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Even the Shangri-Las would know the Dodgers lack a true clubhouse leader

         They told me he was bad
         But I knew he was sad
         That's why I fell for the leader of the pack

Hey, at least he was a leader. At least that poor, misunderstood pack had one.

And then there are the Dodgers, who were bad last season and completely devoid of anything resembling a leader in their clubhouse.

Martin_250 It's not like an absolute requirement, but most winning teams have a leader, a dominant presence in the clubhouse.

Typically it's a veteran who has been through the wars, though Derek Jeter became the Yankees' leader almost from the moment he stepped into the clubhouse.

Sometimes leadership is simply an innate quality; sometimes, like responsibility, it is developed when the situation demands it.

If the Dodgers are to regroup and find their winning footing this season, they certainly would benefit from having their own respected leader.

"You touch on a key dynamic," said Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti. "That's part of the characteristic of a club that has to grow."

There are times when a veteran attempts to step forward and it is not well received (think: Jeff Kent), and times when it comes from an unexpected and nontraditional source (think: Manny Ramirez, circa 2008). And times when you expect it to be someone and it doesn't happen (think: Russell Martin).

Last season, the team lacked a genuine clubhouse leader, which you could argue, was a definite factor in their spiral.

"It's hard to go through tough times without a leader," Colletti said. "It takes far more of a collective effort. I think we have players who will respond very well to it, and maybe somebody can come out of the pack to be it.

"But I think when you talk about guys like [Jamey] Carroll and [Casey] Blake, [Doug] Mientkiewicz when he was here, [Rafael] Furcal -- they get it. Are they free and easy to voice an opinion, to capture a room and the attention of everybody? Maybe here and there. It's not necessarily their style.

"In the past, they were really our extra guys -- [Brad] Ausmus, [Mark] Loretta."

It's more difficult for a role player to be a leader, or a starting pitcher (Ted Lilly, Clayton Kershaw) who plays once every five days.

Ethier_300 And it is certainly more difficult to step forward and act as a calm, guiding light when you are struggling yourself, which would explain why no Andre Ethier, James Loney or Matt Kemp stepped forward during last season's second half.

"You can't ask somebody to do it who can't do it, who doesn't want to do it," Colletti said. "But from time to time, when you go through what we went through this past year, if guys have had enough of that and they don't want to go through it, they can step forward in that vein too, to safeguard against what they saw last year."

It's not like the Dodgers can suddenly put their troops in an ROTC class. They have what they have, but growth is needed not just on the field, but in the clubhouse.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Top photo Russell Martin. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Lower photo: Andre Ethier. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (24)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Too bad that the CAPTAIN is back and cannot be utilized in the role he had from around '77 to '81 (he's still going to be that guiding light for the center fielder however... let's hope...

Dodgers sign Mike MacDougal.

You're right, Steve, a clubhouse leader is necessary. Well, if I had to nominate someone, it would be Blake...he's a veteran, and I think that role should be held by a veteran. He's not as fiery as Kent (which wasn't a bad's just too bad certain "youngsters" couldn't handle someone getting on them). If not Blake, Carroll would be good.

Read your organizational dynamics lit.

Without formal leaders, you get informal ones, who run silent, run deep, and run deadly.

Think #99, in 2010.

They already have a leader, he's the lefty in bullpen, Mr. Hong Chih Kuo!!

Kemp, Ethier and loney are the leaders of this team. All 3 need to man up and take control. If they don't I would but all 3 on the block and find someone who can. Broxton and Billingsley are in the same boat. Lets go dodgers! Lots of people pulling for you out here.

If Ned knows so much about what it takes to be a winner, how come he can't build one? Most of the "character" guys Ned has acquired were total flops. Typical PR guy though - talks a good game. No wonder Frank loves him.

Jeff Kent was a (jerk). Anyone who says that Vinny "talks too much" should be given a one way to ticket to abu graib during its roughest times.

Team leader? Casey, but his numbers aren't enough. This team has noone to take the reins.

There is a lot of downer talk of late. Who cares, you're wrong and stuff it already. Lets get this show on the road!!
And that's my opinion of Blue.

Russell Martin would havbeen a good leader a couple yrs ago. but his scrappiness and grit kinda went away when he decided to "go all hollywood." You could just see it (the aura of a leader leaving him) in his demeanor and body language... Maybe they left with the 'roids? who knows... I really don't see anyone on this club that can step up (like #23 did back in '88) to kick a** and keep the boys with their noses to the grindstone thru the loooong season. But that's been the rub on this team for some time now. There is no soul. No heart. sure there are guys with promising futures. but we really have no one that would inspire u to say,"That's my kinda player right there" A Pete Rose type. A Kobe Bryant type. Hell, I'd even settle for a Mickey Hatcher type at this point. And I don't think it has to do necessarily with skill level - Kurt Rambis woulda' run over his own mama for a rebound. You may not always get the results you want, but for Crissakes, show me that you care! Show me you don't wanna get shut-out at home! Show me some blood & get on somebody for throwing to the wrong base, or makin the first (orlast) out at third. Too many "it's okay's" and "we'll get'em next times" do not a mentally strong team make... good night now!!

Like I said neddy and franky have big ones!

McCourt muzzled Tommy Lasorda the loudest Dodger of all time so why would any mere mortal dare speak up. Colletti may rival General Custer as one of the greatest leaders ever. Donnie has been emasculated and can't pick a bench coach (or his nose) without Ned's permission. Time for Roger Owens to suit up and lead the team. Perfect fit since Roger is at the end of his career and will work for peanuts.

Come forth, don't be shy, speak up. I believe this is something that just has to happen. I believe if someone can truly see what's making the team lose, should not be afraid to step up.

Look at the "owner"
Look at the "players"
Look at the "fans"
Look at the 'city' .....

why would anyone think that this teams requires "leadership"?

It's early February. We're running out of things to talk about. Now we're (over) analyzing our perception of a clubhouse leader. Take a break. It's Super Bowl weekend. Go to the movies. Play some old Scully tapes from '88. Pitchers and catchers report in two weeks. We'll have real issues to talk about then.

When Jamey Carroll was your team MVP in '10 & now you're looking for this marginal major leaguer to be the clubhouse leader, you are in deep trouble. But that's McCrap's Disgraced Dodgers.

What did they pay Torre 3 million for? PR I guess? I think Mattingley will do a much better job.

dudgers don't need a leader... they need a babysitter.

16blows: "dudgers don't need a leader... they need a babysitter."

HAHAHAHAHA! EXACTLY! I LOVE IT! Thanks for the morning laugh.

""Who said he's our leader" Loney referring to Jeff Kent.

Funny how the "kids" chose not to recognize the work ethics and accomplishments of Jeff Kent, but had no problem embracing an idiot like Manny-being-Manny. And to the knuckleheads who will ask the ridicules question; how many WS rings does Kent have? The HOF is filled with great players without a WS ring. Sorry Kent haters, but Kent will be a first round Hall of Famer.

I disagree with the premise of this column. The Dodgers have definitely had a leader in the clubhouse: Matt Kemp. He led them confidently into quitting midway through the season. He's the best ever at that position.

simple answer to this issue for '11: Uribe (case closed!)

Kemp and Loney are not leaders, they're not even good followers.

And stop referring to these fools as kids, both are in their mid 20s. It's time they sack-up and play like MLB players.

Things look good on paper . No body had the Giants to win anything in '10 .
Predictions are merely guesses . Lets all close up shop this year because according to Stevo this article is just another reason that the Dodgers will fail this year .

Never mind supporting your team , forget about how the Dodgers could have 5 guys to hit more than 25 HR's each, a healthy starting 5 rotation should keep the bullpen rested , Ned did improve the bull pen .....Lets not get exited that the Dodgers DID get a supposed game changing coach back to LA Davey Lopes (responsible for successful aggressive base running keeping pressure on the pitchers......

Yes Ned got a bunch of questionable pitchers wanting a shot in a Dodger uniform BUT Honeycutt n staff seems to make the improvements out of guys we've forgotten about or have never heard of before . Monasterous, Bellisario, Jensen, Weaver,Padilla, Ely..... now if he could only realize that Broxton IS a set up man & NOT a closer !

Yes I to worry about Mattingley at the helms but guess what Ned did NOT let Tim Wallach go & manage another team & Donnie Baseball IS surrounded by experienced managers . We'll just see how short that leash is .........
But according to Dilbeck the season is already doomed ..........


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