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Posted: Wednesday April 30, 2008 12:12PM; Updated: Wednesday April 30, 2008 2:31PM
Jon Heyman Jon Heyman >

The best manager in baseball (cont.)

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He can be fiery but appears to have calmed some since his early years, when his arguments with umpires were fire-breathing incidents. Now he won't even reveal the slightest bit of upset over the Dodgers for passing him over before the 1999 season, when, as the team's bench coach for two years, he appeared to be an obvious managerial choice. They went with Davey Johnson, who was fired after the 2000 season and hasn't managed in the majors since.

"I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the Dodgers. They gave me my start,'' Scioscia says, graciously, about the Triple A managerial job he held with them in 1999.

Besides, he says, "I couldn't be happier with my situation. I think it's an incredible place to manage.''

One of the reasons it works so well for Scioscia is Moreno, who says he instructed workers not to even install a phone in his box, just to make clear that Scioscia was on his own. "I learned early on you let baseball people make the baseball decisions. What am going to tell him anyway?'' Moreno says.

Just as Moreno lets Scioscia do his job, word is Scioscia lets the coaches do theirs. Which may be why hardly anything ever changes on his staff of extreme stability. In Scioscia's regime, there have been only three defections off his coaching staff, and two of them got managerial jobs elsewhere (Bud Black, Padres; Joe Maddon, Rays).

Scioscia sees no negatives here. Even his 75-mile daily drive, from Westlake Village, north and west of the Los Angeles Valley, which can take him right past Dodger Stadium, is seen as a plus. While he keeps an apartment in nearby Newport Beach, he doesn't mind the long trip, which he makes practically every game. giving him a chance to decompress and review the events of the day that have been, more often than not, a happy one.

My Managerial Rankings

1. Scioscia.

2. Terry Francona, Red Sox. You can't argue with two World Series titles in four years after none in 85. Gets along splendidly with both players and front-office folks alike.

3. Tony La Russa, Cardinals. May seem arrogant, even to folks in his own organization. But he's earned that right, with innovations and great in-game strategies.

4. Jim Leyland, Tigers. Players love him. And writers love his old-school emotion. Not the strategist good friend La Russa is, though.

5. Lou Piniella, Cubs. Just as Leyland had his Colorado, Piniella had his Tampa. But when he has the right team, he knows how and when to go for the jugular.

Scout's take: Jair Jurrjens

"He's the real deal. He has a plus fastball, a plus change up and plus poise. The only knock is he has a mediocre breaking ball.''

Around the Majors

Barry Zito may be in the bullpen for now, but people familiar with that situation say the plan is to let Zito clear his head for a start or two, then rejoin the rotation. He may need it, too. He is said to be "in denial,'' about what's going on, which includes an 0-6 record and 7.53 ERA.

Jorge Posada became extremely worried when he continued to experience weakness in his throwing arm, and that is what led Posada to request three doctors examinations. Early indications seem to suggest he may not need season-ending surgery, but still will need to regain his usual zip on his throws to catch. But the final two doctors have yet to weigh in.

• Yankees people believe Alex Rodriguez rushed back, and that's what caused him to go on the disabled list. A-Rod and Derek Jeter are very much alike in not wanting to take a day off.

• The Rockies have pitching problems. But their offense should get better with Jeff Baker getting starts at second base now instead of Jayson Nix, who was designated for assignment.

• The Phillies are winning admirers. "They have incredible energy,'' one scout says. 'It's a real tribute to them that they've hung in there with Jimmy Rollins out.''

• Sorry, I don't blame Carlos Delgado for not responding to their cheers with a curtain call on Sunday. Mets fans can't expect him to accept their rare bouquets when they're consistently booing him.

• If publicity is what she wants, Mindy McCready is doing OK. Meanwhile, Roger Clemens might want to re-evaluate his legal strategy. The truth can be a worthwhile route on occasion, Rog.

• The Yankees reclaimed Chad Moeller after he went unclaimed on waivers and he is expected to be in the lineup tonight

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