If There’s One Good Reason to Fire Don Mattingly…

May 20, 2013 at 9:16 am | Posted in Don Mattingly | Leave a comment

don_mattingly_umpire_april7-2013…it’s because I’m absolutely sick & tired of talking about whether the team is/should/will/are going to fire Don Mattingly.

I feel like I’ve been over this a million times, but just so there’s no mistake about my position, let me offer it in crystal clear terms: though I like Mattingly more than most, I can’t argue that he’s done some sort of phenomenal job, and so if he gets fired, that’s totally fine — just don’t pretend like it’s the magic bullet that will save the season. It won’t. Managers just aren’t that important. Or as I said when we went through this last week

If that happens and Mattingly goes, I won’t have any cause to argue with the move, though I’ll stand by my opinion that it alone is not going to make much of a difference. (Actually, with Greinke just about ready to return, that will then set us up for months of arguing of whether the team’s likely-improved performance is due to a managerial change or simply better available talent, a fate I’m eager to avoid.)

Can’t wait for that, you guys. It’s going to be fun.

Anyway, this is coming to a head once again not just because of how lousy the team looked in getting swept in Atlanta this weekend, but because Ken Rosenthal is reporting that he is “convinced Mattingly is going to get fired”. This appears to be more Rosenthal’s speculation than any actual reporting, so I hesitate to put too much stock into it, but I do agree that Mattingly’s time is growing short — and I absolutely agree with Rosenthal’s assertion that an off-day before a homestand is the ideal time to make such a move. (Bill Shaikin reports that he has been told there are “no plans” to fire Mattingly, though as much as I respect Shaikin’s work, statements like that from an unnamed official rarely end up being concrete.)

So is tonight the beginning of Mattingly’s final series as manager? I can’t say I know, though I will say that I feel a lot better about a series that will feature Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, & Hyun-jin Ryu than one that had Chris Capuano, Matt Magill, & Ryu (though both of the first two actually performed pretty well). I do know this, though — if the plan is to fire him this week, then that decision better have already been made, because if you’re really making such choices based on one three-game series against a non-divisional opponent, that speaks to a larger problem.

But for all the reasons why it’s not fair to hang this on Mattingly — injuries to the rotation, poor roster construction, injuries, under-performing players, injuries, etc — the fact that we seem to come back to this every few days is not a situation that can continue. I said that a few days ago too, because if he is a dead man walking, then the organization is not putting the team in the best position to win.

So whether or not I think Mattingly should get fired, I have swung to the side that thinks he will, and all that’s left now is when and who steps in. Maybe it’ll be Tim Wallach, or Trey Hillman, or someone from outside the organization (but please lord, not Tony LaRussa); I suppose I’d lean Wallach, though I doubt it really matters all that much. Then we can all spend the rest of the year fighting each other when a roster that has Greinke & Hanley Ramirez performs better than one that didn’t.

The sad part is, we all know who deserves to be the man shouldering the blame, if there is one, and that’s the same man I’ve been wanting to see exiled since at least 2007. But Ned Colletti has a newly-minted long-term extension tucked into his cowboy boots, and a change in the front office seems very far from imminent.

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