October 31, 2014

Post-Game Comments from Torre, Billingsley, Ellis and Blake

Here’s the feedback after tonight’s 6-0 loss to the Padres (particularly good stuff from Casey Blake).  Additionally, earlier this evening, the Dodgers were officially eliminated from playoff contention.

Joe Torre

On Clayton Richard’s complete game shutout:

“It just looked so easy for him.  We didn’t do a whole lot of damage.  We just couldn’t get anything going.  Up until that last inning, we didn’t really have a threat.  You have to give him credit, he works fast, he’s very aggressive in the strike zone and he certainly pitched well tonight.”

On being eliminated from the playoffs:

“We didn’t play well enough to be in a pennant race.  We thought in the first half that we would be able to contend.  Unfortunately the second half started off badly and we never really recovered from it.”

On Billingsley’s performance:

“It just didn’t look like he had command.  He’s been pitching so well, his stuff looked good, but he just wasn’t able to locate.  It sounds simple, and that’s probably a simple explanation, but as I said, I thought his stiff was good, but he just didn’t get the ball where he wanted to.  Plus we put pressure on him.  We don’t score, they score a couple of runs and you try and be perfect.  I think a lot of the pitchers have had to deal with a lot of that this year.”

Chad Billingsley

On his performance in tonight’s game:

“I just didn’t get the job done today.  I was battling those two innings and couldn’t find a way to get out of it.  I’ve just got to get ready for the next start.”

A.J. Ellis

On Chad Billingsley’s performance:

“They capitalized when we put their runners on base.  The walk or a hit by pitch, they capitalized on it.  When he was ahead in the count and throwing strikes, he was dominant as he normally is, putting guys away.  When you put guys on base it makes it that much harder on you.”

Casey Blake

On being officially eliminated from the playoffs:

“In order to be a championship team, obviously you’ve got to be playing well, but you’ve got to have a lot of things go your way.  It seems like neither of those happened for us.  Injuries didn’t help anything: Losing Manny, losing [Furcal], Padilla, just go down the line.  Andre for an extended period of time.  I was out five games and that really killed us [laughter].  Every team goes through adversity like that.  It’s disappointing.  You feel like a failure.  We’re not embarrassed, it’s just really disappointing for all the expectations and hope you have.  You make it to the playoffs a couple of years in a row and you just expect to do it.  When it doesn’t happen, it’s really, really tough to take.”

Joe Torre’s Pre-Game Quotes

Better late than never…

His reaction to the feedback from his comments yesterday regarding the New York Mets:

“I apologize to Jerry Manuel and to all the other managers.  I don’t blame them; they don’t want to get stepped on.  I think it’s the wrong thing to do and I apologize.  It certainly wasn’t my intention to do that.

I’m closing the door on managing the Mets and probably everybody else.  Because I don’t want to mislead anybody.  When I leave here…I’m anticipating that will be my last game as manager.  I didn’t have any anticipation that I’m going to manage anywhere else.  But I don’t want to shut any doors to what possibly could be the next phase of my professional life.

I would doubt very seriously that there would be anything that would entice me to manage again.  As I’ve said a number of times, this is pretty good duty out here.  It’s pretty good duty.  This weather, this ballpark, the Dodgers which have been a storied franchise.  I know right there are a lot of questions about what’s going on…but it’s still a pretty darn good place to be.”

On his interest level in writing a book about his time with the Dodgers:

“No.  The New York thing was much different…the roller coaster ride and all that stuff.  And when I first started there and was there three years like I am here, I had no interest in writing a book.  Once you spend as much time as I did there and had excitement from winning and depression about losing, and not really wanting to talk about it, because it wasn’t finished yet.  And I still wouldn’t have written the book unless Tom [Verducci] had come up to me and asked if I had any interest in the kind of book he wanted to do.  But no, I have no interest in writing a book [about the Dodgers].”

On the possibility of writing a book with LA Times beat writer Dylan Hernandez:

Torre jokingly responded, “It would have to be a children’s book if [Hernandez] was going to do it.”

On the Dodgers interest level in playing the role of spoiler:

“I hope so, because it’s really all that’s left for us.  It’s more, have an impact on a pennant race.  In our division, we’re pretty lucky, because we have three of them [contending teams].  If I’m sitting in one of those other dugouts or clubhouses now, in San Francisco or Colorado, I’m hoping that we’re going to play like hell to beat [the Padres].  And that’s only fair to do.  And that’s the way we’ve arranged our pitching.  The other day, being back 6-1, we certainly didn’t throw in the towel in that game and I was proud of that.  But it is tougher to play this time of year, and that’s really the only thing that gets your blood boiling a little bit.  That’s what the game is supposed to be.”

On which players Torre is considering to let manage at the end of the season:

“I’m considering Russell [Martin].  Where I normally favor the older guys, I may be thinking more of the younger guys.  I’ve thrown it out to them.  Ausmus maybe, but he’s going to catch the last game.  That’s going to be his swan song…we’re going to be swaning together.”

Mattingly to Replace Torre in 2011

 

It’s official: Joe Torre is retiring at the end of the season and Don Mattingly will replace him in 2011.  I’ll be interested to hear more from Ned Colletti on the thought process that went on before the offer was made to “Donnie Baseball,” as clearly Tim Wallach was another strong internal candidate, who seemed to have his own PR campaign working for him with several glowing print articles, as well as strong online support (I, for one, was definitely on the Wallach bandwagon).  I also want to know if a minority candidate was interviewed (as required by Major League Baseball) and who that person was.  Was it a token interview?  Given the secretive nature of the process, it sure seems that way.

Say what you will about the selection, but both Mattingly and Wallach are largely unproven on the major league level, so I don’t think you can really fault Ned for the selection at this stage of the game (and here’s hoping Tim Wallach doesn’t go on to become the next Mike Sciosscia and earn a share of the title of “The One Who Got Away”). 

Here’s the official press release from the Dodgers.  Press conference at 5:00 p.m. at Dodger Stadium, so more news coming later today:

The Los Angeles Dodgers announced today that former American League MVP Don Mattingly has been named the Dodger manager for the 2011 season and that Joe Torre has stepped aside from the position. Mattingly becomes the ninth manager in Los Angeles Dodger history and 27th in franchise history while Torre is expected to take time to determine his plans for 2011.

“Over the past three years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Don closely and have gotten to know him both personally and professionally and I’m convinced that he’s the right person to lead the Dodgers,” said Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti. “His work ethic is unparalleled, his baseball knowledge is vast and his leadership skills have been established during more than three decades in professional baseball.

“Donnie has also learned alongside the best in the business. Joe Torre has been a great friend, a strong leader and an incredible presence for this organization and I cannot thank him enough for his service to the Dodgers. I respect his decision to step aside and I look forward to the day where I can watch him take his rightful place in Cooperstown among baseball’s legends.”

Mattingly is completing his seventh season as a Major League coach (2004-10) following seven seasons as a special instructor during Spring Training for the Yankees (1997-2003).  He is in his third season as the Dodgers’ hitting coach following one season as the bench coach under Torre in New York (2007) and three years as the Yankees’ hitting coach (2004-06).

“The opportunity to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers is truly an honor,” said Mattingly. “There are few organizations in the world with the history, tradition and track record of success as the Dodgers. I’m looking forward to continuing what I came here to accomplish with Joe and that’s to win a World Championship.”

Mattingly will manage in the Arizona Fall League at the completion of the regular season. He becomes the eighth current Major League manager to pilot a big league club without previous managerial experience, joining Torre, Dusty Baker, Joe Girardi, Ozzie Guillen, Cito Gaston, Bud Black and Kirk Gibson. Lou Piniella, who began the year as the Cubs’ manager, also managed in the Major Leagues without any minor league experience. Guillen won the World Series in his second year, Gaston in his third full season and Piniella and Girardi in their fourth seasons as a big league skipper. Bob Brenly won the World Series in his first year as a big league manager.

Mattingly spent 14 seasons as a first baseman for New York, where he compiled a .307 lifetime average with 222 home runs and 1,099 RBI while earning MVP honors in 1985, nine Rawlings Gold Glove Awards and six All-Star appearances.

He becomes just the ninth manager in Los Angeles Dodger history, following Hall of Famers Walter Alston (1954-76) and Tommy Lasorda (1977-96), Bill Russell (1996-98), Glenn Hoffman (1998), Davey Johnson (1999-2000), Jim Tracy (2001-05), Grady Little (2006-07) and Torre (2008-10).

Torre guided the Dodgers to consecutive National League Championship Series appearances and reached the postseason in a record-tying 14 consecutive seasons from 1996-2009. The certain future Hall of Famer has more postseason victories than any other manager in Major League history, ranks fifth on the all-time regular season wins list and has posted a three-year record with the Dodgers of 251-220 (.533) through last night’s game. He finished third in 2009 NL Manager of the Year voting.

“It has been an incredible honor to wear the Dodger uniform and I will always carry with me some very special memories from the past three seasons,” said Torre. “This was not a decision I took lightly but I believe it’s the right one for myself and my family and I’m truly thrilled that Donnie will be the one leading the Dodgers. It’s time that the Dodgers had a new voice and I have the utmost confidence in him. I know he’s ready for the challenge.”

We’ll do our best  to cover Mattingly’s time as manager of the Phoenix Desert Dogs during the upcoming Arizona Fall League via our Phoenix correspondent (Alex Volk).

Photo Credit: UPI Photo/Bill Greenblatt

I hate to say it, but…

Maybe, just maybe, the reason for the slow start for the Dodger bats rests with Joe Torre.  Think about it: the biggest problem the Dodgers have faced this year is their ever-shifting lineup.  Even Eric Karros called it out on the national game against the Braves this weekend: the root cause of the problem stems from the fact that Torre is still getting to know his players.  Now here’s the rub: remember back to all the interviews Joe did leading up to Spring Training?  He said repeatedly that he didn’t know his players, that he’d have to get to know them when they got to Vero Beach, etc.  Hell, I remember hearing an interview with James Loney on Jim Rome’s or The Herd’s show saying he hadn’t even SPOKEN to Torre at that point!   Maybe if Joe had spent the time after he was first hired to get to know his guys, he might have a better sense of how the pieces fit together.  Maybe he didn’t realize the complexities of this team, but that seems pretty hard to believe given his pedigree with the Mets, Braves, Cardinals and Yankees.  Still, it made this Dodger fan wonder then and it certainly makes me wonder now…


Joe is left to ponder the Dodgers lack of hitting

Photo Courtesy of content.clearchannel.com

Joe Torre’s Laid Back Style

I find it interesting that every time Joe Torre was interviewed in the months leading up to Spring Training and a reporter asked him what he thought about the team, he responded that he hadn’t spoken to most of his players, so really hadn’t formed many opinions yet.  Andre Either confirmed this in an interview I heard on Dan Patrick’s radio show the other week.  I do recall reading reports that Torre called Andruw Jones after he signed, welcoming him to the team, which is a promising sign. 

The funniest story making the rounds is about how Joe Torre was eating at an IHOP restaurant in Vero Beach, and Russell Martin stopped by his table to introduce himself.  Ok, you’d think Joe would have at least called Russell, one of his team MVPs!  My other big question is what the hell was Russell doing in an IHOP in the days leading up to Spring Training?  I guess the man loves his pancakes!

Maybe it’s just me, but this behavior seems a bit odd for a new manager of a team.  But hey, it’s Joe Torre, right?  The guy knows how to win.