Q and A with Dave Anderson

Dave Anderson was the Dodgers' first-round draft choice in 1981 as a shortstop out of Memphis State. He went on to play 10 seasons in the big leagues including two stints with the Dodgers (1983-89 and 1992.). After his playing days were over, he became a manager in the Detroit system, heading teams all the way from rookie ball to Triple A. He then returned to his alma mater, now known as Memphis University, where he was head baseball coach for four years.

This season he has returned to professional ball as the infield coordinator for the Dodgers. As such, LADugout caught up to him at a recent minor league game.

Q- You've seen every team in the system now. What is your evaluation of the overall talent the Dodgers have?

A- I think we're just about where we want to be, certainly in the lower minors. There's a lot more here than there was in the Detroit system when I was with the Tigers. But I'd have to say of all the organizations, the one that I think is most stocked is the Marlins. They're loaded, particularly at Double and Triple A.

Q- One of the situations that seems about to occur will happen when Andy LaRoche is promoted from Vero Beach to Jacksonville which seems a certainty. They've been playing Joel Guzman more and more at third with the Suns. How will you work this out?

A- Oh, I think you can get both into the lineup without too much trouble. I think Guzman has shown he can play that position. I really don't see his future being at short. It's what you're striving for, really -- to have depth at every position. You put them out there and see who suits your needs. Who knows? Down the road, Blake DeWitt, who's at Columbus now, may turn out to be the best of them all.

Q- Moving over a position, who do you think is the best pure shortstop in the organization?

A- Without a doubt, it's Jose Flores, up at Las Vegas.

Q- How about Chin-lung Hu at Vero?

A- He certainly has the tools to play the position but he's doing some things wrong that I've noticed. He can get away with it down here but he won't at a higher level. We'll work on that.

Q- Lucas May at Columbus is a shortstop with a lot of errors (24 at last count). What's the problem there?

A-You have to realize that players can get into fielding slumps just like they do batting slumps. Some things go wrong and you begin to doubt yourself. You can't take the field with that attitude. If he makes a couple of good plays, that will give him the confidence that he can play the position and it could turn things around.

Q- Moving over the second, there's a lot of people who feel that Delwyn Young is a hitter playing out of position; that he's too stiff to play second. What's your feeling?

A- No question he has some problems but I think it's too early to make a judgment that he can't play there. Let's let him play there and make that decision down the line.

Q- What's the philosophy that you bring to this job?

A- There are three ways somebody learns to do something. One actually doing it day after day. Another is by observation, seeing the correct way and applying that. A third is by instruction, either by reading or being shown by somebody. Every player in the minors has one goal- to make the major leagues. Our job is to make that path easier by showing them what they have to do to succeed.

I can't tell anybody that if he works hard, he'll make it up because hard work isn't enough; you have to have the talent. But I know this -- that if you have talent and don't work hard, you won't make it. Every player starts out the same, no mater how high he was drafted. Oh, sure, the ones drafted high will get more time to make it but no one will if he doesn't work at it and grow. Some will and some won't ever get it.

Q- Why did you leave college coaching?

A- I got tired of the bureaucracy and the NCAA restrictions, some of which are silly. I used to get questions like, why do we need so many baseballs. I had to explain that you have to have them to practice with for one thing. Another question is why we needed to travel by plane sometimes. Why couldn't we bus everywhere? I told them that in the conference we played in we had to go to places in Florida or the Carolinas and it just wasn't feasible to bus distances like that.

Then, there's recruiting. There are kids who are good players and have good grades. Programs like Stanford and Georgia Tech tend to get them. There are kids who are good students but not so talented on the field. They like to go to places like the Ivy League or Vanderbilt, although Vandy has a good program. Then, there are the ones who can play but aren't so good in the classrooms. They go to Miami or an SEC school. If you aren't careful, you wind up with the criminal types-the ones who are going to be in the papers for shoplifting or beating up their girl friends. For instance, I recruited Russell Mitchell but he was going to Georgia Tech but decided to sign with the Dodgers. I don't begrudge a kid for going pro if he gets good money. I had a kid who accepted a scholarship, then was offered a million dollars. Hey, if I'd have been there when he signed, I'd have held the pen. How can you tell anybody to turn down that kind of money?

Q- How do you compare the Dodgers in the system today to when you were coming up?

A-I'm a little prejudiced there because we had a lot of talent. Oh, sure there are some good kids here who will make it but the Albuquerque team I played on had 20 players who made the major leagues. That's quite a lot .

Q- How do you see your future?

A- I'll have to admit I miss managing. It's tough to sit up here in the press box and see some things down on the field that you'd like to control but can't. I'll try this for a year and see what develops down the road.