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Category: Joe Torre

Joe Torre says Kim Ng is ready for Angels' general manager job

Kim-ng_250Major League Baseball executive Joe Torre, who worked with Kim Ng in Los Angeles and New York, said Sunday that the former assistant general manager with the Dodgers and Yankees would be a good choice to fill the vacant GM spot with the Angels.

"I think she's ready," said Torre, a former Dodgers and Yankees manager who hired Ng to assist him in the commissioner's office, where he is the executive vice president for baseball operations. "It would be a terrible loss for us. But I think she is ready to take that next step."

Ng, who in the past has interviewed for general manager positions with the Seattle Mariners, Dodgers and San Diego Padres, is among the leading candidates to replace Tony Reagins, who resigned at the end of the regular season.

The Angels are said to also have interest in Rick Hahn, the Chicago White Sox's vice president and assistant GM; Jerry Dipoto, a senior vice president with the Arizona Diamondbacks; and Yankees executives Billy Eppler and Damon Oppenheimer, among others.

"She hit the ground running in this job she has now," Torre said of Ng, whom he hired away from the Dodgers front office last spring. "And she has the tougher side of our office where she has to deal with the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Asia -- just a lot of things that are not easy to do.

"And she has made her imprint already on what's going on."

If the Angels hire Ng, she would become the first female general manager in any major U.S. sport.

-- Kevin Baxter in Arlington, Texas

Photo: Kim Ng. Credit: John Raoux / Associated Press

Question of the Day: What should Joe Torre's top priority be in his new job with MLB? [Updated]

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Writers from around Tribune Co. weigh in on Joe Torre's new role as Major League Baseball's executive vice president for baseball operations. Check back throughout the day for more responses, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Steve Gould, Baltimore Sun

Many Orioles fans would probably like Torre to push for division realignment to give their team a break from playing so many games against the behemoths of the American League East. Others would say Torre's top task is making video review more widespread or holding umpires accountable so we don’t see so many botched calls.

But I'm going to ask him to fix something admittedly less important because, well, it really bugs me.

It's time to drop the silly incentive that the league that wins the All-Star game gets home-field advantage in the World Series. It ends up affecting only two teams in any given year, and should not be applied unless players are selected to the game because they are truly the best of the best, not because every team must have a representative, no matter how undeserving. Please, Joe, this one's got to go.

[Updated at 9:07 a.m.:

Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times

Let the debate begin anew: With the first badly blown call of the new season, the debate over instant replay will be revived. Why does baseball allow for disputed home runs to be reviewed but not disputed singles?

For now, replays are limited to determining whether a home run was fair or foul, whether it cleared the fence or whether a fan interfered. So, when Armando Galarraga lost his perfect game last season on a badly blown call at first base, there was nothing that umpire Jim Joyce could do but say, "My bad."

Commissioner Bud Selig says he won't expand the use of replay in part because of his concern over the pace of the game. He doesn't want a pitcher waiting for three or four minutes, several times a game, while a call is reviewed.

Torre could use his managerial experience to help Selig understand what plays should be reviewed beyond home runs, and how long each review could take without affecting the pace of the game. Torre could help set guidelines for managerial behavior as well -- if you can challenge a call via replay, should you be able to charge the umpire too?

If Selig is correct that there is no consensus within the game to expand replay, then perhaps Torre's work would be moot. But Selig never has submitted a plan to expand replay, and Torre ought to help develop one for consideration -- for the sake of Galarraga, at least.

Dave van Dyck, Chicago Tribune

Anyone who survived and thrived more than a decade working for George Steinbrenner is more than qualified to work any job. ANY job, in ANY business. And make no doubt about it, Torre's new duties as baseball executive VP will include even more than those in the public job description.

But his top priority in the beginning is repairing and rebuilding the sometimes-fractured relationship between those who sit in Park Avenue offices in New York and those who sit in dugouts in San Diego and Seattle. He is uniquely qualified, a personable baseball lifer whose great reverence for the game will result in immense influence. He brings with him a believability that is respected from the field to the front office and a passion that dictates fairness.

And although his job will be in "baseball operations," his most important duty will be "public relations liaison." The best part: He won't even have to work hard at it, because it comes naturally.]

Photo: Joe Torre fields questions during a news conference Saturday to announce his new position as Major League Baseball's executive vice president of baseball operations. Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press

Ponikarovsky helps Kings "recover," but will he help them move forward?

The Kings pursued Ilya Kovalchuk and were beaten out by the New Jersey Devils, though his contract was rejected by the NHL and is headed to an arbitration hearing that could put him back on the free-agent market.

The Kings made no offer to retain Alexander Frolov until they became desperate for goals and sniffed around him last week only to lose him to a one-year, $3-million contract with the New York Rangers. “Not an irrational response,” Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi acknowledged.

And so Plan C — as in “consolation” — came to pass Tuesday when the Kings signed left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky for one year at $3 million plus a $200,000 signing bonus.

This is a lateral step and not a leap forward, an emergence from limbo to grab the best second-tier player available and compensate for losing the frustrating but undeniably talented Frolov and his two 30-goal seasons.

Ponikarovsky, 30, has scored more than 20 goals in four of the last five seasons for some bad Toronto Maple Leafs teams. But given a reprieve when he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the trading deadline, he didn’t distinguish himself, scoring two goals in 16 regular-season games and one goal in 11 playoff games.

He’s not awful. You don’t score 20 goals in the NHL by being incompetent. Inconsistent? Yes. He scored six goals in 15 games in January and only two in his final 21 games.

Soft? So his reputation says despite his 6-foot-4, 220-pound build. But Lombardi likes his size enough to have pursued him at the trade deadline — and considered Ponikarovsky the best consolation prize 27 days into a free-agent market that was thin on forwards to begin with.

“So much time and energy went into this Kovalchuk thing that you’re exposed. Because it dragged on for so long and arguably has continued to drag on, we weren’t addressing other needs. It was impossible anyway,” Lombardi said. “And then you get into the problem that we are in a free-agency mode and everything is tied to this guy that you’re clearly telling the marketplace that everybody else is second fiddle.”

He said the Kings had “recovered” from losing Frolov by signing Ponikarovsky.

“Bringing back that M.O. was critical because the Kovalchuk thing was too much of an all-or-nothing scenario and I don’t think that was where we need to be,” Lombardi said.

“The loss of Frolov, that’s a hole. So you look at Fro and maybe he could have done more things but he’s still a good player. I wanted to bring back a player of that caliber and quite frankly it was only Fro and Ponikarovsky and that was it. There was a drop-off there in terms of getting size. . . .

“I think the deal works. It’s a one-year deal. If he performs we can extend him. And he should be motivated.”

Lombardi sees him as a support player who will help the core young players continue to progress.
“Those kids took a step and they need to take another step. But I don’t want to make the framework around them less,” he said. “We lost Frolov, [Randy] Jones, [Sean] O’Donnell. So the goal is to put around these kids a framework that still allows them to be successful but as I’ve always said, ‘It’s your team. Take control of this team,’ as they started to do last year.”

Lombardi said he’s not done yet. Adding a defenseman to replace O’Donnell and Jones is likely but the replacements could be determined by competition during training camp among the Kings’ defense prospects. If no one stands out, he might have to make a trade.

“It’s safe to say that I am looking at one other thing I’d like to try and do. However, our fall-back position is if we don’t find what I’m looking for I feel a lot better that we got at least the forward because I don’t see an option on the forward,” he said.

“Whether Ponikarovsky or Frolov, that was the first most important piece to me. I am looking at something but I don’t feel the urgency I felt because of looking at our reserve list where, you say, ‘Oh, that element isn’t there.’ ”

If the still-unscheduled arbitration hearing before the still-unchosen arbitrator puts Kovalchuk back on the market the Kings can pursue him and use some of the $13 million in salary cap space they have for next season. Their offer of $80 million over 15 years might have been approved because it didn’t taper off at the end as drastically as the Devils’ offer, which would have paid Kovalchuk $550,000 for each of the last five years.

In the meantime they have Ponikarovsky, a likable guy who said he feels comfortable here because he has family in Los Angeles. He said he’s happy to help on the power-play and penalty-killing units and is eager to use his size and creativity to boost the Kings’ production.

“I know they have a pretty young and fast and exciting team,” he said. “It’s a nice mix and I’m just going to try to bring my game and help the team win.”

And see if he can become more valuable than the usual consolation prize.
 

--Helene Elliott

Baseball's All-Star Game rosters expand; rules change

Ever since baseball decided that its All-Star Game would count for something -- specifically, home-field advantage in the World Series -- there has been an uneasy balance between playing to win and trying to ensure every player gets into the game.

The latest changes, announced Wednesday, take effect with this year's All-Star Game in Anaheim:

1) No more pleading with teams not to use their best starting pitcher on the Sunday before the All-Star Game. If a pitcher selected for the All-Star Game starts on that Sunday, he will be ineligible and will be replaced on the All-Star roster. He can still attend the game and wave to the fans.

2) No more wasting at-bats on a pitcher. The designated hitter rule will be in effect even for All-Star Games in National League ballparks, giving one more bench player an at-bat or two. The DH rule would have been in effect this summer anyway because Angel Stadium is an American League ballpark. The NL manager will select his starting DH; fan voting will continue to determine the starting AL DH.

3) No more keeping a position player on the bench in case of injury. The All-Star managers will designate one position player as eligible to return to the game in case of injury to a position player.

4) More players! The All-Star rosters now will include 34 players -- 21 position players and 13 pitchers. That's not counting any pitchers who start Sunday and come along for the festivities. So home-field advantage for the World Series, in games played with 25-man rosters, now will be determined by a game played with close to 40-man rosters. (Just like September, when playoff races are decided in games played with 40-man rosters.)

The revisions were recommended by a committee appointed by Commissioner Bud Selig -- one that includes Dodgers Manager Joe Torre and Angels Manager Mike Scioscia. The commissioner's office and the players union approved the recommendations.

-- Bill Shaikin

Joe Torre speaks on Manny Ramirez and much more

Dodgers Manager Joe Torre spoke up on several topics at the baseball owners’ meetings today:  

Dodgerslogo On whether he has spoken with Manny Ramirez since the season ended: “No. That’s my fault.”

On Ramirez’ marked decline in production after his return of a 50-game drug suspension: “I still feel he wasn’t himself when he came back. At that point, there were 50 games off and then spring training. To me, he was very uncomfortable, trying to recapture what he had. In the clubhouse, he was the same guy. We want that balanced hitter and relaxed guy.”

On whether Ramirez should have played in more than five minor league rehabilitation games: “The thing became a circus anyway. I don’t know if that would have helped.”

On what he expects from Ramirez this season: “I expect him to be back as a middle-of-the-lineup guy.”

On whether he believes Ramirez might be finished as an elite hitter if he is finished with performance-enhancing substances: “I reject that thinking. He was not comfortable, and he was out of balance. His approach, mechanically, was forced. I don’t think his ability is going to fall off. That’s why I am more than hopeful he is going to be able to do this.”  

On Clayton Kershaw: “He’s a legitimate, big-time pitcher. He’s still just 21 years old. We can’t all of a sudden hook our wagon to him and say, ‘Take us there.’ ”  

On what he expects from Chad Billingsley: “To get better. It was really a strange year he had. I think the two injuries really knocked him off his game. He tried to force it. He never got into his rhythm. He had lost his confidence more than anything.”

Continue reading »

Dodgers manager Joe Torre speaks about Mark McGwire

Dodgers Manager Joe Torre will appear tonight at 7 on the PBS talk show "Tavis Smiley."

The discussion? Mark McGwire's admission of steroid use.

According to an excerpt from the show, Torre said: 

Mark McGwire hit a lot of home runs when he was at Oakland,. Now I don’t know what he was doing when he was at Oakland, but he obviously has confessed to doing certain things, or admitted to doing certain things. I think his sort of conversation about what he did wrong, he should have left it at ‘I did all these things, I’m sorry about doing it.’ But then to go on and say he still could have hit home runs although he didn’t take it. That’s something people aren’t going to believe. He might have hit some home runs, but he wouldn’t have hit them as far as he hit them.”

-- Diane Pucin

Dodgers: No plans to decrease payroll; Torre could have future in front office

 
Ned colletti1 General Manager Ned Colletti said this evening that the Dodgers don’t have plans to cut payroll for next season, and that Manager Joe Torre has shown interest in extending his contract by a year and moving into a front-office role in 2012.
Of the Dodgers’ payroll situation, Colletti said, “A lot of it depends on how the winter unfolds with revenue and different things along those lines. If we see good signs, it goes up. If we don’t see good signs, it probably doesn’t go up. It also depends on the players we’re talking about.”
Asked if payroll could decrease, Colletti replied, “Not at the moment.”
Colletti said his discussions with Torre about an extension for 2011 are in the “early stages.” Asked the role he envisions for Torre in the front office, Colletti said, “Depends on how much time he wants to spend on it.”
Also from Colletti:

  • The Dodgers are "unlikely" to sign anyone at the winter meetings this week.
  • A FoxSports.com report about the Dodgers shopping George Sherrill is inaccurate.
  • The Dodgers would move Juan Pierre in the right deal. If they trade him, they would want to get pitching in return.
  • President Dennis Mannion’s increased power – in addition to business operations, he will now oversee baseball operations – won’t affect the baseball operations department. Colletti called the move “a formality,” noting that Mannion has attended baseball operations meetings over the last year and maintained a healthy dialogue with Colletti.
  • Of the Dodgers’ free agents, Colletti has talked to Brad Ausmus the most.
  • The Dodgers view pitching prospects Scott Elbert and Josh Lindblom as starters. They are more open to using James McDonald as a reliever.

-- Dylan Hernandez in Indianapolis

Photo: Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti. Credit: Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times

Padilla seemed obvious choice to start Game 5

Vicente Here were Joe Torre's options when it came to picking a starter for Game 5 of the National League Championship Series:

A) He could go with a veteran who had completely dominated the opposition in his first two playoff starts and has not lost a game since coming to the Dodgers in August.

B) He could go with a 21-year-old left-hander who looked, well, 21 during a fifth-inning implosion in Game 1 when he lost command of his pitches and gave up five runs.

The only question really is, what took the Dodgers manager so long to confirm he was going with Vicente Padilla over Clayton Kershaw, something Torre finally did through the Dodgers' PR staff a few minutes ago?

Only about an hour earlier when he met with the media, Torre still had not made his decision official. Asked whether the result of tonight's Game 4 would affect his decision, Torre said it "probably" wouldn't and that he had let both pitchers know they might start.

Padilla pitched for the Phillies from 2000-05, going 49-49, and he could get a rude reception from the notoriously nasty fans at Citizens Bank Park. But he has already pitched one gem on the road this postseason, holding St. Louis scoreless over seven innings at Busch Stadium during the Dodgers' clinching Game 3 victory in the division series.

-- Ben Bolch

Photo: Vicente Padilla. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Sporting News ranks Los Angeles as fifth-best sports city

Snm_101209_cvr It appears the Lakers' NBA title and the Dodgers' second consecutive playoff appearance has done a lot for Los Angeles as far as the Sporting News is concerned.

The magazine has released its rankings of the nation's top sports cities and Los Angeles was No. 5 on the list -- a jump of three spots over its 2008 ranking.

"The Lakers' bringing home the NBA title was the story in L.A., but look at what Joe Torre accomplished with the Dodgers and what the college landscape -- football and basketball -- has looked like there over the past 12 months," said Bob Hille, Sporting News' chief of correspondents.

As the cover indicates, Pittsburgh was named the top sports city thanks to the Steelers' Super Bowl triumph and the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory.

Philadelphia is No. 2, Boston No. 3 and Chicago No. 4. Los Angeles/Anaheim was named the best sports city in America in 2003. Here's this year's full list.

-- Austin Knoblauch

Photo: Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, left, and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the cover of the Sporting News.

Thursday's poll: Who is the better manager, Mike Scioscia or Joe Torre?

Mike Scioscia is the best manager in Angels' history, while Joe Torre is one of the best managers in baseball history. But which would you rather have managing your team?

Vote in today's poll and let your voice be heard, then leave a comment letting us know why you voted the way you did.

-- Houston Mitchell

Dodgers: Manny Ramirez rests

Manny_500

CINCINNATI -- Manny Ramirez is out of the Dodgers' lineup today, as Manager Joe Torre said the former All-Star outfielder looks tired.

"I think his legs are a little heavy right now," Torre said. "I think it's from playing every day. He had spring training, then he was gone for 50 games, close to two months. I don't care how much you're doing, you need another spring training, and he didn't have that."

Torre wanted to rest either Rafael Furcal or Orlando Hudson today but opted to play them both because of how they looked in the Dodgers' win on Saturday.

In other news, Torre said that there's a strong possibility that Hiroki Kuroda could pitch on Tuesday for Class-A Inland Empire.

Here's the Dodgers' lineup:

Rafael Furcal SS

Juan Pierre LF

Andre Ethier RF

Matt Kemp CF

Casey Blake 3B

James Loney 1B

Russell Martin C

Orlando Hudson 2B

Clayton Kershaw P

-- Dylan Hernandez

Photo: Manny Ramirez takes a break during batting practice at Dodger Stadium earlier this season. Credit: Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times

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