Managerial Merry-Go-Round

So the Dodgers are making a managerial shift. No surprise there. All the signs up to date were ownership disquiet that more progress not having been made in 2007. The failure to sign any coaches was a clear signal. Grady Little may or may not have merited dismissal. He didn't sign folks who didn't produce. He played with the hand that was dealt him.

That being said, Joe Girardi, now the Yankees manager with a brand new three year agreement, surely had more direct and recent experience with dealing with young players than Joe Torre. Girardi would have, at least to us, been a better hire for the Dodgers, but he waited for the opportunity he really wanted and got it.

How Torre will do out of pinstripes is a whole other matter.

If he is in fact the new Dodgers manager, the team will have an all Italian leadership core in the always around Tommy Lasorda, GM Ned Colletti and Torre. That's like having your own college of cardinals.

Problem is a dozen Italians will not be able to restore the spinach in Nomar Garciaparra's bat, or heal and make younger Jason Schmidt, enable Juan Pierre to throw any better than he can, or to solve any of the other myriad of Dodgers' deficiencies.

One pundit said the Dodgers, if Torre is hired, should step up and spend more money to make the team more competitive in 2008. Heck, they are already at the $120 million annual player payroll mark! That ought to be enough. Torre will have some of the same problems Grady Little had if the GM can't unload some of the overly expensive useless parts the Dodgers have and magically learn how to eat previous decisions the Dodgers unluckily or dumbly made.

If any comparison with the Yankees is in order, the Dodgers are stuck with a bunch of Carl Pavanos, expensive signees who haven't worked out.

For the kids, playing for a new manager may mean having to prove themselves all over again.

It was bad enough last year. Now a Matt Kemp is back at the starting gate. Chad Billingsley for two years has proven in limited selection he is a starter who belongs in the rotation from day one. Will he have to prove himself a third time?

If there's a new manager, it surely means there will be a new pitching coach. If Torre is the guy, and Mattingly comes with him, it means two American League guys who have to learn a new league. It's like putting a Baptist in the Catholic Church - they're both Christians but it ain't the same.

If Torre is the guy, the Dodgers are going with seasoned veterans. Tommy Lasorda surely will enthuse. But we guess its better to have the old guys in non-playing positions than fielding one.

Girardi is a great signing by the Yankees. Time will show Trey Hillman was a great signing by the Kansas City Royals. Only time will tell if a Joe Torre signing was a great one for the Dodgers.

Torre is laid back. You can hardly expect him to be waxing semi-eloquently about the Great Dodger in the Sky and other such blathering.

We thinks there are two keys to Torre's success: first, as previously mentioned, his choice of a pitching coach, and secondly, how he handles James Loney.

As much as Russell Martin jumped light years into instant stardom, Loney may be more of a key to the Dodgers fortunes, and approaching even greater stardom than Martin. Dissed a year ago, Loney couldn't be blamed is he is mishandled again.

This is a matter a Joe Torre can deal with. It ought to be one of the first phone calls he makes.

Little Falls on the Sword
Dodgers GM Ned Colletti figured somebody had to go so he did what bosses usually do, invoking the "him-better-than-me" rule.

Colletti had to figure the bosses were unhappy and if he could come up with a popular  new  manager for everybody to enthuse about, maybe the roving  eye might not settle on him until  the dusts settles a little (pun intended) bit.

Did Little make the Schmidt boner? Nope. Colletti did.

Did Little pay a whole year for a half a year pitcher in Randy Wolf. Nope. Again Colletti did.

Did Little sign two outfielders who played next to each other with nary a throwing arm between them? Nope. You guessed it.

Colletti did.

Did Little decide to send James Loney down to protect the resigning of Nomar Garciaparra? We think not. Did Colletti?

We think so.

Did Little take the heat for his bosses decisions? You betcha.

And for being loyal, what did he get? Just a not so gentle shove overboard. Now Colletti did have a great idea in pursuing Joe Girardi.

Did he close the deal?  No he did not.

Is a 67 year old guy who'd be 70 when a three year contract is over the right guy for a youth movement? Probably not. What do we in the Dodgers nation do when the novelty wears off?

Well, we have had plenty of experience since 1988 in losing, of not getting to the dance.

Hey, why don't we hire Joe Torre as GM, do to Colletti what he did to Little. Then the two elderly Italians, Torre and Lasorda, can go off in the corner, play bocci, and reminisce about the good old days. In the meantime, there has got to be a manager great with youth movements and bringing kids along.

Maybe Terry Pendleton likes the west coast better now that his kids are terrible teens. Orel Hershiser, where are you when we need you? Mike Scioscia, wont you please come home? Bill Mueller, come downstairs please.

Who goes to a restaurant and pays top dollar for leftovers? Back in the days when we were a racetrack  waiter and a customer order his steak really well done, there was an old school European waiter named Julius Heitzner who would raise his nose and proudly say "for you I suggest zee hash!"

That being said, if Joe Torre comes aboard to save Ned Colletti's hide and turns out a winner, we promise to eat hash every night for a year.