Joe Torre may stay in L.A. beyond next year

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Last week rumors were circulating that Don Mattingly was negotiating with the Dodgers to become Joe Torre’s heir apparent.  I thought it was a bad move for Donnie Baseball to bypass offers and interviews from other teams because one never knows what the future might hold. For instance: the man you’re supposed to be succeeding may decide that he never wants to retire:

I hear Joe Torre is talking about extending his contract as manager with the Dodgers and remaining beyond next season.

“Where did you get that?” Torre says, the first time all weekend he seems to care where I’m getting my inside information.

But it’s true, Torre says, “we’re talking about it . . . We were talking about my coaches and I’ve been thinking about it,”
Torre says while mentioning General Manager Ned Colletti’s name and
plans to chat again once Torre returns from a charity function in New
York.  “It’s been fun. When I came here, I was curious about how it might
go. But the last two years have been invigorating. You see progress and
your ego tells you maybe you had something to do with it.”

Torre had planned on retiring after 2010. Certainly he has earned the right to change his mind.  But the longer he hangs around, the longer Don Mattingly remains in career limbo.

Memo to Donnie: go on some interviews. Put out some feelers. Don’t wait for Joe Torre to figure out where your life and career is going.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉