There is the argument that Joe Torre just happens to be coaching the right team at the right time, which would be the second time in his career Joe has been the right spot, coincidence?
I promised you this blog last week, but due to some travel, I lied.
On a side note, I was in San Diego. Group of 10 of us walked up to buy tickets to the Padre-Pirate game, game was in the 4th inning. One guy was buying all tickets, so he asked what the cheapest ticket was. Lady in charge said cheapest ticket is over $25. We asked about the bleachers, were you can actually see from the street as you are buying tickets. They said they were sold out, look about 1/4 full. So we walked away. Nice business plan Padres.
Getting back to Joe Torre. We sit here first month of the season and Joe has the Dodgers sitting in first, tied for the second most wins in the majors. You have seen my articles about the philosophy of the Dodger patient offense that they installed in NY when Torre coached. Some say anyone could have won with those lineups in NY and that he could be replaced right now and the Dodgers would be just as good. (What is ironic is that some are saying the same about another Los Angeles coach in Phil Jackson.)
Well I disagree. First in NY take a look at the previous manager Buck Showalter, who was not able to take the same NY team out of the first round. Now look what Joe Girardi is going through, breaking Torre's streak of the Yankees making the playoffs 13 years in a row by missing out last year and the Yankees certainly do not look like they are going to the playoffs this year, even if it is only April.
In NY Torre was masterful of taking the heat from Steinbrenner and not displacing it on his team. He had tough decisions to make, sometimes having to sit veterans in playoff games. However, he earned the respect of the players by being up front and telling the players face to face if they were going to play or not. These are Torre's strengths being able to make sure there is no “gossip” that you can find in other clubhouses. This is 10x as important considering he has managed in media capitals such as NY and LA.
Grady Little was able to get the Dodgers to the playoffs, but once again the Dodgers were unable to win a playoff game, being swept in 06 and not making the playoffs in 07. Now enter Torre in his first year in 09 (also Manny's first year in LA) and the Dodgers were able to sweep the Cubs before losing to the world champ Phillies.
Many people say he has inherited the right mix of young talent, pitching and veterans. I promise you that you need a talented roster, I do not think that Torre would be able to manage the Nationals to the playoffs, but you also need a manager like Torre to “mend the team together.” This is where Torre shines, that calming presence on the bench. Treating each player differently, but being up front with each one. Players enjoy playing for Joe, which makes for a happy team, and boy that helps when attitudes can be contagious in a clubhouse where coaches and players are around each other everyday for almost 9 months.
The Dodgers are lucky to have Joe Torre, who barring a major injury, should have enough talent to win the NL West. After that, anything can happen, ecspecially when you have a pitcher like Chad Billingsley.
The Dodgers will look to pad the NL West lead as beginning tonight play 9 straight vs SF, San Diego and Arizona.
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Written by Jon Bella