November 22, 2014

Joe Torre’s Pre-Game Comments

Here are a selection of Joe Torre’s pre-game comments to the media.  These are out a bit late as I lent my recorder to T.J. Simers so that he could make sure he had his quotes from his banter with Torre correct.

On Rafael Furcal:

“Evidently last night when he made an awkward catch…he felt something in his back.  So he’s getting an MRI.  Hopefully the fact that it just happened and he felt it on that play, hopefully that indicates it’s something that’s not related [to previous back injuries], but we’re not going to know that until we get the results back.”

On Jeff Weaver’s left knee bothering him:

“I don’t necessarily need guys to tell me about all their aches and pains, but I think when it comes time to start to affect your performance, then you want to know.  A guy like Weav, who’s been around a little bit, sort of knows his body and thinks he can do things in spite of stuff.”

On Ramon Troncoso’s rehab in Albuquerque:

It’s ok. Ok. Inconsistent.  We’ll see. He gives us a guy who can throw a couple innings.  Maybe back here he can find that thing that he had earlier this year and last year too.”

On yesterday’s base running blunder in light of the team’s recent performance:

“It’s terrible.  It’s certainly something we always pay a lot of attention to in the Spring when we’re talking about base running drills.  A lot of it, on base running, a lot of it’s just common sense.  In Matt’s case, did he have to run full bore to get home? No, because he wasn’t going to throw him out.  But in light of James trying to go to third, which he shouldn’t do with two out, unless it’s just standing up, you just can’t take anything for granted.  In James’ case, once he made the commitment, and I talked to him a couple times during the game last night, he said ‘I made up my mind too soon.’  I said, that being the case, once you round the bag, you’ve got to see where the guy in front of you is.  You’re the one now, that can make sure he scores.  Even if you’re going to get tagged out, you’ve got to make sure it’s not until after he crossed the plate.  But he never looked.”

On Carlos Monasterios and the bullpen:

“He is the long guy.  Troncoso, I think he’ll probably take on a little more of a longer role.  With the addition of Dotel, I think we have some options for guys to get out of innings.”

On Manny Ramirez:

“Stan [Conte] went to Arizona to watch him work today, and Stan thinks it will be at least another week or so…before we make any plans for him to do some game stuff.  We had expected to see him this week, figuring he’s start to play in rehab, but that’s not the case.”

On what the team needs to do to turn things around:

“We just need to win a game to start building.  We know what we want to have happen.  We want what’s happened since the All-Star break to disappear, but that’s not going to happen.  We’re going to have to start stopping the negative by turning it into a positive, but you can only do that by winning a game and just building on that.  I just want us to play a clean game, be aggressive and pitch the way we’ve been pitching most of the time.  But we need to win a game.”

“It’s immaterial how far out we are, because it’s a matter of our winning games…we need to win.  Until we do that, I really don’t pay attention to the standings.”

—-

The media session concluded with the aforementioned banter between Torre and The Los Angeles Times’  T.J. Simers.  I’ll leave this for T.J.’s column, but needless to say, Torre knows Simers approach and had fun with him (for the most part).

Thoughts on the Trading Deadline

With the MLB trading deadline coming up on Saturday, July 31st, it’s the time of year to talk about potential moves for the Dodgers. 

Many rumors have been floated, and will continue to be floated, over the coming four days, and while the Dodgers are clearly in the market for a veteran starting pitcher with some playoff experience, I think the emergence of Kenley Jansen takes some of the pressure off of the need for another reliever.  But there’s a far more pressing need than pitching right now.

In my opinion, the real need for the Dodgers is for an outfielder (Royals outfielder Scott Podsednik is the latest rumor).  Think about it: Manny Ramirez is back on the DL and we’re unsure what he’s going to be like when he comes back.  Reed Johnson is eligible to come off the DL, but hasn’t.  In fact, we haven’t heard a peep from Torre about the status of Reed, which leads me to believe that his return to action isn’t going to come this week.  That leaves Xavier Paul and Garret Anderson as our #3 and #4 outfielders for a critical stretch against the Padres and Giants.  Having the X-Man come off the bench is fine, but GA just should not be on this club.  I don’t like this combo…I don’t like it one bit, and the situation is compounded by the Dodgers inability to get hits with runners in scoring position (for example, over the four game series with the New York Mets, the Dodgers scored just seven runs with 22 hits and were an atrocious 1 for 18 with runners in scoring position.  And this series was at home in the friendly confines of Chavez Ravine).

We’ll see what happens over the course of the coming days, but don’t be surprised to see Ned Colletti add an outfielder that can start and come off the bench and who also comes with some pop in his bat.  If that happens, GA will certainly be designated for assignment or outright released.

Sights at Camelback Ranch

Today’s sold-out Dodgers-Cubs game at Camelback Ranch was pretty darn entertaining!  Chad Billingsley went four-plus innings, Manny went deep, Reed Johnson hit his own two-run blast, Rafael Furcal stole his first base of the spring and Blake DeWitt continued to hit well, going two for three.  Director Rob Reiner (a noted Dodgers fan) was also on hand with his son, as was the great Peter Gammons.

I took in the game from the first base line with a bunch of Cubs fans who seemed to make up about 50 percent of the crowd on hand.  Here are a few pics from yours truly.  Enjoy!

Furcals steals second base.

Billingsley opens the game for the Dodgers.

Matt Kemp congratulates Manny Ramirez after his two-run home run.

Reed Johnson celebrates his two-run blast in the 7th inning.

Peter Gammons chats with Greg Maddox before the game.

Alex and I will be at the Dodgers-Padres game on enemy territory in Peoria tomorrow night, so more to come on Friday!

Philly Fans Getting Riled Up Over Manny Ramirez’s All-Star Votes

ballots

Update:

the latest voting results (6/1) show Manny in 5th place for an outfield spot with 635,530 votes. He trailed Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun (908,745), Philadelphia’s Raul Ibanez (817,849), the Cubs’ Alfonso Soriano (775,319) and 1st place vote getter Carlos Beltran (741,875). Milwaukee’s Mike Cameron was sixth, about 100,000 back.

Those Philly fans are an ornery bunch just about all the time. Try showing up to an Eagles bar wearing anything other than a green NFL jersey on Sunday and see how you are treated.

These days, however, their ire is directed squarely at one Manny Ramirez. That’s because Manny is still a leading candidate to start in left field for the NL team. That leaves the Phillies’ Raul Ibanez, who is having a stellar season, out in the cold. Ramirez has a comfortable 50,000 vote lead as of Sunday, even though he is currently serving a 50-game suspension courtesy of Major League Baseball.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for Manny Ramirez to get the starting slot ahead of Ibanez. The Phillies’ left-fielder is 36 and playing one of his best seasons ever. Through 49 games, Ibanez is batting .333 with 17 home runs, 46 RBIs, 40 runs, and 4 stolen bases. Ibanez is a serious standout in the NL right now (regardless of position) and should be recognized for his achievements.

However, we get to the crux of the issue that irks Philly fans so much these days – the voting system that powers everything from American Idol to the All-Star Game…the popular vote! Popular voting doesn’t guarantee that “All-Stars” will actually play in the game – it merely ensures that the most popular players for any given position are selected.

Ever since Sanjaya practaically made it to the 4th place spot on American Idol, we’ve learned all to well how the popular vote can be used for evil as well as good. The drama that unfolds is pretty captivating – as Sunday’s Philadelphia Enquirer showed us. Take a look at the first selection from the mailbag addressed to John Gonzales:

How can Manny Ramirez be suspended for 50 games and still be ahead of Raaaaaaaul Ibanez by 50,000 votes in the all-star voting? I know a name carries a player in voting, but this system is really ridiculous. I don’t care if the Phillies make the All-Star Game. I just worry of the integrity of the game itself.

– Mike

Mike,

You’re absolutely right. It’s crazy that Manny isn’t even playing and yet he’s way ahead of Ibanez – a guy who’s having arguably the best season of anyone in the National League right now.

I wouldn’t worry about the game, though. Whatever “integrity” MLB had vanished when it shipped a bunch of fools and liars to D.C. to talk about steroids with some other fools and liars.

These days, baseball focuses less on integrity than it does on the ballpark experience. MLB is about summer evenings at the park and Dollar Dog Nights and beach blanket giveaways. Just go with it.

– Gonzo

Wait a minute…since when did integrity come in to play here? Has the All-Star Game voting been compromised in some fashion? Did officials from some big accounting firm get it wrong somehow? Has MLB let us down by changing the rules on how the All-Star Game’s players are determined?

The answer to the last three questions above is NO. Fans have decided that the All-Star game should be more about celebrity and popularity then about statistics from the first half of the season. They are voting for the person they want to see (and see perform) during the game – and so far that person is Manny Ramirez, not Raul Ibanez.

You know who isn’t complaining right now (other than Manny Ramirez)? The Fox Broadcasting company, who will surely get better ratings with Manny in the lineup than Raul Ibanez

Manny Ramirez Snubs Frank McCourt’s Suspension Requests

I don’t make a habit of reading the Boston Globe, but the recent Red Sox struggles against the Mets have made for some interesting reading (especially the fan comments) :)

While perusing the Globe, I did notice a small update on Manny’s progress against Frank McCourt’s Requests while he is out on suspension. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to report other than Manny has elected to skip all of what McCourt asked him to do other than apologize to the team.

In fact, Ramirez has flat-out rejected apologizing to fans for the incident thus far, simply saying, “I’m not ready.”

Welcome to Manny Being Manny and our latest chapter in a book full of love-hate experiences and off-the-field wishes that almost never come true.

The 25 million dollar man is either not getting good advice or refusing to listen to whatever advice is being presented to him. Either way, the end result is not good – the Dodgers are learning that they can do without Manny – something infathomable at the end of last season

McCourt’s requests seem simple enough:
1. Show remorse
2. Take batting practice
3. Continue to mentor the young bats
4. Address the team

So far, he has addressed the team…and promptly disappeared.

Do The Dodgers (or Alyssa) Really Welcome Manny being Manny?

Do The Dodgers (or Alyssa) Really Welcome Manny being Manny?

The 25 million dollar man is either not getting good advice or refusing to listen to whatever advice is being presented to him. Either way, the end result is not good – the Dodgers are learning that they can do without Manny – something infathomable at the end of last season.

Sure, there is no one power hitter who can replace Manny in the lineup. However, The Dodgers offense has come on strong after the first five games of Manny’s suspension and hasn’t looked back since. In addition, Frank McCourt will likely get most of the business benefits he planned on when re-signing Manny without having to pay the full $25 million (see previous story here).

Manny, if I were you I’d get on that “honey do” list that Frank sent your way before you outlive your usefulness to the only team that was willing to give you a reasonable contract in the offseason.