Joe Torre: “This is Step One, It’s an Enormous Step, and If We Get Through This, Step Two is Not Easy Either”October 7, 2009 – 11:15 am by Jimmy Shapiro
This post was written by Chris Fedor of WKNR in Cleveland. Pretty much the entire season, the Dodgers were the team to beat in the National League. They got off to a great start to their season and looked like they were the clear-cut team to beat in the National League. However, the Dodgers sort of stumbled in the second-half of the season, the surging Rockies nearly ran them down and they had to go down to the final few games before locking up the NL West. Despite winning the National League West crown and finishing with best record in the National League, they didn’t go into the playoffs with the kind of momentum or confidence that they had at the beginning of the season.
To make matters even worse, the Cardinals added Matt Holliday in June, caught fire after the trade and were one of the best teams in the second half of the season. Even though the Dodgers are the top team in the NL, they have their work cut out for them this series against the Cardinals.
Joe Torre joined WFAN in New York with Mike Francesa to talk about the struggles of the team in the second half of the season, his inexperienced pitching staff, Manny Ramirez and what concerns he has facing the Cardinals.
On leading the NL West pretty much wire-to-wire:
“I’m looking at the schedule a month ago and see Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Colorado coming here and in my mind I’m saying I don’t want those three games to mean anything. Then the closer you get to it, you win the first game in Washington after having a good weekend against the Giants, beating them 2 out of 3. Then we win the first game in Washington 14-2 and I say okay, I’m pretty comfortable and then all the sudden, we kicked the second one away, we win the third one by a run late, Pittsburgh was like a dentist chair, and San Diego we had no chance. Here we are. We lose the first game on Friday night and as it turned out, I’m happy it went this way because we beat the team that we had to beat, the team that was chasing us for the division.”
On the struggles of Manny Ramirez
“Yeah, Friday night he struck out four times, he was all over the map, really long swing trying to kill the ball and then Saturday he reeled himself in, was a lot better, hit line drives and that’s the hitter he’s working to be, so I’m a lot more comfortable with him. Its all balance and identifying the strike zone with him. Hopefully we have that guy. I think you hit on it. When you get to this time of year, the experience he’s had and the ability he still has, you feel pretty good about him.”
On facing the Cardinals:
“There’s no question. There’s so much respect. I think we all know what Tony LaRussa has done and continues to do. This is step one, it’s an enormous step, and if we get through this, step two is not easy either. I know we had a lot of success against Colorado, but they’re certainly not a lot of fun.”
On how his rotation sets up:
“We’re going to run into the lion’s den really early. We’re going to send Randy Wolf out there who’s more of a touch and feel guy. Then follow him with (Clayton) Kershaw who has a little more going. Then game three we decided on (Vicente) Padilla, and if there’s a game four we’re going to go with (Chad) Billingsley.”
On the concerns with the pitching staff:
“Well my game one starter has never been in postseason but he’s been around the block a time or two. My game two starter we’ve gone about a year and a half trying to protect this kid because of his lack of experience and I hand him the ball Saturday and say here and he winds up coming back with a division title. (Host: And he has all the talent in the world) He’s got all the talent and Mike I’m over the fact that he’s young. Even though he’s 21 years old its really hard for me to comprehend how together this kid is in going about what he does. Do we have the marquee names, do we have the slam dunk on who’s your number one and your number two? No we don’t, but these guys have gotten it done for us. It’s a little reminiscent of ‘96 when we get through six we have the option of (Hong-Chi) Kuo, (George) Sherrill and (Jonathan) Broxton. Instead of having Mariano (Rivera) for seven and eight, I have two other guys and it’s worked for us. If I get there and I’m a little hesitant about my starter, not that we don’t want the starter to go seven or eight, but if there’s any hesitance on my part, it’s going to be Kuo.