Although he has a year remaining on his contract, Don Mattingly will not be returning as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers next season.
When the New York Mets eliminated the Dodgers in the NLDS last week, I speculated that Mattingly was on a short leash and that they could dismiss him if they got off to slow start next season. As it turns out, they want to start fresh.
This is a shame. Mattingly has managed the Dodgers since 2011 and has guided the team to three consecutive NL West titles. But the team has never got to the World Series and haven’t since 1988. With the highest payroll in MLB comes high expectations. For Magic Johnson, who played in 9 NBA Finals, it is all about the World Series and the Dodgers have concluded they have gone as far as they can go with Mattingly. It didn’t help matters when Andre Ethier yelled at Mattingly in the dugout during the Game 5 NLDS loss to the Mets.
The Dodgers are evidently looking at several internal candidates – bench coach Tim Wallach, third base coach Ron Roenicke and Gabe Kapler, who is the team’s Director of Player Development. Roenicke joined the Dodgers coaching staff after being fired as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers earlier this year. Kapler earned a World Series ring with the 2004 Boston Red Sox and has some experience as a minor league manager in the Red Sox system. Chicago Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez and former San Diego Padres manager Bud Black are also possible candidates.
Personally, I’m pulling for Wallach. I remember him from his days with the Montreal Expos as an All-Star third baseman. He would later play with the Angels and the Dodgers. Since 2004, he’s been with the Dodgers as a coach or minor league manager. Wallach has paid his dues. But I have a feeling that the Dodgers will more likely go outside the organization. If they hire from within, my money is on Kapler.
But I suspect Mattingly will be on his feet sooner rather than later. The Washington Nationals, San Diego Padres, Miami Marlins and Seattle Mariners are looking for new skippers. However, I’d be surprised if he ended up in San Diego given his less than amicable relationship with Matt Kemp. Would he get along any better with Bryce Harper? Perhaps he’d be more in sync with Giancarlo Stanton or Robinson Cano.
Despite Donnie Baseball’s long standing association with both the New York Yankees and the Dodgers, Mattingly has never earned a World Series ring.
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