Pull up a chair and come sit down at our Lasorda’s Lair roundtable discussion. This new column will feature a different discussion topic each time which our writing staff will have the opportunity to address individually. We also would like for you to participate by answering the roundtable question in the comments below.
Question: What are your thoughts on Don Mattingly and his accountability for the Dodgers’ underachievement this season? How big of a factor do you feel a manager is on a team’s overall performance?
Julian Lopez, Staff Writer- As the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Don Mattingly has to take some of the blame for the Dodgers’ underachievement so far. But for the most part, it’s not his fault. It’s the players. The Dodgers are third in the league in runs and sixth in era yet they are only one game above .500. There is a lot of overreaction going on in LA as usual but I think the biggest problem right now is how bad the Dodgers are playing at home. They are 13-19, SIX games under .500 at Dodger Stadium. That is unacceptable. We just entered June and the Giants have an 8.5 game lead in the West and are playing the best baseball in the MLB. The Dodgers can still catch them. The manager is always going to be used as a big factor in a team’s overall performance and he should because he is the coach. But a team batting average of .252 and a struggling bullpen, how much of the blame can you give Donnie Baseball? This team is struggling yes, and Don Mattingly is frustrated. Mattingly doesn’t put up with losing. Expect some changes soon.
Aaron David Gleason, Staff Writer- Donnie seems like an uber intelligent man. And sometimes, in Baseball, you gotta go with your gut. I’m not sure how often he does this. Actually, in a break from his normal political correctness, he told reporters to ask players how and why they were failing. Donnie showed a little anger and…I like it. He may need to sacrifice his “player’s coach” moniker a little more in order to get er done. Light a fire under these guys. There are some guys on our team, namely Kemp and Ramirez, who when the chips are down, exhibit some of the worst body language ever–and it’s contagious. I’m sure Puig doesn’t like that his team captain plays bad baseball and yet he, Puig, is blamed for being unrefined. Mattingly had benched Kemp once, and I would expect it again. Look for Pederson to come up this year…Ethier or Kemp will be moved for sure…if not…it will all be pinned on Mattingly.
Dustin Hanson, Staff Writer- The fact that we have 3 outfielders that can’t hit, play defense, or stay healthy and one outfielder who is good at everything yet rides the bench is a sign off how incompetent Mattingly is. His tenure in dodger blue, as well as in pinstripes, was and has been a failure. Those same three veteran outfielders that can’t produce anything more than a weak ground ball to second base is a sign to me that Mattingly has no control over the players. Yet he blames Hanley for the teams failures. And the defense has consistently been atrocious under his watch. As a “players manager” he has constantly done what players managers do… nothing. He makes decisions on a whim and the only thing that could possibly increase his status with me is if he grew out his mustache. Suffice it to say: I am not a fan of Mattingly, and if it were ok to fire him prior to June 3, 2013 it’s ok to fire him still.
Adrian Garcia, Staff Writer-I’ll always be of the opinion that players play the game, managers manage the game. And having a bullpen with one of the worst relievers in the major leagues (Chris Perez), a massive heartache that some Giant fans could tell you about (Brian Wilson), one of the worst starting pitchers in the major leagues, (but don’t worry putting him in the bullpen will fix everything, Paul Maholm) is horrendous. Don Mattingly was right to say that the team has been performing like a bunch of fertilizer (to paraphrase). He isn’t perfect, he botched the handling of Matt Kemp, he isn’t a great in game manager, in fact he’s horrendous when it comes to choosing who to pinch hit late in games, but again, the players perform. I would love to see improvement in the pinch hitting department, however the injuries given, having to start Drew Butera, Justin Turner, Jamie Romak, and Chone Figgins (no matter how big of a surprise they’ve been) will reflect bad on any manager because they simply aren’t great baseball players. So Donnie hasn’t been great, in fact he’s been bad, but just about the only thing that has been worse has been the player performance, and the free agent signings (Wilson, Perez, Wright to an extent, Dan Haren also, etc, etc). There’s a lot of blame to be thrown around, but the manager hasn’t exactly been THE problem this season.
Lucas Talbot, Staff Writer- I can’t really say on how Mattingly is doing this season, but I feel based from what I read, Mattingly is not doing too bad managing a $100+ million ball club while dealing with multiple injuries. I do not put any blame out on Mattingly. From what I have seen, Mattingly has done a good job holding this club together. The Dodgers are in second place. It is a great time to be in second place right now. The Dodgers could be far worse, but the Dodgers are fighting. Fighting to stay in playoff contention, it will pay off because I believe the Dodgers will get out of their big sluggish slump in the first half. I believe the Dodger players will turn it around soon.
I don’t think it’s not Mattlingly’s fault at all that the Dodgers are struggling, but it’s the players’ fault. Even though everyone says it is not an excuse, but I believe a big reason why the Dodgers are feeling sluggish in the first half: the trip to Australia. I believe that the flight to Australia and back affected the Dodgers as they were preparing for season. Had spring training cut short, it messed up everyone’s game routine, mentally and physically and a MLB manager would provide calmness in the clubhouse and keeping the confidence up in the clubhouse. If Mattingly loses the clubhouse, then it be a different story.
Stacie Wheeler, Editor- The Dodger players are just not performing to expectation. Going into the series with Cincinnati, Adrian Gonzalez has not collected a hit in a week (since Monday, June 2nd vs. Chicago), and the team as a whole has been the worst hitting team in the NL vs. left-handed pitching (15th place) with a team batting average of .208 against LHP. The Dodgers’ defense and bullpen has been bad as well, and tensions have been rising in the dugout and the clubhouse. I personally don’t mind a manager getting angry and telling it like it is. I often cited Mattingly for being too passive, but his description of his teams’ performance this season was even a bit much in my opinion. There needs to be a balance between angrily cursing out the team and calling out players on an individual level and just sitting back and letting the disaster take its course by doing nothing. While I don’t think Mattingly necessarily did the right thing in handling the Kemp situation, I think it just reflects his overall frustration at the roster he has to work with right now. I do think a manager has an impact on a team especially when it comes to team cohesiveness. Mattingly needs to find a way to voice his expectations and disappointments but at the same time work on solutions which may solve some of these issues. The thing is, Mattingly can’t swing the bat for Adrian and he can’t hold Hanley’s glove in the field. The players need to step up and move beyond the clubhouse drama and Matt Kemp situation and focus on the task at hand- winning.
Scott Andes, Editor-To me the Dodger’s biggest problem this year may well be their lack of accountability. There doesn’t appear to be any kind of accountability for anyone on the organization from the top down, including manager Don Mattingly. I don’t think the Dodger’s problems this year should all fall on Mattingly’s shoulders. However there has to be some kind of accountability. You can’t just shrug your shoulders and say oh well, while the club continues to lose. You have to figure it out.