This excerpt from Barry M. Bloom’s interview of Dodger manager Don Mattingly for MLB.com could fan the flames of Mattingly’s detractors.
MLB.com: You’re a guy who constantly analyzes himself. How do you evaluate the job you’ve done this year?
Mattingly: Here’s how at look at it: Are we losing because I’m making mistakes? I look at the baseball side of it. Sure, I’ve made some mistakes, but I’m not sitting here crushing us every day, costing us games. Then I look at it from the standpoint of, am I not getting my message through to the guys? Are we not playing the game the way I want it to be played? Are we not playing with the energy and urgency? I don’t go about it asking myself how I’m doing. I know my club is not playing well. But I feel like I’m doing fine the way I’m handling it.
Mattingly isn’t single-handedly costing the Dodgers games, but he might be downplaying the impact of some of his decisions. But in Mattingly’s defense, no, he’s not crushing the Dodgers.
There’s no mistaking that the discussion around Mattingly’s future has turned into a firestorm.
Joe Sheehan voiced this thought in a podcast appearance with Will Leitch of Sports on Earth recently, and I’m not sure I disagree with it. Baseball managers are really middle management. They have a role, but the buck just doesn’t stop with them. There’s no dismissing the responsibility of the front office to deliver the right players and for the players to deliver the right results.
Sheehan suggested that the time has really come to divide the manager’s job where necessary, to ensure that you have someone who can inspire and teach players and someone who can effectively execute in-game strategy and tactics. It’s the same notion that finds the head coach leading the team on the field but the offensive and/or defensive coordinators calling plays. In baseball, the bench coach could evolve to be more than, as Sheehan put it, “a drinking buddy.”
Previously on Dodger Thoughts: Will Don Mattingly make it back to Yankee Stadium as Dodger manager?
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Scott Van Slyke has been put on the Dodger roster, with Elian Herrera returning to Albuquerque and Chad Billingsley going to the 60-day disabled list.
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