10.31.2005

Further Thoughts on Dodger's Move to Get New GM

Overall, as a Giants fan, I am happy over the move. The firing can be spun either as an owner finally figuring things out and doing the right thing or as an owner who is a Steinbrenner wannabe with an itchy trigger finger; you can guess which way I prefer, though I believe it is too soon to say which it is. But the signs point to the latter - there are few owners who have ever been smart enough (and humble enough) to figure things out, most are like Michael Bolton in this anecdote that someone once told me: when unable to figure out how to ski, he reportedly pouted, "I'm a star, I should know how to do this!" or something like that. Witness the hapless Warriors, Clippers, Colts, Redskins, even DeBartolo with the Niners, he eventually forced out Walsh, how smart was that? Quick change after a bold move like hiring DePodesta just smells like another know-it-all owner.

Either way, when there is turmoil in the upper management ranks, there will always be confusion and fear among the rank and file employees, unsure over how the new GM will be. Management turmoil is usually not a good thing, especially when an outsider is brought in as the replacement. Witness how well the 49ers worked after hiring Erickson after Donahue orchestrated Marriucci's firing. While this is no guarantee that things will turn out horribly, it leaves open that possibility, especially with a novice owner being guided by Lasorda and Lasorda not proven to be a franchise builder either.

Else why has the Dodger's basically sucked in the bottom of the division since his last year managing? He supposedly has been guiding the owners since his retirement as manager. Hasn't really turned out that well, eh? In addition, as a saber-believer, I am happy that the Dodgers appear to be moving away from the use of sabermetrics with this move.

But, these are all my interim feelings until we see how McCourt runs this GM search and who he choses and why. Early money appears to be on Gillick for GM and Valentine for manager, but there must be a reason that no MLB team has hired Gillick for over two seasons and why Valentine is working in Japan. Plus I'm hoping for an extended circus of prospective GMs coming through the doors and making this a long and drawn out affair. However, given that Lasorda appears to be orchestrating the moves and influencing McCourt greatly, one would have to assume that his "recommendations" of Gillick and Valentine would carry a ton of weight.

My main hope right now is that Gillick will balk at hiring Valentine as manager and cause Lasorda and McCourt to go back to the drawing board in their GM search. My other hope is that given Gillick's bad experience in Baltimore with a meddling owner (he mentioned this in an interview), he will turn down the LA job because McCourt could not convince Gillick that he's not a micro-managing owner - which I would assume would be a hard thing to do when you fired your GM after only two years. Given Gillick's advanced age (late 60's; 69?) and legacy of excellence, my last hope is that he might prefer to go to a place like Philadephia, which, to me, is better poised with good prospects and good players than the Dodgers are. He doesn't have to time (i.e. too old) to turn around a team and I think the Dodgers are in such a situation because of the amount of change it experienced after its first division title in 10 seasons and its recent legacy of poor results.

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