December 20, 2014

Mannion Out as Dodgers President

Ok, I didn’t see this one coming.  According to Dylan Hernandez, Dennis Mannion is out as president of the Los Angeles Dodgers and replaced by…wait for it…Frank McCourt!

What makes it surprising is that there were no rumblings that Mannion was doing a bad job or that he was unhappy with the Dodgers.  Mannion came to LA in 2007 as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer before being promoted to President in March 2009.  He’s credited with the creation of Mannywood, and was involved in the club’s 50th anniversary celebration and the opening of Camelback Ranch.  Mannion also came to LA with significant front office / business operations experience with the Baltimore Ravens, Ascent Sports (the folks who own the Colorado Avalanche and the Denver Nuggets) and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Look, I have no idea whether or not Mannion was good at his job or if he was successful in achieving the goals that Frank assigned him, but I do think it’s a little odd to see an experienced team president leave and then be replaced by the owner himself – especially given the current state of the team, the ongoing divorce, etc.

I did have the chance to meet Mannion twice, and each time the first question out of his mouth was about what the fans were thinking about some aspect of the club – a great sign.  That said, Mannion was also well-known for making at least one unfortunate comment in public.

Mannion also once asked me during a one-on-one conversation, with a lot of sincerity, why the media criticized the Dodgers as much as they did and if there was a way to fix this (I wanted to shake him and say: they’re objective journalists…they’re not here to like you!  Put the best possible team on the field with the best possible manager and you will earn people’s respect.).  The comment just seemed really out of character for someone with Mannion’s experience and frankly left me thinking that he was a little out of touch.

So what does Mannion’s departure mean for Dodger fans?  We really don’t know the answer to that question, but I think it’s safe to say it won’t affect the team that takes the field each day, as baseball operations was always the responsibility of Ned Colletti’s.  However, it will be interesting to see what happens next in what is sure to be an interesting off-season for the Dodgers.

Finally, if you’re itching to get to a Dodgers game, the full Spring Training schedule is now available.  The first home game at Camelback Ranch is Sunday, February 27, 2011 against the Anaheim Angels!

James Loney: Houston Area Player Of The Year!

Imagine my surprise when I heard Vin Scully’s voice describing Dodger highlights during an Astros-Indians Spring Training game. Turns out it was a video tribute to James Loney, Houston Area Player of the Year!

Congratulations, James!

Minutemaid Park Is No Dodger Stadium

A work trip brought me to Houston (for Wrestlemania of all things) and I used a little free time to squeeze in a quick trip to Minutemaid Park, which is conveniently locate two blocks from my hotel. Plus it allows me to check another stadium off my list.

Right now the ‘stros are leading the Indians 1-0 in the top of the second inning. This place is a classic cookie cutter retro-designed place (think Camden Yards). While nice, clean and modern, it lacks a soul. Plus their hot dogs suck. One odd condiment fact: the ketchup and mustard come in packets while the onions and relish are applied with a spoon. WTF? Shouldn’t this be the other way around? Last I checked ketchup and mustard were way more popular that relish and onions, but I am in Texas.

In any case, just a few days until Opening Day!

Experiencing Camelback Ranch

Well, it’s the fourth inning of Game 1 at the Ranch and Alex and I are very pleased with the Dodgers’ new home. A more comprehensive review coming later, but the place delivers a fantastic fan experience. Kuroda’s looking pretty good as well (Dodgers down 1-0).

McDonald Headed to the Pen

James McDonald will be coming out of ther bullpen to start the year, mirroring the development plan for Chad Billingsley in 2007.  The move gives Joe Torre a big arm capable of working a lot of innings and definitely reduces the pressure on the Dodgers’ 2008 Minor League Pitcher of the Year.  It’s also interesting to note that McDonald’s fastball topped out in the 88-92 mph range as a starter, but rose to 96 mph as a reliever.

Thinking back to last season, I remember Ned expressing concern about Clayton Kershaw’s rush to the majors and the huge increase in sheer innings that starting pitchers that make the jump experience.  Ned’s always been cautious with his young arms, and I really can’t fault the guy.  The way the club handled both Bills and Kershaw was fantastic, and both had successful transitions to the majors (granted, 2009 will be Kershaw’s first full year with LA).

In other “news,” the Dodgers signed former Dodgers SS Juan Castro and RP Tanyon Sturtze to minor league deals.