Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Tag: Don Mattingly (Page 1 of 5)

Don Mattingly and returning to the scene of the climb

LOS ANGELES DODGERS V MIAMI MARLINS

By Jon Weisman

It’s not that you can’t go home again — it’s just so strange to do it.

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In case you missed it: Kool Kenley

Los Angeles Dodgers first workout for pitchers and catchers

For more images from today, visit the Dodgers Photog Blog.

By Jon Weisman

Let’s recap the first Saturday of Spring Training …

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Report: Don Mattingly to manage Marlins

Dee Gordon says hello to Don Mattingly in his first game at Dodger Stadium as a Miami Marlin on May 11, as Lorenzo Bundy observes. (Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Dee Gordon says hello to Don Mattingly before Gordon’s first game at Dodger Stadium as a Miami Marlin on May 11, as Lorenzo Bundy observes. (Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Don Mattingly and the Marlins have agreed to a deal for him to become the next Miami manager, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com confirmed today.

An official announcement is expected after the World Series. Mattingly will be the 15th manager in Marlins history and the second with Dodger ties, following Jeff Torborg (2002-03).

John Boles (1996-2001) later became a Dodger senior advisor, and Cookie Rojas, who managed the Marlins for one game in 2006 between Rene Lachemann and Boles, was the starting second baseman as a roookie for the Reds in the first game ever at Dodger Stadium. A week later, according to Baseball-Reference.com, Rojas got his first Major League hit — off Sandy Koufax.

But I digress. Mattingly will return April 25-28 to Los Angeles, when Miami plays at Dodger Stadium to start the Dodgers’ second homestand of the year.

Deconstructing the departure of Don Mattingly

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Andrew Friedman at the televised press conference discussing Don Mattingly’s exit.

Don Mattingly and Andrew Friedman chat at an October 7 workout. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Don Mattingly and Andrew Friedman chat at an October 7 workout. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

This would have been a good day to own stock in the word “mutual.”

Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi — along with outgoing manager Don Mattingly — fought an uphill battle before a skeptical press corps this afternoon to emphasize that the decision for Mattingly to leave the Dodgers was a shared one.

“If there was a reason that this happened, we would share it,” Friedman said during a 45-minute session for him and Zaidi at Dodger Stadium. “There’s not. It was a collection of a lot of different conversations over many days that got us to this point. So it’s not so black and white here. There is a huge middle, and it’s gray, and that’s how everything played out.”

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Dodgers, Don Mattingly part ways

Don Mattingly went 446-363 as Dodger manager. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Don Mattingly went 446-363 as Dodger manager. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Eight people have managed the Dodgers since their last World Series in 1988, and soon there will be a ninth.

Here’s this morning’s announcement:

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Don Mattingly have mutually agreed that Mattingly will not return to manage the club in 2016.

Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, general manager Farhan Zaidi and senior vice-president of baseball operations Josh Byrnes met and talked extensively with Mattingly for several days following the conclusion of the season.

“As our end-of-season process began, we discussed the past year, our future goals, necessary changes, roster needs and other matters relating to next year’s campaign,” said Friedman. “As the dialogue progressed daily, it evolved to a point where we all agreed that it might be best for both sides to start fresh. We decided to think about it for a couple of days and when we spoke again, we felt comfortable that this was the direction to go. I have the utmost respect for Donnie and thoroughly enjoyed working with him this past season. I want to thank him for his hard work and collaboration, as well as his accomplishments, including three consecutive National League West titles. I wish him nothing but success in the future.”

“I’m honored and proud to have had the opportunity to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers,” said Mattingly. “I’ve enjoyed my experiences and relationships with the organization’s staff and players throughout my eight years in L.A. After meeting with Andrew, Farhan and Josh, we all felt that a fresh start would be good for both the organization and me. We talked about several scenarios, including my returning in 2016. However, I believe this is the right time and right move for both parties. I’m still very passionate about managing and hope to get the opportunity in the near future. In the meantime, I want to thank the Dodger organization, the city and our fans for the opportunity and wish the club well going forward.”

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Hatcher emerges as primary set-up man to Jansen

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Since he came off the disabled list in August, opponents are hitting .163/.239/.313/.551 against Chris Hatcher. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

No longer is there any doubt about who is the Dodgers’ primary eighth-inning reliever in the bullpen.

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Off-day report: Mattingly addresses Utley-Tejada

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By Jon Weisman

Speaking to reporters tonight after the Dodgers’ arrival in New York, manager Don Mattingly backed Chase Utley a day after his hard slide into Ruben Tejada.

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Don Mattingly confirmed for NL All-Star coaching staff

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

DM2Dodger manager Don Mattingly has officially been named a National League coach for this year’s All-Star Game, along with Cincinnati manager Bryan Price. NL manager Bruce Bochy of the Giants invited Mattingly and Price to join.

With the Dodgers playing .585 ball (31-22) so far this year, Mattingly remains on pace to become the second manager in the past 100 years to improve his won-lost record for the first five full seasons of his career (as noted in the April issue of Dodger Insider magazine).

— Jon Weisman

In case you missed it: Inside Zack Greinke’s ridiculous start to 2015

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Atlanta Braves vs Los Angeles DodgersBy Jon Weisman

How many fans are even aware that Zack Greinke leads the Major Leagues in ERA? Here’s more on Greinke’s super season so far, plus other news and notes:

  • Some interesting tidbits about Greinke fill Pedro Moura’s story for the Register, based in no small part on a conversation with A.J. Ellis. Here’s a sample:

    In combination with his fastball, the changeup and slider have presented an unusual problem to the opposition. Ninety-three percent of Greinke’s pitches have been clocked within roughly 5 mph of each other. They’re released similarly, travel at unusually similar velocities, and then, approaching the plate, they split off in separate directions.

    “It’s pretty hard for hitters when the three pitches come in and you don’t know which way they’re going to go,” Ellis said. “Is it going to come straight through? Is it going to run down and in? Is it going down and away?”

    Greinke, whose fielding-independent ERA is higher than Clayton Kershaw’s, acknowledges he has been lucky on balls in play this season, in contrast to Kershaw and …

  • … Chris Hatcher, who spoke candidly about his recent struggles, as seen in this story by Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. As with Moura’s article on Greinke, you need to read the entire story on Hatcher, but here’s an excerpt:

    Hatcher’s ERA in May was 3.00 entering Wednesday night (it is 6.00 now), after a 7.56 mark in April. But if there is one glaring difference in the two months, it’s in strikeouts. In April Hatcher struck out 15 of 38 batters faced (39.5%), but in May just two of 31 batters he faced have struck out.

    We are talking about all of 14⅓ innings on the season here, so take these numbers with a grain of salt. But peripherally Hatcher is having a fine season. Despite his 6.91 ERA, his 17 strikeout, five walks and no home runs allowed give him a 2.23 FIP and a 3.58 xFIP.

    But waiting for the numbers to even out isn’t a luxury most relief pitchers have, nor does it make giving up actual runs any less annoying.

    “I feel like every ball put in play is a hit off me, recently,” Hatcher said. “A couple of those were poor pitches. But what’s frustrating is when you execute your pitch and somehow the ball still finds the ground or the guy ends up on first.”

    Update: Here’s more analysis from Dustin Nosler of Dodgers Digest.

  • Julio Urias had his cosmetic eye surgery Thursday, according to J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News.
  • “Dodgers pitcher Chad Gaudin recently underwent carpal tunnel release surgery on his right wrist and could be pitching in a month,” Ken Gurnick reported on MLB.com earlier this week.
  • Dodger senior vice president of planning and development Janet Marie Smith has been nominated for executive of the year at the Stadium Business Awards.
  • The fate of Mets third baseman David Wright resembles that of Don Mattingly during his days with the Yankees, writes Steven Martano of Beyond the Box Score.
  • Matt Holliday of tonight’s Dodger opponents in St. Louis has reached base in 43 consecutive games to start the season, “the longest streak in the National League since 1914” to open a season according to ESPN.com. David Cobb of MLB.com adds that the MLB record to start a season is 53 by Derek Jeter.

Baez goes to disabled list — Coulombe recalled with Jansen on tap

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For images from Wednesday, visit LA Photog Blog.

Rockies at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Joc Pederson, CF
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Brett Anderson, P

By Jon Weisman

Just as the Dodger bullpen is poised to welcome back Kenley Jansen, the team has had to place Pedro Baez on the disabled list with a right pectoral strain.

For now, Daniel Coulombe has come back to the Dodgers from Oklahoma City, while Jansen’s return, originally scheduled for Saturday, could be moved up to Friday as circumstances warrant. Jansen aced his final rehab assignment with two strikeouts in a perfect inning for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

Don Mattingly, who had been ejected from the game earlier after a call against the Dodgers was not overturned by replay, was watching on television from his office, and said today he wondered if something was amiss with Baez when he saw him throw consecutive changeups to Dee Gordon. Baez had struck out his three previous batters.

On the next pitch, Baez threw his slowest fastball of the game (admittedly, still 94 mph, but down from 99 mph six pitches earlier), and Gordon smacked it for a double, and next thing you knew, Yasmani Grandal was calling for Stan Conte.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Miami Marlins Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles,California.  Photo by Jon SooHoo/©Los Angeles Dodgers,LLC 2015

Mattingly wasn’t happy to lose Baez, even with Jansen serving as a de facto replacement, but he did acknowledge that the mid-May rest could be a silver lining over the long haul of the season.

“With so many guys throwing mid-to-high 90s, stuff happens,” Mattingly said.

As for the replay controversy, Mattingly said the team received a phone call from MLB admitting that Giancarlo Stanton’s catch of Howie Kendrick’s sinking liner in the bottom of the fourth should have been overturned, but the Dodger manager pledged he was moving on.

“I’m over replay,” he said, smiling. “I’m not gonna get upset about replay anymore. I’m done complaining.”

In case you missed it: Turner’s transformation

Justin Turner has a .918 OPS in 383 plate appearances as a Dodger. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Justin Turner has a .918 OPS in 383 plate appearances as a Dodger. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

For images from Tuesday, visit LA Photog Blog.

Marlins at Dodgers, 4:50 p.m.
Joc Pederson, CF
Justin Turner, 3B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Alex Guerrero, LF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Andre Ethier, RF
Kiké Hernandez, SS
Carlos Frias, P

By Jon Weisman

When you’re 22-10 overall and have won 25 of your past 29 home games, you tend to generate a lot of stories. Here are a few …

  • Justin Turner reinvented himself as a hitter after former Mets teammate Marlon Byrd suggested he reverse his past approach and “move his contact point more out in front,” Turner tells Eno Sarris of Fangraphs.
  • Clayton Kershaw talked to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports about luck and execution. Not surprisingly, Kershaw believes his problem has been the latter.
  • We’ve talked already about how powerful the Dodger offense has been relative to franchise history. Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs does the work to show that in MLB history, the team is on pace to do something unprecedented.

    …The Dodgers, without their pitchers, stand with a wRC+ of 142. The Royals are still in second, at 116. A few things about this. First, the highest team wRC+ marks since 1950, leaving pitchers out:

    FG chart

    It’s the Dodgers, and it’s the Dodgers by a landslide. The Dodgers, obviously, have played only a partial season. The Dodgers, probably obviously, won’t finish this season as high as 142. They’ll come back to the pack, and I have to imagine the probability is they won’t be No. 1 on this list come season’s end. But, who’s to say? What’s happened is what’s happened, and it hasn’t all been a fluke. And besides, this isn’t a projection post. This is a post intended to review what has taken place. The Dodgers have basically hit like a lineup full of All-Stars. Not uncommon to see for a few games in a row. Far less common to see for several weeks.

  • Thirty years ago today, in the midst of an American League MVP season, Don Mattingly capped a Yankee comeback from an 8-1 deficit with a three-run walkoff homer in the ninth inning, as Chris Landers recollects at Cut4.
  • Carson Cistulli of Fangraphs on today’s starter, Carlos Frias:

    … Frias, a relative unknown before joining the Dodgers bullpen last year — and still something other than a household name — has recorded both an expected FIP and average fastball velocity both more than 1.5 standard deviations better than the respective means produced by the league’s starters. He also throws strikes at a rate roughly one standard deviation better than those same starters. What this particular game represents is an opportunity to observe Frias en route to excellence. It is, in short, an emergent need that requires the attention of the reader …

Reflections on a rough loss

Mattingly l9999980

For more images from Wednesday, visit LA Photog Blog – here and here.

By Jon Weisman

Disappointment infused with a sense of injustice? That’s not an easy way for Dodger fans to go to bed. Here’s a look at Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to San Francisco after a cleansing view of “The Americans” season finale and a night’s sleep …

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Mattingly says analytics have yielded new insights

Angels at Dodgers, 6:10 p.m.
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, DH
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Scott Van Slyke, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Carl Crawford, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Joc Pederson, CF
(Brett Anderson, P)

By Jon Weisman

At the very end of a long exhibition season and before the beginning of an even longer regular season, Don Mattingly and the Dodgers have more information than you can imagine on their 2015 roster.

But in addition to what he has observed on the ballfields since pitchers and catchers reported to Camelback Ranch six weeks ago — and everything he already knew going in — Mattingly said that some of the new analytics he has seen have been revelatory.

“As we’re learning more about it, seeing a different set of numbers and ways to evaluate, it’s interesting to see how certain guys kind of fit in, where they’ve been really good and where their deficiencies are,” Mattingly said. “That’s been the most interesting part for me, going over player plans and things like that and seeing how different guys are really good at one thing — that you kind of noticed, but you didn’t really know to paint that picture — it’s been nice doing that.”

That data is another piece of the complex puzzle of player evaluation, ahead of Sunday’s deadline to finalize the Opening Day roster.

“It’s hard to totally look at Spring Training and just disregard (it), because you see it right in front of  you,” Mattingly said. “A lot of guys, their body of work, providing that they’re healthy, gives you a better indication of who they’re gonna be. So I think you kind of try to balance it.”

In the bullpen, for example, the distinctions might be quite fine.

“That’s been the hardest part for us,” Mattingly said. “We’ve had a number of guys who have thrown the ball well, a number of guys who we feel are in the same type of position in the bullpen — so those decisions are tough for us.”

In the time-honored tradition, Mattingly delivers the roster news, good or bad, to every player. But he’s not alone.

“I’m always a part of it,” Mattingly said, “and usually Andrew (Friedman) or Farhan (Zaidi) is in that meeting, just to make sure they’re hearing from everyone, if they have any questions about what we’re thinking. I think (because of) the conversations that we were able to have all through Spring Training … communication has been pretty good with guys knowing how we feel about ’em. You still never get away from knowing how hard it is to send a guy out, because everybody’s idea is to make the roster.”

Even after a set of relievers makes the team, their roles could be considered up for debate — especially given the effect not having Kenley Jansen for the first month. Mattingly and the front office have said since virtually the day of Jansen’s surgery that they’ll exploit matchups in deploying their relievers. Mattingly understands that the most crucial situation in a game might not be in the ninth inning, but he conceded that some pitchers don’t see it that way.

“It depends how you look at it,” Mattingly said. “The analytics look at high-leverage situations, and that may be in the seventh, may be in the eighth, where you’d want that guy pitching. But as far as (pitchers) are concerned, they look at it differently.”

Aside from the bullpen, one of the most closely watched decisions for Mattingly heading into the regular season is who the Dodgers’ starting center fielder will be. Joc Pederson has been the starter for all three games of the Freeway Series, but Mattingly stopped short of making it official.

“If you read between the lines, you see what we’re doing, but there are other conversations to have,” Mattingly said. “The way we want to frame it is maybe different than the way you want to.”

In case you missed it: A one and a two …

By Jon Weisman

Today’s Dodger farewell to Arizona offered a rare, nearly simultaneous outing for both the No. 1 and No. 2 starters — Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

Kershaw’s final preseason tuneup (three innings, three baserunners, two strikeouts) left the Dodger ace in his familiar, humbly optimistic form.

“There’s definitely room for improvement, but physically, I feel good and feel ready to go,” Kershaw told MLB.com. “That’s all you can ask for at this point.”

Meanwhile, pitching against Dodger minor leaguers, Greinke allowed two home runs but ultimately threw 85 pitches in seven innings. Ken Gurnick of MLB.com describes the adjustments Greinke was making during the outing.

  • After Kershaw departed, Zach Lee entered the game against the Royals and unfurled five nearly spotless innings. He came out in the ninth for the chance at the nearly impossible — the six-inning save. Unfortunately, Lee surrendered a two-run homer, tagging him with a blown save after 5 1/3 innings and leaving the Dodgers with their seventh tie of Spring Training, 4-4.
  • Dustin McGowan was officially released by the Dodgers.
  • Before Monday’s game, Don Mattingly and Arizona manager Chip Hale met — successfully, it appears — to defuse any tension between the two teams.
  • J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News describes how a nearly anonymous 19-year-old Dodger minor leaguer, Victor Gonzalez, made an impression on Yasmani Grandal today.

In case you missed it: Kershaw sails, Gaudin ails

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By Jon Weisman

In his first start since his dental denting last week, Clayton Kershaw gave up one run in the first inning today, then delivered five shutout innings, striking out eight, in the Dodgers’ 9-6 victory over the White Sox.

Jose Abreu went 3 for 3 against Kershaw. The rest of the White Sox were 1 for 19 with a walk.

Yasmani Grandal was behind the plate today for Kershaw. “I’ve been watching his games and have a better feel for what he wants to do in certain counts, when to double-up and just see how he’s feeling out there,” Grandal told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. “The more I catch him, the better I’ll get.”

Said Kershaw: “Better today. We were ahead in the counts more. I didn’t shake him off as much. It’s a learning process.”

Kershaw also sacrificed twice (once with two strikes) and had a two-out single.

After throwing 88 pitches today, Kershaw will scale back for his final Cactus League outing, scheduled on five days’ rest against Kansas City on Wednesday, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Times, before taking his Opening Day start on four days’ rest April 6.

The power-happy Dodgers delivered three more homers, including booming shots by Yasiel Puig and Kiké Hernandez and Jimmy Rollins’ first of the spring. Rollins also doubled and had four RBI, and threw out the quick Emilio Bonifacio today from the outfield grass.

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  • Chad Gaudin, who missed the 2014 season because of neck surgery, has had a recurrence of neck discomfort, according to Gurnick. Gaudin will have an MRI, the latest in a series following Brandon League (who will have a follow-up exam Friday from Dr. Neal ElAttrache), Erik Bedard and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
  • There was some pregame mischief today with Tommy Lasorda and a golf cart, writes Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles.
  • The Dodgers have sold their 3,000,000th ticket on their earliest date ever, the team has announced.
  • Don Mattingly, speaking to MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby about the concerns over low offense in baseball: “The commissioner (Rob Manfred) talked about banning shifts,” Mattingly said. “Why don’t we teach guys to hit? Go back to teaching hitters to use the whole field and keep the ball in the strike zone.”
  • It’s hard not to like Eric Stephen’s bullpen battle flowchart at True Blue L.A.
  • The Dodgers sit fourth in right field and 11th in left field on Fangraph’s positional power rankings.
  • If you can’t get enough overviews of the Dodgers’ top prospects, here’s Jim Callis of MLB.com with his latest.

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