Don Mattingly & his future with Dodgers

Stephen Dunn

Thoughts on the struggling Dodgers and manager Don Mattingly's job security.

A six-game losing streak, two of them in fact, and an overall terrible start, has many a Dodgers fan angry about their team. Most of the angst centers around manager Don Mattingly mostly because, as the old saying goes, it's easier to fire one manager than 25 players.

Yes, there are times when Mattingly makes a maddening decision, such as the decision to let catcher Ramon Hernandez (1-for-21 on the season at the time, hitless in his last 16 at-bats) hit in the eighth inning with runners on first and second in a tie game on Tuesday night. A.J. Ellis was available off the bench, but Mattingly was sticking with Hernandez, who meekly popped out.

"A.J. was available. You think about it in a lot of different spots," Mattingly said. "There were different spots I might have used A.J., but that wasn't one of them."

The fact is, a lot of managers don't like using their second catcher as a pinch hitter because there is always the fear of being stuck in extra innings without a true catcher in case someone gets hurt. But yet, Mattingly probably should have pinch hit for Hernandez there.

But there is equal blame on general manager Ned Colletti that Hernandez is even still on the roster. For the record, I was in favor of the trade at the time, as the Dodgers both saved $2 million (of Aaron Harang's 2014 buyout) and added to their catching depth. But three weeks later, with Hernandez looking like toast and a red hot Tim Federowicz busting the door down in Triple-A, it's long been time to cut bait on the veteran catcher.

Judging by several comments on this site, and in reading my replies on Twitter, several people want Don Mattingly fired. But be careful what you wish for.

Both Mike Petriello at Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness and Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts tackled the issue of Mattingly's future on Wednesday. I suggest you read them both.

From Petriello:

Still, you look at why last night’s game was lost, and you point to League. You point to Hernandez’ 0-4, and those are both on Colletti more than anyone else. You point to a team that once again went 1-10 with runners in scoring position, and you point out that for all the grief Kemp’s been given, Ethier is hardly doing better.

From Weisman:

Digression: At a minimum, Ned Colletti, who last year received the contract extension that has avoided Mattingly, holds some responsibility for the effectiveness of the Dodgers, good or bad.

5) From Day 1 … from before Day 1 … Mattingly’s relationship with his players has been considered one of his virtues. It’s neither clear how much true value there was to that relationship in previous seasons, nor clear now much there is now. The idea, of course, is that those intangibles are the thing that will make a bad team good and a good team great, and there’s no better time like the present to prove that. But looking at the Dodgers’ roster, you can argue that you should get more than a third of the season to find out.

I tend to agree with Weisman's last sentence, though the Dodgers should probably win on Wednesday night just so we don't have two full days to stew in the negativity.

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