Uncertainty is the most unbecoming characteristic of a baseball team, and right now it has emerged as the best way to describe the state of the Los Angeles Dodgers heading into the offseason, both on the field and off.
Owner Frank McCourt is neck-deep in divorce proceedings with his wife and former Dodgers CEO, Jamie, and the decision of a Los Angeles County court could trigger an unwanted sale of the club over the offseason.
This would be the worst possible outcome of the divorce, with Frank being so swamped by the outrageous demands of Jamie that he is forced to sell the team to a third party in order to meet the ruling of the court.
That, among other reasons, is why the Dodgers must lockup manager Joe Torre on a new extension.
Torre will be turning 70 next season and his three-year contract expires at the conclusion of 2010, but the LA Times has reported that the team is in talks with Torre to extend his deal for at least one season.
Additionally, general manager Ned Colletti has acknowledged the commitment of the team to sign Torre’s coaching staff, including the highly sought-after Don Mattingly.
In my opinion, Mattingly is the best option to replace Torre in Los Angeles, and inking "Donny Ballgame" to a new contract is incredibly important for the organization to continue successfully past the Torre era.
However, I don’t think Mattingly is ready to take over the reins after next season.
He needs more time to learn under the tutelage of Torre before he can be fully prepared to manage the team, and that is yet another reason why Torre needs to be resigned for at least one more season.
As it stands for Torre, he is currently tied with Bobby Cox for the most consecutive postseason appearances (14) all-time, and he has brought home back-to-back division titles to Los Angeles for the first time in over 30 years.
Look, I have been as critical of Torre as anyone regarding his methodology at times, but one thing that is undeniable is Torre’s sheer passion to win and his ability to manage ball games with the precision of a surgeon.
"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," said Torre.
Despite falling short of the World Series in 2009, Torre had the right approach towards the season and when the Dodgers were firing on all cylinders, they couldn’t be stopped.
The club ripped through the senior circuit in the first half of the season, only to see a swift downfall of the pitching staff coincide with an extensive drought on the offensive side.
The deterioration and demise of the team culminated when the Dodgers ran into fatal problems and the players flat out didn’t execute for Torre in the NLCS.
These events have placed the organization at a critical point in setting up the future.
If Torre leaves after 2010, and Mattingly is persuaded to manage somewhere else, then the young core of this team will be abandoned by the club at a critical juncture in their development.
Players like Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Clayton Kershaw have the ability to elevate this team to the next level and bring a World Series championship to the Dodgers, but they can’t do it without the guidance of a special manager.
Losing Torre after only a three-year stint would be an absolute shame.
The team has made enormous strides in the past two seasons under Torre's micro-managing approach and all of the momentum built along the way will be lost if Torre doesn’t come back after next season.
The bottom line is that the Dodgers need Torre to keep Mattingly, and they need Mattingly to have a promising future.
That’s why an extension for Torre is so important to this club moving forward.
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