I guess I’ll put this here because it’s newsworthy and because the less we think about being down 3-1 in the NLCS the better, but honestly, this isn’t a topic I like focusing on all that much the night before an elimination playoff game. Anyway, Jon Heyman, hit me:
The Dodgers intend to bring Don Mattingly back to manage the team next year, people familiar with the situation say.
Ken Gurnick confirms this as well. I think that we all pretty much figured that, though again there’s nothing that has been announced by the team here. Had the Dodgers lost badly in the NLDS, I think a change may have been made, but it’s pretty difficult to fire a manager who A) just won the division by 11 games B) presided over one of the best in-season runs in baseball history C) is likely to get some Manager of the Year votes and D) won a playoff series.
Again, we have all winter to argue about this, especially once the news is official, but you all know where I stand on this point. I consider Mattingly to be a very good clubhouse manager — no, I don’t put much stock into Bob Nightengale’s report about players “complaining about his managerial ability” — and a pretty lousy in-game tactician. I thought that before the playoffs, and he’s just been so atrocious so far (the Jason Heyward / Reed Johnson thing, the Juan Uribe sacrifice bunt attempt, Game 1 usage of Kenley Jansen, pretty much everything involving Michael Young) that he’s somehow dropped even further in my eyes there.
And so my position remains consistent: there’s absolutely room to improve at the position, and if there was ever a possibility of firing him to get someone better, then so be it. (Manny Acta!) But everyone’s definition of “better” is different, because I think we all know by now that 90% of managers would pull 90% of the same foolishness that he does, and if the alternative is bringing in former Dodger player, ex-Giant manager, “proven winner” Dusty Baker, as I’ve been terrified of ever since Cincinnati let him go, then yeah — absolutely hang on to Mattingly, please.
Anyway, the end result here is the same as it always is, which is managers matter so much less than people think they do; if Hanley Ramirez or Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier were actually healthy and if anyone else could hit the St. Louis pitching, we might not be feeling so badly about Mattingly as we do right now. As it is, this news shouldn’t distract from what’s important, and that’s beating St. Louis in Game 5 tomorrow to send the series back to Missouri and simply stay alive.