Brandon League was again awful last night, walking the leadoff man in the ninth and then giving up a two run home to Paul Goldschmidt to break open what had been a 3-3 game when he entered. League has been atrocious, and it certainly looks like Ned Colletti’s three-year deal that was panned by just about everyone outside of Los Angeles is meeting those sad expectations.
So there’s a conversation to be had about what’s wrong with League, especially after the Dodger coaches were able to find and fix a mechanical flaw that made him so dominant late last year, and whether Kenley Jansen should be the closer. Fine.
Yet when I woke up this morning — and no, of course I didn’t stay up late to watch this mess of a team right now — I didn’t have a hundred tweets about how terrible League was waiting for me, or about how Josh Beckett was again mediocre, or about how the offense could manage three single runs against a somewhat shaky Brandon McCarthy.
No, the conversation was once again, “Fire Don Mattingly,” and it’s getting to be a bit much. This is starting to kill me because all logic has gone out the window here. If you think he’s making a mistake by keeping League as the closer, that’s a reasonable argument to have, and that seemed to be the tenor of many of the complaints.
But it’s difficult to see how that’s relevant in last night’s loss, because League, as lousy as he was, didn’t even blow a save. He was brought into a tie game, and he performed poorly. If he and Jansen swapped roles, League could have just been awful in the eighth inning of a tie game and the runs still would have been on the board. That’s not even considering the wrongful assumption that Jansen would be infallible as the closer, which he wouldn’t be, because he’s a human being going against the best hitters in the world.
If there’s an argument to be made against Mattingly last night, it’s his refusal to send up A.J. Ellis in place of the completely cooked Ramon Hernandez in the eighth, with one out and Matt Kemp & Andre Ethier on. Hernandez & Skip Schumaker each failed to drive home runs, and the threat was over. Mattingly’s post-game quote to Ken Gurnick of “it didn’t seem like the right spot,” is infuriating, and on that point I couldn’t be more in agreement with you — though again, we don’t have all the information. We don’t know if Ellis was sore, or on the toilet, or just terrified by certain interpretations of himself as Rocky Balboa.
I’ll admit it’s probably none of those, and that Mattingly was just being stubborn, but no one can really say they know. Still, you look at why last night’s game was lost, and you point to League. You point to Hernandez’ 0-4, and those are both on Colletti more than anyone else. You point to a team that once again went 1-10 with runners in scoring position, and you point out that for all the grief Kemp’s been given, Ethier is hardly doing better.
You want to fire the manager? Fine. But don’t act as though it’s some silver bullet that’s suddenly going to make Hanley Ramirez & Zack Greinke & Mark Ellis & Chad Billingsley healthy, or Luis Cruz or League or Beckett less awful. Don’t forget also that it could actually hurt, because a great way to lose a clubhouse is to fire a manager who remains very popular among his players. The game is won with talent on the field, and regardless what the payroll is, the Dodgers just don’t have enough of it right now.