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Category: Larry Bowa

Larry Bowa: Joe Torre 'would be perfect' for Dodgers

Torre-bowa_640Joe Torre would be the “perfect” person to run the Dodgers, his longtime lieutenant said on Wednesday.

“He’s a great baseball mind who can get the organization back to where it should be,” said Larry Bowa, who was a member of Torre’s coaching staffs with the New York Yankees and Dodgers from 2006 to 2010.

Torre resigned his executive position with Major League Baseball to join Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso in bidding to buy the Dodgers.

“Hopefully, his group will get it,” Bowa said. “I’m a little biased, but I think he would be perfect.”

In particular, Bowa pointed to Torre’s understanding of both on- and off-field matters.

“He understands both sides of the coin,” Bowa said. “The best I have seen with that is [Hall of Fame executive] Pat Gillick,” Bowa said. "But Joe is right there. He has that kind of knowledge and that kind of work ethic.”

Of Torre, Bowa said, “He understands the baseball part of it. He understands the economic part of it. He understands the fans’ viewpoint, the players’ viewpoint, the minor-league viewpoint.”

Bowa said Torre makes decisions carefully.

“Joe’s not a spontaneous guy,” Bowa said. “Joe’s going to have Plan A, Plan B, Plan C and Plan D. He’s going to have a backup plan. He’s not going to say, ‘I’m going to get this guy,' and have no other plan. Joe, he calculates his moves.”

When Torre managed the Yankees and Dodgers, he delegated a lot of responsibility to his coaches. Bowa said he thinks Torre would operate similarly as a team’s high-level executive.

“He trusts the people he hires and lets them work,” Bowa said. “He doesn’t just hire people. It’s ‘If I’m not here, can he take care of this area?’”

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-- Dylan Hernandez

Photo: Larry Bowa, left, and Joe Torre in 2008. Credit: Doug Benc / Getty Images

Dodgers coaching staff tranquillity: Whole group returns for 2012

Photo: Don Mattingly. Credit: Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press.

Ah, harmony, ain’t it grand? Not a frequent visitor to the Dodgers the last two seasons, but they have found a comfortable accord in one area.

The Dodgers announced Friday that their entire coaching staff would return next season, which, though expected, is still noteworthy for the speed in which it was accomplished.

Of course, the staff could still change if one of the coaches –- Tim Wallach? –- gets an offer to manage over the winter, but for now at least one significant area is all settled. And think how happy agent Dave Stewart must be.

It was Stewart who complained about the way the coaches Larry Bowa and Bob Schaefer were handling his numero uno client, Matt Kemp, last season. Guess which two coaches didn’t return in 2011?

Kemp, of course, found his groove this year with a breakout season, so why would there be any rocking of the boat now? Plus, they all seem to work well together with Manager Don Mattingly and are liked and respected by the players. Win-win.

So the seven solid coaches the Dodgers ended the season with are now all scheduled to return, though that technically still leaves them down one spot from the last few years. After hitting coach Jeff Pentland was fired in July, another coach was never added.

The seven samurai are:

Dave Hansen, originally hired as a hitting instructor to assist Pentland, was promoted to hitting coach on July 20, the team hitting .261 the rest of the way; Trey Hillman is back for his second year as bench coach; Rick Honeycutt is back for a seventh season as pitching coach after the staff composed a 3.54 ERA; Ken Howell returns for his fifth year as the bullpen coach; Davey Lopes, credited for igniting the team’s running attack, returns for his second year as first base coach; Wallach is back for a second stint as the third base coach; and Manny Mota a record 33rd year as a coach.

MORE:

Strong finish sparks hope for Dodgers in 2012

Dodgers' Matt Kemp has one final blast in 7-5 victory

T.J. Simers: Don Mattingly hopes he's earned his stripes as a manager

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Don Mattingly. Credit: Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press.

Matt Kemp and his ultimate question

Dare to be great.

It’s what you tell your children. It’s the drive you try to instill. That whatever the endeavor, give it your best and do not fear attempting to be great.

Then there are those times when extraordinary talent merges with extraordinary effort. When the desire to excel pushes rarified ability, until something truly special is created.

Does Matt Kemp hunger to be great?

That’s what it’s really about with Kemp. The one thing everyone agrees about when it comes to Kemp is, he oozes ability. He is blessed with exceptional athletic talent.

Last season, however, too often he betrayed his gifts. His defense lagged, his batting average dropped almost 50 points, his baserunning mystified. His hustle and fundamentals were questioned. There were run-ins with coaches. His strikeouts shattered his club record.

"I didn’t really have that much fun last year,’’ Kemp said.  "It was a disappointing season. Things didn’t go the way we wanted them to go.’’

If Kemp does not make excuses, neither does he particularly wish to dwell on last season’s shortcomings.

"It was a learning experience,’’ he said. "That was a hard year. Nobody wants to lose and not make the playoffs. We had a good team, we just didn’t put it together right.’’

Tuesday on the Dodgers’ community caravan, Kemp was upbeat as he led a group of fans along the Santa Monica beach to pick up trash. They followed him like the Pied Piper. They called out questions as he joked with a 7-year-old boy.

How do you feel?

"Like 200 million dollars,’’ Kemp said.

"Gonna hit 40-40?" asked one, referring to his September promise of 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases for next season.

"Eighty-eighty,’’ Kemp said.

Kemp was laughing, being playful, enjoying himself like he did too seldom last season.

Of course, it’s a tribute to his athletic ability that even in what was considered a disappointing season, he still finished with a career-high 28 home runs and team-high 89 RBIs.

But the results of those with exceptional ability are not measured against those of more modest talents.

There is more in Kemp, and like everyone else, he knows it. More on the field and in the clubhouse.

"I need to be more of a leader on this team,’’ he said. "I need to step up. When something needs to be said, be that guy to say it. I’m usually been one of those guys who pretty much keeps to himself. I think some things need to change. What we did last year didn’t work, so we need to change it up and do some different things.’’

It’s hard to step up in the clubhouse when you’re struggling on the field. Hard to find your voice, when you can’t locate your swing.

Kemp talks now like he cannot wait to begin his turnaround. Several excuses, real or otherwise, have been eliminated. Gone are the coaches he struggled with last season, Larry Bowa and Bob Schaefer. Over is the high-profile relationship with pop star Rhianna. General Manager Ned Colletti and Kemp are back on good terms.

Kemp, 26, normally says the right things. It’s the follow up that has often disappointed.

If Kemp can find the fire to match his ability, if he can master that focus … just how good could he be?

Does Matt Kemp hunger to be great?

"Of course,’’ he said. "You don’t want to be all right. You want to be really good.’’

-- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers Web musings: Struggle for the No. 2 hitter, the McCourts, off-season grades and more

It’s one of the great unknowns the Dodgers will begin to examine when they report to camp next week:

Who can possibly bat second in the lineup?

There isn’t anything that even resembles a traditional No.2 hitter in their expected lineup, although I understand Larry Bowa is available. No typical table setter. No one with an interestingly high on-base percentage or particularly adept at bunting and advancing the runners.

So are you ready for Casey Blake batting second?

Hey, somebody has to. Newbie manager Don Mattingly told Dodgers.com’s Ken Gurnick he is giving serious thought to having Blake in the No.2 spot because he can hit to the opposite field and take a pitch.

And this can’t be good, can it? Mattingly implied the batting order could be a daily shuffle.

Also on the Web:

-- Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes that Bud Selig views Frank and Jamie McCourt far less kindly than Mets’ beleaguered owner Fred Wilpon, but doesn’t sound hopeful the commission will use the "best interest of the game" provision to force movement by either.

-- Off-season grades are coming in, and the Dodgers aren’t faring badly. ESPN’s Jayson Stark gives the Dodgers an NL West-best B-plus, while CBS Sports’ David Andriesen gives them a B, just behind the Rockies’ B-plus.

-- Joe Block is the new co-host for KABC’s Dodger Talk
. Block comes from New Orleans, where he hosted a similar show on the Hornets. He’ll team with Josh Suchon, replacing Ken Levine.

Levine is the Seattle Mariners new play-by-play announcer, though he wrote in his blog that he hopes to continue to contribute to Dodger Talk with features.

-- Former L.A. Times baseball writer Ross Newhan thinks Rangers infielder Michael Young would be an ideal fit for either the Dodgers or Angels, but doesn't believe it’s going to happen.

-- The first name listed by Fox Sports’ Jack Magruder on players whose teams need them to step it up this season is Matt Kemp.

-- True Blue LA’s Phil Gurnee gives an overview on prospect Jerry Sands, the Dodgers’ minor league player of the year.

-- Fernando Valenzuela is making his first trip to the Dominican Republic to be enshrined in the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame on Staturday.

-- Sports Illustrated’s Joe Lemire, meanwhile, bemoans the current state of major talent at the Caribbean Series.

-- Tony Malinosky was baseball’s oldest surviving player when he died Tuesday in Oxnard. Malinosky played 35 games for the Dodgers in 1937.

-- Vin Scully Is My Homeboy’s Roberto Baly
is pumped over a miniature replica of Ebbets Field, reportedly valued at $4,500.

-- Yahoo.com's Michael Arkush catches up with Maury Wills, still going strong at 78 after prostate and knee replacement surgeries, and still lamenting his lost opportunity as a manager.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Could this really mean his focus will now only be baseball? Matt Kemp and Rihanna reportedly done

Fabforum 

First Larry Bowa, now Rihanna?

Those convinced Matt Kemp’s disappointing 2010 season was due to his relationship with the singing superstar will apparently have to look elsewhere should the Dodgers center fielder continue to struggle next season.

Kemp and Rihanna have called it quits, according to US Weekly.

The two became an item early last year, and when Kemp struggled on the field, bases and at the plate, being distracted by his high-profile relationship became an easy excuse for some.

I never bought it, but the suspicion was going to linger for many as long as Kemp’s performance was anything less than you-have-got-to-be-kidding spectacular.

In a vacuum, last season Kemp had a decent offensive season (.249, 28, 89), but decent is no longer on the radar for his expectations.

Much of his best hitting came in the first two weeks and final week of the season. He also struggled defensively and on the bases (19 steals in 34 attempts).

Since his 2009 season (.297, 26, 101, Gold Glove) supposedly heralded the arrival of a new Dodgers superstar, it was a real step backward.

Excuses were not hard to come by. It was his sometimes strained relationship with the old-school Bowa, who was not retained as the team's third-base coach. Or it was his high-profile relationship with Rihanna, now apparently a free agent.

Both are outta here.

US Weekly painted his breakup with Rihanna is a mutual thing. If you care, Rihanna was reportedly "just over it" and Kemp was "sick of always following after her like a puppy dog all over the world."

Plenty of star athletes have enjoyed relationships with celebrities without it proving detrimental to their careers. Unless you’re thinking Derek Jeter has never reached his potential. If it really did have a negative impact on Kemp, that’s at least one more distraction removed.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Matt Kemp and Rihanna in happier times. Credit: Jeff Lewis, AP.

Daily Dodger in review: Where does Matt Kemp go from his 2010 high-wire act?

This concludes the "Daily Dodger in review" series. There were 30 in all, though I saved the most controversial Dodger for last.

MATT KEMP, 26, outfield

Final 2010 stats: .249 batting average, 28 home runs, 89 RBIs, 19 stolen bases, .310 on-base percentage, .450 slugging percentage in 602 at-bats.

Contract status: Signed for next season at $6.95 million.

The good: Set a career high in home runs. Led club in homers, RBIs, runs (82), extra-base hits (59) and at-bats. Played in all 162 games and has a 204 consecutive-game streak going. Started the season hot (seven homers in a 10-game April stretch) and ended it that way (homers in last five consecutive games).

The bad: Well, let's see … there was the base running. He was caught stealing 15 times in 34 attempts. There was the defense, which went from supposed Gold Glove to probably one of the worst center-field jobs in baseball; he continually struggled to get a proper jump and had only three assists on the entire year. There were the strikeouts, a club-record 170. His batting average fell almost 50 points from 2009.

And then, of course, there was all that other stuff. General Manager Ned Colletti calling him out on a radio show for his lazy fielding and base running. The dugout confrontation with bench coach Bob Shaefer for failing to back up second base. Third base coach Larry Bowa saying he was playing at less than full effort. His irate agent, Dave Stewart, floating the possibility that Kemp might have to play elsewhere. Kemp taking responsibility for his disappointing play at season's end.

What’s next: Only brighter days, right? Things do seem set up for him. Schafer and Bowa are gone. He appears to have a strong relationship with new manager Don Mattingly. New first base coach, and presumably base-running coach, Davey Lopes is a good friend of Stewart's and seems intent on developing a strong relationship with Kemp. And he finished 2010 on a strong note.

The take: Next season figures to be the one in which we find out if Kemp is truly dedicated to being a great player or being a celebrity.

Kemp is not just the team lightning rod, he's their Benjamin Franklin of lightning rods. No player more divides team followers. His supporters point to his still-strong share of positive stats. His detractors bemoan wasted talent and a too-casual style of play.

With Kemp, everything starts with his enormous ability. No Dodger -- and precious few players anywhere -- has more talent. And he's judged against that talent, which often make his boosters cringe. But that's how it works in all walks of life. If you're a great writer and you mail it in, you get called out on that. If you're a Russell Crowe-caliber actor and go through the motions in "The Next Three Days," you get ripped for that too.

Great things are expected from great ability. It's the burden of being enormously talented.

Kemp has been playing professional baseball for eight years now, yet somehow he still seems a raw talent. Everyone -- including Kemp -- agrees that there's much more there. Now everyone waits on Kemp.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Davey Lopes, Tim Wallach and Trey Hillman officially named to Dodgers' coaching staff [Updated]

Lopes_600

The Dodgers officially announced their 2011 coaching staff Monday, the news value of which had long ago dissipated as it was leaked out in pieces for weeks.

Manager Don Mattingly’s first coaching staff will look largely familiar, with even the new faces being old friends.

Officially out: bench coach Bob Schaefer, third base coach Larry Bowa, first base coach Mariano Duncan and, of course, hitting coach Mattingly.

The replacements: bench coach Trey Hillman, third base coach Tim Wallach, first base coach Davey Lopes and hitting instructor Dave Hansen.

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, hitting coach Jeff Pentland (up from instructor), bullpen coach Ken Howell and coach Manny Mota all return.

Schaefer decided it was time he moved on, but Bowa and Duncan wanted to return. I’d have liked to have seen the no-nonsense Bowa back, never feeling that leading a popularity contest in the clubhouse among coaches was a requirement.

Mattingly, too, wanted Bowa, but General Manager Ned Colletti said the coaching staff would be a mutual decision between him and Mattingly, so you can see how that went down.

"We’re really happy to have this group here," Colletti said. "In my tenure here, this has a chance to be the strongest group we’ve had."

Though I don’t have any personal insight about the American League’s Hillman, Mattingly and Colletti deserve some props for putting together a strong staff. And one largely with Dodgers roots.

Mattingly gets credit for not being threatened by Wallach, the former Dodger who had managed the last two seasons at triple-A Albuquerque and was favored by many to succeed Joe Torre.

Continue reading »

More from The Times' visit with Don Mattingly

To report on a story on Don Mattingly that ran in Tuesday's print edition of The Times, I visited the Arizona Fall League for a few days last week. Here are some tidbits I collected that didn’t make the story:

-- Several members of Mattingly’s coaching staff were at one of the games I attended -- Trey Hillman (bench coach), Tim Wallach (third-base coach), Jeff Pentland (hitting coach) and Rick Honeycutt (pitching coach). The group sat with General Manager Ned Colletti, who has been out to Arizona at least once a week during the Fall League season.

-- Shortly after the Dodgers announced Mattingly would replace Joe Torre as manager next season, Mattingly asked third-base coach Larry Bowa to be his bench coach. But Colletti wanted to go in a different direction. Mattingly wouldn’t say anything specific about what happened, but said this about Bowa: “You know what? It’s difficult. I’ll say that. I don’t know if I want to go much further than that. Bo’s knowledge, the way he sees the game is as good as I’ve seen. It’s a difficult situation.”

-- Mattingly said he doesn’t feel threatened by Wallach’s presence on his coaching staff. Wallach, who managed the Dodgers’ triple-A affiliate for the last two seasons, is considered to be a top managerial prospect. “I went through that with [Joe] Girardi in New York,” Mattingly said. “It’s one of those things. It’s not uncomfortable for me. I don’t think it’s for him either.” Girardi was chosen over Mattingly to manage the Yankees in the fall of 2007.

-- The Dodgers traded Mattingly’s son, former first-round pick Preston Mattingly, at the Mattinglys’ request. The Dodgers sent Preston, a minor-league infielder, to the Cleveland Indians. “I really appreciate that they did that,” Don said. “We kind of talked about it. He wasn’t playing. He didn’t do enough to warrant playing time. He’s 22. You don’t want to wait until he’s 24. I thought it was good that they did it. For him, it’s a new start, gives him a new opportunity. He still wants to try.”

-- Of the Dodgers’ position players in the Fall League, Mattingly said outfielder Trayvon Robinson is the most advanced. I spent some time talking to Robinson and will have more on him on this blog next week.

-- As I mentioned in the story, almost no one is at these games. At the first game I attended, there was a dead bird in the stands behind home plate. The bat boy was an old man in a maroon shirt and tan shorts who wore an oversized black helmet.

-- Dylan Hernandez

Dodgers' web musings: Logan White won't be taking GM job with Mets

Dodgers Assistant General Manager Logan White won’t be part of the recent front office exodus, as the Mets announced Friday that he is not one of their final two candidates for their open general manager position.

The Mets’ final candidates are Sandy Alderson, the former A’s general manager, and Josh Byrnes, the ex-Diamondbacks GM.

The is a bummer for White, who has GM aspirations, but good news for Dodgers fans.

On the heels of Frank McCourt firing Dennis Mannion as club president, Dodgers.com's Ken Gurnick said the Dodgers lost two club officials this week: Mark Weidemaier, a special assistant to General Manager Ned Colletti, who had been with the club for 13 years, and Tim Hallgren, the director of scouting who had with the team for nine years.

Both are seeking work elsewhere, which could indicate they weren’t exactly being welcomed back. The Dodgers had no comment.

Elsewhere on the Web:

-- Daily News columnist Tom Hoffarth tells the interesting tale of how Johnny Podres was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year in 1955, despite a losing record.

-- MikeSciosciasTragicIllness.com’s Mike Petriello takes a good look at possible Dodgers’ bench coach Trey Hillman.

-- Newhanonbaseball.com’s Ross Newhan thinks the Dodgers should consider bringing back Adrian Beltre at third, though isn’t optimistic McCourt will pony up.

-- MemoriesofKevinMalone.com’s Chad Moriyama has a different take from myself on the Dodgers' split with third-base coach Larry Bowa.

-- PaulOberjuergue.com’s namesake thinks given the bleak free-agent pool this winter, the Dodgers did right by signing Ted Lilly.

-- Steve Dilbeck


Did honesty cost Larry Bowa his job? Trey Hillman reportedly in line as Dodgers' bench coach

That looks like the end of Larry Bowa, Dodgers coach.

Without fanfare, without even a tip of the cap. Without any proper sendoff at all.

Dodgers.com’s Ken Gurnick has reported that ex-Kansas City Royals manager Trey Hillman has emerged as the front-runner to be Don Mattingly’s first bench coach.

Bowa had served as Joe Torre's third base coach the past three seasons. And rookie manager Mattingly had  wanted wanted Bowa to serve as his bench coach next season.

Only, Mattingly doesn’t have carte blanche when it comes to choosing his first coaching staff. Not exactly unique but still far from ideal. If the team doesn’t respond to his staff, Mattingly can always claim it’s because he wasn’t allowed to put together the staff he wanted.

"We won't have anybody that he's not comfortable with or anybody that I'm not comfortable with," said General Manager Ned Colletti at the end of the season.

Bowa, who wanted to return, said on the Dan Patrick show Wednesday he was not coming back to the Dodgers next season.

So, apparently, Colletti did not want Bowa back. You have to guess why, but the leading contender is, some felt Bowa was too hard on the kids. Because, you know, he wanted them actually to play hard.

Bowa had one dustup with Matt Kemp that was blown out of proportion, but people acted like he was riding the moody outfielder all season. It was Bowa, the crusty old-school coach. Bowa being too demanding. It was all very silly.

Ironically, the only one -- and the first -- to seriously criticize Kemp’s play was Colletti.

Said Colletti to KABC radio’s Peter Tilden of Kemp in April: "Some guys, I guess, think that they're better than they are. They think the opposition's just going to roll over and get beat by them. That obviously doesn't happen.

"The baserunning's below average. The defense is below average. Why is it? Because he got a new deal? I can't tell you."

All Bowa said was Kemp too often relied on his superb talent and did not always play as hard as he could. To which Kemp replied: He’s right.

Colletti, of course, is not going anywhere, but Bowa is out.

Replaced by a guy who managed the Royals to a 152-207 mark before getting fired May 13. I would love to give you some keen insight into Hillman, but that would require actually having watched the Royals much. And who is ever that bored? Maybe if you live in Kansas City.

Admittedly, the Royals gave Hillman precious little to work with, so maybe he’ll do fine in the Dodgers dugout. Who really knows?

He comes with yet another Yankees connection, having managed in their system for 12 years. Really, isn’t it time this Yankees fascination stopped?

Bowa likely will end up on another team, and they’ll be better off for it. Of course, they’ll have to brace for him asking them to play hard.

-- Steve Dilbeck

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