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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Still More On The DePodesta Firing: Deconstructing Plaschke

The Times' Bill Plaschke, who has always had it in for DePodesta, immediately launched his hosannas and exacted his pound or five of flesh (hat tip: LA Observed):
Paul DePodesta has been fired as Dodger general manager, days after the organizational meetings, days before he was going to announce a new manager, weeks after the end of an awful season.

Some will say this means the Dodgers are in chaos. I say this means they are finally seeking order.

Yeah, Bill, your order, one that consists largely of mean-spirited attacks on someone who did exactly jack to you.
Some will say DePodesta wasn't given a fair chance. I say he never should have been hired in the first place.
Wow -- a two-sentence paragraph! Dazzle us with your brilliance, Bill. I know you can. Because, hey, splattering a guy's character before he's even made a single move is just so mature!
You say, a hasty firing. I say, a smart trade.
Smart? How did we ever have time to find out? Or is it just because you agree with guys who bellow and steam and provide good quote... like Tommy Lasorda? Once upon a time, Lasorda was just a likeable blowhard, but his post-managerial career has seen him careen to sheer incompetence. If, as seems likely, he engineered DePodesta's excision and has hand-selected some ex-Dodger great -- Hershiser seems likely -- to take over at GM for no apparent reason, he, not DePodesta, now has my undying loathing -- and Plaschke along with it for inflaming such stupid tendencies in the front office.
Here's guessing Gillick and his World Series rings will be the new general manager. Hershiser and his World Series ring will be the assistant. Bobby Valentine and his World Series appearance will be the manager.
Like Gillick's Toronto rings did Seattle any good. Like Hershiser has the aptitude or knowledge to be an assistant GM. Like Bobby Valentine has either a significant connection to the Dodgers or a track record as a successful manager.
None of this would be possible if DePodesta were still around.
And we will remember every last word of this foolish counsel when the team goes below .500. We will remember this when Whoever T. Hell, General Manager, Los Angeles Dodgers, trades this year's Pedro Martinez for this year's Delino DeShields because Frank McCourt actually heeds the shrieking voices in the Times the rest of us merely laugh at.
None of this would be possible if DePodesta were still around.

The kid's computer, once foolishly hailed by McCourt as the organizational savior, had become little more than a flashy box blocking the door.

McCourt should have known better. Or, at least, he should have asked someone other than Oakland's Billy Beane, the most famous general manager who has never won a playoff series.

To fill shoes once worn by Branch Rickey and Al Campanis, should McCourt really have hired a 31-year-old who had never been to Dodger Stadium? Who had never met Tom Lasorda? Who, when with Oakland, had been the most invisible No. 2 executive in the game?

More important question: should anyone deigning to fill said shoes listen to a waffler like Plaschke? Plaschke, you may recall, had nothing nice to say about DePodesta (see post 100 by Matt Welch) upon his hiring, yet with his very first act as general manager -- the trade for Milton Bradley -- he effused "Paul DePodesta swung for the fences, and it says here he connected."

Plaschke is not a man to take seriously.

Remember when, during DePodesta's hiring news conference 21 months ago, McCourt mentioned how it was so cool that his teenage son had been surfing chat rooms that claimed DePodesta joining the Dodgers was like Alex Rodriguez joining the New York Yankees?

Error, hackers.

Bigger error, McCourt.

Well, what did you expect? The man had never been a GM before. Mistakes were bound to happen even if his name were Branch Rickey. Oh, but wait -- it was McCourt's kids who were excited by it. Serves him right for listening to his own offspring -- who, by the way, are now deeply embedded in the Dodgers operations, what with Drew McCourt running the marketing department.
"There's no question I've learned a tremendous amount the last couple of years," McCourt said at Dodger Stadium, filled these days with destroyed seats and shattered potential.

You think?

DePodesta was harmless, a quiet fellow who kept to himself, until he suddenly tore apart a first-place team halfway through his first season.

No. Not back to "heart and soul" again. Please. For the love of all that is holy, not that.
At the time, the Dodgers were 60-42.

For the rest of his tenure, they went 104-118.

It was as if he thought he was smarter than predecessor Dan Evans, who built the eventual division champions. It was as if he cared little about the fans who loved them.

Now that... that's just lame, Bill. Cheap. Stupid. This from the same Bill Plaschke who bagged on Dan Evans for trading Gary Sheffield after he had made himself into a complete nuisance by demanding a contract extension just after signing another contract with the Dodgers. This is the same Bill Plaschke who, on January 13, 2004, had the nerve to say that "[The Dodgers] haven't been able to say that [they have a team all of LA can be proud of] for 16 years." This is the tradition he's defending?
They won the NL West title in spite of his clubhouse remodeling
Except for that part about Steve Finley, who I think had a little bit to do with winning the division. Yeah, just forget that part, Bill.
then he inexplicably tore the team apart again last winter, his struggles with personnel acquisitions matched only by his failures to communicate.

Many will blame this season's 71-91 record on injuries.

Well, it's not as though it isn't at least partially true!
But DePodesta was the one who gave big money to injury-prone J.D. Drew and malingering Odalis Perez.
... and your answers would have been to keep Beltre and his lousy production, and sign what starting pitcher?
DePodesta was the one who gutted the bullpen such that Eric Gagne's loss became a nightmare.
Uh... wha? Is he just hoping we all forget that the only major player in the 2004 bullpen not to appear in the 2005 edition was Guillermo Mota, who hasn't exactly been successful in Florida?
I was in favor of his signing of Milton Bradley, so it's unfair of me to blame him for that.
Wow... a brief flash of honesty. Could it be menopause?
His trade last year for Steve Finley was tremendous
Wait, I thought that was bad... so confused!
and his signing of Jeff Kent was brilliant, so he did some good things.

But, by the time this season ended, the clubhouse was divided by guys who shouldn't have been lumped together, his pet projects like Antonio Perez were not everyday players, and DePodesta couldn't get along with the manager.

And I'm sure that if you had a little weasel undermining everything you had tried to implement, you, too, would have a poor opinion of your underling.
McCourt claims he would have fired Jim Tracy anyway. I wonder.
Well, Steve can hope, anyway.
But even then, DePodesta was given one last chance, his managerial search serving as McCourt's final test.

When his odd list of candidates did not resemble one put together by a savvy general manager with lots of contacts --

Translated: to a list I can at least recognize. How many times will it have to be pointed out to leadheads like Plaschke that Walter Alston had no major league managerial experience prior to being named Dodgers skipper?
and when he didn't even try to ask for permission to talk to Mike Scioscia --
-- who, as a rational adult, and nay, a genuinely classy individual, would have to simply say, "That's not even an issue. ... I don't know a better job in baseball than right here", if he weren't giggling inside thanks to the self-destructive acts the team has made since he's left. I mean, Arte... McCourt... left hand... right hand... uh. Um. It's a wonder you can't hear Mike busting out laughing in his Westlake Village home all the way down in Anaheim from the very suggestion.
the decision was made.

It's awful, it's embarrassing, it cost the Dodgers an important month of off-season work.

But it had to be done.

How nice of you to man up for the Dodgers, Bill! Any other front office mayhem you want to suggest while you're here? Maybe firing the team janitor? Did the groundskeepers annoy your lordly gaze at the park today? Want Frank to fire those guys, too?
"I can't point to any one thing," McCourt said of his reasons for the firing. "I'm a builder by nature, and, to build, you need a strong foundation."
I thought, as the Parking Lot Attendant, he hadn't built anything besides a few squares of asphalt. What would he know about foundations?
Now that McCourt has fixed this huge crack, he needs to remember, the foundation starts with him.
Uh oh.
As their blunders pile up like peanut shells on a July night, McCourt and his wife, Jamie, need to show more personal accountability for everything from Lon Rosen to obstructed-view seats.
Wait, so the buck doesn't stop with DePodesta? You mean, there's somebody else who maybe, possibly, could be at fault if things don't work out?
Not once Saturday would McCourt acknowledge that he blew it with DePodesta. How can we believe they have learned if they never admit they have failed?
I may have to saw off a limb here. I actually agree with Plaschke on something.
Even the way they began Saturday's news conference was disingenuous, with new flack Camille Johnston refusing to announce that DePodesta had been fired, instead announcing only that they were beginning a search for a new general manager.

C'mon, Dodgers. Have more respect for your fans.

Yeah, 'cause taking Plaschke and Simers seriously isn't a good way to do that.
You hired the wrong guy to run your team. Two years later, you fired him. Admit it and move on.

DePodesta will be paid for three more years, the wealthiest 32-year-old former general manager on the planet. He will undoubtedly become a great No. 2 executive somewhere else. He'll survive.

This is about something much bigger than him, bigger than the team, bigger than Chavez Ravine. This is about a Dodger championship tradition worth saving even at the risk of the public humiliation that McCourt will endure, and deserve.

... aaaand what championship tradition would that be? As the LA Observed piece above notes, the Dodgers haven't won jack post-1988, and Bobby Valentine's connection to the organization is tenuous at best. So, yes, let's talk about this championship tradition. It's got nothing whatsoever to do with bloviating bozos in the Times and everything to do with pioneers like Branch Rickey, guys who used statistical analysis and had a gift for finding players in unlikely places -- you know, like the Negro Leagues.
The Dodger owner did an unsightly, uncomfortable thing Saturday.
If there were any justice, the Times would do an unsightly, uncomfortable thing and lance the boils currently infesting its sports pages.
But for the first time in a long time, he did the right thing.
It's going to be a long offseason. Cripes. A million monkeys and a million typewriters couldn't make up stuff this bad, I swear.

Comments:
Man, that article is just painful. As I scoured tonight, I did find one I thought to be a bit easier on DePo and a bit harsher on where the blame belongs here. Check it out:

http://tinyurl.com/e4mkl

This is a bad time. Let's just hope against hope that a decent decision is made despite the morons running the show.
 
Maybe if I end up becoming a sportswriter (c'mon college education!) I'll move to LA and spend my time plastering Plaschke's articles on a daily basis. I think that is a just goal in life.
 
If only you held Depo to the standards you hold Plaschke, you wouldn't be as upset at the firing,
 
DePodesta had a plan and was prepared to stick by it, regardless of whether his traitorous underlings were. Your idiotic lip doesn't change that, and neither do Plaschke's waffling, stupid words.
 
One final point, Anon: DePodesta was the Dodgers' GM, Plaschke a writer for the Times. Is there any reason whatsoever they should be held to the same standards, it being neither has the same job?
 
Nicley done, Rob. The great tradition that is the Plaschke fisk has hopefully found a new home here at 6-4-2.
 
Rob,

Is Depo a relative or something? Just cause I say you should be more focused on depo's shortcomings than obsessing over a sportswriter at the times, I'm an idiot?

Depo has accomplished nothing but alienating a large number of fans, and more importantly, the baseball community as a whole, and even more importantly, his employers. He was in over his head from the beginning, and created a poor, boring product.

The McCourts fire people all the time. they are bad owners. This doesn't make them any less so. However, I am glad they are going in a different direction. I find teams that don't focus on defense and small ball to be incredibly boring to watch. I don't want to watch station to station baseball, and I don't enjoy watching hitters take ball four. So, lets win the dodger way, with good pitching, good pitching, timely hitting, and aggressive baserunning.

Depo would not create a team like that, and accordingly, he never should have been hired to run the dodgers. The dodgers aren't the As.
 
No, DePo's not a relative and what difference does it make? The bottom line is either you had better come up with coherent arguments in favor of his firing (which are not actually possible) or shut up. DePodesta had a plan, a viable plan; what do you have, Anon, besides an attitude, vacant homilies about "the Dodger way", and an empty portfolio?
 
I'm curious. What "mistakes" are Dodger fan harping on?

Was the error letting go Beltre, Finley and Cora? They all sucked this year.

Was it trading away Lo Duca? He's a league average catcher at best.
 
Rob,

You are being neither open minded nor polite.

there are plenty of reasons to fire depo. I listed the two most important: 1) he alienated the fans and the owners with his aloofness and inability to treat people in way where they felt included and respected and 2) He was building a team that has no relation to dodger tradition by discounting speed and defense in putting together the roster.

You may not like traditional dodger baseball, but most fans in LA do, and that's what we want to see. Oakland is still there, you can root for them and their style of play, and its very easy to get tickets.

I for one am glad to see the dodgers returning to their identity. You may not agree with the firing, but to say there was absolutely no reason to fire Depo is disengenous and shows you are being overly emotional. Baseball is an entertainment business, and when you build a non-compelling roster and alienate the fan base, you better win every year, because a poor product will not be tolerated when its filled with players the community has no relationship with, and the style of play is not what the fans want to see.

Its a tough world out there, and when you have a multi-million dollar contract, you had better produce. that's what you are paid for.
 
You are being neither open minded nor polite.

I'm hearing nothing like rational argument, getting personal attacks, and my patience is run out. You expected what else?

there are plenty of reasons to fire depo. I listed the two most important: 1) he alienated the fans and the owners with his aloofness and inability to treat people in way where they felt included and respected

Who, specifically? Adrian "I want my contract supersized NOW" Beltre? Steve ".222/.271/.374" Finley? Tommy "I Unloaded Paul Konerko for Jeff Shaw" Lasorda? Are those the people who felt left out? Why should we have any sympathy for any of their opinions?

He was building a team that has no relation to dodger tradition by discounting speed and defense in putting together the roster.

Ooh, speed and defense. Uh huh. Allow me to introduce you to the Chicago White Sox, the fourth-most homerrific team in the majors, a team with the 11th worst stolen base percentage in the league. Now, you could certainly make a case that the Chisox were a very good defensive team -- they ranked second in DER% in the AL -- but ascribing their success to "speed AND defense" is way off base.

I for one am glad to see the dodgers returning to their identity. You may not agree with the firing, but to say there was absolutely no reason to fire Depo is disengenous and shows you are being overly emotional.

Uh, no. Again with the Dodger tradition without ever putting a finger to it. Is it the 1950's teams with their high-offense squads? The 60's era with Koufax and Drysdale, the heightened mound and the expanded strike zone? Very good pitching and mediocre offense like the '81 club? That team was only fifth in defensive efficiency.

What I really hate are "Dodger tradition" guys who don't even know their team's own history. Jon Weisman has an earful for you, Anonymous.

Baseball is an entertainment business, and when you build a non-compelling roster and alienate the fan base, you better win every year, because a poor product will not be tolerated when its filled with players the community has no relationship with, and the style of play is not what the fans want to see.

Well, welcome to the wonderful world of free agency! Life without the reserve clause sure is a bitch, ain't it? What team can afford to keep their expensive veterans around? And what team wants to? How many Yankees fans would have cheerfully let Bernie Williams walk this last offseason if it meant they could get a productive bat in the order? Shall we talk about the number of starts that .276/.304/.327 Bubba Crosby got in center simply because Williams couldn't handle center anymore and wasn't worth bumping Matsui or Sheffield for?

Anon, you just don't know what you're talking about. DePodesta made some mistakes, sure, but none of them were worthy of him being fired.
 
This is to Anon, even though Rob already did a fine job blowing apart your "analysis."

But there's two things requiring additional comment.

1) he alienated the fans and the owners with his aloofness and inability to treat people in way where they felt included and respected

Nobody would give a damn about "aloofness" and "respect" if the team had been winning. DePo inherited a disaster of a ML lineup. He did his best to patch things together while anticipating the arrival of several talented prospects over the next couple of years. He made his share of mistakes, but name one GM this year who didn't.

DePo had a plan. The plug was pulled before it could be fully implemented.

) He was building a team that has no relation to dodger tradition by discounting speed and defense in putting together the roster

The fans would be perfectly happy with an OPS and pitching-based team that wins, just like some of the "traditional" Dodger teams, the emphasis being on the winning part.
 
As an Angels fan since 1974, while I'm enjoying the Dodgers imploding more than the English language can convey, when are people finally going to realize that Lasorda is an asshole and demand that he be kicked to to the curb?

No, wait, keep the smarmy bag of shite, it'll ensure another decade of Dodgers mediocrity.
 
Some people realize this, Henry. It's just that none of them have the surname McCourt.
 

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