After being defeated by the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Reds decided not to bring back Dusty Baker as their manager. On Monday morning, Jim Leyland stepped down as the Manager of the Detroit Tigers. And as the calendar begins to tick away from the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 9-0 defeat at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals in game six of the NLCS, the Dodgers will face the conflict of whether or not to retain Don Mattingly as their Manager. According to Stan Kasten’s statements in their press conference today, personnel decisions will be made at the beginning of this week, so let’s look back at Donnie Baseball’s three years as the Dodger’s manager.
The Dodgers’ roster has been in constant flux in the three years of Mattingly’s term as manager. In 2011, Mattingly’s first year as the skipper, the starting lineup had almost no resemblance to the current roster. The starting line-up and rotation have a few homegrown mainstays, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw, but for the most part they have had no carryover from one year to the next.
Lineup in 2011
Lineup in 2013
In 2012, the Dodgers saw a major transformation in every aspect of their organization. On April 30, Stan Kasten finally released his grip on the organization by selling it to the Guggenheim Baseball Group. Following the sale of the team, Magic and the Guggenheim group looked for a chance to change the team. Mid-season acquisitions of Shane Victorino, Hanley Rameriez and $270 million dollars worth of Red Sox’ contracts. This transformed their lineup and put them in the running for the new second wild card spot. They came up 2 games short of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012, but they formed their lineup for the 2013 line up.
Opening Day 2012 Lineup
Final Day 2012 Lineup
C A. J. Ellis, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, 2B Mark Ellis, 3B Luis Cruz, SS Hanley Ramriez, LF Shane Victorino, CF Matt Kemp, RF Andre Ethier
Victorino entered free agency allowing Carl Crawford to take over in Left Field, meaning the Dodgers entered 2013 with 5 all-stars in their every day line up. They also added Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu to bolster the starting rotation. With their stacked lineup and rotation, the Dodgers entered 2013 as a World Series favorite, but the team got off to a slow start.
Mattingly’s job security was up in the air as the Dodgers struggled in the early part of the season. Through June 21 the Dodgers were 12 games under .500, but reinforcements were coming. Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez returned from injury in early June and were starting to hit, Yasiel Puig joined the big league squad at around the same time, and Kenley Jansen was put into the closer role on June 23. After establishing bullpen roles and line-up spots the Dodgers took off, going 62-28 in their final 90 games. With his team’s outstanding performance Mattingly’s seat suddenly cooled, but the playoffs would bring another level of pressure for the skipper.
After dispatching the Braves in four games the Dodgers moved on to the NLCS. In the Championship Series, Mattingly had a less than stellar showing. In game one, he lifted Adrian Gonzalez for a pinch runner in the eighth inning of a game that would end up lasting 13 innings. In game two, he pulled Clayton Kershaw after just 72 pitches. Games three through five were uneventful for the manager in terms of strategic moves, but his in game interviews were telling. He spoke of missteps by Puig as the struggles they have been dealing with all season. He seemed to have little control over Ramirez and Ethier on whether or not they would play. And to make matters worse, Gonzalez threw in some uncharacteristic antics of his own. Despite these issues, the Dodgers forced the series back to St. Louis with superior hitting and timely pitching in game five.
Unfortunately for Mattingly, the game could not have gone worse. It started with a childish stare-down that lasted nearly 12 minutes. Although this is not a slight on Mattingly, it showcased the childish nature that his team displayed during the whole series. This was followed by Puig’s lack of discipline rearing it’s ugly head. A strange, off-balance, looping throw from right and an untamed rocket to the backstop helped the Cardinals surge ahead to a 9-0 victory.
After failing to tame Yasiel ‘The Wild Horse’ Puig all season, having some strategic mishaps in the postseason and coming up short of the World Series, Mattingly has to be feeling antsy as his seat warms again.