Posts Tagged ‘Joe Torre’

Wanting On-Field Changes, Bud Selid Forms Study Group

December 16, 2009

When someone mentions the term “study group” to me, the first thing I think of is college.

I think of four or five friends getting together to study a subject they have very little interest in and after 15 minutes saying screw this and play Madden.

Hopefully Bud Selig’s “study group” is a little more productive.

The Commissioner of baseball announced today he is formulating a special committee or study group for on-field matters. These on-field matters include the expansion of instant replay, expanding the first-round of the playoffs, scheduling, the pace of the game, and the umpire’s strike zone.

Selig has put together a study group

Here are the members of the committee who will be discussing these matters:

Tony LaRussa: Manager, St. Louis Cardinals

Mike Scioscia: Manager, Los Angeles of Angels of Anaheim

Jim Leyland: Manager, Detroit Tigers

Joe Torre: Manager, Los Angeles Dodgers

Andy MacPhail: President for Baseball Operations, Baltimore Orioles

Mark Shapiro: General Manager, Cleveland Indians

Terry Ryan: Former General Manager, Minnesota Twins

John Schuerholz: President, Atlanta Braves

Paul Beeston: President, Toronto Blue Jays

Dave Montgomery: President, Philadelphia Phillies

Chuck Armstrong: President, Seattle Mariners

Bill DeWitt: Chairman, St. Louis Cardinals

Frank Robinson: Hall of Fame player and currently works in the office of the commissioner.

George Will: Political Communist

I have a couple of thoughts on all of this.

First, I love the idea, and I love the fact that Selig does his best to try to improve the game. I have said it before and I will say it again–Selig always works on improving the game of baseball.

That is one thing you can not fault him on.

I would expect that some changes come out of this meeting. Changes to instant replay and pace of the game seem to be the easiest to implement.

Pace of the game came under question when Jorge Posada seemingly went to the mound on every pitch during the postseason. I always believed that there should be a maximum of two visits per pitcher per game.

That visit includes trips made by the catcher, pitching coach, or manager to the mound. On the third trip by any of the above during a game, the pitcher has to be removed.

If you have to visit a pitcher more than twice in a game, then that pitcher is probably not having a good night.

My other thought on this is why are there no current players in this meeting? Wouldn’t the people who play the game know what changes need to be made?

If I am Selig, I would much rather get input from a Curtis Granderson or a Carlos Pena than George Will. Why on earth is Will involved in this? For some reason this guy has Selig’s ear and I still haven’t figured out why.

When I think of Will, I think of that great Saturday Night Live skit in the 80’s when they did “George Will’s Sports Machine.” Dana Carvey played Will, Corbin Burnsen played Mike Schmidt and Jon Lovitz played Tommy Lasorda.

Will kept asking Schmidt and Lasorda questions they couldn’t answer. Questions like “The precarious balance between infield and outfield suggests a perfect symmetry. For $50, identify the effect of that symmetry.”

It was just classic. That skit makes me laugh every time I see it.

The group will meet for the first time during the Owner’s Meetings next month in Phoenix.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Jim Tracy Wins NL Manager Of The Year, Inks Three-Year Extension

November 19, 2009

Yes, I am fully aware that this was yesterday’s news, but it’s hard to write when you leave your laptop in your office and your home computer catches a virus.

Yesterday was a tough day for The Ghost of Moonlight Graham. I was home sick, my computer crashed, and the UMass Basketball team lost their home opener dropping them to 0-2 on the season.

It’s hard to win when you don’t have a point guard who can facilitate an offense and you have to settle for jump shots the entire game.

While I didn’t have a great day yesterday, there was one guy who did–Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy. Not only did Tracy win the National League Manager of the Year award, but he also inked a three-year extension with the Rockies.

Tracy had a remarkable turnaround in Colorado

 

Tracy received 29 out of 32 first-place votes to become just the second manager to ever win the award while taking over a team mid-season. Jack McKeon accomplished the same feat with the Florida Marlins in 2003.

Tony LaRussa received two first-place votes and Joe Torre received the other first-place vote.

I wouldn’t shock me that the one guy who voted for Torre was some idiot out of L.A. who knows nothing about baseball, but somehow has a vote. I thought Bruce Bochy or Fredi Gonzalez deserved more credit than Torre.

Now, I will have to fully admit, I was dead wrong about Tracy. A. I didn’t think Clint Hurdle should have been fired and B. I didn’t think Tracy was the right man to turn the ship around.

I went on record saying Vinny Castilla should have gotten the job.

But Tracy proved me and a lot of other people wrong. The Rockies went 74-42 under Tracy’s stewardship and clinched a Wild Card birth for their second postseason appearance in the last three years.

Tracy put Ian Stewart at third, Clint Barmes at second, stabilized the bullpen, Troy Tulowitzki returned to his 2007 form, and the rest was history for Tracy and the Rockies.

The loads of young talent, the Rockies should be contenders for years to come and the guy leading them will be Tracy. As I mentioned earlier, Tracy received a three-year extension from the Rockies.

No terms of the deal have been disclosed, but industry sources say Tracy will earn over $1 million annually.

Not bad for a guy who was run out of Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.

Tracy becomes the second Rockies’ manager to win the Manager of the Year award. Don Baylor won the award in 1995.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Ruiz, Ibanez Power Phillies To Game One Win

October 16, 2009

If Jimmy Rollins doesn’t beat you, then Shane Victorino will beat you. If Victorino doesn’t beat you, then Jayson Werth will beat you. If Werth doesn’t beat you then Chase Utley will beat you. And if none of those guy beat you, Ryan Haward, Raul Ibanez, and Carlos Ruiz will beat you.

That is how deep and powerful the Philadelphia Phillies lineup is. The Los Angeles Dodgers found out first hand how deep the Phillies lineup is in their 8-6 loss in Game One of the NLCS last night.

The Phillies took advantage of seven walks handed out by Dodger pitching as well as some just horrendous managing by Joe Torre to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

This was a weird game because it started off as a pitcher’s duel between Clayton Kershaw and Cole Hamels. Both pitchers looked very sharp early. I was particularly impressed with Kershaw. He had electic stuff through the first four innings.

Kershaw fell apart in the fifth

Kershaw fell apart in the fifth last night

Then the fifth inning happened and this game went from looking like a two hour and 30 minute game, to a game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.

Ibanez led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on Kershaw’s first wild pitch of the inning. Pedro Feliz walked and now you have first and second with nobody out for Carlos Ruiz.

Ruiz proceeds to tomahawk a ball about 360 feet over the leftfield wall. Kershaw was cruising through the first four innings and with just one pitch he is down now 3-1.

What a good little player Ruiz is. He is really underrated. He is just another player in a long list of gritty, gutty, gamers the Phillies have.

To put it in perspective how underrated Ruiz is, according to Marc Hulet over at Fangraphs, Ruiz was worth about $10 million to the Phillies this season. His salary for 2009 is around $475,000. Not a bad deal for the Phillies.

Once Ruiz hit that homerun, Kershaw unraveled like Armando Benitez in any pressure situation. Kershaw walked Hamels on four pitches, then got Rollins to hit into a fielder’s choice, and then struck out Victorino on a ball that bounced five feet in front of home plate.

In that sequence, Kerhshaw, channeling his inner Rick Ankiel (Ankiel threw a record five wild pitches in an inning in 2000) threw two more wild pitches. He was done. Toast. Finished.

This is when Torre went into sleep mode. I would have taken Kershaw out before facing Utley. It was clear this kid was rattled and had nothing in the mound.

Torre left Kershaw in to face Utley and he promptly walked the Phillies’ second baseman. After that there is no way on earth I am leaving Kershaw in to face Howard.

It was still a 3-1 game and the way Hamels was pitching up to that point, three runs might have been enough. There is no way Torre can let that game get out of hand.

He had a lefty warming up in the pen in Scott Elbert and a righty warming up in Ramon Troncosco. Torre either has to bring in Elbert to face Howard or he can walk Howard and let Troncosco face Werth.

Either way, Kershaw can’t be pitching to Howard.

Of course, Torre leaves Kershaw in the game and Howard proceeds to rip one down the rightfield line. The game is now 5-1 and Torre was a day late and a dollar short with his decision making.

Not only was that a terrible managerial move by Torre, but there was another part of this game that would have me really concerned about where Torre is mentally this series.

In the bottom of the sixth with two on and two out, Torre called upon Jim Thome to pinch hit. First, I have no problem with Torre going to Thome that early in the game.

Thome is their big gun off the bench and who knows if the Dodgers are going to get another chance like this for the rest of the game. An extra-base hit gives the Dodgers a lead and Thome is their best chance at an extra-base hit off the bench.

Now here comes my issue with Torre and where I would have lost my mind if I was a Dodger fan.

Thome walked and right now he can’t run. He has plantar fasciitis. Everyone seemed to know this except for Torre. Thome gets to first and there is no pinch-runner coming off the bench.

Torre was so asleep at the wheel on this, it was disturbing to watch. Any manager worth his salt plans ahead and goes to someone on the bench “Hey, if he walks or gets on base, you are going to pinch-run.”

It was like Torre was only expecting a HR or a strikeout from Thome. He was completely unprepared for anything else.

The TV camera goes into the Dodgers’ dugout and it appeared Torre was asking Don Mattingly if he could run? Joe, it’s your job to know that.

I will assume Mattingly said no and now they are scrambling for a pinch-runner. Are you kidding me? I could not believe what I was watching.

Torre eventually pointed to Randy Wolf, who had that “Who me?” look on his face. Wolf had to down to the dugout and put on cleats, which proved Torre had not prepared for the situation.

It was a complete clown show.

Wake up Torre!!! You are not in the American League and you are not in Yankeeland anymore. You actually have to work in the National League and make decisions.

You were embarrassed in Game Four in last year’s NLCS (the Matt Stairs game) and you were embarrassed in Game One of this year’s NLCS.

Dodger fans can’t be too pleased with what they have seen from Torre.

Even with Torre in never-never land the Dodgers still had their chances in this game. Down 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh, the Dodgers had Andre Ethier on second with nobody out.

Then Chan Ho Park entered the game. Park came into the game looking like a guy who just on vacation for a month. He had that “I don’t give a darn about anything” beard going and looked extremely relaxed.

He looked like Vincent Chase when he disappeared on that island during last season’s Entourage. Park came into the game throwing bullets.

Park got Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, and Casey Blake 1-2-3 and the Phillies had the lead. That inning was huge. Enough can’t be said about Park’s effort in Game One.

Ibanez put the icing on the cake

Ibanez put the icing on the cake

The Phillies got three insurance runs in the top of the eighth on a Raul Ibanez three-run HR off of George Sherrill. Some interesting notes about that inning.

Sherrill walked the first two batters of the inning. Up until that inning, Sherrill had never walked the first two batters of an inning in his career. The last HR Sherrill gave up to a left-handed hitter was on June 14, 2008 to Adam LaRoche.

Ryan Madson did his best to cough up the lead in the bottom of the frame, but limited the damage to just two runs. With the Phillies up 8-6, Brad Lidge came into the game to close the Dodgers out.

This was a long, but entertaining game. The Phillies will try to take a 2-0 series lead today and will have Pedro Martinez going to mound.

The Dodgers will counter with Vicente Padilla. This is a must win game for the Dodgers.

Hero for Game One – Chan Ho Park

Goat for Game One – Joe Torre

Series MVP – Raul Ibanez

Game Three is today at 4:07 ET

Los Angeles Dodgers Clinch Playoff Spot

September 27, 2009

Two playoff teams down, four more to go. With the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-4 victory over the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates, they became the first National League and second team overall to clinch a spot in the 2009 postseason.

The Dodgers have the best record in the NL with a 93-62 mark. The Dodgers have done it with a very steady offense and a bullpen that is currently the best in the National League.

Dodger Stadium will be rocking in October

Dodger Stadium will be rocking in October

Despite missing Manny Ramirez for 50 games, the Dodgers rank first in the NL in batting average (.272), first in OBP (.347), third in runs (752), and forth in OPS (.763). The Dodgers can primarily thank Matt Kemp and team MVP Andre Ethier for those numbers.

But where the Dodgers shined this year was in the bullpen. The Dodgers lead the majors in bullpen ERA with a 3.11 mark. The mid-season acquisition of George Sherrill has paid dividends as Sherrill has a 0.73 ERA and 11 holds in 27 appearances.

Of course any bullpen would be helped out by having Jonathan Broxton as the closer. Despite looking as portly as ever, Broxton has 36 saves and leads all NL closers in K/9 with 13.50.

And of course you can’t mention the Dodgers without mentioning Joe Torre. I mean I can, but the national media can’t. With this postseason appearance, Torre has now reached the playoffs in 14 consecutive seasons.

I would love to know what deal Torre made with the devil. I am serious. Torre went from being a bafoon with the St. Louis Cardinals, to the most beloved figure in New York, and has continued the same success in Los Angeles.

Torre has reached a point in career where he can do no wrong. Only Bill Belicheck is on his level in the four major sports. Torre can send Chad Billingsley to the mound, tell him to throw left-handed to Albert Pujols, Pujols would fly out deep to left, and he would be called a genius.

That’s the level Torre is on.

As for the playoffs, despite having the best record in the NL, I am not sold on the Dodgers. Unless the Atlanta Braves catch the Colorado Rockies, I have a hard time seeing the Dodgers beating either the Cardinals or the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS.

Should The Dodgers Be Concerned With Chad Billingsley?

July 29, 2009

There are a lot of great pitchers in the game today who are 25-years old and younger. Tim Lincecum, Zack Greinke, Felix Hernandez, and Chad Billingsley come to mind. What is amazing is that at such a young age, all these pitchers are considered the ace of their respective staffs.

With so much responsibility put on their shoulders (literally), it’s not uncommon for young pitchers to go through a slump during the course of the long baseball season. That is exactly what I think is happening to Los Angeles Dodgers’ ace Chad Billingsley.

Billingsley will be fine

Billingsley will be fine

Billingsley was roughed up again last night. This time it was by the St Louis Cardinals. Billingsley gave up six runs, an uncharacteristic six walks, and four hits in 5.2 innings of work last night.

What made this game frustrating for Dodgers’ fans is that Billingsley was cruising for five innings. For what ever reason, Billingsley imploded in the sixth inning – four walks (two were intentional), two wild pitches, three hits, and six runs. Ouch.

I have seen this before with another young pitcher – Jon Lester. In many games this year (May 15 at Seattle comes to mind), Lester would be cruising and then all of a sudden just lose it in the fifth or six inning. His stuff was still there, but his location was off and by the time he figured it out, it was too late. 

Despite Billingsley’s 7.52 ERA in July and his 2,225 pitches thrown this year (third behind Justin Verlander and Adam Wainwright), if I was a Dodger fan, I would not be too concerned about your ace. He doesn’t appear hurt and he is just in a pitching slump. It happens to every young pitcher in the game.

Slumps happen at different points of the season. For Tim Lincecum it was April and for Jon Lester it was May. Billingsley will be fine – he is too good not to be.

One last note about the Dodgers. How about Matt Kemp? I thought it was a bad move by Joe Torre to bat Kemp eighth. However, it has worked. Kemp is batting .443 and has an OPS of 1.177 hitting in the No. Eight hole. Not too shabby.

Handing Out Some Midseason Awards…

July 14, 2009

With the 2009 baseball season officially hitting its halfway point, I think it is time to hand out some midseason awards.

From Randy Johnson’s 300th win, to Zack Greinke’s amazing April, to Albert Pujols’ first half for the ages it’s been a fascinating year so far with some great individual performances. Just like every year, there have been performances that have stood out amongst the pack.

Without any further adiue, here are my first half MVP’s, Cy Young award winners, and Rookie of the Years.

National League ROY

Candidates – JA Happ, Colby Rasmus, Casey McGehee, Randy Wells, Dexter Fowler

My Preseason Pick – Cameron Maybin

Midseason Pick – Colby Rasmus

Rasmus leads all rookies in hits (75), HR (11), and RBI (34). If JA Happ continues to pitch the way he has for the Philadelphia Phillies, he will make a run at winning the NL ROY in the second half.

American League ROY

Candidates – Andrew Bailey, Rick Porcello, Brad Bergesen, Ricky Romero, Nolan Reimold, Elvis Andrus

My Preseaon Pick – Travis Snider

Midseason Pick – Ricky Romero

Romero is 7-3 with a 3.00 ERA in 87 innings for the Toronto Blue Jays. He just beats out Andrew Bailey.

National League Cy Young

Candidates – Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Dan Haren, Josh Johnson, Ryan Franklin

My Preseason Pick– Cole Hamels

Midseason Pick – Dan Haren

I originally had Lincecum winning this award, but when you look at the numbers, Haren is having an all-world first half. Haren is third in wins (9), first in ERA (2.01), first in Quality Starts (17), and first in WHIP (0.81).

American League Cy Young

Candidates – Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, Josh Beckett, Zack Greinke, Felix Hernandez

My Preseaon Pick – Zack Greinke

Midseason Pick – Zack Greinke

Greinke is making me look like a genius with his first half. Greinke is second in wins (10), first in ERA (2.12), first in Quality Starts (15), and second in WHIP (1.08).

National League MVP

Candidates – Albert Pujols, Chase Utley, Adrian Gonzalez, Raul Ibanez, Hanley Ramirez

My Preason Pick – Albert Pujols

Midseason Pick – Albert Pujols

Pujols has a legitimate chance to win the triple crown this year. He heads into the second half fourth in the NL in batting average (.332), first in HR’s (32), first in RBI (87).

American League MVP

Candidates – Jason Bay, Mark Teixeira, Ben Zobrist, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Torii Hunter

My Preseason Pick – Grady Sizemore

Midseason Pick – Ben Zobrist

While Pujols has been the best player of the first half – Ben Zobrist has been the most “valuable.” Zobrist is second in the AL with a 1.012 OPS, has 17 HR’s, 11 SB’s, and 50 RBI.

All that while playing six positions. Where would the Rays be without him?

Other Awards

NL Manager of the Midseason – Joe Torre

AL Manager of the Midseason – Mike Scioscia

NL Comeback Player of the Midseason – Todd Helton

AL Comeback Player of the Midseason – Russell Branyan

NL Surprise Team of the Midseason – Colorado Rockies

AL Surprise Team of the Midseason – Seattle Mariners

NL Disappointing Team of the Midseason – Chicago Cubs

AL Disappointing Team of the Midseason – Cleveland Indians