— A: Wow, tough crowd here. The guy manages his team into the playoffs for 14 consecutive seasons (and granted, he had a built-in edge with the Yankees), but one bad year and the “magic is gone”?
I'm sure Torre didn't get dumber this season. Just like in past years, you can find some fault with the way he (over?)uses some of his relievers. But he's the same manager he's always been; the problem is, the Dodgers just aren't well-constructed this season.
It started last winter, when roster needs were ignored due to the ongoing drama with the ownership/divorce situation, and the freeze it put on the payroll.
They didn't add another much-needed quality veteran starting pitcher. They wrongly assumed that the late-inning relievers who excelled in 2009 — Jonathan Broxton, George Sherrill, Ramon Troncoso, Ronald Belisario — could repeat. And they were stuck with one more (half) season of Mannywood, which didn't work out when Ramirez couldn't stay healthy and failed to lead the lineup despite being in the last year of his contract, when you think he would be motivated.
Throw in injuries to other key players such as Andre Ethier, Rafael Furcal and Russell Martin, and you have the makings of a disappointing fourth-place team.
The remaining question is what will Torre do now? He could walk away from the game at age 70, his eventual place in the Hall of Fame secure. He could go to another team. Or he could return to the Dodgers on a year-to-year basis.
I lean slightly to the last choice, thinking that the ownership situation could be resolved soon enough to not interrupt general manager Ned Colletti's off-season to-do list again. If that doesn't happen, Torre might decide to walk away, but the resources to win should be there for the Dodgers, who traditionally have a big payroll advantage over the rest of the NL West teams except the Giants.
Going to another team and making a three-or-so-year commitment seems a bit much for a 70-year-old, especially since he has said how much he and his family enjoy living in the Los Angeles area.
We'll see what Torre decides, as he is one of the key figures in what could be one of the biggest managerial changeover offseasons in years.
Bobby Cox and Cito Gaston have said they will walk away after this season. There are interim managers in Arizona, Seattle, Florida and Chicago (Cubs). And Tony La Russa, Dusty Baker, Joe Girardi, Ron Washington, Bob Geren, Ken Macha, Jerry Manuel, John Russell are either in the last years of their contracts and/or in some job jeopardy.
A: I'm not sure what 'new' statistics you're referring to, Tom. But as a whole, the voters — and I'll explain more about them in a minute — are every-day beat writers or veteran baseball columnists who are very well-versed in all statistical measures used in the game, and certainly look at them in filling out awards ballots.
For the Cy Young Award, for instance, you also would look at innings pitched, complete games, opponents' batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage, WHIP, strikeouts, strikeout-to-walk ratio, and so on.
And you could go even deeper into sabermetrics measures that aren't as mainstream, such as the defense-independent ones that remove differences of teams' defensive influences on pitchers' numbers.
As for who's doing the voting: For all eight Baseball Writers Association of America awards — MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year in both leagues — only two writers from each city receive ballots (32 voters for the NL awards, and 28 for the AL awards).
A: The only limit on visits is contained in rule 8.06, and that is a pitcher must be removed if a manager or coach goes to the mound for the second time in an inning. The exception is if one of the visits is for an injury concern.
And for the record, a 'visit' starts when the manager crosses the foul line, and ends when he leaves the 18-foot circle surrounding the pitcher's rubber.