Jul 11, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly (8) prior to the game against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Don Mattingly Deserves To Win The NL Manager Of The Year, And A Contract Extension


I know I’ve been really hard on Don Mattingly. I’ve often crucified him after games. I’ve picked apart his strategies and in-game moves. I’ve said before that the Dodgers may never win under his tenure, and I was dead wrong. I’m sorry. I am so sorry. Before you start throwing mud at me, let me say that yes Don Mattingly knows more about Baseball than I do. There, I said it. Happy now? Here is the moment you have all been waiting for. My serving of humble pie.

I will gladly eat all the crow in the world in exchange for the Dodgers winning. That’s all I care about. The Dodgers winning. If someone said all I had to do was to be tar and feathered and to have people throw eggs at me while standing in public, and the Dodgers would win a world series. I would do it in a heartbeat.

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly (8) high fives shortstop Nick Punto (7) after defeating the New York Mets at Dodger Stadium.- Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Manager Don Mattingly deserves to win the NL Manager of the year for this incredible run. The Dodgers began the season with a 30-42 record, and were in last place in the NL West on June 22. Since then the Dodgers have gone 39-8 one of the best runs in MLB history, propelling the club into first place, armed now with a 7.5 game lead. Things weren’t working at the time though. Everyone was hurt, nobody could get a hit with RISP, and the bullpen was a disaster. But throughout all of the calls for Mattingly’s head, he remained calm as ever. A consummate professional while the world crumbled around him, before he built it back up and than conquered it.

My argument has always been that Mattingly isn’t very good with the X and O’s, but he has been tremendously better in the second half. Maybe the Dodger’s amazing energy has rubbed off on the manager as well? Or maybe Mattingly’s steady hand prevented the Dodger Clubhouse from exploding when things were going badly. He’s also been able to motivate his club, and the winning ways have rubbed off on every player on the roster.

Mattingly is in his third year as manager of the Dodgers, and is in the final year of his contract. He was not given a contract extension at the beginning of the season. We all felt that was a bit strange, but given the fact that the Dodgers missed the playoffs last season by two games, the new ownership was waiting to wait and see how Donnie would do in his third year before making a long term choice about his future. It was understandable, and Mattingly being the savvy veteran of the game that he is, took it all in stride with understanding. (Look at me calling Mattingly savvy! My things have changed) He knew what was up.

My Humble Pie. Looks delicious doesn’t it?

Thank goodness things didn’t go that way, as Mattingly has led the Dodgers to one of the most prolific runs in Baseball history. A 39-8 run that has vaulted the Dodgers into first place in the NL West. No other Dodger team has ever had this kind of run before. It is historic, and Mattingly has lead with a calm and steady hand.

We thought very little in our first impressions of Donnie Baseball as a manager. The man was one of the all-time great first baseman. A lifelong Yankee star played for 15 seasons, and won seven all-star selections, nine gold gloves, and an American League MVP award. Mattingly was a great player, but could he become a great coach or manager was the question. He was called the “Hit Man” and was an institution at first base for the Yankees. He collected over 2,000 hits, but never played in a World Series. As a matter of fact he played in the postseason just once in his entire career. The Yankee teams of the 1980’s weren’t very good. Unfortunately chronic back problems derailed his career at an early age.

One of the hardest parts for a manager I believe is to transfer their Baseball knowledge into the minds of young players. It can be hard for them to relate to this younger generation, but Mattingly does that with ease The players love and respect him, and having that in the clubhouse is pretty important.

When Mattingly was the Dodger hitting coach under former manager Joe Torre, we saw him make his two mound trip blunder during a game against the Giants after Torre had been tossed from the game. It made us worry that maybe he wasn’t qualified to be manager. And if the only qualifying attribute on his resume was “studied under Joe Torre” we felt that other guys in the organization like Tim Wallach might b e more deserving or more competent as manager. We were wrong.

During this historic run, Mattingly has been mixing and matching very well. He’s almost had to constantly shuffle because of all the injuries, but his lineup choices have been a lot better during the run.

Not only that, but my main complain about his managing was his inconsistent and reckless use of the bullpen. Even that’s smoothed out as well. Of course the Dodger bullpen being awesome for the last six plus weeks has helped, but Mattingly is no longer waiting until the bases are loaded to make a pitching change, and more and more often he has been stretching out his middle reliever’s outings. He only plays a short game with the bullpen when he has to, which allows the relievers more rest during the season. He still may not be the best in-game manager in the world, but he is getting better and learning every day.

Howard Cole wrote a very eloquent piece on this explaining that Mattingly has grown into his job. He was just inexperienced, but now with a third year under his belt, which is turning out to be his masterpiece, Mattingly is finally getting the hang of this manager thing.

I still feel the injuries are another story, but the training staff should be held just as responsible as Mattingly for the litany of injuries the Dodgers have had to deal with this season.

The Dodgers released a PR statement explaining that they almost fired him when things were at their worst. Back in May when the team was utterly awful, Ken Rosenthal wrote an article saying that he thought Mattingly was going to get canned as soon as the team returned home from their road trip. It caused quite a stir. Fortunately it didn’t happen. Were the Dodgers really going to fire Mattingly? Probably not. The Dodgers know what they’re doing and that Mattingly almost got fired story was a calculated PR move. The Dodgers are good at that. Although I’m sure if things didn’t turn around, maybe things go a bit differently.

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly (8) talks with home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez (72) after a call at home in the fourth inning of the game at Dodger Stadium.-Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Howard explains that the turning point may have come after Mattingly made the comments that the Dodgers weren’t tough enough, and didn’t have grit. When asked why Andre Ethier wasn’t in the lineup, Mattingly responded that he was putting out the lineup that he felt had the best chance of winning. The media took this way out of context and thought Mattingly was singling out Ethier specifically. He wasn’t but that could have been the turning point. Not long after that, the Dodgers made a complete about face. They not only saved their season, but are now having one of their greatest seasons ever.

Mattingly has done a great job in cultivating this fantastic team chemistry the Dodgers have. I’m not a hypocrite, and I do believe that managers matter. The Dodgers are not just a first place team but they are one of the best teams in Baseball now, and a championship contender. I think I just have a different philosophy on Baseball than mattingly does. I don’t like mixing and matching, (I prefer to use a set lineup each day), I don’t like playing the percentages, or left/righty, and I hate bunting. But Mattingly has used all of those tools effectively in the second half to guide the Dodgers to the promised land. I still hate bunting of course.

I’m not stupid, I know everything wasn’t Mattingly’s fault. I know that healthy players, Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, excellent pitching, an improved bullpen, and a solid offense have been the primary reasons for the team’s recent success. But Mattingly’s leadership has been another big reason the team has gone on this fantastic run. It shouldn’t be overlooked.

For these reasons and more, Don Mattingly deserves to win the NL Manager of the year award. there shouldn’t even be a discussion. He also deserves his contract extension, which I assume he will get after the Dodgers win the World Series. (I hope).

So there it is. I still hate bunting though, and always will. But Mattingly’s cool, and he has everything under control.

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Tags: Don Mattingly Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Quasimodo

    Well Scott, Mattingly used to make seriously bad bullpen decisions. I didn’t know that Jansen was as fragile as he was back at the time. I’ve always known Jansen was the best arm in the pen. When Jansen would destroy 3 batters in the 8th, with throwing 10 or so pitches, it was really painful to see League come in in the 9th. We weren’t in the know that Jansen tired as easy, we only saw him when he appeared like Hercules. So there feel apart my pretend manager role of bringing back the fireman that I wrongly saw Jansen as the man who could do it. But Mattingly did listen to us where A.J. was concerned – anywhere other than the 8 hole – thanks donnie.

    • LasordasLair

      He did make bad bullpen decisions Quasi. Since then he has been much better with the bullpen management. But man earlier in the year, yeesh. But Im giving him his credit. He turned things around pretty good. He gets A.J. pretty regular rest. But they need to give Jansen a few days off.

      • EastCoastDodgerObserver

        it’s not that his decisions were bad – the players just weren’t performing. He’s making the same moves with the exception of League…and he only kept using League because the front office gave him a ton of money and (likely) told Donnie to make it work…once things got ridiculous with the guy, Donnie moved to Kenley…and we know how that’s going.

        • LasordasLair

          I would like to see less bunting and double-swtiches, but otherwise his moves have been getting better in the second half. I def see an improvement. Although yes you are right, the players are performing, but you can see how alot of Donnie’s moves are better in the seconf hald. better bullpen management too. Just an improvement all around. Which is what I like to see

    • valdez310

      The line up should be no.1 Crawford, no.2 Puig, no.3 AGon, no.4 Hanley, no. 5 Kemp, no.6 Mark Ellis, no.7 Uribe, no.8 A.J and no.9 Pitcher.
      A.J. is too valuable defensively, throwing out runners and handling the MLB best staff, and catching is a bitch….besides, although he is clutch, his bat is not really good.

      • LasordasLair

        I disagree about A.J. I think A.J. is a pretty good hitter. He’s not Miguel Cabrera or anything, but he’s pretty good for a catcher.

        • valdez310

          Is he a better hitter than M.Ellis or Juan Uribe? I know A.J. is a good person, player and we all wish him the best but he is hitting .250 6 hrs….I value his defense too much so I want to save him the wear and tear were possible. Less at bats, less running around the bases…more time recovering on the bench.

          • LasordasLair

            At times he can be yes. He may be only hitting .260 and .233 in August, but he is hitting .286 with runners in scoring position. He needs regular rest, but that’s why we have Fedex

  • valdez310

    This team is winning because of player talent. Stan Kasten deserves to be Executive of the Year and Mattingly deserves to be let go at the end of the season. The Dodgers win the series, Mattingly can leave and manage somewhere in the east coast and the Dodgers hire Tim Wallach and/or Mike Scioscia if he becomes available.

    • LasordasLair

      Let him go? Theyre not going to fire their manager after winning a World Series. Come on now.

      • valdez310

        They don’t have to fire him; he’s not under contract. St.Louis didn’t fight hard to keep LaRussa and they are doing just fine because they have a top notch front office and farm system.
        Stan Kasten is getting this franchise set up for short and long term success. No way will they pay Mattingly top dollar to manage this team. They don’t owe him anything and he’s not a Dodgers legend.

        • EastCoastDodgerObserver

          that’s just dumb.

          • LasordasLair

            No, no no no, the Dodgers are NOT firing Mattingly. not happening.

          • Joshua DeLawrence

            I garantee you if a HIGH PROFILE MANAGER OPENS UP AND BECOMES A FREE AGENT. Mattingly is GONE!

          • LasordasLair

            Wow you really dont like Mattingly. I’ve ben hard on him, but he was able to right the ship. He’s made some mistakes in games, but if the Dodgers are winning, theyre not going to fire the manager. Especially if they win the World Series. I would not want to see them mess with the team chemistry when they’re winning. The players like him, and it looks like he’s going to stay.

          • Joshua DeLawrence

            What the hell are you talking about. The Dodgers lost the trip to the world series because Don Mattingly made mistakes not even a little league coach would..Ned Colletti is just as big an idiot. We wont win with him unless we get lucky.

          • LasordasLair

            You’re a little late to the party, I wrote this article and this comment like five months ago, during the NLCS. I don’t know think they lost the NLCS because of Mattingly. I mean, I never thought I would defend Mattingly, but it’s not his fault Hanley got hit in the ribs, and the lineup couldn’t hit Michael Wacha. That’s really why they lost. But hey, it;s hard to win a world series, and they got really far. It’s a whole new season coming up, time to look forward not backwards.

        • EastCoastDodgerObserver

          …and as a Yankee fan, I’d gladly take Donnie Baseball back in the Bronx if you west coast peeps don’t want him.

      • Joshua DeLawrence

        Yeah you have topped the cake you really are an idiot. Mattingly has not won a world series. Talking like he has or is going to do so is retarded. Mike Socia won one world series and has not be able to repeat it. If your talking about Mike than that would be like saying the Yankees will never rid themselves of Joe Torre!

        • LasordasLair

          Dude, again, this was written five months ago during the NLCS. You really don’t like Mattingly do you?

  • Rhonda Wood

    Scott, Tim here, Bunting used to be a big part of the game, used right, with no outs, it can save, a lot of double plays! Now days it’s almost a lost art, sort of like, the free throw in basketball. Most players, don’t like do it, so the manager, will not ask them to.
    Where to start with Donnie, you know sometimes the moves you don’t make, are your best moves in the long run. I thought Don did a great job last year, under real bad circumstances with the ownership deal! We only missed the playoffs by a few games., After all that money spent by the new owners, expectations, were real high! Then came the April disaster, and let me tell you Scott, when I saw them in Baltimore, they were about as low, as team could get. Hanley had been hurt In the WB tourney, Zack was hurt being attacked, in SD., Becket was pitching hurt, and was horrible, no one was hitting except A GON!!! Desperate for a spark, they brought up a young Cuban, who had tore It up in spring training, Hanley came back about the same time, Kenley was made the closer. Donnie now looks like Walter Alston, coaching the greatest run in club history! He deserves a new contract in he way he has handled Puig, a lot of managers would have not been so understanding with his mistakes! Let’s go win the WS and then give Don the contract he deserves, he has done a fantastic job, with the team!!!!!!!!!!

    • LasordasLair

      He still has a lot to improve upon. You now how I feel about the bunting, but I would like to see less double switches, more pinch-runners, and more hit and runs, or steals. I would love to see the running game beefed up,but I wont complain since theyre winning. But if he gets to the World Series, he deserves a new contract. I think he already deserves one now, just for this amazing streak.

      • Rhonda Wood

        Agree Scott, he has only 3 yrs. Experience, he was not a head coach when he was hired, but played and coached under some great managers, he is sill learning, but is handling of the players, is his strong point,

  • EastCoastDodgerObserver

    haha. you guys crack me up. Me told you boys to have some patience…look what patience gotchya. 20 games over .500 (after being 12 games under .500). 32 game swing in a month and a half is pretty GD amazing.

  • Joshua DeLawrence

    Could go without mattingly. You can give any Manager a 210 million dollar pay role and the players better do something.

    • LasordasLair

      Give the guy some credit come on. The team made a historic turnaround.

      • Joshua DeLawrence

        Yeah The “TEAM” Not the Manager. We also added Mark Mcguire to our hitting coach position. I think he deserves more credit than anything. We always have had decent pitching. Now we are hitting.