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Is This the Year Joe Torre Guides the Dodgers to the World Series?

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The Los Angeles Dodgers have knocked on the door of October glory the past two seasons. In 2008, Joe Torre’s first year as skipper, the Dodgers were bounced by the Philadelphia Phillies one round short of the Fall Classic, and last year, LA suffered a similar fate falling to the Phils in the NLCS. Is this the year they finally break through? The Dodgers certainly have the ingredients to do so. Their rotation is fairly solid and young, and their lineup – while inconsistent at times – has a nice mix of both speed and power. Torre, at the tender age of 69 years old, is ready to see what his club can do in year three of his tenure out in LA. Torre joined WFAN in New York to talk about his club, how he’s kept in close contact with catcher Russell Martin all winter, why he thinks the Yankees will miss Hideki Matsui, and how he plans to continue managing so long as he’s having as much fun as he is managing the Dodgers.

On what he thinks of the Dodgers roster heading into Spring Training:

“You know what; I think Ned Colletti has done a nice job. With everything that’s been going on with our ownership, and then we just hope it doesn’t affect what we need to do. But right now, we’re on the lookout for another starting pitcher. And that guy may be in spring training with us. I don’t know. There’s youngsters with us that have had some experience with us over the last couple of years. James McDonald, Scott Elder and of course Stultzs who’ve you seen pitch in New York. But the four guys that we have, Kershaw’s getting better; Billingsley, I expect him to get better; Padilla, we were fortunate to bring him back on a one year deal; and then Kuroda. So you know, I think the guys we have are certainly quality, it’s just a matter of being lucky enough to stay healthy.”

On his mercurial and inconsistent catcher Russell Martin:

“Well, Russell’s probably the one guy I reach out to all winter long. I did it last winter and I did it again this winter. You know, when he hit 20-something homers a couple years ago, he gets very impatient as a hitter. He’s a good hitter, he has the capabilities of being that line drive right center, left center guy. But I think he has home run in the back of his mind all the time. If he just stayed in the middle of the field, I’m confident this guy could hit .310, .315 and knock in a good number of runs. But he’s…he’s just young and he’s impatient. But he seems to be maturing slowly over the last couple of years.”

On how much he thinks the Yankees will miss Hideki Matsui, who was not re-signed by the Yankees this off season:

“You know, to me he’s missed in a lot of ways. He’s such a quality individual, and he’s proven – you’ve watched him for a number of years too Mike (Francesa) – that the stress doesn’t bother him. He’s such a pressure player. I know he’s had some knee problems, and who knows, I don’t know what the negotiation or if there was a negotiation. I know Mike Scioscia is really going to enjoy having him around the clubhouse. That’s for sure.”

On if the Dodgers unstable ownership situation will affect his managerial contract:

“No, I’m thinking about sticking to it. We’re talking about adding another year on. Whether or not I do that year, it’s always going to come down to, you know, do I still get excited about it. Right now I’m really looking forward to getting to Spring Training. I’ve been doing a lot of preliminary stuff plus we have something else going on. As far as I’m concerned, hopefully the ownership – and however the situation turns out – won’t affect me. I still enjoy working with Ned. Ned Colletti has been very comfortable to work with and we’ve had some success as you mentioned. And that’s really what you’re in the game to achieve. Plus the fact we have these young kids. We’re a little reminiscent of when Jeter came on board, and of course Bernie was there…it’s great to see young players get better, and these guys..the center fielder, I’ll tell you what – Matt Kemp got so much better then I ever thought a player could get in one year. He’s a tough player, a tough kid. I was very surprised.”

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