Video: Scenes from Don Mattingly's Awkward Press Conference
I'm stupid. I really thought all this Dodger offseason amounted to was how big Clayton Kershaw's contract was going to be plus some odds and ends in the bullpen and the bench. I was so very wrong.
Don Mattingly is not happy with his contract status. The opening salvo he fired in yesterday's press conference: "My option vested when we beat Atlanta," Mattingly said, "But that doesn't mean I'll be back."
Mattingly said those words as his boss general manager Ned Colletti sat next to him. Scratch that. Sat nearby him. In the general vicinity. In the same area code.
If you notice as Mattingly talked about "not wanting to be anywhere that you're not wanted," there was Colletti seemingly unflinching as Mattingly dropped these bombs to the media.
Either Colletti has a really good poker face, or he completely backs the manager whom he hired.
"I've been supportive of Donnie the whole way through," Colletti said. "I have a lot of respect for this guy. He kept us steady through a tough period of time. He kept our team together. We won. I've been a supporter of his from the day he stepped in here as a hitting coach."
I thought that steadiness through the horrible April, May and early June was what should have gotten Mattingly a contract extension. Sure he might be bunt happy. Sure he might make ill-advised double-switches. But in the bigger picture on a superstar-laden team the Dodgers have, wasn't his management of all the egos that entailed more important?
According to John Harper of the New York Daily News:
Person close to Kasten says Dodgers' issue with Mattingly is in-game decisions: "All he knows is what he learned from Joe (Torre).'' Ouch.— John Harper (@NYDNHarper) October 22, 2013
Last night the Dodgers got rid of head trainer Sue Falsone. This morning the Dodgers fired bench coach Trey Hillman and advance scout Wade Taylor, both so-called "Mattingly guys". According to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times, Mattingly was not involved in the decision to fire Hillman.
Mark Saxon of ESPN LA also reminded us that Mattingly said yesterday he disagreed with how the organization handled Yasiel Puig. "Leave it to me, it'd be one way, but that's not necessarily the way the organization wants things to go," Mattingly said.
You put it all together, and what you have here is the "Dodgers and Its Discontents". Here's what I see. President Stan Kasten holds all the strings. He didn't hire Mattingly, doesn't agree with some of Mattingly's moves but is ambivalent about Mattingly at best. You get rid of him, who do you get? For the statistically-minded, it sounds like based on Harper's tweet above it won't be Dusty Baker.
Perhaps if Mattingly stays, Kasten will have the say on who the bench coach is, someone to guide some of the in-game strategy.
The only question is where Colletti fits in all of this.
The Dodgers have been wanting to propel themselves back on top of the sports scene in Los Angeles. It looks like they've taken a page from the Lakers: create as much offseason drama as possible. They're off to a good start. What seemed like a fairly peaceful offseason has suddenly gotten interesting.