. McCourt’s personal trainer for a second, this raises some real issues. The article goes on to say that Jo005_05.jpge Torre would be the likely target, and while I’ve described why I think that’s stupid already (why bother paying a new guy way more money than the current guy, when they’re very similar managers and we’ve got plenty of good young arms for Torre to ruin??), it’s sort of besides the point here.

If the Dodgers were planning on upgrading from Griddle to either Torre or Girardi, why are we just finding out about this now? Why was Little left twisting in the wind for a month since the season ended, and why did Ned say he’s definitely coming back in 2008? It’s not as if it’s recent news that one of either Torre or Girardi would not be managing the Yankees next year. And if the goal was more pointed towards “not having Griddle” than specifically having Torre or Girardi, then what’s the point of waiting?

I wouldn’t have minded Girardi in town, and I certainly wouldn’t have minded Griddle being gone. I just really don’t see the point of the bizarre timing and murkiness of all of this, and I really don’t see the point of Torre, who’s a very similar type of manager.

I expect this to get ugly. Soon.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

So, What the Hell Is Going On Here?

Buster Olney has an update to yesterday’s Girardi rumor in his blog today:

The silence from the Dodgers’ front office has been deafening on the matter of their manager. Left a lot of messages at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, and only one was returned, and not from the Ned Colletti, the Dodgers’ GM. A lot of questions linger for Colletti. Among them:

1. Is it your intention to fire Grady Little if you have a chance to hire Joe Girardi?

2. If the answer to Question 1 is yes, and you can’t hire Girardi, are you still going to fire Little?

3. Have you spoken with Joe Torre, or intermediaries to him, about possibly being your next manager?

What we wrote Thursday is that Girardi may have a developing opportunity with the Dodgers if he doesn’t get the Yankees’ job (and the guess here is that he will get the Yankees’ job).

After talking with sources yesterday, what I strongly believe — but don’t know for certain — is that it is the Dodgers’ intention to fire Little and replace him with Girardi, if they have the opportunity.

The Dodgers certainly had a whole lot of chances to come out Thursday and say unequivocally that Little’s job is safe for 2008. They have not done so, to date. We’ll see if they do so today.

Buster’s not wrong – the lack of a response from Chavez Ravine is pretty surprising to me. I originally thought this whole rumor was mostly coming out of Girardi’s camp, pressing the Yankees to choose him by showing his services are in demand elsewhere. But if that were the case, then Colletti would have quickly come out and said, “that’s ridiculous, I’ve already said Griddle’s coming back in 2008 and that hasn’t changed.”

But Colletti’s said nothing. Hear the silence so loud, indeed. I wouldn’t be opposed to Girardi replacing Griddle, but what I’m really wondering about is what happens if Girardi does indeed get the Yankees job. What then? Will the Blue still look elsewhere for a manager? Will Little be so upset about possibly having the rug yanked out from under him that it will make working relationships impossible?

We haven’t heard the last of this story, that’s for sure.

Oh, and can we please knock off the Torre rumors? Please? I don’t even like seeing it in print. Type. Internet ink. Whatever.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg