A familiar refrain from fans once the season ended has been how badly the organization needs to part ways with its manager. Well, those critics got their wish Thursday morning, as the Los Angeles Dodgers and Don Mattingly mutually agreed to part ways.
Jon Heyman of CBS was the first to break the news:
Breaking: mattingly, dodgers part ways. https://t.co/LXVp9QhGYr
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) October 22, 2015
First, from a purely human standpoint, anytime someone loses their job, the stress can be tough to overcome for them and their family. So, in that regard, I want to wish Mattingly well on whatever comes next for him (He’s already rumored as a candidate for the Miami Marlins).
Mattingly was always dealt a tough hand in coaching this team – especially these last few years as the payroll skyrocketed. While it’s easy to equate salary level with quality of roster, that’s a flawed way of thinking. If anything, those inflated bank accounts throughout the roster might’ve made Mattingly’s job even tougher, as egos tend to accompany that type of income.
By the time the Dodgers were knocked out of the playoffs this year, the lineup was almost comically lacking in offensive firepower. Rallies were repeatedly killed by guys who felt like automatic outs as the Dodgers tried to get any kind of momentum going.
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The bullpen? Yeah, we’ll just say that was less than ideal outside of Kenley Jansen and Chris Hatcher.
This isn’t to overlook any blame Mattingly had. I’ll get to that in a second. It would simply be unfair to fail to acknowledge some of the difficulties that came along with this position — and that will likely remain for whoever takes over for Mattingly.
From my perspective, the most legitimate criticism throughout Mattingly’s tenure was his in-game management. He had an uncanny ability to dial up the wrong choice whether it be offensively or defensively. Much of that is luck, but his guffaws became impossible to overlook near the end of his time in Los Angeles, especially come playoff-time. Oh, and there were those double switches, which turned into a drinking game as the years went on.
He also struggled to adapt to the analytics evolution for most of his tenure. Given the front office’s importance placed on the numbers game, that was never going to end well. This season, it was widely reported how he and Andrew Friedman’s staff started working together a little more effectively, which was nice to hear, but it appears to have been too little, too late.
Culturally, Mattingly always felt a little too “old school” for the direction baseball is going in. “Donnie Baseball” as a monicker felt like a sarcastic criticism from those who appreciate a good bat flip occasionally, and it appears that style isn’t going anywhere. No relationship better exemplifies this than how he handled Yasiel Puig.
I’m not letting Puig off the hook here, either. He is incredibly immature, based on stories from on and off the field. Mattingly rarely seemed interested in bridging that gap, which is almost unforgivable, given how Puig remains one of the most talented players on the roster.
Whoever follows Mattingly atop those managerial steps in the dugout will certainly have plenty of questions to answer. Names have been thrown out there, and there will be plenty of time to speculate. For now, though, I’d just like to wish Mattingly well on wherever he ends up.
Three straight trips to the playoffs and seasons with more than 90 wins will never be something to scoff at. The exciting thing for fans, however, is that this isn’t seen as enough success. This organization has something it simply hasn’t had up until recently: expectations.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to announce our own managerial transition. Effective immediately, I will be assuming the position and responsibilities of Editor-in-Chief of Dodgers Nation. We will have an official announcement of all the changes coming Monday.
I’d like to thank the previous staff for everything they’ve done with the site up until now. The amount of work going into building a site like Dodgers Nation is incredible, and they did an absolutely amazing job until this point. For that, I thank them and wish them well with anything in their immediate futures.
Without change, progress is impossible.