The Dodgers' young general manager had three years left on his contract and was in the midst of selecting a new field manager, but something changed the mind of owner Frank McCourt. The team has called a 2 pm news conference to announce the abrupt change. [McCourt said at the presser, "Our high expectations were not met...The Dodgers are at a crossroads here."]
News was leaked to the Times and Daily News last night in time for this morning's papers. I get a Steinbrenner-ish vibe from all this, and that's not a good thing. Paul DePodesta had been McCourt's first big hire after buying the team, and to me it will be a bad sign if the owner is going to start whacking his senior baseball people and changing directions after a single off year. It will also be a bad sign if he succumbs to pressure from the Times and elsewhere to hire unqualified ex-Dodgers such as Orel Hershsier, who had a private dinner this week with McCourt and without DePodesta. Emphasizing ex-Dodgers is not a path to winning. And finally, it will be a horrible sign if McCourt actually bought into the crusade by traditional baseball writers against DePodesta's use of advanced baseball stats and computers. The trend toward using all available info and analysis to build a team isn't going away in baseball, especially since it worked so well for the 2004 Red Sox (which actually employ stats pioneer Bill James.) Maybe something else pushed McCourt to act; I hope somebody reports what it was.
* Reactions as they come in: Baseball bloggers are having none of it: "The Dodgers are, incontrovertably, in the hands of the most neurotic idiots to ever run a franchise since Marge Schott...the Dodgers will be run like the Mets or the Phillies: a second-class organization without a clue that swings heedlessly to whatever sentiment inflames the fans this month," writes 6-4-2. Similar at Dodger Thoughts and Matt Welch....Rich Lederer at Baseball Analysts predicts Hershiser as GM and Bobby Valentine as manager. Ugh, nothing good there. For now I guess the top baseball guy at the stadium is Tommy Lasorda, and that can't be good.