Valentine a finalist for the Indians' job

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Bobby Valentine is getting a callback interview for the Cleveland Indians’ vacancy.  So too are Manny Acta and former Tigers and Indians third baseman and current Indians single-A manager Travis Fryman.

Interesting list of finalists in that it suggests that, rather than merely trying to find the right man for the job, the Indians don’t yet know exactly which direction the team is really heading.

Given his age and experience, you’d think that Valentine would be better suited to a win-now situation.  Despite his firing in DC, Acta is well-regarded and many believe he’d do much better on a team that was actually on the upswing as opposed to the hopeless situation he faced in Washington.  Fryman is totally green by comparison.  If you go with him, aren’t you saying that the team is totally at the bottom and is starting from scratch?

I actually like all three of those guys, but if Shapiro and Dolan think that the team is rebuilding, Valentine — a man with money, a high price tage, TV prospects and presumably a lot of options —  is probably not the best man for the job.  If, on the other hand, ownership thinks that the team is poised to compete in 2010, they’re probably not well-advised to install Fryman in the manager’s office.  Indeed, if he does have managerial talent, you’d probably want to wait until the team is better positioned in order to give him the best chance to succeed.

A lot can happen in the offseason, but my personal view is that the Indians will be better in 2010 than they were in 2009, but won’t truly contend.  I think that DQs Valentine as a serious choice, leaving Acta and Fryman as the better alternatives.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.