October 29, 2007

What I said? Forget it.

So after a lengthy diatribe explaining why A-Rod was unlikely to come to Los Angeles, it is now being reported that Joe Torre is likely to replace Grady Little as the next manager of the Dodgers. Wow.

I'll be honest, I totally didn't expect this. I'm no huge fan of Little, but he wasn't the worst manager in the MLB, just not the best. And Torre comes with an enormous amount of baggage, regarding both his recent history with the Yankees franchise and what would likely be a very hefty contract. Let's examine that a bit, then get back to Rodriguez.

One storyline that has seemed to surround the Dodger organization the past few seasons is the issues with the front office. Communication problems with Paul DePodesta are the most oft-reported note, but fan issues with ownership decisions also pop up now and again. Clearly, the Los Angeles media is nowhere near as virulent as its counterpart in NYC - though DePodesta might not agree - and I'm not sure any ownership can match the stress levels caused by working for El Steinbrennario. But it's not like L.A. is without its own problems or potential landmines.

Torre seems excellently suited to handle both, I must admit, but I'm surprised at his willingness to jump right back into the fray in such a high-profile market, given what seemed to be a degree of weariness following this past year. Nevertheless, if Joe's willing to take the job, I'm more than happy to see how he manages this young Dodger team. He's known as a "player's manager," skilled in handling personality disputes and the like, which could be just the tonic neccessary after the back-and-forth that occurred between the youth movement and the vets at the end of last season.

But one concern is Torre's contract. He's not cheap - the man did just walk away from a $5 million deal, after all. Even hoping that he'll accept some sort of a pay cut given the realities of working for any organization not located in Boston or New York, he must know the Dodgers are hardly penniless. I can't really see him working for Little's estimated $600,000 a year (ironically found in an article titled "No changes on managerial front"), and the several million dollars that might have to be allocated towards Torre's salary could end up costing the Dodgers one of their young players. Why? Well...

Torre's arrival now brings to light the possibility that A-Rod, and even Mariano Rivera, might be looking to move to Southern California (as well as Don Mattingly, who will be organizationally linked with his prospect son, Preston). The potential addition of players like Rodriguez and Mo suggests the Dodgers might be looking to move some of their higher-priced talent as I had hoped... but potentially might send along some of the youngsters who become redundant in order to ensure they keep salary off the books. Players like Andy LaRoche and Jonathan Meloan become expendable pieces in the quest to free up salary for A-Rod.

ToyCannon of True Blue LA has once again put together a good piece explaining why A-Rod and the Dodgers are a good fit, and I'm not totally inclined to disagree (though I shudder to think of the columns already being penned in the minds of Bill Plaschke and TJ Simers). I especially like reason #10 why A-Rod would love being in L.A. - "What better place then Los Angeles to break Barry Bonds home run mark" (Hear Hear!). But a big organizational shakeup a move like this would necessitate gives me pause, given Colletti's track record, and the necessity of finding both salary and space for a potential addition of A-Rod/Mo/Torre (potentially $45 million plus for the three).

If Ned sides with the 'vets' in a reorganization, LAN could potentially have $65 million tied up in salaries for the manager, an otherworldly 3B, an effective-but-aging closer, an effective-but-aging 2B (Kent), and a moderately-worthwhile-at-best CF (Pierre). When some of the young talent begins looking towards contract restructuring in the next few years, there may not be much money left in the coffers, and the Dodgers could end up much like the San Francisco Giants (Colletti's previous haunt) have been for the past few seasons.

The only thing I can really say for certain is that this offseason promises to be veeeeeery interesting - and hopefully the addition of a few big names (and please please pleeeeeease no reduction in the youth movement) could bring the Dodgers some major national relevance in the Fall once again.

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