As the (Dodgers) World Turns...
According to the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily News, Frank McCourt is expected to fire Paul DePodesta this weekend.
This is a(nother) sad day for the Dodgers. The organization has been in disarray since FOX purchased the franchise from the O'Malley family.
The McCourts don't know what they're doing. Frank and Jamie own the team so I guess they can do anything they want. However, if the McCourts had a boss, they would have been fired for incompetency long before Jim Tracy and DePodesta.
DePodesta was never given a fair shake to prove his worth. He was at the helm for less than two years and only had one off-season to make trades and sign free agents. DePodesta inherited Tracy and was essentially forced to give him a new contract after the Dodgers won the NL West in 2004.
The Dodgers and Tracy parted ways after the 2005 season and DePodesta was several weeks into his search for the next manager. Six candidates had been pared to three finalists (Terry Collins, Orel Hershiser, and Alan Trammell) as of Friday.
When Hershiser interviewed for the job, he met with McCourt and Tommy Lasorda and not DePodesta. Let's label that Exhibit One that DePodesta was on shaky grounds. To be fair, DePodesta and Hershiser had a lengthy conversation on the telephone prior to the so-called interview. One could argue that Lasorda's title (special advisor to the chairman) and past relationship with Hershiser dictated that he sit in on the meeting, but it made no sense to exclude DePodesta. None.
A conference call DePodesta had scheduled with reporters to discuss the managerial search was canceled on Friday. We'll call that Exhibit Two.
Collins, thought by many to be the leading candidate, was scheduled to meet with McCourt on Friday night but their dinner was postponed to sometime next week because "something came up" according to the former Astros and Angels manager who currently is the player development director for the Dodgers. Can you say Exhibit Three?
Neither McCourt nor DePodesta would comment for the Steve Henson and Tim Brown article that appeared in this morning's Times. However, "Dodger spokeswoman Camille Johnston said she could not confirm that DePodesta, who has three years remaining on his contract, would be fired." That was the proverbial kiss of death and Exhibit Four. I found it ironic that her name was mentioned. Normally, such sources are anonymous. Furthermore, it doesn't take a psychologist to read between the lines here. Note that Johnston failed to say DePodesta would NOT be fired.
Suffice it to say, if and when McCourt and Collins meet again, it will not be about the Dodgers managerial vacancy. Collins has ZERO chance of getting the job if DePodesta is fired as expected. McCourt and the new GM will be forced to go in a different direction. Hey, it's human nature. Anybody who was labeled as a guy DePo favored will be nixed, no matter their qualifications or merits. Collins, in fact, will be lucky to keep his job in the front office because the next GM might want to start his reign free of any leftovers from the previous regime.
The timing is such that I can't help but think the McCourts pulled the plug on DePodesta because they decided to go in a completely different direction as far as hiring the next field boss. This is nothing more than conjecture on my part, but I think Lasorda has finally convinced Frank and Jamie that Bobby Valentine is the right man for the job. If Valentine is hired, DePodesta's firing will have Tommy Lasorda's fingerprints all over it.
Valentine is not only Lasorda's all-time favorite, but he is "saleable" to the fans and the Los Angeles media. He was drafted by the Dodgers in the first round in 1968, was managed by Lasorda in the minors, and played parts of three seasons with the big league club before being traded to the then California Angels in November 1972. Valentine can also be sold as a winner, given that his Chiba Lotte Marines just won the Japan Series. Collins, on the other hand, was fired by the Angels in 1999, and the local press has generally been critical of his candidacy from day one.
Will McCourt hire a manager before a general manager? If he does, it will be a mistake as well as a hypocritical move. When Tracy was fired, McCourt said "The relationship between a general manager and a manager is critical for the long-term success of a franchise. Given this, I fully support Paul DePodesta in his decision to make a change." Hmmm.
Look for Hershiser to get the GM job and Valentine to be the next manager. Orel thought he was interviewing to work in the dugout when, in fact, he was really under consideration to become DePodesta's replacement. I believe McCourt and Hershisher probably have an "orel" agreement already and Valentine's Day will be celebrated in November rather than February.
When O'Malley sold, I feared the team I grew up rooting for was no longer going to be my Dad's Dodgers anymore. Although the return of some traditional Dodger blood to the GM and manager posts might seem like a good idea to some diehards, I won't celebrate until the McCourts return to Boston.
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Check Jon Weisman's Dodger Thoughts and Rob McMillin's 6-4-2 for additional commentary.
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3:00 p.m. PST update: It's official.
Excerpts from an article by Ken Peters of the Associated Press:
LOS ANGELES - Paul DePodesta was fired as general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.
Team owner Frank McCourt cited the team's lack of success as the reason DePodesta was let go.
"Our high expectations were not met," McCourt said.
"I met with Paul DePodesta this morning and let him know that the Los Angeles Dodgers were moving on," McCourt said at the afternoon news conference at Dodger Stadium. "I thanked him for his contributions."
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Comment: Too bad the McCourts aren't the ones moving on.