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Joe Torre makes the move: Jonathan Broxton loses his closer's role to Hong-Chih Kuo

Kuo_450

It seemed inevitable, or it would have if the manager wasn’t Joe Torre.

Torre, loyal almost to the point of being hard-headed, nonetheless saw what most everyone else has been seeing in Jonathan Broxton the last six weeks -- that he no longer could get the job done as the team’s closer.

So before Friday’s game in Atlanta, Torre said Hong-Chih Kuo would take over the closing duties for now. Now, however, not being Friday night.

If the Dodgers get ahead Friday, Torre said he would use Octavio Dotel.

Although Kuo pitched to only one batter Thursday, he has pitched on consecutive days and Torre apparently doesn’t want to push it with an elbow that has been surgically repaired four times.

Kuo is 3-0 with a 0.90 earned-run average this season and has saved three games in four opportunities.

Dotel arrived from the Pirates before the July 31 nonwaiver trading deadline. He had been the closer in Pittsburgh, saving 21 games in 26 opportunities -- the same number as Broxton.

Said Torre to reporters in Atlanta: "Brox understood and knows he needs to earn it back. We need him to get back. ... He's an All-Star closer. He's the reason the NL has home field in the World Series. We just need to get him going again. The game will dictate what situation we use him in.

"I think its more mental than physical."

The hard-throwing Broxton, however, has been in a funk for the last six weeks. Since his June 27 meltdown against the Yankees, he has a 9.87 ERA in his last 14 games.

The final blow came Thursday, when the Dodgers lost a seven-run lead in the final two innings in Philadelphia. Broxton surrendered four runs in the ninth without recording an out.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Hong Chih-Kuo delivers against the Cubs last season. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (23)

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You know what the savviest money guys I know say about making money?

You don't.

You sell BEFORE YOU LOSE MONEY!

Torre already lost us any shot, broke the team's confidence, the confidence of the fans, let Brox implode and just wrecked the whole crew.

Bad non-managing.

Remember what cost Grady Whosis his job in Boston? He left Martinez in too long in the playoffs when it was obvious M. had lost it.

Torre did worse.

About time.

Gee, it makes so much sense ...... use your Left Handed Specialist to close now in trying to salvage what's left of an already wasted season!

that way, you'll use up what's left of his thrice surgically repaired arm THIS year,,, and perhaps leaving nothing at all for the future!!!

* what a great organization.

Got news for you..... Broxton would have blown the All star game if Marlon Byrd doesn't throw out Big Papi out at second. Broxton needs to get some thing that he can throw for a strick besides a 98mph fastball

Joe Torre is not a good manager.

It's a good move, Broxton is doing his best but apparently it not good enough, it's time for a change.

It's about time.

Broxton, you're killing me!

I didn't see the last 2 games, but know what happened. anyone know why Joe wouldn't go to dotel last night when jb puckered up ? if it was because he pitched the prior game, then that just sux! I am so tired of this mindset today's managers have - can't pitch him back to back, can't pitch our SP more than 90-10 pitches! These managers know better than I that pitching too much really doesn't kill a pitcher's career. Koufax had arthritis, yes, but look at past, it never bothered Bob Gibson, Don Drysdale, Jerry Koosman, Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar, Denny McClain, Mickey Lolich, & the list of SP's with years under their belts had no medical issues bring their careers to a premature end!
Sure, there are exceptions re: a closer, but under normal circumstanceas, if our closer pitches the night before, with no probl;ems or too many pitches & we need him the next night, he's in there if I am managing! NOT JB, mind you, but Kuo.
And don't faint if your SP pitches beyond 90 pitches, if he's going strong, leave him in! Joe has lost several games this hear as he has yanked Kershaw, Billingsley & Kuroda while pitching, only to have our BP lose it!
I don't care if our SP or Closer is making a lot of money- he is paid for that very reason, to pitch !

There is no situation to use a guy who always allows hits, walks or both.

Good point above about using up Kuo's surgically repaired arm. There is a risk. Torre must share this role beyond Kuo.

Of course, at this rate, there's not too many opportunities to close wins anyway. So maybe Kuo won't be overused afterall.

But really, this is just a small part of a much larger organizational problem.

haha Broxton you suck, Fuentes is a better closer than you now. GO ANGELS we still have a small shot, Dodgers empty your Lockers because your pratically done. ANGELS 5-1 against Dodgers remember that dodger fans

I might be available.

What's more pathetic an Angel fan puffing out his chest because Anaheim still has a alleged "small shot" this year? Or the fact he's an Angel fan?

Answer to Ross Porter's question:

YES

About time!!!!! 2 more moves on needed to get Dodger Blue back on track....
1. Get us an owner with some of his own $$$$$$$
2. Stop BS'ing around and get Dusty Baker make us believe again.
Brox is good but his role is to CLOSE and even when he did, each batter he faced knew he would see a minimum of 5 pitches, because he always went deep in the count. These are major league hitters making millions and a fast ball even at 105+ mph can/will be hit

All Broxton has to do is move to the right side of the rubber. Problem solved.

Oh yeah I forgot. Grow a pair and challenge the hitters inside.

Good move Joe, wish you'd done it sooner, but good move. Broxton is clearly lacking.

The Dodgers have pretty much ruined this young guy's career by making him a closer. He's only 26, but he's spent the last 6 years as a reliever, relying on a 99 mph fastball and a very ordinary slider as his only reliable pitches. His fastball will dominate a marginal hitter, but the better hitters in the league are good enough to see what's coming out of his hand (fastball or curveball) and are able to time it. Without any movement on his fastball (and marginal movement on his slider), Broxton just doesn't have enough to keep batters off-balance.

Why they didn't leave him in the farm system in his early 20's to allow him to learn a 3rd pitch is beyond belief, IMO. With a change up to offset his fastball, I could see Broxton being a damn good starter. 6'4", 290 lbs, a good compact throwing motion, the dude is probably capable of 120 pitches per game. But when you have only 2 pitches, the league will figure you out. It may take awhile, but you're doomed.

One only need to look at clips of Sabathia, Strasburg, Lincecum, or even Eric Gagne (Game Over version), to understand what a change up can do for a heater. It gives the batter one more thing to think about, enough to make those fast twitch muscles twitch a little slower.

What Broxton has now will never be enough, thanks to the Dodger front office and their decision to derail this kid's development.

Hey Dodger fans,

FYI....Since Matt Stairs hit THAT HR in the 8th inning, Broxton is 2-2 vs phils with a 9.82 era. We philly fans will gladly take credit for his meltdown. By the way, i was there and never heard 60,000 people SHUT UP so fast. I love celebrating on the enemies' territory. It smells...like victory.

Are you kidding me? It's about damn time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At this point,the best thing to do is to FIRE TORRE.That's right,tell him in a civilized business manner,that your moving in a new direction....Tell him that you understand how hard he has worked on developing all the young talent....Tell him that his experience as a catcher has really helped Russell Martin and all of the extra time he's behind the plate, will really benefit him in the long run ....Tell him that you really liked the way he has handled the pitching staff,especially Jonathon Broxton.....Tell him that leaving him in to hang himself against the Yankees and Phillies will only make him tougher.....Tell him that even though Orlando Hudson helped carry the team during the first half of the season last year,it was good to sit him down for Belliard.And that there was no real need to talk to him, because this was a good way to send him a message.Leave the Dodgers and go to a contending team, next season.Genius !.....Tell him that you really like his idea of letting Donny Don manage the team and you just can't wait to see how he will go about inspiring this team to win.Of course, reminding Joe on how great he was as a motivator when he managed the team with endless funds......Tell him that his coaches handling Matt Kemp's situation through the media was a great way to go.Lord knows that a one on one talk with these young hip hopsters would be useless.....Tell him that it was nice knowing him but it's only business.

What took so long?
Kuo has been the Dodgers most dominant reliever in years. I'd have made this move months ago.

Hey LA42, you're the first I've read suggesting firing Torre. There are probably others, but yours is the first I've personally seen. Joe's probably gonna retire at the end of this season anyway, but just to remind you that as long as Frank McCourt still owns this team, he'll never fire Torre because he considers Torre practically a god. Remember the lavish ceremony the day Torre was introduced? More like a coronation.

As for Broxton, I've never considered him closer material. A closer has to have either of two traits to be successful in the majors: ice water in his veins a la Mariano Rivera or a killer instinct a la "Game Over" era Eric Gagne. Brox appears to have neither. Also, as Running With Scissors here pointed out, Brox also does not have a changeup because he got to the majors before he could learn one. But bringing up young arms too soon is the consequence of a severe pitching shortage due to too much expansion. But that's a different discussion.


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