- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Each week, Nationals beat writers Mark Zuckerman and Ben Goessling debate an issue in major league baseball. This week’s question: Among the future Hall of Fame managers still in the game, who’s the best?

BEN GOESSLING: Tony La Russa won his 2,500th game Sunday, becoming the third manager to do that, and it’s hard to argue with his accomplishments — the five pennants and two World Series, one in each league, and the 12 playoff appearances. It’s tough to elevate him above Joe Torre, who has four championships and could win another one this year, or Bobby Cox, who has made 15 playoff appearances in Atlanta.

But I’m going to stick with La Russa because he has done it with two teams without the cash-infused lineups Torre has had in New York and Los Angeles.

MARK ZUCKERMAN: I don’t want to diminish what La Russa has done, because obviously he’s one of the greatest ever to manage in this game. But I’m going to make a case here for Torre. Has he benefited from the deep pockets of George Steinbrenner and Frank McCourt? Yes. But sometimes it’s tougher to manage a team of multimillionaires than a team of hungry unknowns. Torre’s calm demeanor and ability to deal with a clubhouse full of superstars should not be underestimated.

BG: Difficult to argue with Torre; he has as impressive a resume as anyone with those World Series titles. But the Yankees teams he won with had Paul O’Neill and Tino Martinez, not Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi. They were built as much with clutch veterans as expensive All-Stars back in those days. Still, the Torre/La Russa comparison is a little bit of apples and oranges because of the different circumstances. Maybe we’ll get to see them go against one another in the playoffs this year.

MZ: Torre hasn’t gotten much credit for what he has done in Los Angeles so far, but I think he has done a masterful job. Think about what a crushing blow the Manny Ramirez suspension could and should have been. No one would have been surprised if the Dodgers tanked after that. But they’ve continued to thrive, and I believe that’s a direct reflection of Torre’s leadership.

BG: I still like La Russa for what he has done with a team that shouldn’t be in first place and his overall track record in two leagues. But both managers — as well as Cox — have had legendary careers.


Rank, teamRecordComment

1. DODGERS46-24Manny is back July 3; how long will it take them to run away with NL West?

2. RED SOX42-27They’re patching the back end of the rotation together with Smoltz, Penny.

3. CARDINALS39-31They overtook the Brewers in the NL Central with a surge last week.

4. TIGERS38-31They are winning despite issues with Ordonez, Willis and lead AL Central by four.

5. YANKEES38-31They lost two of three to the Nationals, benched struggling A-Rod for two games.

6. ANGELS36-31They pulled within a half-game in the AL West, could go on a run the next two weeks.

7. BREWERS37-32A key stretch against Twins, Giants, Mets and Cubs is coming up.

8. RANGERS37-31Behind Kevin Millwood, the pitching staff is starting to show some cracks.

9. BLUE JAYS38-33They could make a move in the AL East if the Yankees continue to struggle.

10. PHILLIES36-31After losing six straight, they don’t look the same without Ibanez in the lineup.

Records and stats through Sunday


Looking at the front-runners for baseball’s season awards. This week: NL Cy Young

Matt Cain, Giants

The Giants had one young pitcher take this award last season when Tim Lincecum claimed it. Cain could match his teammate this season. The Giants’ quiet surge has plenty to do with the right-hander’s emergence; he has won in five of his last six starts, and the one he didn’t win was a one-run, three-hit, eight-strikeout no-decision. With Cain and Lincecum teamed together — and Randy Johnson a solid No. 3 — the Giants could be a surprise wild-card possibility.

Others to watch: Josh Johnson, Marlins; Chad Billingsley, Dodgers; Dan Haren, Diamondbacks

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