Dodger Inside Pitch -- November 3

What began as a relatively quiet offseason for the Dodgers didn't remain that way. One month after putting the finishing touches on a disappointing season, the Dodgers lost one manager, nearly hired another and ended up with a third. The one they wound up with might turn out to be the best of the bunch.

The Dodgers hired former Yankees manager Joe Torre on Nov. 1, giving him a three-year contract worth $13 million, with the hopes that he'll set similar standards in Los Angeles to the ones he had in New York.

Torre guided the Yankees to 12 playoff berths in 12 seasons, including four World Series championships. The Dodgers have won one playoff game since 1988.

"Few managers in the history of the game have accomplished what Joe has delivered," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "Throughout his career, he has demonstrated the ability to turn a vision for success into results on the field, and we welcome his passion and leadership."

Grady Little, who managed the Dodgers to the playoffs in 2006 but was accused of losing control of his clubhouse after the veterans and young players feuded this year, wasn't sure if he wanted to return to the team despite having a contract for 2008. As time passed, Colletti figured it was best to find a possible replacement in case Little chose to not come back.

"I wanted him back," Colletti insisted.

Colletti's search started with Joe Girardi, who managed the Marlins in 2006. When Girardi accepted the job as Torre's replacement in New York, the Dodgers turned their attention on Torre.

Little officially resigned his post on Oct. 30, and by then it was a matter of Colletti working out the details of a contract with Torre.

"Joe Torre comes with a great resume," Colletti said. "What he's done in the last 12 years is as powerful as any manager. Not only with his won-lost record but how his team has played and his effect on the community. He embraces the job, and the players respond to him. I think it's tough to find any cracks in the foundation with that."

The Dodgers have faith in Torre's ability to repair the Dodgers' divided clubhouse and get the players focused on winning as a team.

Thanks to Yankees owner George Steinbrenner's open-wallet policy, Torre didn't have to weave a lot of younger players in with veterans the way Little did the last two seasons. Colletti was quick to point out that Torre did have some success with players like Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams and Robinson Cano when they were just getting started.

"I hear that he's a great players' manager, but Grady was, too," Dodgers rookie third baseman Andy LaRoche said. "In my first two years in the big leagues, I'll have two great players' managers. I'm going to get spoiled."

The Dodgers are hoping to get spoiled by Torre's success as well.

Player Notes
--LHP Randy Wolf, whose season ended in early July with a shoulder injury, did not have his option for 2008 picked up by the Dodgers. Instead he was given a $500,000 buyout, and he became a free agent.

--C Mike Lieberthal received $500,000 in a buyout from the Dodgers, who opted not to pick up his option for 2008. He is now a free agent. --OF Luis Gonzalez lived up to his promise of not returning to the Dodgers next season and filed for free agency.

--OF Delwyn Young batted .524 (11-for-21) with three doubles, one home run and four RBIs in six recent tune-up games for Team USA. Young will be part of the team that competes in the World Cup in Taiwan later this month. The tune-up games were against Arizona Fall League teams.

--3B Andy LaRoche went 6-for-18 (.333) in five games while playing for Team USA in the Arizona Fall League from Oct. 27-Nov. 1. The games were in preparation for the World Cup, a tournament in which Team USA will compete beginning Nov. 7.

--We are a little late, but congratulations to Dodger PR Director Josh Rawich on becoming a father for the first time. He's a good guy, and one of the best in the business at what he does.

BY THE NUMB3RS: 26 -- Managers in Dodgers history now that they've added Joe Torre to the list.

QUOTES TO NOTE: "I have a great understanding of the history of the Dodgers organization, and I am committed to bringing a world championship back to Los Angeles." -- Newly hired Dodgers manager Joe Torre.

"Joe Torre's yet-to-be-assembled coaching staff probably won't be complete before he and new boss Ned Colletti depart Monday for the general managers' meetings in Orlando, Fla., a Dodgers source said Friday on the condition of anonymity. That probably means it won't be complete until at least the following week.

The only thing clear is that bench coach Don Mattingly and third-base coach Larry Bowa will follow Torre from New York to Los Angeles, a fact confirmed by several sources over the past few days. Two of Torre's past coaches with the Yankees, Lee Mazzilli and Jose Cardenal, also have been mentioned as strong possibilities.

"The Dodgers need a third baseman, with likely American League Most Valuable Player and outspoken Torre fan Alex Rodriguez the top free agent available. But Rodriguez is expected to command a contract in the 10-year range with an annual salary around $30 million, and that might be a price Dodgers owner Frank McCourt finds difficult to stomach.

Left-hander Randy Wolf, who had his 2007 season cut short by shoulder surgery and had his 2008 option declined, said he wanted to be back with the Dodgers next season. Wolf said he was uncertain how the hiring of Torre would affect his future.

"They very well could not want me," Wolf said. "With a new manager coming in, he could be completely disinterested on having me there." He said that his rehabilitation was progressing well and that he expected to start throwing in two or three weeks. Tony Jackson, Los Angeles Daily News.

"When last seen, Jeff Kent was packing his gear after the 2007 season finale, Kent said he was driving home to Texas, would spend October reacquainting with the family and around November tell his agent whether he's returning for one last grab at the ring at age 40 or forfeiting the $7 million 2008 salary to become a full-time dad and motorcycle dealer.

"Agent Jeffrey Klein said the meeting with Kent hasn't taken place yet, but he cautioned not to overanalyze the influence Torre's hiring would have on Kent's decision, which Kent had said would be driven mostly by family considerations."--Ken Gurnick,

"The sale of the Las Vegas club will not effect the operations and management or the positive direction in which the 51s have been moving over the past few seasons. The new owner has indicated it will keep the club in Las Vegas and seek construction of a new ballpark to replace 9,000-seat Cashman Field, which opened in 1983. The Dodgers' contract runs through 2008."-- Don Logan, 51s president and general manager.

"The Dodgers could be doing plenty of moving in Torre's first spring with the club, which could result in the team's bidding an early farewell to its longtime spring training base in Vero Beach, Fla.

The Dodgers are being considered as participants for Major League Baseball's first games in China, exhibitions tentatively scheduled for March 15-16. Baseball sources said the Dodgers could stop on their way back to the United States to play an exhibition game or two in Taiwan.

If the Dodgers go to Asia, they might not return to Vero Beach, where they will conduct spring training for the final time in 2008. The club could instead spend the remainder of spring training in Arizona, possibly in the Oakland Athletics' facility in Phoenix. That facility would be available only if the A's are chosen to face the Boston Red Sox in a two-game season-opening series in Japan on March 22-23."Buster Olney, ESPN The Magazine.

It will be fascinating to see where Miguel Cabrera ends up — and for what price — now that the Marlins have apparently indicated that they are willing to listen to offers for the enigmatic 24-year-old slugger. At the moment, Cabrera is the sweet-swinging embodiment of high-risk, high-reward player. On one hand, he has the ability to be the Manny Ramirez of the next generation; the only two players in the baseball who have more combined Win Shares the past three seasons are Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols. On the other hand, he now looks like he swallowed Billy the Marlin whole, and by some estimates he's put on as many as 70 pounds since arriving in the big leagues late in '03.

He's probably too talented to eat himself out of baseball, but at the rate he's going, he's going to be a Cecil Fielder-sized DH before he's 30. Thus, the questions that keep general managers awake at night: Would you give up Clay Buchholz and/or Jacoby Ellbury for him if you were Theo Epstein? Should Brian Cashman part with young Yankees Philip Hughes or Joba Chamberlain? Does Ned Colletti dare to offer Clayton Kershaw, James Loney, or assorted other jewels of the Dodgers' farm system? Let the bidding — or given the risk involved with Cabrera, perhaps we should say gambling — begin. Chad Finn FOX Sports.