Goodbye Dan Evans

Well the axe finally fell and took its toll on a good friend, a good man and in my opinion an effective and proven General Manager Dan Evans. Frank McCourt completed his search for a new GM and named Paul DePodesta to that job with the Dodgers. DePodesta has been Billy Beane's assistant in Oakland for the last six years or so. The 31 year old Harvard grad who played baseball and other sports for the crimson, has reached his goal, to become a major league General Manager. <br><br>

Although saddened by the fate of Dan Evans, we wish DePodesta well and hope he can continue the progress made in recent years, bringing the Dodger farm system back on top from the doldrums. He brings an entirely different philosophy to Los Angeles He is a great believer in statistics and has favored signing college players as opposed to high schoolers. In the past hes seen the roles and values of on the scene scouting as somewhat over-rated. He and his mentor in Oakland have had some success despite not having nearly the money that the Dodgers have spent on payrolls. And so, he can bring his style and methods to the Dodgers, but with a great deal more money to spend to acquire the players who can make the Dodgers winners again and get them into the playoffs and hopefully the world series.

I will say this, after listening to Ben Plat interview DePodesta I feel less apprehensive. He seems open to the Dodger way of doing things and he was quite laudatory toward both Dan Evans and Logan White and his staff for the job they have done. His owner, Frank McCourt has said the Dodger payroll would be in the $100 million range. That should give the new GM a lot of wiggle room. It will be interesting to see what he does with it and I hope it will lead to finding one or two big hitters this month or next before the 2004 season opens in April. He did admit that it will be much tougher now to find that big hitter than it was back in October and of course he would not offer any names of players he might like, since that would be considered tampering, plus he offered the opinion that offensive acquisitions take priority right now over pitching.

Before going on … a few words about Dan Evans. I have been a supporter of his since he became G.M. I liked his philosophy and think he did a marvelous job under trying circumstances after taking over following the Malone years. He inherited many bad contracts which hindered his signing the kinds of players he would have liked to. He took a great deal of unfair heat this past winter without ever complaining and when placed in limbo as to his job. He didn't rant or rave or bad mouth anyone. Dan Evans is a gentlemen … a class guy, who I will miss. I hope he ultimately finds another General Manager's job . He has much to offer. Meanwhile, he and his family can enjoy this season probably from the sidelines. Finally a brief rundown of his major accomplishments and achievements:
1. Bringing in the talent which gave the Dodgers the best pitching staff in baseball in 2003 including Nomo, Ishii, Perez, Alvarez, Martin, Mota, and Quantrill.
2. He revamped what was a weak defense into one of the best anchored by Cesar Izturis at shortstop along with Dave Roberts in centerfield and Jolbert Cabrera one of the best utility men the Dodgers have had in years.
3. He brought in men like Bill Bavasi, Logan White, Matt Slater, John Boles and Terry Collins who all helped to rebuild the Dodger farm system from the bottom of the heap to one of the top two or three in the game and of course Kim Ng, his able assistant and top negotiator.
4. He got rid of several over priced contracts lowering a very high payroll which was producing very little results. It also made some room for what was hoped to be used by some top flight acquisitions.

In my book I would give Dan Evans an "A" for his efforts and achievements. Good luck Dan.

The Dodgers have hired a Hitting Coach, Tim Wallach. Although several other names had been mentioned, including several former Dodgers to replace George Hendrick.

New General Manager is still in the process of naming a Director of Player Development, in effect the person who oversees the minor league system. Sometime back, Evans indicated that his assistant Kim Ng might be named to that job, but, that comment was met with surprise in many quarters, since her credentials for that particular job doesn't really measure up to the usual standards.

Now even her current position as Assistant G.M. may come into question. Will Podesta keep her or will he bring in his own person? Might Kim even decide to leave on her own since her mentor is out of his GM job?

As for the former Bavasi job I thought about it recently when I heard the Dodgers refused the Boston Red Sox permission to talk with Terry Collins about a possible base coaching job. The Red Sox have three former Dodger people in key positions, Dave Wallace as Pitching Coach, Ron Jackson as Hitting coach and former Las Vegas manager Brad Mills as a coach. Collins certainly has the qualifications for that position, as does John Boles who had a solid record in the Marlins' minor league system before becoming their manager. But at this point, that speculation is now moot, since again the new General Manager will name who he thinks is best for the position.

Spring training has just opened with the pitchers, catchers and players coming off injuries coming to Vero Beach. So let's take an early look at the team. Holes remain. That right handed power hitter has not been found or secured, nor has a second big bopper for either OF or 1B. It seems that the once sought second basemen who can lead off was a dream long ago forgotten. Again those decisions will now be made by Paul DePodesta.

However I wonder if the White Sox GM Ken Williams might be ready to re-engage trade talks since the Dodgers have replaced Evans. Ands also because in losing Rob Person to injury even before he ever put on their uniform their need for a starting pitcher is even more dire. Person is slated for surgery and is expected to miss the entire 2004 season. So, might Williams relent some and reconsider his earlier player demands from the Dodgers or will DePodesta be willing to trade heretofore untouchables under the Evans regime? It would be wonderful if the Sox will now take Odalis Perez straight up for Carlos Lee or, if not for either Frank Thomas or Paul Konerko even up.

How long will it take the new GM to make a deal for a power hitting outfielder if that's the trade rather than a first basemen. I wonder if either Richard Hidalgo of the Astros or Geoff Jenkins of the Brewers are available.

If the Dodgers got either Konerko or Thomas, both of whom bat right handed with power, would that be it, or might they also try for a left handed power hitter such as Jenkins? With two solid hitters they could easily live without the once sought after second basemen who could leadoff.

Possible new regulars are Bubba Trammell an excellent left fielder, above average defensively and if he could get over 500 at bats, might become a 30 home run hitter and drive in close to 100 runs, while hitting in the mid .260s. Juan Encarnacion is an outstanding outfielder who made no errors in over 150 games last year for the Marlins. He plays all three outfield positions but his best two are center and right respectively. He'll bat around the .270s and could hit 15 to 20 home runs and drive in 75 to 85, depending on where he bats.

As to the other possible players: There are outfielders Wilkin Ruan, and Chin Feng Chen, both right handed hitters. Infielders Alex Cora and Joe Thurston lefty hitters, Jolbert Cabrera and Jose Hernandez right handed batters and a 1B/OF Jeremy Giambi and Robin Ventura a 3B/1B both lefty hitters. You know the other players Izturis, Beltré, Green, Roberts, LoDuca, Ross and Hundley.

As for the pitchers, they will like carry 11 again. Possible starters include Nomo, Ishii, Weaver, Perez, Jackson, Dreifort, Alvarez and then relievers Gagné, Mota, Shuey, Colyer, Martin and then non-roster invitees Jose Lima and Rick White and maybe a surprise prospect from down on the farm. Anyway ... things will get sorted out and no doubt there might be one or two new players coming in we don't know about as yet.

Despite all my frustrations with the Dodgers this winter, I can't wait to get over to Dodgertown tomorrow. Initially my attention will center around the following:
1. Trying to get to meet Frank and Jamie McCourt.
2. Get to meet and talk with the new General Manager Paul Podesta.
3. Check out pitchers Jeff Weaver, Darren Dreifort, Edwin Jackson, Greg Miller and Joel Hanrahan.
4. When the regular position players come in on the 23rd, watch the work of Juan Encarnacion, Bubba Trammell, Franklin Gutierrez and James Loney.
5. See what Joe Thurston will do this spring in his second quest to win the second base job.

I'm checking several times a day to see any breaking news as to team officials, coaches and new players who might have been named. And so, baseball is back and I for one am looking forward to having the Dodgers back in town and having my morale raised. See you at the park.