Is This a Message to the Dodger Coaches?

Tony Jackson's story last week on bench coach Dave Jauss probably headed elsewhere also contained the statement that all of the Dodgers coaches have contracts through Dec. 31 but that all of them, all of them, were given the freedom to seek employment elsewhere, could tell else of the thinking inside the Dodgers management.

The Jackson story wasn't denied by the team and it is likely the story came from within the organization.

The signal probably intimates that, while GM Ned Colletti and field manager Grady Little are safe for at least the 2008 season, changes are definitely in the air. Coach Manny Mota is definitely retirement age already and he could be shifted to another assignment in the Caribbean development department.

Both Dave Wallace and Leo Mazzone have been mentioned as possible pitching coach replacements (for Rick Honeycutt), but Mazzone has been very highly paid, has been making more than Little makes as manager, and might not be willing to work for what the Dodgers have budgeted in for coaching salaries.

The story, uncorrected, stands as originally written in the LA Times. To this observer, it only validates the thinking that the Dodgers aren't willing to stand still with the results they've gotten in recent years, that the message is or has been given all around that we want a winner.

The message "you are free to look around for other jobs" is hardly a vote of confidence and could be interpreted as "we're going to be making changes and your job is not guaranteed".

The Angels let go a veteran third base coach and turned the job and responsibility to young Dino Ebel, probably at a savings of $100,000 or more. As that great economist Sen. Everett Dirksen once opined "a million here and a million there and pretty soon you're talking about real money".

The training staff has now been almost completely retooled. It is probable that there will be new coaching staff.

Between the players already cut loose - Hernandez, Hillenbrand, Saenz, the potential free agents - Martinez and others, there could be 8-10 brand new faces on next year's opening day 25 man roster.

It is entirely possible that Jeff Kent will seek a trade, which the Dodgers would accommodate, and that Nomar Garciaparra might ask for a trade where he m might play more regularly than anything the Dodgers might want to accommodate or guarantee.

It's hard to see Randy Wolf or David Wells getting more than conditional contracts heavily end loaded based upon health and other factors. The Dodgers might be willing to eat a goodly portion of Esteban Loaiza's large salary, based upon what they saw after they got him last year. 

As has been already stated elsewhere, anything at all from Jason Schmidt will be counted on as an extra dividend next year.

This means the Dodgers almost assuredly are not as pitching strong as they might look like on paper. Maybe the Dodgers will even tinker with trying Jonathan Broxton as a starter, with Scott Proctor moving into the setup man role.

We don't see the Dodgers all that willing to take on more than one player in the $10 million a year range, or sign any of the big name guys to massive multi year contracts, other than the Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera who has outgrown his team's ability to keep him at what he is worth.

Based Upon a Story in the Boston press last week when retired 3B Bill Mueller threw out the first ball in an ALCS game in Fenway Park, the topic of Mueller and managing came up. Experienced readers of tea leaves and tom-tom signals immediately perked up their ears. So when and if the Dodgers get around to making a managerial change, you'd have to throw Bill Mueller's name into the mix.

OF Delwyn Young, formerly a second baseman, was named the MVP at Las Vegas. It's not inconceivable that he might someday return to the infield, either at second with Tony Abreu moving to third, or taking on 3B himself if LaRoche remains injury prone and Nomar cant regain his extra base punch.