With the 2013 baseball season nearly ¼ of the way finished, the Los Angeles Dodgers find themselves at the bottom of the MLB Standings in the National League West. Normally, in Los Angeles, this wouldn’t cause much of a stir, but this year’s team was supposed to be different, right?
With a payroll bigger than even the New York Yankees, you could go onto the William Hill online betting site and find the Dodgers as the early favorites to win the World Series. But a season plagued by injuries and under performing superstars has changed all that. Now, a team that seemed to be a shoo-in to play for a championship will be lucky to have their head above .500 by the time the All-Star break arrives in July.
There is plenty of finger pointing to go around the clubhouse, but in situations like these, the fingers ultimately get pointed at the one running the show – in this case, Don Mattingly. Those wanting Mattingly fired will point to his mismanagement of the roster, failure to find the right mix in the lineup, and inability to manage his bullpen (which currently leads the majors in losses). Those on the other side of the fence will point to the fact that his superstars have underperformed, his bullpen has blown at least a dozen leads, and the team has been riddled with injuries (Zach Greinke and Hanley Ramirez have both missed about a month of the season).
Why Mattingly Should Keep His Job
- Injuries are destroying this team and he’s doing an amazing job just keeping the team within reasonable striking distance. No matter how many big names you have on your roster, when you are missing an ace pitcher like Greinke and an RBI machine like Han-Ram, your team is going to suffer.
- The superstars are just plain underperforming. Both Kemp and Ethier have combined to hit less than 10 home runs, and the season is more than a month and a half old. Those are guys who you would expect to have nearly a dozen homers each by now, but the power just hasn’t been there. The Dodgers are getting runners on base, but fall near the bottom of the majors in batting average with runners in scoring position. The lineup is working, the stars aren’t doing their jobs.
- The bullpen has blown more leads than any team in baseball. Even if the bullpen only blew half of the leads they’ve currently blown through this point in the season, the Dodgers would be four games above .500 and only one game out of the division lead. No matter how tight the game is, you need to be able to count on your bullpen to hang on, and they just haven’t been able to do that. Mattingly has managed his team to the lead in the 6th inning or later more than 30 times this season – the bullpen has blown a dozen of those leads.
It’s easy to point fingers at the manager, but it’s the players who actually get the job done on the field. All Mattingly can do is put his players in the best possible position for success – anything beyond that is left up to the team on the field doing their job, and unfortunately for Donnie Baseball, things just haven’t gone his way.