It’s a well known fact at after the past several years, the Los Angeles Dodgers are doing business just as the New York Yankees had previously during the George Steinbrenner ownership era. If the Dodgers can buy it, they do. Rather than looking for the “right” fit to make the team the “right” 25 guys, they attempt to have an All-Star or that caliber of player at each position.
The whole thing started when Joe Torre retired as Dodgers’ skipper at the end of the 2010 season. During his tenure in Los Angeles, he won two NL West titles, and posted a fourth place finish. Enter Yankees’ great Don Mattingly. Since 2011, he’s posted a .547 winning percentage, three division titles, a second place finish, a third place finish, and has the Dodgers sitting in first place, albeit with a slim lead at August prepares to turn into September.
The viewpoint of the Los Angeles fan base, is that anything short of complete dominance isn’t good enough. The masses have called for his head since the first year of his reign. He’s stuck with Clayton Kershaw too long in key moments, he mismanages his bullpen constantly, and so on.
Big contracts, and even bigger egos fill the Los Angeles clubhouse, and it is on Mattingly to mesh and massage those characters, and have them produce winning results on the field. Here’s the thing: while Mattingly might not be the greatest tactician the game have ever seen, not many could keep everyone in check AND win baseball games. The feeling I get, is that anything short of a World Series appearance in 2015, will result in the dismissal of Donnie Baseball. Then what?
The franchise will still have a $227+ million dollar payroll for 2015. Fans thought sending Matt Kemp packing was the answer. They thought Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson would be the answer. Kershaw and Greinke make up what is arguably the best one-two front of the rotation in all of baseball. However, when was the last time Don Mattingly took an official at-bat in a big league game? Try October 8th, 1995 in the Kingdome. It was a strikeout looking against Randy Johnson.
Maybe it’s ownership’s fault. Did anyone from the Guggenheim group do any research into the Yankees’ business model from 1982 through 1995? Did they not understand that just throwing money at high-priced talent doesn’t equate to World Series titles, let alone a guarantee to even reach the postseason? Maybe it’s GM Andrew Friedman’s fault. I mean after all, the Dodgers brought in a small market GM, whose entire career has been to operate on a shoestring budget in Tampa. Did ownership think that playing “Moneyball” with money was going to make the difference?
Los Angeles currently has two starters hitting .225 or less with more than 470 at-bats (Jimmy Rollins and the aforementioned rookie Pederson). They only have two starting pitchers who are in double-digit wins for the year in Kershaw and Greinke. The next best starter is 7-8 (Brett Anderson). Perhaps if the Dodgers fail to win the 2015 World Series, rather than put the blame on one Don Mattingly, Stan Kashen and Friedman should take a long look in the mirror, talk to ownership, and realize that this isn’t the Yankees of the 1970s and 1980s anymore. To win consistently, you need the “right” 25 guys, not just what you perceive to be the “best” 25 guys.