Tag:Joe Torre
Posted on: February 25, 2011 1:50 pm

Mets look to former All-Stars for rotation help

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- With ace Johan Santana not expected to be ready to roll until at least June, the Mets are going to have to get awfully creative behind Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese and veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to hang around in a beastly NL East.

Awfully lucky, too.

It could start with the return to form of a couple of former All-Stars.

Right-hander Chris Young and lefty Chris Capuano are here, both are on the comeback trail and both say they physically feel the best they've felt in years.

Whether that translates into full and productive seasons in the rotation remains to be seen.

But, as first-year general manager Sandy Alderson says, "So far, so good. They've both thrown a number of sides, they’ve thrown live batting practice, they've kept on the same rotation as everyone else."

Young, an All-Star in 2007, missed nearly all of last year following setbacks after he underwent shoulder surgery in August, 2009. After starting a game on April 6, Young did not reappear until mid-September.

So far, he's thrilled with where he's at.

"My arm strength is better and my breaking stuff is sharper," Young said. "My life on the ball has been good.

"I'm very, very happy with my progress. It was great to spend the off-season working on pitching instead of rehabbing."

Capuano, an All-Star in 2006, is nearly 18 months past his second Tommy John ligament transfer surgery. Though he made 24 appearances for Milwaukee last year, he started just nine times.

"Last year was the year I came back from injury," Capuano said. "I pitched a full season with no setbacks. This is not a coming-off-of-injury year for me. That was last year."

Capuano underwent his second Tommy John surgery in May, 2008.

"I'm still primarily a fastball, breaking ball, changeup pitcher," said the former Duke University pitcher. "I try to throw all of my pitches to both sides of the plate, in any count, and not be predictable."

He should fit right in with the Mets, given the utterly unpredictable nature of their rotation. Dickey came out of nowhere last year to go 11-9 with a 2.84 ERA in 174 1/3 innings pitched.

Oliver Perez, meanwhile, is still hanging around the clubhouse, entering the final season of a three-year, $36 million deal, and appears to have as much chance of pitching in the Mets' rotation as Mayor Bloomberg.

While Young and Capuano work on returning to form, there are other candidates floating around for the Nos. 4 and 5 spots: Rookie Dillon Gee, the organization's top prospect who impressed last September, D.J. Carrasco and Pat Misch, to name three.

Young and Capuano have earned the most stripes. Young is 48-34 over seven big-league seasons and Capuano is 46-52 over six years.

"Those are performance guys," Alderson says. "They're not going to light up a [radar] gun, but they've done it [successfully pitched in the majors].

"They're All-Star-caliber players, and if they're healthy, we may be the beneficiaries."

Sunblock Day? Definitely, continuing a perfect streak since mid-February. Sun, 80s ... just like you'd draw it up for spring training. Only change is, there's a lot more wind today.

Likes: Joe Torre as an executive vice-president in the Commissioner's Office in charge of on-field matters. Him, Bobby Cox, Lou Piniella ... these are people who should remain involved in the game. ... Being able to catch the final launch of the space shuttle Discovery from some 150 miles south through my hotel room window. Even from far away, you could clearly see the bright orange fire in the sky launching the rocket into space. Positively breathtaking. ... Late-night Seinfeld reruns while winding down after a long day of work. They're still the perfect tonic. Last night's episode was the one where Elaine was dating a guy obsessed with the Eagles' Desperado. Classic. ... Funny, after seeing Seinfeld for the first time in a long time last night, I rounded a corner today at the Mets' complex and there was Keith Hernandez, sitting on some steps while talking on the cell phone. Wonder if the Hernandez episode is the one that will be on tonight? ... The Oscars this Sunday night. Always look forward to them. I've seen seven of the 10 best-picture nominees. Really liked The King's Speech, The Social Network, Winter's Bone, The Kids Are Alright, True Grit and The Fighter. You can have Inception.

Dislikes: Adam Wainwright is a fabulous pitcher and a class act. I hope his surgery goes smoothly. ... The fried chicken smell dominating the elevator and the hallway in my hotel much of yesterday afternoon and evening. It was like Colonel Sanders had the room down the hall. ...

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Don't your feet get cold in the winter time?
"The sky won't snow and the sun won't shine
"It's hard to tell the night time from the day
"You're losin' all your highs and lows
"Ain't it funny how the feeling goes away?"

-- The Eagles, Desperado


Posted on: September 23, 2010 5:26 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2010 5:28 pm

New Arizona blueprint: Less whiffs, better pen

New Arizona general manager Kevin Towers does not look at the Diamondbacks' situation as a major rebuild. And if things go the way he would like them to, among the first results you'll see is a team with an improved bullpen and, after a record-setting performance (non-performance?) this year, hitters who strike out much less.

The Diamondbacks all season have had the worst pen in the majors. But on Towers' first day as club GM Wednesday -- and with him in the stands -- the Diamondbacks set a new major-league single-season record for strikeouts.

The record breaker was Stephen Drew's whiff against Colorado's Jorge De La Rosa for 1,400 -- surpassing the 2001 Milwaukee Brewers' mark of 1,399. The Diamondbacks finished the game at 1,400.

"Power numbers come with strikeouts, but I think it's a little excessive," Towers was saying in the hours before the game. "I haven't had a lot of time to spend with [hitting coach] Jack Howell, but I do believe we can cut down on the strikeouts.

"Recognizing pitches better, knowing your hot zone. Guys might be pressing. There isn't a ton of experience, and sometimes guys press and change their swings.

"We'll come up with a plan for each and every guy, and hopefully cut down on strikeouts."

Three Diamondbacks currently reside in the top 10 among NL strikeout leaders: Mark Reynolds (first, 204), Adam LaRoche (fifth, 159) and Justin Upton (eighth, 152).

Five D-backs reside in the top 14 among NL strikeout leaders: The aforementioned trio plus Chris Young (tied for 12th, 136) and Kelly Johnson (14th, 135).

It's a trend that has become more alarming with each passing year: While this year's club already has set a record for most strikeouts, the 2009 D-backs ranks 10th all-time (1,298 strikeouts) and the '08 club ranks 11th all-time (1,287).

As for the bullpen, the Diamondbacks' is historically bad. Not only is the 5.76 bullpen ERA the worst in the majors, the numbers are among the worst of any bullpen over the past 50 years.

Among his priorities, Towers lists "improving the bullpen, improving the bench and improving the starting pitching depth." He praised key position players already in place, naming catcher Miguel Montero, shortstop Stephen Drew, center fielder Chris Young and second baseman Kelly Johnson among the assets.

That all of those players play up the middle, where all good clubs must be strong, is heartening to Towers.

Among the starting pitchers, Towers singles out for praise Ian Kennedy, Joey Enright and Daniel Hudson.

Towers historically built stellar bullpens during his 14 years in San Diego, and though he noted part of that was because he had closer Trevor Hoffman for 12 years and Heath Bell for two, that will be the goal in Arizona. Towers mentions delving into the free agent market, the international free agent market, looking at minor-league six-year free agents, every avenue available.

"I don't think this is a situation where we'll have to wait a couple of years," Towers said. "My hope is to be next year's Padres."

Likes: Lots of people think the Dodgers have packed it in given their uninspired play (and given James Loney telling the Los Angeles Times this week that at times this year other teams have played harder than the Dodgers), but you can't accuse manager Joe Torre of quitting. He's shuffled his rotation to make sure Clayton Kershaw gets a start against the Rockies next week. The Giants, Padres and even Braves surely appreciate that. ... Atlanta's Matt Diaz tripping the fan who was running around the field like an idiot in Philadelphia the other night. ... This blog on Derek Jeter from the YES Network's Jack Curry. ... San Francisco traveling to Colorado this weekend, and there's nothing like a hot rivalry stoked by conspiracy theories. ... This obituary on Leonard Skinner, an old Florida high school phys ed teacher -- and the namesake for band Lynyrd Skynyrd. ... And if you've ever used the term "so-and-so has jumped the shark", you owe it to yourself to read this first-person account from the man who, yes, wrote the Happy Days episode in which Fonzie jumped the shark.

Dislikes: Love Tina Fey. Love Steve Carrell. Date Night? Do not love it. In fact, did not even like it. Disliked it so much I yanked it out of my DVD player halfway through the other night.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Pretty women out walkin' with gorillas down my street
"From my window I'm starin' while my coffee goes cold
"Look over there
"There's a lady that I used to know
"She's married now or engaged or somethin', so I'm told"

-- Joe Jackson, Is She Really Going Out With Him?

Posted on: August 31, 2010 12:06 am

Torre on Clemens: "I feel bad"

LOS ANGELES -- Busy trying to get his Dodgers back into contention, manager Joe Torre did not see video footage Monday of Roger Clemens' arraignment in Washington, D.C., earlier in the day on charges of lying to Congress about whether he used steroids or performance-enhancing drugs.

But Torre's heart was with the pitcher who helped him win two World Series titles with the Yankees in 1999 and 2000.

"I feel bad," said Torre, who managed Clemens with the Yankees from 1999-2003 and again in 2007. "I texted him today and said, "I'm thinking about you.' He sent back a text and said thank you.

"Roger's sort of like my son. He certainly wasn't anything like I thought he was when I watched him across the field.

"I really like Roger. I don't know what the right thing is to have happen."

Stubborn to a fault, Clemens entered a not guilty plea and insists he will fight the charges.

"When Roger says something, he believes it," Torre said. "I don't know what it is that causes that. But he's a very proud individual."

Likes: The front three in the Phillies rotation -- Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt -- is worth the price of admission. ... Love the MLB Network when I’m home. They've done a first-rate job. ... Sad, sad story in Detroit, where former Pistons PR man Matt Dobek committed suicide recently. This column from Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press is heartfelt and outstanding. ... First few listens to John Mellencamp's No Better Than This: Love it. ... Picked up The Morning Miracle, the new Dave Kindred book looking at the Washington Post's struggle for survival. Looks pretty good. ... Tough loss in Friday's opener for my boys from Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central, 43-28 to Detroit Crockett in the high school football opener, but I see a strong bounce-back against Monroe Jefferson this Friday.

Dislikes: Manny, Manny, Manny. He never leaves a situation better than he found it. ... How can school be starting already?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Save some time to dream
"Save some time for yourself
"Don’t let your time slip away
"Or be stolen by somebody else
"Save some time for those you love
"For they’ll remember what you gave
"Save some time for the songs you sing
"And the music that you’ve made"

-- John Mellencamp, Save Some Time to Dream

Posted on: July 28, 2010 10:01 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2010 11:10 pm

Dodgers acquire Podsednik, eye pitching help

The Dodgers made a trade Wednesday, but it wasn't one to strengthen their rotation and solve their dilemma of who's going to start Saturday against San Francisco.

Instead, they struck for an outfielder, acquiring veteran Scott Podsednik from Kansas City for a couple of minor-league prospects while continuing their search for a starting pitcher.

As for whether the Dodgers will be able to add a starter by Saturday's trade deadline -- they've inquired about Houston's Roy Oswalt and the Cubs' Ted Lilly, among others -- general manager Ned Colletti said it's still too early to know.

"Tough to tell," Colletti said early Wednesday evening. "You take it as it comes. This deal [Podsednik] came about. You don't have to put it in order. You get them done when you can."

Looking to beef up their versatility and add depth with Manny Ramirez disabled with a strained calf, the Dodgers sent two minor leaguers -- Triple-A catcher Lucas May and Double-A right-hander Elisaul Pimentel -- to the Royals for Podsedik. No money exchanged hands -- the Dodgers will pay the roughly $600,000 owed to Podsednik for the remainder of the year. His contract includes a $2 million club option for 2011 or a $100,000 buyout.

It's not a blockbuster deal, but with Ramirez on the DL for a third time this season and with the Dodgers running third in the NL West, the acquisition of Podsednik at least gives manager Joe Torre another option. Especially with another outfielder, Reed Johnson, also on the disabled list with a back injury and not expected to return for at least three or four more weeks.

"He brings a lot of different things to the club," Colletti said. "He's a good hitter -- his average is over .300 -- he drives in a lot of runs for hitting in a high spot in the order, he has speed, he can add a lot of different dimensions to the club.

"That he played on a World Series winner in Chicago a few years ago is also a plus."

In 94 games for Kansas City this season, Podsednik hit .310 and stole 30 bases. He also posted a .352 on-base percentage.

The Dodgers hope Podsednik arrives in San Diego in time for Thursday's 3:35 p.m. PDT start. He'll bring a 15-game hitting streak with him.

Meantime, the Dodgers right now are going with "to be determined" as the starter opposite San Francisco's Barry Zito on Saturday. Likely, it will be right-hander John Ely, who was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque on July.

Unless, of course, Colletti pulls a rabbit out of his cap for the Dodgers on the trade market.

Posted on: June 27, 2010 7:20 pm

Torre, Rodriguez meet, chill evaporates

LOS ANGELES -- For those who can't get enough of the Joe Torre-Alex Rodriguez Cold War, we have news of a thaw.

As the Yankees were preparing to take the field here before Sunday night's game, Rodriguez approached Torre by the batting cage and the two of them chatted for about 45 seconds. As they did, Torre held onto the handshake until the end, looked him in the eye and appeared to deliver a message that Rodriguez seemed eager to digest.

"It was just a convenience thing before that," Torre said a few minutes later as to why he and Rodriguez hadn't spoken this weekend when several other Yankees -- Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and others -- had made it a point to come over and visit during batting practice on Friday.

"He came over and he was who he always is," Torre continued. "I was never uncomfortable with Alex. I just told him again, I said, 'I hope you got my message about sort of getting that monkey off of your back.'

"He's a good kid. He's a good kid and, to me, I think too much is always made of this stuff. I think we know in our hearts what goes on."

Torre said nothing came up about the book he co-authored with Tom Verducci in 2009, The Yankee Years, that portrayed Rodriguez in an unflattering light.

"First of all, anything that was concerning him and me in the book had already been in the public," Torre said. "There was never anything Alex could have read in that book that he hadn't talked to me about. And even the stuff that Tom Verducci found out about the A-Fraud thing, players were doing that in front of him. They were kidding with him. That was just a jab. They always jab in the clubhouse all the time.

"So it was never anything that was a behind-anybody's-back thing. We never did anything behind anybody's backs in that clubhouse. That's why I never really had any concern that he wasn't talking to me because I knew that wasn't the case."

No word yet from A-Rod, by the way -- he went onto the field for batting practice right after meeting with Torre.

Posted on: June 26, 2010 2:05 am
Edited on: June 26, 2010 2:12 am

Joe Torre, Alex Rodriguez: The Sounds of Silence

LOS ANGELES -- The weekend's theme appears pretty well set after the Joe Torre-Alex Rodriguez Cold War continued on its icy path following the Yankees' 2-1 series-opening victory here Friday night.

Torre said he was "relieved" that the pre-game meet-and-greet with several of his Yankees friends was finished and that now he can move on to concentrating on baseball.

Except, he said before the game that he intended to shake A-Rod's hand as well during batting practice. And the two never got close enough to each other for that to happen.

And while he didn't seek A-Rod, the Yankees slugger was noticeably conspicuous in his failure to greet Torre as well.

"I don't look at that as disrespect," Torre said late Friday night. "I don't know what to say. I certainly don't want to dump on Alex that it was disrespect. He was over there stretching and I was talking to people. If we had come close enough. ..."

As far as Torre is concerned, he doesn't think there are any issues to solve with A-Rod.

"I'll say hello to him," Torre said. "I don't know what to iron out. I don't feel there's anything that keeps us from acknowledging each other.

"I'm comfortable with how my feelings are. If he chooses not to talk to me, it doesn't mean I'm not going to like him. I was around him a few years and I thought we got along well."

Down the hall and across the lobby, in the other clubhouse, Rodriguez downplayed what has had all the appearances of a tiff since Torre dropped him to eighth in the lineup in Game 4 of the 2006 playoffs against Detroit and then portrayed him in an unflattering light in Torre's 2009 book, The Yankee Years.

"I'm sure we'll get the opportunity to talk," Rodriguez said. "We're going to be here for three days. There's no rush.

"If he wants to talk, I'm more than willing."

Rodriguez pointed out that he wasn't around Torre as long as core players like Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte, but noted he learned several things during his time with Torre nonetheless.

"He was a good teacher of hitting," Rodriguez said. "One thing I use to this day, anytime I was struggling he'd say, 'I'm telling you the same thing I told Dale Murphy: Hit the ball into the right-field seats,'" Rodriguez said. "To this day, I can still hear his voice."

Posted on: June 17, 2010 12:40 pm

Dodgers' Furcal to bereavement list

CINCINNATI -- The Dodgers won the first two games of their series here and moved into first place in the NL West, but they lost their leadoff man overnight Wednesday. They've placed shortstop Rafael Furcal on the bereavement list and are not sure when he'll return.

Furcal notified manager Joe Torre around 1 a.m. Thursday that he has an ailing family member and needed to return to the Dominican Republic. By 8 a.m. Thursday, Furcal was on a plane home.

"One of those things that came up in the middle of the night," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "That's pretty much life."

Furcal, hitting .305 in 40 games this season, had gotten hot recently. He punched out five hits in the series opener here Tuesday night and, since returning from the disabled list on May 25, has batted .302 with two homers and 12 RBI in 21 games.

The Dodgers are unsure of when he'll return -- bereavement list rules state that a player must miss a minimum of three games -- and Torre said he'll mix and match leadoff men in Furcal's absence. Blake DeWitt was batting first in Thursday afternoon's series finale here.

Posted on: June 6, 2010 8:45 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2010 8:52 pm

Hey newspapers, you better listen up

I love newspapers. Love 'em. Even in the Internet age, I couldn't imagine starting my day without breakfast, coffee and the newspaper.

But newspapers are making it harder and harder for me to love them. Because the people who run them are hell-bent on destroying them.

The latest example to slap me in the face came Saturday morning, when I brought the Los Angeles Times in from my driveway and there was absolutely no mention, zero, on the front page of John Wooden's death.

I couldn't believe it.

Among other things, newspapers serve as instant time capsules. There are certain days, for me at least, when I can't wait to get the morning paper. Mostly, these days come after a monumental news story occurs.

This was one of them.

I flipped back to the sports section, and there was a huge photo of Wooden and excellent (as usual) columns by T.J. Simers and Bill Plaschke. Back to the front page, in case I had missed something. No. Nada.

After several minutes, I found six boxes under the Simers and Plaschke columns -- known as "refers", in the biz -- indexing where the various stories in the package could be found. A story on Wooden's Pyramid of Success, for example, on page C-7. Well, the first box read "Obituary for an American Icon" on A-1.

Except, whoops.

No obituary. On John Wooden. In the Los Angeles Frickin' Times.

Obviously, there was some miscommunication in production and somebody didn't replace something that had been planned for the front page with a big Wooden spread.

How could this happen? Hmmm, I know! That's easy!

The corporate owners of the Times have laid off so many copy editors, production folks, writers, etc. over the past several years that the paper is a shell of what it once was. And egregious mistakes occur more and more frequently (though this is off-the-charts egregious. This might have been the worst newspaper screw-up I've ever seen).

Same story at nearly every other newspaper.

Three times so far this baseball season, the Padres' final score has not made it into my San Diego Union-Tribune (another paper that lands in my driveway each day). Again with the new corporate owners. They moved deadline up so far that even Padres games that ended around 11 p.m. weren't making it into the newspaper.

Now, the kicker: Each of those three times the Padres didn't make it into my local paper (I live in northern San Diego County), the final box score was in the Los Angeles Times.

Now how in the hell can the San Diego paper pull that? Has it got death wish?

Wait, don't answer that.

Obviously, it's gotten a lot of complaints because a week or so back there was a note from the sports editor detailing new deadlines and promising that every effort would be made to get the Padres' final in the paper.

So that's the state of newspapers today: By their actions, essentially broadcasting to their readers, hey, there's no need to subscribe to us. Because depending on circumstances, there is a very good chance we won't have what you care about in our slimmed-down paper.

I love newspapers. And I will continue subscribing until they turn out the lights on the very last one.

But, dammit, what's wrong with you people running them?

(Oh, and excuse me for veering off topic on this blog today. If you came here looking for baseball news, here's what I got: Wooden loved baseball, and he especially loved Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, Dodgers manager Joe Torre and Angels manager Mike Scoscia. There. There's the tie-in to baseball.).

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com