Managerial Rumors a Go-go

t1_joe_girardi.jpgWow, an actual… rumor?

First brought to my attention by intrepid reader Morgan, we’ve got fur flying here that if the Yankees choose Don Mattingly or Tony Pena as manager over Joe Girardi.. Girardi might be managing the Dodgers in 2008.

Or he might be the bench coach.

Or none of this could happen.

Let’s sort this out. ESPN’s Buster Olney is reporting that Girardi could have “a developing opportunity” with LA in 2008. We’ve got MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick saying nearly the exact same thing, while also suggesting the “opportunity” may be in the front office or as bench coach. Finally, we have the Newark Star-Ledger reporting the same, except with the added twist of not even being able to spell Girardi’s name right. Good reporting, guys.

And then we’ve got FOXsports.com’s Ken Rosenthal advocating that the Blue should hire Joe Torre and providing five reasons why, while starting off his article with an admission that there’s no proof to validate this rumor whatsoever. Which, shut up, Ken.

So what does this all mean? Let’s be clear – all anyone is saying is “sources say.” So there is no evidence that this is anywhere near happening, or even that this isn’t just posturing by the Girardi camp to press the Yankees into choosing him. What I’m most interested in is finding out if Colletti is actually losing patience with Griddle, because he’s been nothing but completely supportive of the yokel publicly. But if you read this blog at all, you know we’d clearly support a Grady-less future – but would a Girardi future be a brighter one?

Girardi, as most people know, coaxed 78 surprising wins out of a $14 million payroll in Florida in 2006, won the NL Manager of the Year Award, and was then.. fired, after a disagreement with owner Jeffrey Loria. Well, that’s a bonus right there: Loria’s an ass.

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

OMG JOE TORRE OMG

Over at Dodgers.com, Ken Gurnick felt the need to explain that Joe Torre won’t be coming to the Dodgers in 2008 now that he’s a free agent. (Sidebar: as you may or may not know, I live in New York City. Do you have any idea how many TV stations covered his press conference today live? By my count, eight: ESPN, YES, SNY, MLB.com (live on the internet), and the local NBC, FOX, ABC, and CBS affiliates. I didn’t even check CSPAN or the Food Network, but I’m sure they were discussing Torre’s impact on Canadian Parliament and lemon quiches, respectively.)

Anyway, first of all, thanks to Mr. Gurnick for taking a story that absolutely didn’t exist (Torre to torre.jpgLA? Where has this come up anywhere except for in the recess of his mind that says “uh-oh, I have a deadline coming up”?) and giving me something to populate this blog with.

Second of all, much as we really, really, don’t like Grady Little, I really didn’t want to see Torre in Blue either. Torre and Little are actually very similar types – pretty good at managing people, and pretty rotten at managing baseball lineups. It’s pretty common knowledge that Torre ruins bullpen arms by picking the 1 or 2 guys he trusts and using them 8 days a week – what do you think would happen if he got his hands on Broxton? No thanks. We’ve already got a laid-back, players’ manager who makes questionable lineup decisions. No need to make a lateral move.

Besides, all due respect for what Torre’s accomplished in New York, it’s pretty obvious that he was helped out just a little by all the, you know, talent. People forget now, but he was regarded as a pretty mediocre manager in his stops with the Mets, Braves, and Cardinals – St. Louis actually fired him in mid-1995, before he took the Yankees job. You know why? Those teams sucked. Do you remember the late-70′s Mets? Of course you don’t, because the reason the mid-80s Mets were so good was because they were able to take players like Strawberry and Gooden in the first round, thanks to their terrible finishes under Torre. This is a guy, who in 15 opportunities before going to the Bronx, finished in first exactly once – and he just happened to have the best player in the league on his 1982 Atlanta team, 26-year-old NL MVP Dale Murphy. Then he goes to a team who just happens to have Jeter, Rivera, Posada, etc. etc. entering their primes and look at that, all of a sudden he can manage. Amazing what talent can do, isn’t it?

Oh, and the most depressing part of Gurnick’s article? This:

Colletti selected Little over four other candidates — Jim Fregosi, John McLaren, Manny Acta and Joel Skinner. Since then, McLaren has become manager of the Seattle Mariners, Acta was hired to manage the Washington Nationals and Skinner is rumored to be in the running for the vacant Pittsburgh Pirates managing job.

I would kill up to nine people to somehow get Manny Acta. Not only did he guide a Nationals club that most predicted to be historically bad this year to a 4th place finish with under 90 losses, well, just read this. This is exactly the kind of guy I want leading my team. This guy gets it. Griddle does not.

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

Gather Round The Campfire, Kids

While I try to figure out if taking two of three against NL West-leading Arizona counts as a “successful weekend” or a “devastating setback, since both San Diego and Philadelphia swept their series,” I’d like to share this slice of genius from MSTI reader and BBWC commentator, the illustrious Shmolnick.

To the tune of.. well, hell, you know.

THE GRADY BUNCH

Here’s the story of a man named Grady
Who was sitting home just whiling away his time
He was fired from his previous job in Boston
For committing a baseball crime

Here’s the story of Ned Colletti
Who felt pressure to compete in a transition year
But ol’ Ned by nature was quite cautious
And had Frank in his ear

Until one day when Colletti hired Grady
And they signed a group of veterans on a hunch
That this group would somehow make the playoffs
That’s the way they became the Grady Bunch
The Grady Bunch
The Grady Bunch
That’s the way they became the Grady Bunch!

gradybunch.jpg

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

The Tales Of William Plaschke Shakespeare: Part I


Folks, meet William Plaschke Shakespeare.

William Plaschke Shakespeare, the younger, less talented and evil twin brother of the great William Shakespeare, has struck the world with more blithering non-sense in his latest column. Being prepared for this moment, I must first provide you with some background…

Growing up together, William Plaschke Shakespeare was always envious of his older brother’s work. After the elder William’s triumphant successes with “Romeo & Juliet,” “Hamlet,” “Lady MacBeth,” and more, William-Plaschke killed his older brother and immediately ran away to what became California. After awaiting the next 425 years to find work, he was hired by the L.A. Times in 1987. Since then, he has been extracting revenge on the audience that supported his brother through his miserable, one line at a time columns which try to mock his elder brother. For this, thy shall comment and knap upon Mr. Plaschke’s fustian article regarding the status of Grady Little, which cogs and deceits upon readers.

Take it away, William…

As announcements go, it shouldn’t be necessary.

As points go, it should be moot.

But there’s been enough screaming around this, that somebody needs to stick a sock in it, so allow me.

Grady Little will manage the Dodgers next season.

Period. End of story. End of screaming. Please.

“Yes, he’s back,” said Ned Colletti when I questioned the Dodgers’ general manager early Thursday evening.

I love how he starts out this article, building it all up with anticipation… and then all he goes by is a quote from Ned. What the hell is Ned going to say? I mean, imagine if it were the other way around:

(In the voice of the guy who does the movie commercials)

“In a world, where announcements aren’t necessary…

(tension builds)

As points go, they are all moot.

(orchestra builds into crescendo)

Where civilians scream in suspense, awaiting with anticipation…

(orchestra reaches climax)

Grady Little is going to get fired next season!

Period. End of story. End of screaming. Please.

“Yeah, I’m going to fire his candy ass at the end of the season! You heard it here first, I’m through with that bitch!” said Ned Colletti when I questioned the Dodgers’ general manager early Thursday evening.”

While we were talking, James Loney was working over San Diego’s Greg Maddux for five pitches that became an RBI double.

While I was typing out this sentence, I was working over the possibilities on what to eat for dinner. Hmm… should I go out and get something or, on this Saturday night, order a pizza? Dilemma!

Soon after we finished, Russell Martin was grabbing a 2-and-0 pitch and gunning it down to first base to pick off the Padres’ Scott Hairston.

And then, as I moved into this sentence, I went to change tracks on my iTunes playlist. Much to my chagrin, as I put the finishing period on the first sentence of this paragraph, I couldn’t decide to put on either “Innervisions” by Stevie Wonder or The Smiths’ “The Queen Is Dead.” but after thinking out every possible outcome and weighing all the pros and cons, I decided to take the Higher Ground and be adventurous, so I went with “Innervisions” as I finished the paragraph.

His team is in a race with an opening-day projected middle lineup — Jeff Kent, Luis Gonzalez and Nomar Garciaparra — which has combined for exactly as many home runs as Tampa Bay’s Carlos Pena (39).

It’s silly to lump Kent into that. Kent has 20 HR’s and hasn’t been the team’s problem… in fact, he’s had a very good year. Gonzo is exactly what you’d expect and, yes, that falls on Ned. However, here’s what does fall on Grady: if the lineup is that worthless in the middle of the order, then you go with the alternatives that are at your disposal. By May, everyone and their Mother knew that Nomar was done, yet he continued to hit in the 3 hole (260 at-bats), while the team’s best hitter throughout the first half, Russell Martin, was regulated to hitting sixth. Grady also controlled putting Andre Ethier, the team’s best hitter from about late June-August, in the lineup regularly by about July, once Gonzo began to tank and fall back to earth. Instead, Ethier had to fight for playing time and when he did get in the lineup, he would be hitting 8th.

The point is this: yes, some things Grady isn’t necessarily responsible for and he has had some bad luck, but while he couldn’t control Nomar’s unexpected rapid decline or Gonzo’s second half slide, what he COULD control was instead playing the younger and superior alternatives that were available. Yet the better choices either sat on the bench or, when played, hit at the bottom of the lineup.

His team is in a wild-card race when it is young enough to be in a sack race, infirmed enough to be in a bed race, and nutty enough to make it a very human race.

And that quote is an embarrassment to the human race.

He is coming back because, weird moves and wacky lineups and all, he has earned it.

So, no, he’s not getting fired for making in-game moves that have driven some fans crazy.

And, no, he’s not getting fired for filling out lineup cards which have driven some players crazy.

So, basically, he’s shitty at all of the above, yet somehow he has “earned” the right to keep being shitty at those things because…

The juggling of the lineup is nothing compared to the juggling in his office, where he has dealt with a procession of veterans complaining about playing time, rookies worried about getting cut, old guys trying to play through injuries, young guys afraid to aggravate those injuries.

The controversy he starts during games is nothing compared to the controversy he prevents during the three hours beforehand.

Sorry, no sympathy or admiration here. He’s getting paid the money to be a manager and handle these egos. If he’s letting their bitching impact his decisions, then he’s not doing his job. His primary focus should be on worrying about the best interest of the team and making sure that the best players go out there every day, not worrying about the best interests of washed up veterans’ precious egos, especially some who will be gone at the end of the year. If the veterans aren’t getting it done, then you say “Sorry, guys, but the numbers aren’t cutting it, we’re going to play the kids for a little bit,” or if Russell Martin keeps insisting that he play every inning, then you assert your authority and give him the rest. If he lets the players dictate and have influence, then he is spineless.

It is this communication upon which he should be judged.

Yeah, cause, you know… fuck all that actual managing stuff. Totally worthless. In fact, when I talk to Red Sox fans, they always say, even though Grady left Pedro in and helped blow the pennant for his team, they feel that’s irrelevant because you should have seen that kick ass communication he had with Pedro that night!

His hunch-playing from the bench will always make him a difficult manager to watch, particularly in the postseason when every move is magnified.

So, again, why do you keep defending him?

But Little is not about one game or one series. He’s a manager for all season.

You know, that’s so refreshing to hear, after all the managers we used to have that would only show up to the park once a week.

Thursday’s stars all benefited from Little’s strength.

Loney, with four runs batted in, was angrily in the minors until June 10. But Little helped him lose that anger in his swing.

So it has nothing to do with his sweet swing and Gold Glove defense. No, it’s because Grady Little gave him strength, he gave him passion, the will, the fight and the hunger and he gave him all of this as Loney was stuck in Triple-A for most of the first half. Then he provided even more strength once Loney was called up and kicked ass, only to still have to fight for playing time and then hit like 7th when he started. He also felt the strength when he was having to be regulated to try the outfield, because they had to keep precious Nomar at first base.

In reality, if I were James Loney, the only way I would take out that anger is to picture Grady’s or Ned’s face on the baseball every time I come up to the plate, after the way he and Ned completely fucked with him throughout this year. But, no, it’s all due to Grady’s Herculean strength.

Them, and him, a duo that deserves a chance to continue through next season, and will.

So the moral of this story? One, if you ever hear about the status of an organizational employee while that employee is still hired and the season isn’t over yet… always take it seriously.

And lastly: even if you suck at your job and can’t actually… I don’t know, perform it well, as long as you are an employee for all 52 weeks of the year and boost strength, then you’re on your way to CEO! Just picture your next job interview…

Interviewer: So, why should we at Johns Hopkins hire you to become our plastic surgeon?

Me: Well, because I think that based on my experience, I am fully qualified.

Interviewer: What is your experience in the medical field?

Me: Well, I used to be a plastic surgeon at UCLA, but I got involved in a lot of malpractice suits and my patients were never happy with my work; they thought I was a total incompetent. I was the guy who gave Michael Jackson all of his plastic surgery and I even accidentally gave one guy who just wanted a nose job a sex change… oh wait, that was Michael. But anyways, despite all of that, my colleagues always felt that their confidence and strength was increased around me with all the outings I used to invite them to. I showed up to work every day and I am good enough, smart enough and, doggone it, people like me!

Interviewer: You’re hired!

Vin vinscully-face.jpg

Is He Really Our Manager, or Just a Tourist Who Keeps Sneaking In?

You know what, it’s almost a crime that I’ve gone this far without overtly criticizing Grady Little. Whether it’s been his ridiculous lineups (Gonzalez should never play on a team with both Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, and never bat 5th when he does); or his complete lack of intensity on the field (I’m surprised one of his own players hasn’t slugged him for never backing them up during an argument with the ump); or his calling fans who second guess him st005_05.jpgupid, this hasn’t exactly been a shining season for Griddle. But he makes bad lineups out every single night, and that would kind of be a repetitive post.

No, what I’m on about today is an in-game decision he made last night – in a contest that could be described as, you know, a big game. 2.5 games out of the wild card going into a series against the team in the lead? This is not the time to screw around, ladies. This is not the time to massage veteran egos. This is the time to win.

Last night, Esteban Loaiza on the hill for the Blue against RoboPeavy. I think it’s fair to say that Loaiza just didn’t have “it” last night. (One might say that “it” was actually “an umpire who would actually call a strike now and then” – and they wouldn’t be wrong.)

First inning, he walks the bases loaded and gives up two runs. 2-0 Padres.

Second inning, he gives up a single to Josh Bard, and then a 2-run dinger to Brian Giles, swinging away on a 3-0 count. 4-0 Padres. Loaiza’s thrown 50 pitches by this point.

So far, this is not Griddle’s fault. Being down 4-0 is a consequence of Loaiza being ineffective combined with the postage-stamp sized strike zone behind the plate.

However.. the bottom of the 2nd. The Dodgers show some life against Cy Peavy. Kent singles. Gonzo walks. Turtle grounds out to move the runners to 2nd and 3rd. After Ethier strikes out, Nomar is intentionally walked to load the bases for Loaiza.

Who hits for himself. And inevitably, strikes out.

Grady. GRADY! Are you awake? You’re down 4-0 in a game you must win. You somehow managed to load the bases against the best pitcher in the league. Thanks to the expanded rosters, you’ve got half the state of California sitting on your bench. Just look at the sidebar here – this team is carrying fifteen pitchers. Plus, Loazia isn’t getting the job done. Look, it’s one thing if you’ve got Penny or Lowe or Billingsley in there mowing people down. You don’t take those guys out in the 2nd inning; you suck it up and hope to keep it close enough to get another offensive opportunity later. Tell me why you couldn’t have let Mark Sweeney (one of the best pinch-hitters to ever play the game) take a pop at a bases-loaded situation and throw Hull or Houlton out there for a few innings? Isn’t that why Sweeney is on this team? Isn’t that why we have 9282 pitchers? Personally, I hate the expanded rosters, but if there is ever a time to take advantage of it, this was it. Because honestly, what are we waiting for? There’s 20 games left in the season, and this team needs to win at least 3 more than the Padres do. Get on it.

But hey, at least we get the benefit of keeping Loaiza in the game, right? Because he.. bang, Khalil Greene homer. Oh, well at least.. bang, Kevin Kouzmanoff dinger. 6-0 Padres. Houlton and Hull, of course, later combined to pitch 3 and 2/3 scoreless innings.

Hey, maybe Sweeney (or whomever would have pinch hit) strikes out. Maybe it doesn’t matter. But maybe he gets a blooper to right field that plates two. And then Houlton and Hull don’t give up those two dingers that Loaiza did. We’ll never know. Thanks, Grady.

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