Who Could Figure?

Who could figure Milton Bradley, a total bust as a Dodger, even on two legs, would turn into a post season icon, albeit on one leg, for the Oakland A's. Well, just wait, the real Milton Bradley will show up sooner than later. We'd still rather have Andre Ethier.

The A's, who went one round deeper into the playoffs than the Dodgers, dumped their manager rather than face their real problems - one of the slowest teams in baseball.

The A's offense featured base-to-base baseball. Live by the long ball, die by the lack of the long ball. It certainly wasn't Billy Beane moneyball.

Lou Piniella was barely adequate behind the microphone and chose, gulp, the Chicago Cubs over the San Francisco Giants for his managerial return. After the Yankee job closed up, Piniella, 63, took the Cubs three year guarantee. In three years, Piniella will be 66, richer, and the Cubs will still not have won.

The Cubs have a tattered pitching staff and no farm system gems on the way. Still, Piniella figured this would be a better place to make money than managing Barry Bonds, who has even fewer good legs than Milton Bradley, i.e., none.

The Cubbies, who could have begun the rebuilding process they will have to begin sooner or later with young managing phenom Joe Girardi, went with the Lasorda rule, i.e. the older the retread you can find, the better off you are. They will be sorry.

When Steve "Psycho" Lyons engaged in on the air badinage with Piniella, he was summarily dismissed for using insensitive references to racial stereotypes. The question was, why wasn't Piniella also removed, for he had started the matter whereas Lyons was merely responding tit for tat.

Is/was there one rule for 'name' guys and another for second stringers? You bet there is.

In a little noticed off season move, the Arizona Diamondbacks jettisoned minor league pitching coordinator Dennis Lewallyn, the longtime Dodgers staffer. Must have been a tough call for DBacks President Derrick Hall to make as Hall and Lewallyn were once on the same Vero Beach Dodgers staff, Hall as a junior front office aide and Lewallyn pitching coach under Joe Alvarez.

Whereas big league managers and players have dandy salaries, Lewallyn never made a big payday in a lifetime in baseball and now past 50 may find it hard to find a job in the grand old game. A tough one.

For all the name guys who move on, there are the lifers who spend most of their time in the minors and end up having precious little to show for it other than a lot of memories and dedication to the sport.

Lewallyn early on told us that even in A ball you were likely as not to see a major league quallity game pitched every so often. He was right. The other side of that coin is that often in the big leagues, you see a Class A game pitched. And he'd also have been right.

Lewallyn would have to conduct running drills for his young tutelages in Vero Beach. To get more miles out of them, he'd play a variation of hide and seek, i.e., the pitchers would have to run until the found him. He'd climb a tree and laugh as the pitchers never bothered to look up.

In those days, the Dodgers brain trust would not let minor league pitching coaches go anywhere near a slider, figuring that pitch put more strain on young arms and increased the possibility of injury.

So Lewallyn would casually teach his young hurlers various other versions of an "out" pitch. But Lewallyn's other versions always looked for all the world just like a slider. Lewallyn worked for years under Dave Wallace. Now both are temporarily unemployed. Two good guys.

When Lance Carter filed for free agency, and with Julio Lugo and Toby Hall soon expected to move on, the Dodgers have got exactly Mark Hendricksen for two deals that looked like big ones with Tampa Bay.

In Tampa Bay's short big league history, they have seldom bested anybody in the trade market, much less two times in the same year. What does that say about the Dodgers' acumen?

Braves bench coach Terry Pendleton, who is going to make somebody a great manager, is interviewing for the Washington job. A year ago, he turned down the Dodgers interest because he didnt want to live on one coast and have his family on the other.

Given a courtesy interview with the Phillies a few years ago (a nice way of saying every team has to interview some minorities), he just wowed the team and came a hair of walking away with the job. Instead the Phils went with retread Charlie Manuel.

The Dodgers will undoubtedly say they either lost money this year, in spite of a great attendance year. Of course, this will use the old accounting tricks like putting all the stadium improvements into this year alone, etc.

And the Dodgers, saying they are committed to fielding a winning team, will then justify price increases all around. We have no proof of this other than you can count on a team going on the cheap in its minor league department, in scouting, and in other base line areas, is going to try to get the borderline owners (meaning they bought the team with very little real money of their own) into a better fiscal posture as soon as possible. It isn't the first time,nor will it be the last, a baseball team has used the old P.T.Barnum logic on its suckers, er, fans.

One reason you can be sure that before its over (the off season annual retooling of the team), the Dodgers will go with youth again in 2007 is that at least half of the player budget is tied up in a very few players.

And that is why if you are hung up on seeing agent Steve Boros clients back, you are likely to be disappointed. There is no yield in Boros and there is no flexibility in the Dodgers player budget (largely a hangover from previous regimes).

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