Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has heard the cascade of criticism washing down upon his high-priced, underperforming roster and he seems to have had enough.
No, not from the media, but from his own players' lack of performance.
Speaking to the media prior to the Dodgers' game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday, Mattingly vented his frustrations in a fusillade of criticisms that left no questions about how he's feeling at the moment.
The former Yankees first baseman, who took over as Dodgers manager from Joe Torre in 2011, started his vent session by criticizing his team's lack of competitive spirit.
“We gotta find a team with talent that will fight and compete like a club that doesn’t have talent,” Mattingly said (per Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal). “I felt we got more out of our ability last year. I don’t know about being tougher, but I felt we got more out of our ability."
Normally from the Torre school of reserved thought, Mattingly did not stop with criticizing his players. He fired shots at team management as well, noting that the roster composition focused too much on getting big names rather than finding guys who fit together as a unit (per Rosenthal).
There has to be a mixture of competitiveness. It’s not, ‘Let’s put an All-Star team together and the All-Star team wins.’ It’s finding that balance of a team that has a little bit of grit and will fight you. And also having talent to go with it.
Guggenheim Baseball Management, a group that includes former Lakers guard Magic Johnson, bought the Dodgers for a record $2 billion purchase price in 2012 and instantly began making sweeping changes.
The most notable changes from the Guggenheim group was adding high-priced veterans. Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford were acquired in a deal with the Boston Red Sox during the 2012 regular season, and starting pitcher Zack Greinke signed a six-year, $147 million deal this offseason.
At just under $217 million, the Dodgers have the second-highest payroll in baseball behind the Yankees for this season.
The problem is, unlike the Bronx Bombers, those free-spending ways haven't led to on-field success. Los Angeles was 18-26 heading into its tilt against the Brewers on Wednesday, dead last in the National League West and seven games behind the Giants and Diamondbacks.
Those disappointing performances led to rumors Mattingly was firmly on the hot seat. Though team management said earlier this week there were "no plans" to replace Mattingly, Wednesday's quotes could spark a different discussion.
And if Mattingly does lose his job, he's making it quite clear he won't go down without saying his piece.
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