December 2008

What a year…

The 2008 year is coming to a close and barring any big news, this will be the last post of the year. On behalf of everyone at the Dodger organization, thank you all for being a part of an incredibly memorable season. I’ve tried to think of all the highlights, chronologically, which I’ve listed below…

- A float in the Rose Parade

- The first-ever trip to China for a Major League team

- A farewell to Vero Beach (and the introduction of Dodgertown as a place where any Dodger fans resides around the world)

- Tommy Lasorda managing for a week at Holman Stadium while Joe Torre took the troops to the Far East

- A Guiness World Record 113,500 fans return to the Coliseum and help to raise $2 million for ThinkCure

- Opening Dat at Dodger Stadium with 42 legends coming out from all over the field, including ceremonial first pitch tossers Sandy Koufax, Don Newcombe and Carl Erskine, before being joined by the 2008 Dodgers

- Walter O’Malley inducted into the Hall of Fame

- Winning a game where the Dodgers got no hits!

- Big league debuts for Clayton Kershaw, Blake DeWitt, Cory Wade, Scott Elbert, and several others

- The continued maturation of Ethier, Loney, Kemp, Billingsley, Broxton and Martin, who made his second straight All-Star Game

- A ball at the Hollywood Bowl over July 4 weekend

- Dr. Jobe honored at the stadium with his two biggest patients, Tommy John and Orel Hershiser on hand to witness it

- Jaime Jarrin completes his 50th year behind the mic (and Vin his 59th)

- The Dodgers get a star on Hollywood Boulevard

- Casey Blake comes to town and has an immediate impact on the team

- The announcement of the 2009 World Baseball Classic coming to Los Angeles and Dodger Stadium

- Mannywood meets Los Angeles (what more can you really say??)

- Walk off hits by Ethier, Nomar, and that come-from-behind win in Arizona

- The all-time L.A. Dodger team unveiled as voted on by the fans

- The Dodgers win an L.A. Emmy Award!

- Clinching the NL West title and the team’s third playoff berth in five years (only the Cards can say that in the Senior Circuit)

- That awesome rally at Dodger Stadium the night before the team left for Chicago

- A first-round sweep of the Cubs and the team’s first NLCS appearance in 20 years

- A home victory over the Phils in the LCS

- The announcement of 42 additional Dodgers Dream Fields through the Dodgers Dream Foundation (plus countless community visits throughout the year)

- Casey Blake comes back for three years…then so does Raffy

And who knows how it will finish, with nine days left in the calendar year?

This has become an amazing place for Dodger fans to share their thoughts with others and everyone in the Dodger organization will be working tirelessly to help make ’09 even better than ’08. We welcome your input and thoughts here or at fanfeedback@ladodgers.com

Have a safe and healthy holiday and new year.

Best laid plans…

So we had hoped to bring all of you some great footage from Camelback Ranch, as we invited the media to take a tour of the site today along with Andre Ethier and the White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, who would have been seeing it for the first time, too. But unfortunately, there was tons of rain in Arizona today, so the tour had to be called off. Our video team was there and we were able to get a photo to show you, but it certainly doesn’t really do it justice.

 

 

camelback.jpg

 

The building behind left field is the Dodger clubhouse and offices and that’s where there’s a very cool area to hang out where the players will walk by on their way to the field. KCAL had the chance to go out there on Monday (without Ethier) and Jim Hill did a great piece for the news last night, which you can see here (you have to look at the video on the right hand side of the screen and click on the one that looks like a Spring complex). 

Anyway, that’s the news on the Spring Training front. Obviously we’re still in the mix on Furcal and this thing clearly has taken a lot of twists and turns. We all still have our fingers crossed that it will work out so that we have our infield shored up and can focus on the next topic at hand. If you’re interested in the very latest news, Ned will be on Petros & Money today at 5:30 on KLAC 570 in Los Angeles, so you can hear it straight from him.

 

Holiday party…

Sorry it’s been a few days since the last post. This one will be short, as we’re having our company holiday party this evening and I don’t have much new news to report.

Most of you probably saw the news on the front of the site about the changes we’re making to our TV/radio broadcast teams. This was driven solely by the need for more consistency on KABC 790 and Charley jumped at the chance to do all 162 games alongside Rick Monday next season. So, while this was not an easy decision to replace Jerry Reuss, we do think it’ll give the fans a lot more regular voices on radio. And Jerry will continue to work with the organization on various things, as he’s obviously a huge part of our history (and for anyone who has met him, a truly great person).

Now we start the process of looking for someone to do 40 games on play-by-play alongside Steve Lyons in 2009 so we welcome any feedback, as always.

 

Leaving Las Vegas…

Heading to the airport shortly so this will be brief. First and foremost, congrats to all of you on making Inside the Dodgers the No. 3 blog out of the Top 100 on the MLBlogs network. That’s very cool and as you’ll see, the top two are league-wide blogs that have 30 or so people writing them with constant breaking news and rumors. The community that has been built here continues to amaze me and you guys should continue to keep it up and tell your friends about ITD. The way we communicate with our fans continues to change every day and we’re definitely on to something here.

Also, I want to make sure everyone remembers that it’s a long offseason and that we are far from a finished product. And to be honest, as we learned last year, the team that you go to Spring Training with is hardly a finished product either. Manny, Blake, Maddux, Berroa, and many others never set foot in Vero Beach. It’s also important to remember, just because someone’s name appears in a media report doesn’t mean that we’re seriously going after them.

I’m not in baseball operations and obviously even if I was calling the shots, I wouldn’t be able to publicly tell you who we are or aren’t targeting – that’s not my role. But just remember how many different people have agendas during the winter. The Dodgers, their opposing teams, the agents, various players…you name it. Try to keep that in perspective while the Hot Stove League burns. I personally think that adding Casey Blake and Mark Loretta are two significant pieces of the puzzle, but that doesn’t mean we’re done putting the team together.

I’m sure I’ll have plenty more thoughts as the team continues to take shape but for now, I have to hit the craps table…I mean, the airport.  (Honestly, I’m heading home soon).

Day three

Well, anyone who has ever been to Las Vegas knows that once you get to Day Three, you often hit the point of diminishing marginal returns. That’s certainly the case here, as things seem to be slowing down somewhat. As for the returns at the craps and blackjack tables, well, there hasn’t been much in that regard, either.

Mark Loretta is officially official, and when I spoke with him today, he seems very excited to be coming home to play for the Dodgers. He grew up locally and I know he’s wanted to be a Dodger for quite some time so I’m glad we can make that happen. To me, he seems like the perfect utility guy who could also fill in at second base should DeWitt struggle at any point.

We also spent the morning at the WBC news conference where it was announced that Tommy will serve as an official ambassador again, something he did incredibly for the last tournament. No one represents the game of baseball better around the globe and he seems thrilled to do it again.

Ironically, this place is filled with former Dodger managers…Tommy, Davey Johnson (who will managed Team USA at the WBC), Jim Tracy…and former GMs Fred Claire, Paul DePodesta, Dan Evans. All of these are good people that I’ve worked with over the years, so it’s a fun week from that perspective.

I haven’t had time to read comments in a few days, as it’s quite busy. Today we had a luncheon with Joe Torre and all our media members and I’m off to more meetings shortly. Tonight we’ll have a dinner where Gib Bodet, one of our longtime scouts, will be honored with the Scout of the Year Award.

Last but certainly not least – feliz cumpleanos! (that is, happy birthday) to Jaime Jarrin. I just spoke with him to wish him a Happy Birthday and we wish him nothing but the best in 2009.

 

Casey and Camelback

It’s official. As of just a few moments ago, Casey Blake is officially signed to a three-year deal, the first piece of the offseason puzzle. As has been reported, we’re still working on local boy Mark Loretta as a utility player, we’ve met with Furcal’s reps while we’ve been here, and we met with Boras last night regarding Manny for the first time in quite some time. Plus, of course, the news from yesterday about CC. As you can tell, the baseball ops folks are staying busy, that’s for sure.

We also held a news conference here in Vegas with Joe Torre, Ned Colletti, and the White Sox GM Ken Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen to talk about Camelback Ranch – Glendale. It was a nice chance for the entire baseball media world to hear about this state-of-the-art facility and here’s one story from dodgers.com.

Plus, we had more PR meetings throughout the morning and plenty of other stuff to keep us away from the blackjack and craps tables. At least for now…

Actually, a lot of the talk among PR people is about the different forms of media now available, including Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. I’m planning to start an official Inside Dodgertown Facebook page when we get back in town, so be on the lookout for info along those lines. It only makes sense, as the media landscape continues to change on a daily basis, that we find direct lines of communications to you all, the most important part of Dodger baseball.

Finally, I’ll go ahead and post the transcript from Joe Torre’s meeting with the media today. It covered a huge array of topics and lasted nearly an hour, so happy reading. 
J. Torre – 12.09.08.doc

 

A busy first day in Vegas…

It’s been a rather busy first day here at the Winter Meetings. The day started with the news that unfortunately, no Dodgers made it into the Hall of Fame through the Veteran’s ballot (which means no Hodges, Wills, Torre, etc.)

We began the morning in meetings with all of the league’s PR people and learned about the MLB Network (which launches Jan. 1), among a number of other topics. I took a break to bring Ned Colletti down to the news conference where Greg Maddux announced his retirement. Ned has known Greg since he was a rookie and really wanted to be there to congratulate him, which he was able to do, as was I. He is a classy man who has had one heck of a career and we are all very fortunate that we got to witness him pitch (and in a Dodger uniform, no less). 

I headed back to meetings for the better part of the day, while Ned wound up chatting with media at the news conference and all of the CC stuff came out early in the day.

We had a cocktail reception where it was announced that our good friend from the White Sox, Scott Reifert, won the Fishel Award for Public Relations Excellence, a very deserving award. Our congrats go out to him on what has been a very accomplished career thus far.

We then took our media upstairs for their final news briefing of the day with Ned, so the latest rounds of stories should be online soon. I’m not even going to try to keep up with all the stories being filed – it’s simply impossible around here. But, hopefully we’ll be able to lock down some things here in the coming days.

There’s plenty more that I don’t really have time to get into, unfortunately, as we’re taking a group of the media out for a dinner here at the hotel.

Keep checking back each day – I hope to at least post something every evening from Vegas.

Another WOW

So I spent the first four hours of today in meetings about the WBC and I’m equally as excited about that as I am for Camelback Ranch.

For those of you in Los Angeles, you won’t want to miss this tournament. It wound up being an incredible success in 2006 and I expect that this year will be even better.

Tickets for the games at Dodger Stadium March 21-23 are on sale starting Monday so check out all there is to know about the WBC…

Now it’s off to a Best Buy, where Andre Ethier is buying holiday gifts for many children in need…

 

One word…WOW

So I spent the day today in Glendale, taking a tour of Camelback Ranch and meeting with my counterpart at the White Sox, Scott Reifert (of Inside the White Sox fame) and I hardly know where to begin. I had heard from a number of people how amazing the complex would be, but I have an entirely new appreciation for the place we’re all going to call home for Spring Training.

Some of the really cool things I hadn’t even realized were in place despite how closely I’ve worked with the project over the last two years include:

A “replica” Dodger Stadium practice field that has the exact same dimensions of our regular season stadium, which obviously helps tremendously when you’re preparing to play in a given place.

An amazing central meeting place beyond center field where fans are going to just want to hang out and take in all that’s going on around them. This is where the lake is that is between the Dodgers’ side and the White Sox side of the campus.

An enormous minor league clubhouse that has got to be four times the size of their current one in Vero Beach. Talk about an upgrade. Wow. This is something our minor leaguers will really appreciate as they try and prepare to reach the bigs.

And most importantly, tons of places where fans and players will come across one another like they did in Vero Beach. That was one of the coolest things about being there and for any of you that had the chance to visit and appreciate that closeness, I expect that it will be the case again at Camelback Ranch.

Those are just my initial thoughts, but I truly hope that you’re all making your plans to come out and be a part of the inaugural Spring Training there. We should be sending out an official Spring Training schedule very soon (there are a few minor tweaks to the one online now that we know the Sox will be joining us this year) but trust me, I think you’ll all be in awe of how impressive this campus really is.

Arbitration offers going out today…

Some good news for all of you…we will announce very shortly that we are offering arbitration to Manny, Derek Lowe and Casey Blake. What this means is that if they accept, we will have them back for 2009 and if they decline and choose to sign elsewhere, we will get compensation in the form of draft picks.

I know that some of you will likely ask about Furcal so I can tell you that should he sign with another team, we would not get any compensation because he was injured this year, so his numbers don’t place him in the “A” or “B” group that determines compensation of this nature.

 

 

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