Joe Torre, Hall Of Famer

Those were the days. I guess. (via)

Those were the days. I guess. (via)

With about .00001 percent of the publicity and controversy surrounding the regular Hall of Fame balloting, the Veterans Committee elected three new members this morning, enshrining managers Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, and Joe Torre (all unanimously). I was never really Torre’s biggest fan as a Dodger manager — and I can show that with consistency, from before he arrived until the day he left — but it’s pretty hard to argue with his credentials. Yes, I’m talking about the rings that Derek Jeter and friends gave him in New York, but also the 18-year playing career that included eight All-Star appearances and the 1971 NL MVP award. If anything, I’m surprised he wasn’t included sooner than this.

Former Dodgers Steve Garvey and Tommy John didn’t make it, unsurprisingly, nor did former union head Marvin Miller, who absolutely should be in Cooperstown.

Frank McCourt Just Isn’t Going to Make This Easy, Is He

Like I was really not going to take advantage of the opportunity to bring this back

So Bill Shaikin brings us some good news

Rick Caruso and former Dodgers manager Joe Torre have withdrawn a joint bid to buy the Dodgers, three people familiar with the sale process said Thursday.

As you probably know, most of you know that I wasn’t all that excited about the possibility of Torre taking over control of the club, simply because he had to be considered by far the most likely of any of the potential new owners to retain Ned Colletti. So let’s enjoy a small victory there, and then jam our thumbs into our eye sockets as we see why it is that Caruso and Torre are no longer involved…

Caruso cited owner Frank McCourt’s refusal to include the Dodger Stadium parking lots in the sale, according to the people, who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the sale process. (snip)

Caruso and other bidders have believed the purchase of the parking lots would be negotiable. Caruso’s decision to withdraw offers the clearest evidence yet that McCourt intends to keep the lots and try to build on them.

…well, then. Shaikin also notes that McCourt claims he has at least one bid in hand that would allow him to retain the parking lots, and while I have absolutely no inside information to tell you who, it’s not too much of a stretch to wonder if that’s Stan Kroenke, since we’ve already heard suggestions that Kroenke might buy the Dodgers largely to team with McCourt in order to build a football stadium in the parking lots to bring the Rams back home.

Now before we all go off into a fury here, remember: this is Frank McCourt. As far as I’m concerned, he’d sell his own mother to North Korea if he thought it’d make him a few extra dollars, so it’s not at all hard to believe that McCourt may simply be playing hard to get when it comes to the lots in the hopes that some bidder will completely blow him away to get him to “reluctantly” include the parking lots.

Don’t also forget that McCourt has a legal obligation to sell the team by April 30. He can’t simply say that he didn’t get an offer he liked and change his mind, so he’s going to have to agree with somebody. It’d be nice if none of the bidders were willing to offer him deals that involve McCourt retaining the lots, so the indication that there’s at least one interested party who would let him keep the lots is quite disappointing.

But I’ll offer this: we just witnessed the winter of the “mystery team”. Who saw Prince Fielder going to the Tigers? Albert Pujols to the Angels? Yoenis Cespedes to the Athletics? You’ll notice that in the Shaikin story, the line that indicates McCourt has an offer that would allow him to keep the lots starts with the line, “McCourt has told people…” Well, I trust Bill Shaikin unconditionally, but that sentence might as well end with “…that Justin Bieber will be playing left field” or “…that he’s building parking lots on the moon.” Until we hear from a far more reputable source than Frank McCourt, we have no idea if there really is a bidder who is willing to let Frank stay involved. And if there’s not, then McCourt’s going to have no choice but to sell the team and the lots, if that’s the best he can do in the next few weeks.

As always, the clock is ticking, Frankie. See you in hell.

At Least a Dozen Potential Ownership Groups Vying for Dodgers

With initial bids for ownership of the Dodgers due two weeks from today, it’s worth looking into the various groups we’ve heard publicly declare interest in the team. It’s a fascinating combination of Dodger legends, Los Angeles public figures, and financial backers worth absolutely obscene amounts of money.

What I do think people need to keep in mind, however, is that with the possible exception of Mark Cuban, if you’ve heard of any of these names, then they’re not providing the money. I’ve been amazed how often people will see an ownership group headed by, say, Steve Garvey, and say “wow! Steve Garvey’s a billionaire?!” Of course he’s not; he, like Joe Torre, like Magic Johnson, etc., are the sports- and Los Angeles-friendly public face on the front of a group of shady moneymen who are largely anonymous to most fans.

Let’s get down the list, knowing that there are probably still others who may be throwing their hats in the ring.

Joe Torre/Rick Caruso
Pros: No one on this list has anything like the continuous baseball experience that Torre brings dating back to 1960, and he remains a popular figure among many Dodger fans; in addition, his ties with MLB and Selig should make approval easy. Caruso, a real estate billionaire, certainly has the money, and Bill Shaikin’s tweet that “the banker in the Caruso/Torre group is Byron Trott of BDT Capital in Chicago, called by Warren Buffett “the only banker he trusts” seems positive.

Cons: Torre is decidedly old school, and might not be as open to new ideas as I’d like. I don’t consider it at all a coincidence that Matt Kemp broke out as soon as Torre and his staff left, and I’d worry that unlike most other new owners, Torre may not do the front office housecleaning I think we’re all hoping for. In addition, while I don’t think anyone is against sprucing up Dodger Stadium and the surrounding area, there could be concern that Caruso might push for something far too over the top.

Obviously, it all depends on the cash, but I’d have to guess this group is near the head of the pack; Torre likely wouldn’t have quit his MLB gig for a mere shot in the dark.

Stephen Cohen
Pros: Massively wealthy hedge fund executive, possibly worth around $8 billion dollars. Could include Arn Tellem, longtime player agent, and Steve Greenberg, former MLB deputy commissioner, in his group, which would provide plenty of baseball cache. Did I mention just how absurdly rich he is?

Cons: So, so, many. I don’t mind that he’s from the East Coast, but the fact that he’s reportedly never set foot in Dodger Stadium isn’t a plus. His firm is being investigated for a criminal insider trading scandal, and he’s been involved in a divorce so nasty that it might actually rival the McCourt mess. Looks like the unholy love child of Dr. Evil, Ham Rove, and Danny DeVito’s Penguin character from “Batman Returns”. After what we’ve all been through, I don’t think we can handle another scandal-ridden moneyman with no connection to baseball or the area.

Stanley Gold / Roy Disney Family
Pros: A relatively new name in the hunt, Roy Disney’s family has reportedly partnered with investment head Gold to try to purchase the team. Gold, a 69-year-old Los Angeles native, is perhaps best known for helping the Disney family push Michael Eisner out of the company. He has personalized autographs from Stan Musial and Babe Ruth in his home.

Cons: This group’s interest is so new that there’s been little further detail known about them, but they have a significant lack of baseball experience so far. Disney, of course, owned the Angels from 1996-03, which I’m guessing many Dodger fans would find as a detriment, though I would point out that “Disney, the corporation” isn’t really the same thing as “the late Roy Disney’s family”, at least as far as we know.

Magic Johnson/Stan Kasten/Mark Walter
Pros: Johnson is of course a tremendously well-known public figure in Los Angeles, and Kasten is one of the most respected men in baseball, having run the Braves and Nationals dating back to 1986. Walter is the head of Guggenheim Partners, an investment firm that has $125b in holdings. As described to ESPN’s Buster Olney, “their ownership of the Dodgers — if it happens — would work this way: Walter would write the big checks; Kasten would oversee the baseball operations; and Johnson, who recently sold his ownership share of the Los Angeles Lakers, would work as a president or vice president on both the business side and in recruiting players, when needed.” Johnson currently owns part of Cincinnati’s Dayton Dragons farm team, one of the most successful in all of minor league baseball; if this group won, he’d be one of the highest-ranking minorities in sports, which is notable.

Cons: Honestly, not all that many that I can see. Johnson has barely any baseball experience – I’m assuming he’s not really involved in the day-to-day operations of the Dragons – but Kasten’s long and respected track record ameliorates that somewhat. This is a pretty solid combination of local celebrity / baseball experience / financial backing.

Time Warner Cable
Pros: Uh… hmm. Let me get back to you on that one.

Cons: We’ve lived through corporate ownership that was mostly interested in television ratings once, right? Remember, that’s how Mike Piazza ended up being traded, thanks to FOX scuzzball Chase Carey. While it may make fiscal sense for TWC to just buy the team rather than pay billions for television rights, that could just hurt the Dodgers, because then they may not get the huge television contract they’re in line for – and don’t forget, that’s largely what fueled the Anaheim spending spree this winter. Does not want.

Tony Ressler
Pros: Like Gold, a new name in the process. Married to actress Jami Gertz, which I suppose is neither a pro nor a con, rather merely a thing that is true. Ressler was part of the Mark Attanasio investment group which purchased the Brewers in 2005, though it’s unclear if he’s still involved with Milwaukee. He’s a co-founder of investment group Ares Management, which has $40b in holdings.

Cons: So far, just a lack of information. Attanasio is pretty much my dream owner, and he and Ressler have been friends since the 1980s, so that’s promising, but we just don’t know enough about Ressler’s group to really say yet.

Dennis Gilbert / Larry King
Pros: Gilbert, a former player agent and executive for the White Sox, has been rumored to be a potential bidder for the Dodgers for years. King’s involvement is somewhat unclear since this appears to be primarily Gilbert’s group, though it’s worth noting that both King and Gilbert have had season tickets for years. Gilbert tried to purchase the Rangers last season but lost out; he’s aligned with Jason Reese and Randy Wooster, who run investment bank Imperial Capital. Gilbert’s baseball credentials are excellent, dating back to the two seasons he spent as a minor league outfielder for the Red Sox and Mets in 1968-69.

Cons: So far, nothing stands out. Gilbert has a great history and lots of appeal, but will the sticker shock be too much?

Fred Claire
Pros: Has obvious baseball experience in that he was the club’s GM from 1989-98, and worked for the club for nearly thirty years in total. We haven’t heard much about this group – including former Dodger batboy and biotech executive Ben Hwang & Andy Dolich, executive for several pro sports teams – since Claire first announced interested in early November.

Cons: Claire traded Pedro Martinez for Delino DeShields. I know it has nothing to do with his potential as an owner, and I know that at the time it was defensible. It still happened. More importantly, we need to know more about the financial backing in his group, of which little information is known.

Steve Garvey / Orel Hershiser
Pros: Obviously, the 27 combined seasons they spent as Dodgers is a fun draw for some fans. (Surprisingly, at least to me, they were never teammates; Garvey left after 1982, and Hershiser made his debut the following season.) Hershiser is well thought-of within the game, and this group reportedly passed the initial step of the bid process. A successful bid might make Sons of Steve Garvey implode in all the right ways.

Cons: Though Garvey and Hershiser have good name recognition, there’s very little information thus far about who would be the financial muscle behind this group. (Joey Herrick of Natural Balance Pet Foods is reportedly a minority investor, but we still don’t know who would be the primary backer.) Garvey was fired by McCourt from his community relations job last June, in part because he made his intentions to pursue the team clear, so there’s some question about whether McCourt would select Garvey’s group even if the numbers were right. In addition, Garvey is hardly without black marks on his record.

Peter O’Malley
Pros: Certainly is the only one here who can say they have actual experience owning the Dodgers, since he and his father owned the club for decades. Very publicly called for McCourt to sell for the good of the team back in 2010. One of the groups that passed the initial step. He’d be partnering with his nephews, Robert & Peter Seidler, who run their own equity firm, in an effort to return the team to family ownership.

Cons: It can be argued that O’Malley set this entire mess in motion by selling to FOX in the first place. He’s also 74 years old, and while that alone shouldn’t immediately disqualify him, the task of restoring the Dodgers is a large one, so I’d prefer someone under 60. Besides, it’s not like the Dodgers were in such great shape over the last decade or so of his reign anyway.

Mark Cuban
Pros: Successful experience in pro sports ownership, having turned the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks from a laughingstock into league champions. Young, wealthy, more in tune with the fan perspective than most other names on this list, and clearly has interest in MLB ownership, having previously been involved in bidding for the Rangers and Cubs. Would likely come into town with a flourish with grand gestures to win the fans back; all but guaranteed to cause Bud Selig heartburn with his public outbursts.

Cons: That last “pro” is also a con, because I’m far from convinced that Selig would ever let Cuban into his little club. It’s fun to think about, but the chances here are low. He’s said previously he’s not likely to bid if the price is over $1 billion, and I’m guessing it’s easily going to be more than that. Besides, he may or may not actually be interested in making a bid, and it’s fair to wonder if he’d be spread thin owning two teams.

Josh Macciello
Pros: Uh, let’s start with “cons” on this one.

Cons: May be completely full of it, to the point where I probably shouldn’t even validate it by including him on this list. Spelled Vin Scully’s name wrong, which is unforgivable. Impossible at this moment to verify just about anything he’s claimed. Even if he’s for real, you think Cuban would have a tough time getting approved? Just imagine Bud and his stodgy friends discussing this guy. I mean, look at him.

Pros: If this is for real, I have a hard time pretending that there’s not some appeal to a young, wealthy, fan type in a sea of soulless, dead-eyed venture capitalist scuzzballs. There’s definitely some fun in the anarchist idea of trying something completely new and non-traditional, even if by all accounts it’s a terrible idea. In the same sense that “I mean, look at him” is a con, it’s also a pro. You can only see the top part of it in this picture, but his T-shirt is Rocky Balboa, which he’s wearing because “he’s an underdog”. (This is a thing he said.) Hilarity would ensue. He’d probably have the national anthem sung by Megadeth or something.

If I had to put odds on this one, I’d go with “about the same as Juan Uribe winning the NL MVP… in each of the next twenty seasons. Unanimously. And to the point where they rename it ‘the Juan Uribe Award’.”

******

So that’s 12 groups, at least that we know of. Tom Hoffarth of the LA Daily News appears to favor Torre’s group, which is fine – though as I said, Torre’s possible reluctance to want a new general manager worries me. At this early stage, I think the Magic Johnson/Stan Kasten and Dennis Gilbert groups appeal to me the most, since they have the right combination of local passion and baseball experience – if the money is right. As time goes on, it’s likely that some of these groups will disappear and others could join forces. We should know more in two weeks or so when the bid deadline has passed; until we know who actually has the serious cash to back up their interest, trying to guess who the next owner might be is mere speculation.

You Might Not Have Seen the Last of Joe Torre

First, a small piece of baseball history, the relevance of which will become clear in a second.

[In 1977], when Ted Turner tried to manage the Braves as a temporary replacement for beleaguered incumbent Dave Bristol, he became a one-day non-wonder. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and National League president Chub Feeney shot him down after one game, ruling that anyone who owned stock in a club could not manage it.

Phew. Now that that’s out of the way, the real news of the day:

Joe Torre resigned his executive position at Major League Baseball on Wednesday to join with Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso in bidding to buy the Dodgers.

The news is somewhat stunning, considering it’s been less than a year since Torre accepted the job of Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations with MLB in the first place, and it adds yet another wrinkle to a sale process that has already seen the bidding deadline extended from January 13 to the 23rd. (It should be noted, however, that the Los Angeles Times had been speculating about such a move since at least November.) Caruso, owner of degrees from USC and Pepperdine, is a real estate billionaire who reportedly has considered running for mayor, and a pairing of that kind of financial backing with Torre’s popularity and baseball experience could be formidable. (Bill Shaikin also adds that the “the banker in the Caruso/Torre group is Byron Trott of BDT Capital in Chicago, called by Warren Buffett “the only banker he trusts.”)

Obviously this is far, far away, but it’s interesting to try to imagine what Torre might do if he returned to the team with some sort of executive power, similar to Nolan Ryan in Texas. You’d have to think he’d fight hard to retain Don Mattingly, as Shaikin also suggests, but what do we really know about his relationship with Ned Colletti? The chance of Colletti remaining is what scares me most of all, though as Jon Weisman notes, Kim Ng might also be an intriguing choice for Torre.

Still, we’re not there yet, or even close. Though the on-the-field situation appears to be quite stagnant for the next few months with the roster all but set, the groups gearing up for the ownership battle look to be huge, worth billions of dollars and some featuring names known to fans for decades. If not Torre/Caruso, there’s Magic Johnson. Or Steve Garvey/Orel Hershiser. Or Peter O’Malley. Or Fred Claire. Or Steve Cohen. Or maybe even Mark Cuban, or a dozen other groups. Strap in. It’s going to be fun.

*****

Hey, remember the whole bizarre “Rod Barajas swinging Dee Gordon like a baby” thing? It made #24 on SBNation‘s list of “The Greatest Animated Sports GIFS of 2011″. So long, Rod.

MSTI’s 2010 in Review: Management

With the players in the books, we turn to management today. Though I’m going to reference some moves from previous years, the grade is based only on putting together the 2010 club, so only moves made from the last pitch of 2009 until the end of the 2010 season are considered.

Ned Colletti (D-)

Ned Colletti got off to a pretty atrocious start as Dodger general manager after arriving in the winter of 2005-06. He signed Juan Pierre, Jason Schmidt, and Andruw Jones to disastrous big-money deals. He gave nearly $10m to broken-down Bill Mueller, who played all of 32 games for the Dodgers. He traded top prospect Carlos Santana to Cleveland for far less than his value, and he made more than one terrible trade with Tampa, ultimately losing Edwin Jackson for veterans and spare parts. Those are only the marquee mistakes, since there’s plenty of arguments to be made that several good young role players were lost in the name of keeping useless veterans like Ricky Ledee and Jose Cruz, Jr. Besides, he signed Angel Berroa. Twice!

Fairly or unfairly, even the successes that did happen weren’t seen as being fully credited to him. No one on the planet saw Andre Ethier turning into what he has, signing Hiroki Kuroda was in large part due to Logan White (who at one point said he’d “stake his reputation on him”), and the Manny Ramirez deal basically fell into his lap. Though much was made of the team going to the playoffs three times in four years, the 2006 club was largely Paul DePodesta’s doing, and the 2008 and 2009 teams were built on the back of White’s farm system. It’s no secret that I, and many like me, have not been the biggest fan of Ned Colletti.

However, after the 2008 season ended, I felt his performance began to improve. Though I didn’t like giving three years to Casey Blake, it wasn’t fatal (Blake was very good in 2009), and he did a masterful job in waiting out Scott Boras in the Manny negotiations (and although there’s an argument to be made that the deal wasn’t worth it, don’t forget what Boras originally wanted, and that this was pre-suspension, much-loved Manny). He was able to land Randy Wolf and Orlando Hudson when they signed below-market one-year deals, and picking up Vicente Padilla off the scrap heap late in the 2009 season worked out wonderfully. Santana aside, all of the prospects we’d grown attached to – Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, etc. – were still in the organization, and we can’t possibly know what the real impact of the McCourt divorce was on his decision-making, which is largely why I’m giving him a pass here on the foolish decisions to not offer arbitration to Wolf or Hudson after 2009.

Though I still wouldn’t consider myself a fan of Colletti, my opinion of him had definitely improved heading into the 2010 season. Sorry to say, nearly all of that goodwill has now been washed away after a series of disastrous moves.

Let’s be fair here and start with the one really good offseason move, trading Pierre to Chicago for John Ely and Jon Link. At the time, I said:

Indeed, because despite how much some of us may have wanted to get Ned Colletti’s promised “back of the rotation” starter, this deal is not about the players who the Dodgers get. This deal would be a win even if no one came back.

Think about the gift the White Sox have bestowed upon the Dodgers, even without the players. They’ve basically paid LA $8m to have less controversy and better defense off the bench. Who cares if the pitchers coming back are even breathing?

Of course, Ely and Link both look to be useful, so that’s a nice win for Colletti, even if it is rectifying a huge mistake of his own making. Signing Jamey Carroll also worked out a lot better than most of us expected, as well. Otherwise? Yikes.

The problems began in the spring, where not one but two horrible retread Ortizes made the roster. Then Eric Stults, hardly a star but certainly usable for a team with rotation questions, was sold off to Japan without much of a reason. And despite several rounds of begging on my part, Garret Anderson was signed and made the team.

At the end of April, with the Dodgers struggling on all fronts, Colletti chose to call out Matt Kemp for his baserunning and defense. The issue here is not that Colletti was wrong, but that his timing was absurd. The Dodgers of late April had huge problems with pitching and fielding, while the offense was doing fine. Kemp had an OPS of .934 at that point; he managed just .730 for the rest of the season as controversy swirled. That’s more on Kemp than Colletti, of course, but the comments certainly didn’t help. As I said at the time, there were about three dozen reasons bigger than Kemp why the team was flailing.

In May, Xavier Paul and Ely were sent down in order to keep the atrocious Anderson and Ramon Ortiz, which would be bad enough, except the kicker was the comments made by Paul:

“I don’t fit here right now, that’s it,” Paul said after being consoled by teammates Casey Blake and Matt Kemp. “Right now, I just don’t cut it here.”

Paul said he was told by general manager Ned Colletti to work on his mental approach to the game “and being a big leaguer.”

In addition, when Rafael Furcal was hurt that month, Nick Green was chosen to replace him rather than Chin-lung Hu. In the space of a week, three young players were passed over for three useless veterans.

Then July hit, and things really got ugly with three ill-conceived deadline deals. Octavio Dotel pitched just 18.2 IP for the Dodgers before being dumped on Colorado. Ryan Theriot was horrendous, with a .606 OPS, and Scott Podsednik managed just a .313 OBP before being injured. Only Ted Lilly provided any value at all, but as I said more than once before the deadline, the starting pitching wasn’t the problem – the offense was. Even with Lilly making a good impression, adding Theriot and Podsednik sunk the offense even further, and we all saw how well that ended. These were trades that never should have been made.

That’s just talking about who came to LA, without even considering the prospects that left town. Though giving up Andrew Lambo and James McDonald for Dotel was a crime in itself, what really bothered me is that for the seven prospects the team gave up, they got one good pitcher and a pile of crap. If you were going to trade all that, shouldn’t you have received more? This bothered me at the time

In the last few days, the Dodgers have traded James McDonald, Blake DeWitt, Andrew Lambo, Lucas May, Kyle Smit, Elisaul Pimentel, and Brett Wallach.

They’ve acquired Ted Lilly, Ryan Theriot, Scott Podsednik, and Octavio Dotel – basically, a decent but not vital starter, a lousy middle infielder, a mediocre outfielder, and a decent veteran reliever, and all over 30.

Now, most of the baseball community has spent an enormous amount of time lately laughing at the Diamondbacks and Astros for the seemingly meager hauls they pulled in for Dan Haren and Roy Oswalt. You’re telling me that some combination of the players the Dodgers just traded couldn’t have pulled in one of those guys? Alternatively, is there really anyone who wouldn’t have preferred Haren or Oswalt rather than the collection of mediocre, over-30 veterans they just pulled in?

Yet despite all the moves, the offense – the biggest problem – didn’t get improved, and arguably was made worse. That’s supposed to help propel the team to October how, exactly? Really, what a terrible day all around.

…and I don’t feel much differently about it now. It soon became clear the new acquisitions weren’t going to get the team to the playoffs, and other than Lilly were proving to actively hurt that goal. This led to Manny being claimed off of waivers by Chicago, a move I promoted. However, when you’re letting your most talented hitter walk for nothing, that seems like a pretty big sign that this is not your year and it’s time to move on.

If you decide that it’s time to pack it up, and to move Manny, it shouldn’t stop there. Ted Lilly should go. Hiroki Kuroda. Octavio Dotel. Casey Blake, if you can get anyone to pick up his contract for next year. Really, anyone who’s not signed for 2011 or doesn’t have a good chance of returning should be moved. I’m probably not speaking for the majority here, but if the team doesn’t make the playoffs then it makes no difference at all to me whether they finish 4 games out or 10.

Manny did get claimed, and the next day I begged Colletti to swallow his pride and start selling in August for what he could get:

Hiroki Kuroda, perhaps at the peak of his value after last night’s gem, was claimed on waivers by the Padres, who could badly use a veteran starter.

Ted Lilly, who’s been brilliant since coming to the Dodgers except for his last start, was claimed on waivers by the Yankees, who have serious depth issues in the rotation.

Yet the Dodgers, in their infinite wisdom, decided to trade neither one, meaning they’re doing exactly what I begged them not to last week: they’re doing this half-assed. They have a 4.1% chance of making the playoffs, and they just dumped their best hitter on the White Sox, yet they’re acting like they’re primed for a playoff push.

Of course, none of that happened. Yes, they did re-sign Lilly and Kuroda, but if they wanted to play in LA so badly that could have still happened this winter.

All  in all, not a great season for the general manager, and it doesn’t engender a lot of confidence going forward. Hey, I’m not perfect either. Not every move I liked has worked out, and you’re always going to come up with some stinkers, no matter what you do. There’s just a big difference between well-intentioned moves that don’t pay off, and moves that were a terrible idea from the moment they were conceived. I’d like to see the Dodgers get a few less of the latter.

Joe Torre (D-)

So much has been said about Torre already that I’m going to take the easy way out and reiterate what I said about him when he officially stepped down:

As for Torre not returning, you know me well enough by now to know that I’m thrilled by this news, because Torre’s time in LA had clearly passed. Honestly, I could go for weeks about the issues I’ve had with his management – you know, things like incorrectly playing the matchups, generally overworking the bullpen, bringing in George Sherrill against a righty in the 9th inning of a tie game, letting Jonathan Broxton throw 95 pitches in five days (which he still hasn’t recovered from), sitting Matt Kemp in favor of Juan Pierre, continuous usage of clearly busted veterans like Garret Anderson & Mark Sweeney, running Russell Martin into the ground (in addition to his ridiculous “third base days off“), batting Juan Pierre leadoff every goddamn daytempting the fates of both Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda by using them before and after long rain delays, and finally, the most ridiculous quote anyone’s ever given:

“I tried to reason who was going to give me the better at-bat – Berroa or Loney,” Torre said.

…which I’m still reeling from, even though it was two years ago. I’ve barely scratched the surface there, but I’m not going to go any further. Partially, that’s because I don’t have the time to clear my schedule for two solid weeks to dig up every stupid thing he’s done, but mostly because the last three years of this blog provide a pretty solid record of it.

Besides, it’s unfair to not at least recognize his accomplishments, and the team did make it to the NLCS twice in his three years. While I haven’t always agreed with the way he ran the clubhouse, the off-field drama this team has had to deal with since arrival – the divorce and Manny’s suspension, just to name two - could have easily led to a complete collapse under a lesser manager. It hasn’t been smooth, but Torre mostly avoided that, and he deserves credit for it.

Mostly, I’m just glad he’s moving on. Torre may have been the right fit for the 2008 and 2009 teams, talented outfits that were trying to heal from the “veterans-vs-kids” split of the Grady Little years. Clearly, he’s not the right fit for the 2010 club, and I can’t see his “old-school” style working as this team moves forward.

That about sums it up.

******

That’s it for the 2010 season in review pieces; thanks for sticking through me despite how depressing most of them ended up being. Unless anything happens on the player front, we’ll be back on Monday as the Hot Stove really gets going. Enjoy the weekend.