Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Out with the old and in with the new manager

With Lou Piniella retiring next year, it ends another failed campaign by an accomplished manager. Bobby Cox is on his farewell tour and might enjoy some success but, beyond him, most of the corps of old great managers haven't had much success lately. Dusty Baker's Reds could be in the mix but he hasn't proven he's done shredding young arms and that he stopped believing in holy water. He is a product of having a great farm system but is still an idiot. Hopefully, Jon Weisman's allusion is incorrect. Joe Torre is proving that he can't handle a team that is completely assembled no matter how much he tries to compensate by trying to manufacture runs. Tony LaRussa has won a Series recently and he will be on the market at the end of the season. After being with the Cards for many years, he may join the ranks of the manager for hire, though you can have him because he's an insufferable asswipe. 

With these managers for hire, they don't get paid to develop talent, they don't get paid to be patient. They get paid to win. As a Dodgers fan, I liked the Torre hire. The Dodgers were in position to make the playoffs and, in turn, win the World Series and Joe Torre is best at managing a team in their window. He knows how to run a clubhouse, he trusts his hunches on players, he handles slumping veteran players well and he doesn't panic. This season has proven that he doesn't function well outside of a championship window. 

The Dodgers' Trade Deadline decisions fall on Ned Colletti regardless of whether Joe or Ned made the grocery list. Without Manny Ramirez and Rafael Furcal, the Dodgers were fading and those trades for Scott Podsednik, Ryan Theriot and Octavio Dotel made them worse. The Dodgers are at a point now where they are basically done but still have an infinitesimal chance to make the playoffs. I declared them dead two weeks ago and they haven't gained any ground since. Now, they are at a point where they could go into improvement mode. They don't need to rebuild necessarily but they need to rest the veterans and ensure the youngsters get more experience. Joe Torre isn't the manager to do something like that. 

Torre will announce his plans when the Dodgers are eliminated from playoff competition. With Torre's age, Ned as GM and the pervasive McCourt divorce, I doubt he comes back. As much as I liked his first two years here, I would be alright with him departing. Torre has gone stale as the old hired gun managers do when the window closes on their team when they are still there. Torre could leave tomorrow but it works out well for him to ride off into the sunset at the end of the season. It's better than Piniella and his Cubs, whose window closed when they lost the NLDS in 2008. There is a time for the hired gun manager but, at present, these managers have expired. 

For the Dodgers, who might hire Tim Wallach or Don Mattingly as manager next year, Cubs, Braves and other teams looking for a manager at the end of this season, it's time to look to a more long-term manager. I like the idea of finding a manager that has the future interests of the team in mind when the team is out of contention. I want a manager that is more interested in Matt Kemp's maturation than Scott Podsednik's perpetuation. I want a manager that is keen to today's game. Torre still thinks it's the late 70's with his foray in manufacturing runs with slappy players. It's time for a manager that is more like Joe Madden and less than Joe Torre. Torre is a Hall of Fame manager but "The Dodger Years" has not been a great sequel to Torre's "Yankees Years." 

My pick for new manager is Tim Wallach but it's only because he would be something different and he has went about becoming a manager the right way. Other than that, I don't have any good reason to think he will be a successful manager. I worry about any manager being influenced by Ned Colletti. The GM position is more consequential at this point. Until then, Joe Torre will sully the end of his career. 

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