Friday, March 14, 2008

Martin's first spring shot undecisive!

This comes from's Anthony DiComo. The headline really tells the story! I guess when he hit the ball it stopped mid air to think if it was going to go over the wall. By the time it had made a decision the speedy Martin had already rounded the bases. Or this is what they meant...

Offense evaded the Dodgers until the fourth inning, when Russell Martin launched a two-run homer that needed mere seconds to leave Holman Stadium. The next three hitters all reached base, in a sequence highlighted by Jason Repko's RBI single. Repko later added another RBI single in the eighth.

No doubt he meant to say something like, "Martin hits a "no doubter"". We'll just leave it at that.

How dumb are you? David Chalk decides to tell us.

This was posted at Bugs and Cranks. They are trying to prove that the "Rays" are better than the Dodgers. We'll just do the typical thing and show them just how dumb they are.

Argument #1: Hulkower, You Ignorant Slut.

The Dodgers haven’t done anything remotely interesting since October 15, 1988. Why else would Alyssa Milano have a puppy she got out of a pet store’s “bargain bin” named Gibson? Using Melissa Milano as your argument here really shows your ability, or lack their of, to do some investigating. Coming from a team that has never had a winning season, this is great! They have never won more than 70 games in a season. I'm going to laugh to myself for a moment...

Bringing over Joe Torre might be remotely interesting. It sets up a wonderful situation where if the Dodgers do well, the Yankees look bad; and if the Dodgers do poorly, the Yankees look bad. So this is just a knock on the Yankees huh? You aren't remotely smart.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers have had a rash of spring injuries that rivals the Mets. Really? Who? Tony Abreu (a AAA middle infielder), Jason Schmidt (the 6th man in our rotation), and who else? Where's your remote now.

Infielder Tony Abreu is suffering from “right buttocks tightness.” Sons Of Steve Garvey suggests that Abreu’s Ass might be a Symbol of the ‘08 Dodgers season.

No one, but no one, is suggesting that the 2008 season of our beloved Devil Rays will be symbolized by a buttocks injury. Is that because if you actually win 72 games this year it will be a success? No, the symbol for our 2008 Devil Rays will be ass-kicking. Or a 72 win season. Just ask Joe Girardi, the Yankees interim manager with one less testicle than John Kruk. Burn.

Yet, the Dodgers are being talked about by many as the favorite in the NL West. Not because they are good, but because the NL West is filled with boring teams with little or no talent, and the Dodgers appear to be slightly less boring and slightly less untalented. And this is based on what remotely evidence. If they have enough healthy bodies, the Dodgers may win the NL West. They’d obviously have a much better chance if they do what I hinted at two weeks ago and what Home Run Derby’s Nick The Greek boldly predicts — sign Barry Bonds, The Greatest Player On Planet Earth (The G-POPE). Why don't you guys just hire Joe Girardi? Why don't you become the feeder team to the Yankees? Why don't you sign a player from your biggest rival and remotely who is also the biggest horses arce this side of the universe? Why not?

Our Devil Rays are obviously in a tougher division. Obviously. If our Devil Rays were in the NL West, they would run away with the division by at least 20 games. They wouldn't be able to hit themselves out of a little league park.

The Dodgers are a team full of old, fading quasi-stars and never-quite-weres. Other than Brad Penny and Derek Lowe, try to name another Dodger you wish was on your team. You probably can’t. Here are a few Dodgers that you have on your team already. Dioner Navarro and Edwin Jackson. Two dodgers that couldn't make the cut in LA and we had to send them to our AAA affiliate in Tampa. I bet you would love to have our starting pitching depth. Chad Billingsly, Clayton Kershaw, Eric Stults, James McDonald, (the list is basically endless). And that's just the young kids. We also have Hiroki Kuroda and Esteban Loaiza to round out the rotation. And on the field: Just the young guys again! Russel Martin!!! Literally the guy that took Dioner's job away from him. Matt Kemp! James Loney! Andy Laroche (I admit he's no comparison to Eva Longoria Parker) Chin Lung Hu. And now for the vets. The best CF in all of baseball, Andruw Jones! I doubt you'll want Raffy Furcal. Because you have such depth at SS. No wonder your team has never passed the 70 win mark. You people think that what you have will actually win.

Our Devil Rays are a team full of young, emerging superstars you wish your team had. I'll take Crawford, Upton, Longoria and Kazmir. Maybe Pena. But that's it.

We’ve now covered half the teams in Major League Baseball. Like the 14 teams that came before them, and like the 14 teams that will come hereafter, the Dodgers just ain’t shit compared to our Devil Rays. You're "Rays" are shit. So the Dodgers can't be compared to them.

We’ll prove it head-to-head only if it’s in The World Series. And only if the other team has to hit with 24 inch bats and pitch with their opposite hands and play defense with no gloves. Sure, given those circumstances you just might win. But it would be a 7 game series and come down to the last at bat.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Rumblin'... Stumblin... Tumblin'...

Ned Colletti has answered a few questions from the fans over at the main Dodgers Blog Site. Lets see how he spins the Juan Pierre signing.

I've got a question for Ned. Don't you think that the team would be better with Either as the everyday left fielder? After all he's a more complete player with some power, a better OBP, and a good throwing arm. This was an indierct bash on Pierre. Great first question!!!

Posted by: February 28, 2008 06:53 AM

Andre is developing into a very good player. As Joe and the staff get more acquainted with Andre and others, I'm confident they'll find a way to get a solid amount of at-bats from all the outfielders. There is another factor to consider as well and that is competition. There are many times that we feel a young player is better served when they must compete for a job and compete for playing time. Andre Ethier has reached his ceiling. So has Juan Pierre. Andre is better. So having this "competition" is conterintuitive.

The competition for playing time in the outfield will hopefully increase the focus and productivity of the entire group. And make the team worse. We feel very fortunate that we have four proven outfielders plus Jason Repko and Delwyn Young. Juan Pierre is a second baseman out there. And there is always the injury factor to contend with as well. Which is why it's nice to have guys like Repko and Young but not Pierre. In the matter of a few minutes last Friday, we lost Andy Laroche for two months and nearly lost Nomar Garciaparra for a prolonged period of time. in a freak accident. We would have went from having a perceived surplus at a position, to being almost without a clear cut choice. It can happen that fast. Today, we have some outfield depth as well as competition for playing time. having 6 outfielders is overkill. The season is 162 games in length and many different unpredictable things will happen between now and the end. One thing is for sure. We aren't winning with Juan Pierre.

If you had it to do over, would you sign Pierre? I am sure he will say yes to save face but I think secretly he must be having second thoughts. At least on the length of the contract.

Posted by: February 28, 2008 09:45 AM

It's constructive to point out where the club was when we signed Juan. Then sign Kenny Lofton. A stop gap that basically better than Juan Pierre and cheaper! This offseason everyone knew there was literally a plethora of center fielders available. Now were stuck with Slappy. With J.D. Drew opting out to Boston, we had one outfielder with every day Major League experience - and that was limited to four months. Andre Ethier was called up in May and had four good months and then struggled in September. He was the only outfielder on the Major League roster with an experience who had ended the 2006 season healthy. Prior to signing Juan, we made a strong bid to sign Soriano and Lee among others, but those players did not have an interest in playing in Los Angeles. If anyone is expecting Juan to carry the club, then we've signed the wrong player. I just want Juan to pull his weight. He only weighs like 120 pounds. It shouldn't be that hard. We see him as a solid complementary player who has great speed and an admirable work ethic and with run-producing players around him in the lineup adds a strong deminision no mention of 500 plus outs, low OBP, horrid defense, and no power - without run production around him his value is dimininshed a lot. Or his value is diminished because he stinks. But you're the Gm so justify it any way you want. Last season, in my opinion, the club never got untracked. Even when we had the best record in the league in July, I didn't see it. I believe Furcal's injury added extra pressure to Pierre So it was Furcal's fault... Ned, have you been talking ot Bill again? Don't listen to that guy. He's retarded. - especially when we remember how well Furcal played in 2006 for us. I think it was compounded by the middle of the order failing to deliever more with runners on and lacking power. Consider that Pierre was only on base 33 % of the time. Ned, you're not doing yourself any favors by hanging onto the guy. We still feel that if Furcal and Pierre are healthy all season and if the middle of the order - Jones, Kent, Martin, Garciaparra, Loney and Kemp or Ethier Wait... don't say Kemp OR Ethier. You obviously meant Kemp AND Ethier right? You aren't still considering playing the worst outfielder in all of baseball are you?produce in the clutch that Juan's value to the club increases dramatically. How is it possible that his value increases because of the players around him. He isn't Steve Nash. He doesn't drive anyone in literally and he doesn't get on base enough to score a ton of runs. If the players fail to hit in the clutch in the middle of the order, and Juan is healthy and gets 200 hits and steals 60 a feat he has only done once bases, then Juan's value is diminished. Lets remember Juan stats shall we. He's going to bat about 290, OBP 330, no power, about 40 RBI's and 90 Runs. Somewhere between 130 and 150 combined runs. If Ethier played everyday he would score 85 and drive in 85. Somewhere between 160 and 190 combined runs. Who is the better player Ned? Don't tell me you think Slappy is. Don't tell me you think becaues Juan shows up early he is going to magically throw runners out at home. Because he isn't. Get rid of him already. As far as the duration of the contract is concerned, those terms are negotiated and sometimes you have to extend a player out longer than usual. If you look back at the history of our deals in the last three off-seasons, only Pierre's contract extends beyond three years. Many deals were for one or two years. Kenny Lofton anyone? I believe in negotiating the short-term deal whenever possible. From time to time, that's not possible and so you either sign the player or you pass. You really should have passed. Along with Jason Schmidt. Dope! But at the end of the day, you'd better have big league players on your club. And the day before we signed Juan Pierre we didn't have one everyday player on the roster who had played more than one full season in the big leagues as an outfielder. Ned if you have to use every word in the dictionary to justify why you signed this guy it was obviously a mistake.

Another question for Ned is after seeing what Ariz. and Colorado did last year, why do the Dodgers block their younger players with declining veterans? Why not just let the young guys play? After all even Boston stuck with Pedroria last year after a slow start and he came around to be a valuable member of that squad.

Posted by: March 1, 2008 08:17 AM

It's a tough call. Los Angeles might be a tougher place for a young player to play so we need to be as certain as possible that the young players are prepared as much as possible for everything that is going to come their way. It's not tougher than Boston. I guarantee you that. And it isn't because of the media. Case and Point: Bill Plaschke. In Colorado's case last year, the key players for them, in my opinion, were Helton, Holliday, Atkins, Hawpe, Francis and Tulowitzki. Of that group, only Tulowitzki is considered a young player. The rest are in their prime. Arizona is a younger club and a more accurate reflection of your point. They however, did have a vast majority of their key players in their prime as well - Byrnes, Hudson, Webb, Davis and Valverde. When we have signed the veterans, it has been because we had not witnessed enough consistency the previous season to take that chance. For example, Matt Kemp has a chance to be a tremendous player. He had a wonderful 2007 season and had an historic early few weeks in the big leagues in May of 2006. From around July 1, 2006 through the end of the season he struggled, hitting about .180 without any power (11-for-62, .177 with 0 home runs and 6 RBI). His defense and base running are areas in need of improvement. So as we entered the 2006-2007 off-season, we weren't convinced we should automatically make Matt the right fielder based on the last three months. Another example is James Loney, who looks primed for a great season. It took a little while for James to hit for power. During the 2006 season, he had hit 12 home runs in 468 at-bats and then started in Vegas in 2007 and hit one home run in 233 at-bats. And he batted 380. What were you thinking? So in more than 700 at-bats - most in AAA in a hitters league and ballpark - James had hit 13 homers. We knew the power would develop, we just didn't know when - which turned out to be last September when he hit 9 homers in little more than 100 at-bats. In some cases, we would rather err on the side of the veteran. One of the reasons being, if the veteran can't cut it, there is still a young player available. If there is no veteran available and the young player isn't ready, the cost to acquire a veteran player from another club in season would be very prohibitive. As time goes on more and more of our young players will get the opportunity to play. And a year from now, we may be fielding one of the youngest teams in the National League. Lets hope it's because you traded Juan Pierre!

He answered two other questions that I could care less about. He still feels that Andre Ethier hasn't developed yet. Dispite batting 295, 360, 460 for his career, Andre is possibly the best 4th outfielder in all of baseball. Combine that with Juan Pierre being the worst outfielder in all of baseball and you have Ned Colletti, the proudest GM in all of baseball. Too bad we have to endure 4 more years of Slappy McPopup and 2 more years of Jason Schmidt on the DL.

Tracy Ringolsby... Come on down!!!

2008 Dodgers preview: McCourting success
By Tracy Ringolsby
Mar 5, 10:47 am EST

For all the questions about Frank McCourt’s ownership in Los Angeles, the Dodgers have shown a willingness to spend money in the four years that the Boston parking-lot magnate has owned the team.

It has not, however, been well spent. I have to agree. Juan Pierre? Jason Schmidt? Esteban Loaiza? (though he will be our 5th starter. I think I'd rather see someone in there from the minors and save the money. But Loaiza should do well.)

This is a team that has led the N.L. West in payroll five of the last seven years – three of four under McCourt’s guidance – and has one division title to show for it. And like 82 injuries. While the GNATS can spend twice as much and they will never win anything. Congratulations, you were the worst team in the NL West last year. Here's hoping you spend wisely in the future so you can still be in last place.

The new leadership hasn’t stood still; it just hasn’t moved forward. So it went backwards?

The Dodgers are on their third general manager (Dan Evans to Paul DePodesta to Ned Colletti) and third manager (Jim Tracy to Grady Little to Joe Torre) in four years, but still trying to find a way to rebound from a fourth-place finish. They boast about the depth of their farm system – put together under the guidance of Evans, the first employee McCourt fired – but the Dodgers show virtually no confidence in the ability of the young players. This is true. We do have a young team though. Kemp, Martin, Loney, Bills, Broxton, Ethier, Laroche, Abreu, and Hu, are all under 25. The only guys on the team that can actually be called old are Nomar, Kent, and Sweeney. (I'm not going to include Schmidt. Not because he isn't old, he is. But more because he will be injured the length of the contract.)

As a result, they plopped down $44 million over five years a year ago to sign center fielder Juan Pierre, and then moaned about his lack of plate patience and arm strength, which certainly weren’t secrets around the league. ( As I recall the Giants were offering 3 years 30 million ) Then, this offseason, the Dodgers shelled out $36.2 million over two years for center fielder Andruw Jones, who’s coming off a season in which he hit a career-low .220, and moved Pierre to left field, which means runners can now go from first to third on singles to left. That's very good analysis Tracy. Are you a freaking investigator?

That’s not all. It isn't... no?

Trying to beef up the rotation, without giving any of the well-hyped arms in the system a chance, the Dodgers spent $47 million over three years two winters ago for free-agent righthander Jason Schmidt, whose history of arm ailments with the Giants should have been wellknown to the Dodgers in light of the fact that Colletti and trainer Stan Conte both came from San Francisco. Wooohooo Tracy.... You're really on the ball today. Who were those well hyped arms? Can you name any of them?

So why the shock when Schmidt, after six starts, a 1-4 record, 6.31 ERA and 25.2 innings pitched, ended up needing mid-June shoulder surgery? That setback left the Dodgers with a best-case scenario that he could be ready this spring. And when the Dodgers were in need of a starter while trying to hang on in the pennant race last year, they ignored potential help from within and put in a waiver claim for Esteban Loaiza, much to the glee of Oakland, which was able to unload the $7.85 million he is guaranteed this year. Who then was supposed to come in from the farm? WHO? Who was ready to excell from AAA? Can you name any of them?

After all that, surely the Dodgers are ready to give the young players a shot in 2008? Think again. The two main areas where veterans are possibly blocking youth are in left field and 3rd base. The 3rd base thing has kinda solved itself. And the left field debacle is well documented. Just not by you.

They not only went out and brought in Jones, but also gave a three-year, $35.3 million contract to Japanese righthander Hiroki Kuroda, who is coming off a 12-8, 3.56 ERA campaign with the Hiroshima Carp. He has looked really good. Lets not forget that the home stadium for the Hiroshima Carp has a center field wall that is 380 feet. 380!!!

The lack of respect for the organization’s prospects permeates the clubhouse, where the old and the new have wound up feuding, and it was a major factor in Torre being hired to replace Little as manager during the offseason. Oh boy... You are a "Mole". You know what Joe Torre does to Mole's? He squashes their grapes. Better wear a cup.

While the trademark pitching remains strong, the offense has sputtered without legitimate No. 3 and No. 4 hitters. The Dodgers ranked 10th in the N.L. last year with 735 runs scored and did nothing over the winter to give fans hope that they will be any more productive in 2008. Andruw Jones anyone? How about full time from Loney and Kemp who are known producers!

Los Angeles did exercise its option on power-pitching Brad Penny, who, for all his size and bravado, barely averaged more than six innings a start in 2007. And was 3rd in the Cy Young award.

He did, however, compile a 16-4 record, which was a tribute to the Dodger bullpen. Also back is Derek Lowe, who is 40-37 (with two losing seasons) in the first three years of his four-year, $36 million contract. What a sack of crap!!! I mean seriously!!! If a 3.65 ERA and a ERA+ of 120 is really that bad, consider that he GNATS have had no pitchers with his numbers over the last 3 years. Well, I guess if you include current Dodger Jason Schmidt then ok. If you're going to bag on the Dodgers, do it towards Juan Pierre.

Chad Billingsley, the expected No. 3 starter, is one prospect who has gotten a chance to shine. Then come Kuroda and Schmidt. Or Loaiza, since Schmidt will be on the DL come opening day.

The rotation’s depth? Since they’re still paying him, the Dodgers can always turn to Loaiza. At some point, though, they will be forced to give opportunities to the promising arms of Clayton Kershaw and Eric Cyr. As a noted Dodgers fan and having considerable knowledge of the current prospects, I find Tracy's understanding of the Dodgers organization to be fikle at best. Eric Cyr!?!?! No mention of James McDonald, Erik Stults, Greg Miller, Hong Chi Kuo, Justin Orenduff, Ramon Troncoso, Jon Meloan, Eric Hull even. This dummy goes with Eric Cyr?!

The saving grace has been the bullpen, where Takashi Saito, a setup man in Japan, has emerged as one of the most consistent closers in the big leagues over the last two years. He has quality setup men with the combination of righthanders Jonathan Broxton and Scott Proctor (a Torre favorite while with the Yankees), along with lefty Joe Beimel. Good. Nice work Tracy. Takashi was also a starter and closer when he played in Japan.

Catcher Russell Martin, one of the few Dodger prospects who has been given a chance to play, has emerged as an All-Star, providing major offensive punch with his ability to get clutch hits. Since we already mentioned James Loney, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Chad Billingsly, and Johnathen Broxton as Dodgers prospects that are currently playing. Lets not forget that Delwyn Young, Tony Abreu, and Andy Laroche have been given the chance to play. Andy has been injured as has Abreu. Young is likely to make the team in a utility role.

The Dodgers did create a spot for homegrown first baseman James Loney last year, but that meant moving Nomar Garciaparra, who was in the first season of a two-year, $18.5 million deal to return to the Dodgers, to third base. He will share time there this year with Andy LaRoche, who has shown only flashes of being able to handle the job. Congratulations Cheyenne, Wyoming... You have your very own Bill Plaschke. Chalk this up to the list of the growing stupid writers. If he keeps this up he will be given his own spot on the stupid level meter. So far we have Joe Morgan, Tim McCarver, Bill Plaschke, and waiting in the wings is super prospect Tracy Ringolsby.

Veteran Jeff Kent opted to return for another year at second base. Rest assured his welcome back won’t be joyous after he pouted in the final weeks of last season about the lack of respect the young players give the Dodger veterans. This has been a well documented cat fight that stupid azz reporters, such as yourself, have blown way out of proportion.

Rafael Furcal remains at shortstop, and he’s a shadow of the explosive table-setter who originally came up with the Braves. And was injured most of the year last year. Did you do any homework before writing this Tracy?

What gets the Dodgers in trouble is their lack of infield depth. Garciaparra is the primary third baseman, but also the alternate at first. Mark Sweeney anyone?

With Pierre in left and Jones in center, Matt Kemp, a target of Kent’s barbs last September, has the edge in right. The Dodgers don’t have much experience on a bench that includes one-time Oakland phenom Andre Ethier and oft-injured Jason Repko as the outfield backups. Woot!!! Looks like a friggin awesome team. With the exception of Pierre. I would rather have oft injured Jason Repko out there. Andre Ethier on the other hand is a proven player. He has all the makings of being a 5 tool player. If he was given full playing time he would hit 25 homers, bat 290, and play great defense.

Susan Slusser covers baseball for the San Francisco Chronicle. Actually the brilliant people over at Yahoo screwed this one up. Tracy Ringolsby wrote this. All he has to do is produce a few more articles like this and he will be inculded in the Hall of Shame along with Joe Morgan, Tim McCarver, and Steve Phillips.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Bill Plaschke:
Torre's job is bringing Dodgers to heal (broken hearts mend over time)

An ugly rift fractured the clubhouse last year, and ingredients exist for it to happen again. The new manager was hired in part to prevent a recurrence. Or becaues there was literally no one else available. Whatever, lets get this over with.

March 9, 2008

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- So far, they smile and hug and make nice.

Jeff Kent spends 20 minutes working on a swing with Andy LaRoche. ( Andy is swinging already?)

Nomar Garciaparra spends quiet moments joking with locker neighbor James Loney. AAAhhhh, good times!

Everybody watches Matt Kemp's baserunning blunder, and nobody says a word. And then Kemp hits Pierre over the head with a bat and the team cheers, screams, and even some cry together as they watch Pierre's crumpled body twitch uncontrollably on the ground.

So far this spring, the Dodgers veterans and kids look nothing like the factions whose ugly September fight cost a team its season and a manager his job. Since the fight basically happened at the end of an already lost season, I don't think the "fight" cost the team it's season or the managers job. Grady did bad enough on his own to get fired. My 7 month old son had the sense to fire the guy.

"This is family again," Loney says. As he kisses Jeff Kent on the mouth.

But look closely. Listen carefully. I can't... I'm reading.

The same ingredients that exploded in last year's turmoil still exist. It wasn't an explosion. And the main ingredient is missing. LOSING!

The same competing interests. Baseball is a competitive sport. The same diverse opinions. Did he just call me black? The same short fuses. Jeff kent is back.

In one corner are veterans at the end of their Dodgers careers. Or so we hope. Until Ned gives extensions to Jeff Kent, Nomar, and Juan Pierre just for fun.

In the other corner are kids at the threshold of their Dodgers careers. Are you ready for "Smackdown Hotel" 2008? (thankyou scully88, you're still a "Bill")

The Dodgers are family right now, sure, anybody can be a family when life is a lazy exhibition.

But come opening day, it could all change at the drop of a fly ball, and they all know it. It would be Juan to drop said "fly ball".

"Nobody can sit here and tell you it won't happen again, nobody knows that," said pitcher Derek Lowe. "People don't change. People are who they are. It's all about making the right choices." and mostly about not losing, or making lineup cards that don't have Juan Pierre on them.

Late last season, the kids made the choice to laugh too loudly and run too easily and seemingly care too little. And they had way too much fun winning while the veterans were losing.

The veterans made a choice to rip them for it. Bastards!!!

This year's clubhouse has the same youthful energy with potentially five kid contributors in Kemp, Loney, LaRoche, Andre Ethier and Russell Martin. What about Chad Billingsly, John Broxton, and Clayton Kershaw?

This year's clubhouse also has the same veteran edginess, with Kent, Lowe and Garciaparra all in the final years of their contracts. So, Mark Sweeney, 38, isn't a veteran?

So what's to keep it from blowing up again? How about.... losing?

"Experience," said Jeff Kent. When he was asked about his hemmeroid problem going away.

I though this was supposed to be an article about Torre "healing" the dodgers clubhouse? All he really has to do is any four of the million things his predecessor didn't do. Lets just start with the lineup. No Pierre... Check. Furcal, Martin, Loney, Kemp in that order... check. Then he has to make sure to make Martin take a few extra days off... Check. Now, bring the right reliever in whose name isn't Hernandez or Tomko... check. Do not let a reliever start the game... check. Do not let a starter go to the bullpenn... ( this might be getting complicated...) Just make sure you don't be a total dunce like grady little or bill plaschke... check

"Winning," said Juan Pierre. Even Juan gets it.

"Hmmmm," said Joe Torre. Oh Boy...

Experience and winning would help, but the answer can be found in the "Hmmmm."

Yeah, this is all about Joe Torre. I know... that's why the article is named "Torre's job is bringing Dodgers to heal."

This is what he must do. This is a reason why he is here. Yup. I knew that.

Torre is not just a manager, he's a soother, a fixer, a closer. Most managers fill out lineup cards, give specific direction. Torre manages to sooth, fix, and close as well... by shrugging.

Where other managers blink, Torre shrugs. See, I told you.

Where other managers scream, Torre just shows up. Where other managers cry, Joe Torre cartwheels.

He was hired not only for his resume, but his gravitas. Ding ding ding. Bill has found our secret word of the day! The kid-veteran conflict is still so fresh and tender, it can only be squashed by this giant presence. Squish it... like a grape under your big toe!

Amazingly, Torre has not said one word to his team about last year's problems. Good on him.

But quietly, he has talked to veterans, he has talked to kids, he has met with coaches, and here's what he thinks:

"Handling this, after where I've been for the last 12 years?"

He smiled and shook his head.

Again and again and again. Then he got dizzy and had to sit down and have a drink of water.

First, Torre doesn't think it was a big deal. Because most everyone will tell you, "it wasn't a big deal".

"You have to understand, everything in this game starts small, everything," he said. "From what everybody told me, this was a mountain that came out of a molehill."

Indeed, it began small. and people like you, Bill, blew it way out of proportion.

A vet didn't like Loney's approach during a certain at-bat. Another vet didn't like the way Kemp ran on a certain count. Are these specific events or are you just making crap up?

A kid thought Kent was being standoffish. Or typical. Another kid thought Luis Gonzalez was being conniving. Even more typical.

Little things, silly things, bubbling things that burst in late September when Kent finally said what nearly every veteran in the clubhouse had been thinking. "These hemmeroids are driving me nuts!!!"

Followed by Loney and Kemp's saying what every kid in the clubhouse had been thinking. "yeah, Jeff, that doesn't look too comfortable. you should see a doctor or something."

It was rip upon rip, the unchecked molehills sprouting into an Everest-sized issue in which everybody was right, and everybody was wrong, and the biggest losers were the Dodgers. Considering that by the time the "fight" happened the season was basically over.

Torre says the secret is to walk around the yard enough to recognize, and step upon, those molehills. Stupid mole's. If we just didn't have mole's like Bill Plaschke to create goofy azz news like this we wouldn't have had a bad season last year and Grady Little would still be our manager. I can take winning... just not with Grady. Lets get rid of the mole's like Bill Plaschke... Check.

"That's what my coaches and I do," he said. "We need to be aware of what is going on in that clubhouse, and when certain things start to bubble up, we will be there step in. And squash Bill Plaschke's grapes."

Torre said the conversation with a fighting kid and veteran is a simple one. Smackdown Hotel 2008!!!

"I ask them, 'You guys have an issue, what are you going to do about it?' " he said. "I tell them, 'You guys have a problem, get it fixed.' " So, he does nothing?

Like his coach Larry Bowa, Torre starts the season with a separate message for the kids and veterans.

To the kids: "You are crazy if you don't take advantage of the experienced guys."

To the veterans: "I want you to speak up if something is bothering you, but I want you to go right to the person."

If it seems Torre is favoring the veterans, well, he has more postseason victories than any manager in baseball history (76) thanks mostly to veterans. Or the 200 million dollar payroll. But we can just chalk it up to experience. Whatever.

"There's a lot of passion in this game, and I'll never try to keep guys from expressing themselves," he said.

If it seems Torre is wary of kids, well, his New York Yankees usually traded those kids for championships. Who did they trade? I remember them signing a bunch of guys and playing the kids when they were ready.

"Kids try to be as good as they can be, and that sometimes leads to tunnel vision, where they lose sight of the big picture, which is winning," he said.

But Torre said he will not play favorites, because that would lead to greater divisions.

"You just try to make sense of it all," he said. "You just try to find a way to get through it."

For now, the sense is there, although the memories are still strong.

"Last year, we didn't get it," Kent said. "We just didn't get it." When asked why he didn't use preparation H.

This year, Joe Torre must give it to them.

He's just a card or two.... or dozen short.

Bill Plaschke:
Garciaparra gets third chance with Dodgers (I'm not sure about this "third" chance thing? Nomar had down year last year and he wasn't really that bad. Just no power. )

Veteran will be the team's starting third baseman on opening day after LaRoche injures his thumb and will be out two months. ( he really should just end it here. This is all we need to know)

March 8, 2008

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- He wanted a chance at forgiveness. He has just been granted two months of very public remorse. I don't know of any time that Nomar has asked for forgiveness. I don't know how "very public remorse" qualifies as forgiveness?

He wanted a chance at another contract. He has just been granted two months of very public negotiations. No one has said anything about a contract?

Nomar Garciaparra wanted one more chance to be Nomar Garciaparra. In all truth last year he looked more like Mia Hamm.

Well, that chance is now. Nice to meet you. See you down at third base. Don't blow it. Thank You Bill Plaschke. You are the new Dodgers GM. You are the new guy that determines who plays and who doesn't. Stop writing like you're a part of the organization. You're an embarassment to the english language.

The most enigmatic of Dodgers veterans has suddenly become perhaps the most important, Because he's not Juan Pierre? Garciaparra's being pushed into the lineup as the starting third baseman Friday after his young competition, Andy LaRoche, tore up his thumb. There was a good chance he was going to start anyway.

A starting third baseman who had 59 runs batted in last season. And 93 the year before. Where are you going with this?... What better way to have veteran depth as talented as Nomar?

A starting third baseman who had more errors (10) than homers (seven). Oh boy... this is going ot get intersting.

A starting third baseman who declined so precipitously from the previous season that everybody assumed he was hiding some horrid injury. He had an ops+ of 78. Just a hare better than Juan Pierre.

Nope. At age 34, Garciaparra just had a lousy season. Now, a year later, he wants the Dodgers to believe that he can find himself again. Because they are literally backed into a corner here.

Well, now they have no choice.

The competition with the kid LaRoche ended as quickly as a non-roster catcher named Danny Ardoin, attempting a pickoff against the St. Louis Cardinals, could throw the ball 90 feet and watch it ricochet into LaRoche's right hand. Why didn't ardoin dosomething like this years ago?

First things first. Where's you're crapper? I've got a brown snake playing peekaboo with my but cheeks.

Could Joe Torre please follow the lead of Grady Little and play Russell Martin every single inning of every single game for the rest of his Dodgers career? Oh boy... Bill!... CAN YOU HEAR ME??? BILL!!!..... YOU.... ARE ..... STUPID!!!!....... For those of you who don't know or have just been living under Jessica Simpsons door mat for the last 2 years, Russell Martin is a catcher. Catchers get tired because they squat and stand repreatedly throughout the game. They typically need a break once a week. Russell is young and can play through the pain. Last year he really slowed down at the end of the year. Playing him every single game will literally ruin his career.

Now, for the rest of the story. Maybe it will be quick and painless. Probably not.

It is all about Garciaparra. And has nothing to do with anyone else on the team. Because our season hinges on the play of Nomar. Even if Jeff Kent never returns healthy, Andruw Jones hits .220 with 20 Hr, and Juan Pierre is Juan Pierre, the entire Dodgers season rests on Nomar playing the first two months of the season (likely batting 7th) out of his mind.

As the spring games began, he essentially had the third-base job locked -- Torre's fondness for veterans and all -- but LaRoche had recently been gaining ground. It was probably the other way around. but ok... Chalk that up to Bill just being stupid.

LaRoche is a good kid, a hard worker, listens and learns and was hitting .350 with a homer.

Garciaparra was hitting .375 with his first homer coming earlier in Friday's game.

Oddly, one inning before LaRoche's injury, Garciaparra was struck in the wrist by a pitch and eventually wound up going to the hospital with LaRoche. This is kind of an old story now but ok... I'm not totally unimpressed with your news reporting.

For a couple of hours, Dodgers fans everywhere found themselves cheering for competing X-rays. I live in Alaska. I was sure this meant a Juan Pierre trade for either Joe Crede or Eric Chaves.

Did your horse win? Chances are, it didn't. I know... not even a hint of trading Slappy McPopup.

If you are like many Dodgers fans, you wanted LaRoche to take the job. I did.

Now, he probably won't show up at full strength until the middle of May. Shucks.

Now, maybe you are cheering for the Dodgers to trade for Chicago's Joe Crede or Detroit's Brandon Inge? Having Inge would be a disaster. A Juan Pierre like disaster. Not only is he declining, but his contract is for another 3 years!

Easy. Enough. Ned Colletti needs to save his ammo for an eventual trade for a starting pitcher. Because the 19 starting pitchers we have just isn't enough. Nevermind Clayton Kershaw has just been promoted to the major league spring training roster. Or jason Johnson is finally being Jason Johnson. Esteban has come out of his shell... and of course Jason Schmidt is finally... well, nevermind.

Garciaparra batted .307 with 19 RBIs in the first month of last season. It was his best month of the year.

If this is an issue of his brittle body breaking down, well, he should be fine until LaRoche returns.
Time for a parade. Bill just put together two logical statements back to back. If Nomar can just keep the hot corner warm until Laroche is healthy, it will spell "Good News" for the Dodgers organization. Nomar has been viewed as a supersub for this season until Laroche's injury. As it is, Nomar doesn't necessarily have a heathly streak in him. And playing 3rd isn't his "natural"position. Much has been made, though not by Bill, of Nomar arm angle when throwing from 3rd. He has a strange motion for a third baseman. One similar to a shortstop I presume. Lets hope he can stay healthy until June.

There is also the matter of convincing a six-time All-Star that he has to accept part-time play at a variety of position and pinch-hitting spots. I'm pretty sure he and Torre already talked about it. There should have been no "convincing" at all.

This could be Garciaparra's eventual role with the Dodgers, but he is the competitive sort who would never swallow it unless he was given a fair opportunity to stay in the starting job.

This chance will be fair. This will be as many as two months to show that his skills have not yet disappeared. So, you're basically telling me things I already knew. Garciaparra would be on the bench as a utility infielder / right hand bat off the bench. Basically a talented skinny Oldmendo Saenz.

If he does well, he keeps the job and LaRoche returns to the minor leagues. Until he gets injured... Then we bring up Laroche, when he should have been starting anyway, and Nomar goes down. I'm getting tired of this "veterans play first" thing that Colletti has establisted.

If Garciaparra struggles, he goes quietly to the bench while LaRoche gives the team a burst of early-season energy. Unless he gets injured. Which he already has... So it will be more like midseason energy.

LaRoche's injury simplifies a complicated situation, and gives a popular veteran one last gasp at hometown greatness. I'm going to watch the Dodgers tomorrow just to see if Garciaparra gasps.

That doesn't make it any better, just more workable. Personally I think it is a situation the Dodgers were given too get out of the Juan Pierre debacle. A mixed blassing if you ask me.

That also doesn't change the fact that the Dodgers starting third baseman will be a guy who, among the major leagues' 24 third basemen with at least 425 at-bats last season, ranked 22nd in homers and 20th in RBIs. Good thing we had a center fielder who ranked DEAD LAST in everything.

By the way, what did happen to Garciaparra last season? Maybe it had something to do with having twins. I have a 7 month old and it turned my world up side down.

I've asked and asked and, in typical elusive Garciaparra fashion, he has never quite given me a straight answer. He's a good guy. He's not going to blame anything. Especially if it was his kids.

When pressed about it again earlier this week by Times reporter Dylan Hernandez, Garciaparra talked around the issue as usual before finally saying, "I have an idea. Maybe I'll talk about it one day."

That talk needs to be action. That day is now. The world is hanging by a thread because Nomar wont talk about why had a bad season.

Bill, we all know you have issues writing drama. Mostly because every piece you write is drama. Bad drama! If all you did was give us the facts, showed up early, and stole some bases, you'd get 9 million dollars. wait... wait... wrong argument....

Bill, just stop writing. This is my plea. Stop writing.