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This is too big a disaster for even Joe Torre to take one for the team

So Joe Torre fell on his sword. That’s what good soldiers do, of course, and Torre is nothing if not the good soldier.

Torre took responsibility for the Dodgers’ disappointing season prior to Wednesday’s game in San Diego, lamenting his inability to make a difference, to raise the team and individual level of play.

Now there is plenty of blame to go around, and certainly Torre will get his share. When a team goes south, that’s the typical fallout.

Yet however he is criticized for the use of his bullpen or early insistence on Charlie Haeger as a fifth starter or his reluctance to admit that Jonathan Broxton had lost his way, or his prolonged loyalty to Garret Anderson or the failure to nurture development from his young core of hitters, mostly he played the hand he was dealt.

Blame will have a universal feel when this team’s final obit is written, starting with ownership, filtering through management and down to the players themselves. Such as they were.

Torre has to take only his own bullets. He showed yet again during the fiasco that was Manny Ramirez in his final days, that he will promote the company line and protect players and management if necessary, regardless of how it makes him look.

His lineups often speak for themselves, frequently littered with role players and other teams’ rejects.

Is he actually supposed to win a pennant with a lineup of Scott Podsednik, Rod Barajas, Ryan Theriot and Jamey Carroll? Really? With Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp off in some hazy second-half funk? Rafael Furcal unable to stay healthy? Corner hitters James Loney and Casey Blake fading?

And a bullpen that was a team strength last season getting the wrong kind of turnaround performance from Ronald Belisario, Ramon Troncoso, George Sherrill and Broxton?

It’s not like Torre is some victim here. And as he well knows, a manager ultimately will always be held accountable for his team’s performance, good or bad.

But to take full responsibility for the failure of so many is wrong and unnecessary.  When it comes to accepting liability for their 2010 season, the Dodgers will need to pass around a lot of mirrors.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Comments () | Archives (19)

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Thanks for the incisive perspective, Steve. All too sadly true. The buck stops with the ownership. Torre falling on his sword was exactly the right image. I will look forward to his next book. McCourt probably didn't even notice. At least Steinbrenner was committed to winning.
Thanks again for hitting all the important points directly on the head.

No, I'd say that was TWELVE games Torre might've lost for us with those critical errors of judgment re Haeger, Anderson, and Broxton.

But, the core players--Ethier, Kemp, Loney, and Martin--and bullpen failing didn't help either. Manny and Furcal did what they do--play hard and get injured. Blake played hard and hit mediocre.

And I take issue with the assessments of Carroll, Theriot, Podsednick, and Barajas. Those guys are gamers and worthy of regard.

when do the lakers start playing? It's the only team in LA committed to winning and putting out a good product.

So, many things went wrong but one thing that puzzles me is Mattingly focusing on managing instead of staying on top of hitting mechanics. I have photos of Etheirs swing in Spring Training and from last weekend. Ethier's swing is elevated and if the pinkie injury caused it or not he has to correct it. Securing a fifth starter in the off season was also our demise. It is too bad the McCourt's could have settled out of court and money spent for attorney Steve Susman could have gone for a quality pitcher.

The fact that this team simply plays bad baseball -- losing baseball -- is Torre's fault. The next level down are the coaches, all of whom should be fired.

They do not do the things that winning teams do, and they certainly have shown little heart.

I've been watching the Dodgers closely since '64, and this is their most miserable, wretched team by far, considering the supposedly high talent level.

Very good post, Steve. I agree with everything except the stuff about Carroll, Theriot, Podsednik and Barajas...especially Carroll. I think he's done a solid job this season. Granted, he may not be a Jeter, a Tulowitzki or even a younger, healthy version of Furcal, but the guy plays his butt off...and he has produced.

LA Times sports editor: "Hello MLB? This is the sports editor of the LA Times. We are calling to request an interview with the commissioner reference MLB and its acceptance of the McCourt's for ownership of the Dodgers."

MLB media relations: "You're kidding, right?"

editor: "No, we think it's an important story Mr. Selig should address."

MLB: "No way."

editor: "Then I'll be calling, every day, until we get Mr. Selig to address his decision to select the McCourt's for Dodgers ownership."

MLB: "No way and go away."

editor: "No sir, I will not be going away. In fact, we'll be running a daily box in the sports section which will show how many days, weeks, months or years Mr. Selig refused to answer questions concerning the McCourt's. One question that Dodger fans would like answered from Mr. Selig is why he didn't let McCourt buy the Red Sox but DID allow him to purchase the Dodgers. We actually think we know why Selig did this but we'd like to get him on the record."

MLB: "No."

editor: "We begin our 'Selig won't address Dodger fans questions' box tomorrow."

(hey, I can dream can't I?)

Bob Cuomo, Garret: I had no intent on belittling the individual efforts or play of Carroll, Theroit, Barajas or Podsednik, but these are more role players who should be complementing the lineup, not a daily part of it. These guys play hard, which is more than you can say for every one, but they are hardly the middle-of-the-order kinds of guys Torre needs to be at the heart of a pennant-winning team.

Sorry Steve but you're wrong here. McCourt could've got us a shot to win the whole thing by freeing up the money to get C.Lee or Halladay at the deadline last year and can't see how Coletti couldn't juggle a bit to at least retain Garland for the peanuts S.D. is paying him but we should've been right there in the thick of it for the division race even with out those guy if for no reason than Haegger/Sherril decisions. He is an emergency-stash-him-in-AAA-kinda guy. Always has been. While Stults had some downside he was ideal for the situation. And when Sherril started to show signs of a melt down Stults could've easily slid into the pen and gotten twice as many outs giving up half as many runs on his worst day.I Don't blame Torre for staying too long with Broxton, though his usage of him was questionable but the Haegger/Sherrill fiasco cost us alot of games early back when we were hitting the ball and in control of our destiny and is 100% Torre. As a result, it's Sept. and the Dodgers are spinning their little Carrol/Podsednik wheels and have no future. The only talk of destiny comes with the breaking open of fortune cookies after chinese food they order and eat on the couch while watching the playoffs on T.V.

Cheer up!
At least we still have the Lakers!

Sorry Krohn, but I've read your post three times and can't figure out what you're trying to say. Where is Dilbeck wrong? He did say that blame starts with ownership, didn't he? What are you disagreeing with? He also said Torre spoke the company line to his detriment. He correctly assessed the value of guys like Barajas, Carroll, etc. Tell me what I misread.

Dilbeck is accurate in original post and his response post.

I agree it would be nice to hear from Selig on the whys of McCourts for LA and not Bah-stun, but that would be akin to getting him to tell the truth on why he let steroids go on in baseball, his idiocy with the all-star game, etc.

But they haven't made a statue of me yet.

Then again, they might as well have made a statue of the guy. It goes with a favorite saying I've shared before: Some days you're the pigeon, some days you're the statue. And certainly, we'll all agree Bud is always the statue in that scenario.

Joe should step aside for the rest of the season...Kick back, relax, and let Tommy Lasorda back in the clubhouse and dugout.......If you could find a uniform to fit him. Maybe 'Omar' is still around.
Let Lasorda loose , and let the chips fall... Let him chew into these players, old school style.

The team has been out of sync all year. The offense, starters and bullpen never shined at same time. Torre made a lot of weird decisions this year, bewildering use of bullpen. They missed Ramirez in the lineup, it makes them all bat in wrong place in order. Torre doesn't deserve much of the blame, but for what he gets paid, he's as overpaid as Ramirez.

'tis just a HORRIBLY run & mis-managed organization, from the very top w/the Mc"Courts" all the way down thru the field manager Torre & his incompetent crew of coaches....

the "genera-shun" gap Xists between Torre & the younger players, as Torre & his (mostly too old!) coaches just can't relate....

& the most outrageous thing of all is that Torre still has near-final/total "say" as to whether he continues as the "manager," when in any other walk-of-life, he would have been FIRED -- & rightly so!!! -- long ago!!!

worst yet, Mattingly is an absolute bust as hitting coach, & too ought to have been FIRED long ago, yet he's "on-deck" for a handsome promotion, to that of field manager....

it's life "thru the looking glass," where up is down, & light is dark!!!!

The disaster of this season belongs in the lap of McCourts! Yes the players, and the coaches, have the responsibility of giving it 100% and they shouldn't be let off the hook on that. But the uncertainty of the season (and the next) has to take its toll. It wouldn't surprise me if every player secretly wishes they would be traded just to get away from this crumbling franchise. How sad.

I agree completely, Carroll has played very well this year, and Barajas has made a great brief impression (while getting half the salary of Ausmus). But they should be role players, not starters. With Carroll in the game, who comes off the bench that can produce?

But the blame really falls to the veteran players that didn't produce - Ethier, Kemp, Loney, Martin and Blake, and Sherrill. Even with McCourt being cheap, based on how they played last season, they still should have contended. Mattingly is not a good hitting instructor and with no managerial experience, should not be heavily considered for the manager of this team.

But at the same time, there are plenty of teams with higher payrolls who are having bad seasons too, including the Mets, Cubs and Angels. It happens, but the problem I have is that there doesn't seem to be any solution to getting better under McCourt's ownership.

"He showed yet again during the fiasco that was Manny Ramirez in his final days, that he will promote the company line and protect players and management if necessary, regardless of how it makes him look."

Oh, please. After "The Yankee Years," anybody spinning the notion that Joe is somehow classy is just ridiculous. Joe is just saving his real feelings for his next book.

And by the way, if the bullpen is overworked, and players unmotivated, doesn't that have a little something to do with St. Joe?

He is the most over-rated manager in history of baseball. Joe Torre just happened to be on the Yankees when Cashman got good players on the team. He was lucky to win 4 out of the 7 years. But people forget Yankees last 2001 and 2002 due to Joe Torres very bad decisions. Can you forget leading boston 3-0 and then lose?
He never helped the LA Dodgers when he joined the team. Joe Torre would even make the Rays and Braves go to last place with his decisions. Glad the old fart is retiring. Sorry I am from NY and never once did I like him. He made the most horrible decisions. I don't care how nice of a guy, he is not a hall of famer.


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