Amidst a firestorm of rumors, Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti declared that his manager, former Yankee great Don Mattingly, was “doing fine” in keeping the Dodgers afloat through an early-season losing binge. Fortunately for anyone familiar with the world of coaching at the professional level, it is easy to read between the lines of that “vote of confidence”.
Mattingly, after speaking with Dodgers president Stan Kasten, addressed the media on Monday, and shared that he didn’t feel that his job was in jeopardy. He responded to an unpublished rumor about the team’s “need to win a series with Milwaukee” by saying that he simply hadn’t been fired by Kasten and company at the time of the interview.
With $215 million invested in payroll this season, rumblings that the Dodgers could look in a different direction are certainly not unfounded. At 17-25, the team is mired in a big-time rut, and when the league’s highest payroll resides in the basement of the NL West, there is certainly a problem.
However, some of the issues have been outside of Mattingly’s control this season. Hanley Ramirez and Zack Greinke have spent the majority of the season on the disabled list, the team’s fabled starting pitching depth has evaporated after injuries to Ted Lilly and Chad Billingsley, and Dodgers superstar Matt Kemp has exactly 2 home runs in 165 at-bats. The team is certainly talented at the top end, with the Adrian Gonzalez/Kemp/Ethier/Ramirez/Crawford five-some, and the Kershaw/Greinke duo, but the roster depth isn’t to the level that the expectations would indicate, and Mattingly hasn’t been noticeably bad this season.
Simply put, if the Dodgers don’t turn their record around in a hurry, Don Mattingly is a likely candidate to be fired. The merits of that move can be debated for hours and hours, but it’s a results-based business and since Stan Kasten and company can’t fire the players, Mattingly will be the first to go.