10.29.2005

Ain't it DeLovely? DePodesta DeFired

Dodgers have fired DePodesta, only 2 years into the 5-year DePodesta plan. I was worried that the Dodgers would become a stat-oriented organization but with this move, as with most human moves, it could swing the pendulum towards the other way. Which, based on recent drafts, does not seem like a bad idea, they have had a number of highly regarded drafts, though, so far, high only in potential and not in results thus far.

The speculation in the articles suggests that Lasorda might have led to the coup d'etat and that his influence could lead McCourt to hire Pat Gillick as GM and Bobby Valentine, Lasorda's longtime protege, as manager. Gillick would not fit into the non-saber mode; in an interview I read, he looks like he tries to be inclusive of both stats and scouting. He has been successful everywhere he has gone, somehow improving Seattle even while letting go of A-Rod, Junior, and The Big Unit, and previously leading Toronto to World Series victories. So he could prove to be a huge improvement for the Dodgers, both in current ability and influencing their future directions.

At minimum, this is good in that the Dodgers will be paying for 2 GM salaries over the next three seasons when the owner is in hock to his neck after buying the Dodgers; MLB does not look too kindly on a lot of debt, so this could mean less budget for the Dodgers in their player payroll budget (money gotta come out of somewhere). In addition, any GM coming in will have to question Tommy influence over McCourt and wonder if the Sword of Damocles hangs over him. Most people do not work well having to watch their back and wonder if their every move is questioned, even someone hand-picked by the person, unless they are close personal friends - as far as I can tell Gillick and Lasorda are not that close. Furthermore, if Gillick and Valentine are the picks, they will not be cheap either, perhaps soaking up $5M+ together that would otherwise be used for player payroll (again, assuming he is severely debt-ridden, he must handle all changes in payroll within his revenues).

Perhaps the best thing is that this is a sign that McCourt is a highly impatient novice owner with a little George Steinbrenner in him. DePodesta had one bad year marred by a lot of injuries. Of course, one could say that signing Drew is kind of inviting that, but I digress. He had a beauty of a year in 2004, with the Dodgers winning their first division title in many years, a situation that used to be reverse with the Giants. But it was helped by contract year drives, especially by Adrian Beltre. He did the right thing by not re-signing him but the wrong thing by signing Drew. But I thought he hasn't done anything egregriously wrong to warrant a firing. Therefore, this was a move because of a difference in opinion over how the team is general managed. And perhaps this is a sign that McCourt is one of those guys who think he knows it all.

However, this could work out well for the Dodgers. Gillick is well respected and has worked miracles everywhere he has gone, even in Baltimore where he admitted that he didn't work very well with a micro-managing owner; hopefully McCourt proves to be a hands-on owner, whether it's Gillick or someone else hired as GM. Valentine did very well as manager for the Mets, with a .534 winning percentage (which works out to averaging an 87+ win season over his 6 full seasons with them).

Obviously you know which way I want it to go.

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