Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Damn Mattingly - A Big Blue Liability

Right before the 2013 All-Star game, lots of folks wanted to throw manager Damn Mattingly under the Dodger bus.  They were right then and they continue to be right still. 

No, we can't lay that crazy, first half of the season, epidemic of injuries at the feet of  the manager.  Having half of our team on the DL for half of the season certainly accounted for many of the losses that led the Dodgers to last place.   I don't blame him for things outside of his control - like those injuries - but Mattingly's gotta take the heat for the things he can control.

                                    Can't manage a bullpen.                       Associated Press

There are those out there who argue that a manager just doesn't matter that much, and I've stated my opposite opinions on that in the past.  While it's often true that a historically long losing streak can't be blamed solely on a manager, a historically long winning streak shouldn't automatically go to his credit either.

When the Dodgers got healthy and turned their season around  with a winning rampage, a number of sports writers and bloggers were quick to anoint Mattingly as a good manager who simply needed his full line up in order for all of us to appreciate his superior baseball management skills for what they really are.  Hogwash!

His limitations as a manger were evident in 2012, and they continue to rear their ugly heads regularly now.

                                         Can't manage a big league batting line up.                      Getty Images

If we can't blame a manager for all those losses any more than give him supreme credit for all those wins, doesn't that mean a manger doesn't make that much of a difference?  On the surface it might look like that, but let's revisit some of Mattingly's decisions over this recent losing run the Dodgers are currently mired in.

Over the recent 4-game series against the Giants, Hunter Pence absolutely ran roughshod over Dodger pitching.  He crushed homers in every game, including a grand slam and two - TWO fricken' homers on Sunday.

There are things a manger can control; that's why he's called THE MANAGER.   By the time we got to Sunday's game, one would think Mattingly would order his pitchers to just not give anything close to a strike to Pence.  Especially in a game that was as close as Sunday's.  I'm going out on a limb and say Mattingly gave no such orders.  Pence notched two more homers in the final game and his bat beat us for the fourth game in a row.

Exit Giants, enter the Diamondbacks.  First game, first inning.  Hyun-Jin Ryu had just walked lead off man A.J. Pollack on four pitches, and Paul Goldschmidt was next up to the plate.  Anyone who follows the Dodgers and the Snakes knows that Goldschmidt is a career Dodger killer.  Anybody who knows baseball knows that after walking the first batter on four pitches, Ryu was going to immediately try to get back into the strike zone.  But Mattingly never should have let Ryu do that. How about giving the guy an unintentional, intentional walk?  You don't have to give him four wide ones, just stay off the plate and see if he chases because he's anxious.  Nope.  Let's pitch to him and see what happens.  Strikes + Dodger killer = 2-run HR.  Anybody else have visions of Jack Clark?

The Dodgers have been losing a lot more than I like recently, but most have been close games, and the results were always hanging in the balance, which is often the place where a savvy manager makes a difference.

My final case in point tonight...

                                             Can't manage a 9th inning rally.                                   Getty Images

Despite the injuries plaguing us yet again, and a scrappy second-tier lineup, the Dodgers manged to keep the game close and get the tying and go ahead runs on base in the 9th.  We had Hope!  Things looked pretty darn good as Juan Uribe, he of massive home run power and one of our hottest bats right now, stepped up to the plate.

Are you ready for this?  Damn Mattingly had him bunt - BUNT !!!!!!!!!!!!   Something the guy has only done successfully 4 times over the past 4 years.  Uribe recently had a 3-home run game and Mattingly took the bat out of his hands by having him bunt.  It must have been because last week's farm leaguer, Chili Buss was on deck. ARGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!  Of course this uber-genius strategy of having the Mighty Casey bunt didn't work and the Dodgers eventually lost.  And don't even get me started on his decision to bat Uribe seventh in the line up.  *Sigh*

I'm going to estimate managers make enough crucial game decisions in enough close games over the course of a season to win or lose 10 to 15 games with those decisions.  And that's a conservative estimate in my opinion.  Smart managers will help their teams pick up 10 wins, while dopey decisions will lose 10.  Anybody else have visions of Brandon League?  

Mattingly didn't cause the first lousy half of the season, and he didn't mastermind the brilliant second half.  But man oh man, he had his hand in controlling enough other factors to make a difference.

Think about that, where would the Dodgers be right now with  8-10 extra wins in their pocket?   


  1. He also needs to grow that moustache back. He looks like Quentin Tarantino.