"You want to know the first rule? You never open your mouth until you know what the shot is."
-Ricky Roma (Al Pacino), Glengary Glen Ross
The relationship between baseball players, managers, executives, and the media is a symbiotic one. Over the course of the baseball season, they spend thousands of hours together in various cities. The good ones respect each side, knowing they all have jobs to do. The daily routine can get to be mundane and rather boring, so it's often a welcome relief, at least to the media, when someone disdains cliches.
But that isn't always the best for the team. Today, Dodgers' general manager Ned Colletti made his weekly radio appearance on The Peter Tilden Show on KABC, and made comments implying that the Dodgers were going to closer-by-committee. However, as the day went along, and as the news spread, it turned out that wasn't the case after all, and Jonathan Broxton was still the Dodgers closer.
For the most part, I hate the parsing and over-analysis of quotes. It's bad form making, or rushing to a judgment based on text, or based on a truncated 140-character tweet; I know because I've done it often, and I'll likely do it several more times, to my own detriment. Context and tone are remarkably important, and I like to at least hear the audio before coming to any conclusions.
That said, here is Colletti this morning. You can listen to the short clip, and judge for yourself. Tilden began with a question, "Are you worried about Jonathan Broxton?" This was Colletti's response, verbatim:
Of course. I think you can't help but be concerned. I'm one of those people that are concerned about pretty much everything anyway. [laughter by Tilden] I'm concerned about him. Hopefully we'll get Kuo back Friday, and Padilla's been back for a couple of games. Hopefully we can give Donnie three choices or so at the end of the game, and let him make up his mind based on the matchup or whatever, until Broxton can get his confidence back and get settled.
It's often hard to draw conclusions from 27 seconds of audio, but the implication is clear here that there would be closing options, because Colletti named three of them, in Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, and Vicente Padilla. It's also clear that because these options are "until Broxton can get his confidence back and get settled," that this is a situation different from the norm.
However, this was news to manager Don Mattingly and closer Jonathan Broxton, who both saw MLB Network in the clubhouse today, with the on screen graphic mentioning the Dodgers' new closer by committee. This prompted a meeting with Mattingly and Broxton in the manager's office, during which Mattingly stated that Broxton is still his closer. Tony Jackson of ESPN LA has some details:
"I talked to Ned about it," Mattingly said. "To me, he was saying it depends on availability and depends on matchups, things like that, and it has always been that way. Brox isn't available tonight. ... I think anytime guys are getting information, I don't want them to worry about what is going on. ... I don't want guys to ever go off what they hear reported. They need to hear it from me. I need to let them know exactly what is going on and what we're thinking and what we're doing."
Emphasis mine. This is really the problem with Colletti's remarks. There is nothing wrong with Colletti directly answering a question about his team, but it would be nice if the general manager and manager were on the same page before the answer was revealed.