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"Lou is not talking about mechanics when he goes out to the mound,"
~Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Depodesta Fired

After just 2 years as GM of the Dodgers, Paul Depodesta was fired today. The Dodgers held a press conference this afternoon to announce his dismissal.

This is one of those stories that moved rather quickly. It wasn't until yesterday that anyone outside of the Dodgers' inner circle had much of an idea that Depodesta's job security was in question. Until yesterday Depodesta was actively involved in the search for a new manager. But on Friday reports surfaced from LA that owner Frank McCourt and Tommy Lasorda met with Orel Hersheiser without Depodesta. This began speculation that he would soon be dismissed. 24 hours later, it's bye bye Paul.

This firing is curious to say the least. The other end of the spectrum suggests it shows complete ineptitude on the part of Dodgers ownership. Jim Tracy who is a very good manager was fired because of his inability ot get along with Depodesta. Fine. Depodesta is in charge and Tracy is easier to replace. But to then fire the GM just two weeks later shows indecision on the part of ownership. Both men are highly capable at their respective jobs, but the choice came picking one or the other. McCourt decided on neither. Now the Dodgers presumably go to the annual general managers meeting on November 6th with no GM. I don't know what they plan on getting accomplished. Dodger fans just hope it's not McCourt and Lasorda wheelin' and dealin' in Palm Springs.

The media had been all over Depodesta since trading popular team clubhouse guy Paul Lo Duca last season. He didn't make any friends by trading Shawn Green and letting Adrian Beltre and Steve Finley walk either. The Dodgers had waited years for Beltre to break out and as soon as he did, Depodesta let him sign with Seattle as a free agent. But in his defense and as Deppodesta points out himself, the idea of trades and player movement is to sell high in order to get the most value. So by definition a good trade will likely always be unpopular.

Beltre left for big money. Mariners GM Bill Bavasi gave him $64 million over 5 years. For his generosity, Beltre repaid him with this stat line: .255/.303/.413 and 19 homers. Jacque Jones is about to find out that those numbers are worth far less than $64 million as he tests the market this offseason.

Shawn Green had a solid but not spectacular season in Arizona. But he's 33 and likely on the downside of his career. The Dodgers recieved 4 prospects from the Arizona farm system in return. One of those prosects was Dioner Navarro who at age 21 is considered one of the top 3 catching prospects in all of baseball. This justs adds to LA's top notch farm system that has the Dodgers in place to compete for years to come.

Depodesta has made a few blunders in his short time as GM though. Resigning Odalis Perez appears to have been a mistake as he posted an ERA over 4.50 for the second time in the past three years. Perez did miss some time due to injury though, as did many other Dodgers in 2005. Dodger players missed over 1,400 combined games this past season due to injury. Depodesta can hardly be blamed for that.

So where does Depodesta go from here? Someone as intelligent as he is surely will wind up somewhere, although probably not as a GM until next year at least. I doubt Philly will suddenly gain interest as they appear to be seeking out old school scouting types like Gillick and Hunsicker. I guess it's still possible that he winds up in Boston, but I see that as fairly unlikely. All reports state that the BoSox and Theo are getting close to a deal. So maybe he ends up back in Oakland with his buddy Billy Beane for the next year. I'm sure Billy ahs already called to let him know there's an opening if he wants it. I'm confident that Depodesta will wind up running a team sometime within the next two years, and do so very well.

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Blogger Jason Wojciechowski said...

The GM can't be entirely let off the hook for injuries, because there are three things a GM should be doing to keep injuries from hurting his team: Assembling a crack medical team to keep players off the DL; acquiring players with less risk of getting hurt; creating depth so that the injuries that do occur don't hurt as much.

I'm in no way qualified to address the efficacy of the Dodgers's medical team. The players the team had didn't seem that great a risk of injury in general, especially the high-profile acquisitions: Drew, for example, broke his wrist, but it's been leg problems with him before, and a broken wrist isn't a preventable injury in any real sense.

The depth side of things wasn't so great, but it's hard to build depth in just a year or two.

10:34 AM  
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