Having watched Torre at close range for 12 years from my New York vantage, I have fewer reservations regarding his taking over the Dodgers than I think most of you do here. Yes, he has his foibles, but he's also shown himself to be more adaptable than commonly given credit for. He handled the in-season integration of Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera into the lineups pretty well, and particularly this past year, showed that he wasn't afraid to bench expensive, gimpy and ineffective veterans like Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi. Yet he was also able to quell any major clubhouse dissent over those moves, which is pretty impressive.Cliff did a particularly nice job of elaborating on the vets-versus-rookies topic:
A few other things to add:
• He's done an outstanding job managing Jorge Posada's heavy workload, keeping him effective all year long - there's virtually no difference between Posada's first- and second-half splits careerwise, and his September numbers have historically been strong. Granted, he won't have the DH to help Russell Martin out in the same way, but Torre was a catcher, and he understood the workload.
• Right now the Dodgers already have a deeper bullpen than the Yankees have had the last few years. In [Jonathan] Broxton, [Scott] Proctor and [Joe] Beimel, the Dodgers have three capable setup men, and that's not to say they won't be even deeper. Torre hasn't had more than one good righty setup at any one time in awhile, and his recent lefty relievers have primarily been LOOGYs or mop-and-bucket guys. Beimel is more of a Mike Stanton type, capable of pitching full innings without [his manager] worrying unduly about platoon matchups.
• Anyone pointing to Torre's lack of success in his pre-NYY days would do well to remind themselves that this Dodger club has far more to work with than some of those teams did, particularly in the rotation.
• Whatever the expectations are in L.A. with the ink still drying on Torre's contract, they're lower and more reasonable than they were in New York. Torre will do a good job of keeping the pressure off his guys by deflecting it towards himself, and this is a guy who can stand more heat than just about any manager I've ever seen. He'll demand accountability for the kind of BS that's gone on around problem children like Jeff Kent over the past few years, and I think he'll find his way through this mix of veterans and youngsters better than Little did last year.
Looking at the 2008 Dodgers," Corcoran says, "if the team decides to start the season with [Andre] Ethier and [Matt] Kemp in the outfield corners and [James] Loney and [Andy] LaRoche at the infield corners, Torre will give the youngsters a long rope. A player has to be really bad for a really long time to lose a starting job he's been given by Joe Torre. The challenge for young players, however, is getting that starting job in the first place.• On the possibility of Rodriguez to the Dodgers: I don't think the Torre hiring increases the likelihood that Rodriguez will sign with LA. For all of Rodriguez's claims that he loved playing for Torre, he had to feel rather betrayed by his manager throwing him to the wolves in that Tom Verducci Sports Illustrated article in Septmeber 2006, and in Torre batting him eighth late in the Division Series against the Tigers.
"If Ned Colletti brings in another 'proven veteran' outfielder, or if Nomar [Garciaparra] has a blazing hot spring training and reclaims the third-base job, you're unlikely to see a change in the lineup before June, if at all, no matter how poorly the vets play.
"The one exception there, particularly regarding Nomar, is injury. Torre is not above allowing a young player to Wally Pipp a vet. If the team and the youngster excel while the vet is on the DL, that vet could come back to a spot on the bench, as [Jason] Giambi and Doug Mientkiewicz did this year. Heck, even Johnny Damon lost his center-field job to injury this year, and he didn't spend a day on the DL. Of course it took until June for that to happen."
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