A Case for Don Mattingly Heading the Cleveland Indians

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IOctober 21, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 16:  Batting Coach Don Mattingly of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on during batting practice prior to the start of Game Two of the NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Dodger Stadium on October 16, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

With the Dodgers chances of advancing to the World Series dwindling with every loss, the chances of the Indians getting their hands on Don Mattingly increase.

Among the finalists for the Cleveland Indians managerial post, are Torey Lovullo, Bobby Valentine and Manny Acta, none of which are currently active. Don Mattingly however is busy with this thing called the postseason.

And this is perhaps why his name was initially left off the list of finalists when they were first leaked by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. After some digging though and the mention of another candidate currently fulfilling other obligations, it became clear Mattingly is in the running.

With an off-day for the NLCS on Tuesday, the same day the Indians met with one candidate in Acta, it was a belief that would be the perfect time for the Indians to get Mattingly in for a visit.

That did not happen though and wouldn't have if possible. The Indians plan to make every candidate available to the media.

Even though it isn't clear when, if, or how Mattingly will interview, one thing has become clear: Cleveland has it's final four and he's in it. As promised though, I said I'd make a case for each managerial candidate the best I could. Tuesday I ran down Manny Acta's case, now we cover Mattingly's.

Despite previous reports, it appears Lovullo us a finalist, not Travis Fryman as originally thought on Tuesday.


A Star Learning From One

They often say star players don't tend to make good managers, in much of any sport. How many Hall of Fame players end up being Hall of Fame coaches as well?

People love pointing out names like Wayne Gretzky's failures as coach for the Phoenix Coyotes in the NHL.

In baseball, guys like Joe Torre have the most success. Being a catcher is a popular trait for most successful manager, but so is not lasting long or not being very successful in the major league game.

Cleveland's previous manager had close to zero major league success. Eric Wedge was as unknown in his time as Wyatt Toregas was to the general baseball public.

So that's the main thing going against Don Mattingly when you think of him as a manager.

However let's not hold that against him. Everyone is a different person and just because Mattingly was a successful first baseman, doesn't mean he won't be a successful manager if given the shot.

For one, I couldn't think of a better person to learn from than Joe Torre. If anything, sitting behind him for as many years as he has, he had to have picked something up. Being both a bench coach for a year and a hitting instructor under Torre he's received a chance to learn from one of the greats.

However, Torre's teams have dealt mainly with high-priced veterans and getting egos to mesh, at least lately. Mattingly has only experienced the Alex-Rodriguez-spend-till-you-drop era of Yankee baseball and two years of Dodger baseball.

Perhaps though, maybe that's what makes this as good time as any for him to get his shot. He's learned how to deal with two different types of teams. The current Dodgers are ones of a really different ilk as those Yankee teams Torre managed the past few years.

They've got youth to them and Mattingly has had to do a lot more with the younger group of hitters than he did in New York.

Versatility is the name of the game and perhaps a big reason why Mattingly brings a lot to the table. There is no question he can teach given the work he’s done in the Yankees organization for seven years before joining Torre’s staff and what he’s done for the Dodgers.

But being a manager involves a lot more than just teaching hitting and not everyone can do it. It doesn’t hurt that he learned from one of the best though.


Other Ways of Convincing

I'll make no secret, the previous reason is both the biggest reason I don't like Mattingly and the biggest reason I do like Mattingly. I know it seems weird to think about it, but it really is the only way to describe it.

What better way to learn than from Joe Torre? However look what he was learning about. It's a double-edged sword in my eyes.

There are things about his candidacy though that I really think would make him a good hire.

Start with the fact that he's a total professional in every way. During his career he was a professional hitter, now he's a professional hitting instructor and as a guy, Mattingly is professional all the way through.

There would be no transition or fear for the Indians in replacing someone like Eric Wedge, who was class all the way, with someone like Don Mattingly. It would be a smooth effective change.

Perhaps that could work against him. I liked Eric Wedge, I thought he was a good fit for this team and I thought his personality worked well. So quite frankly if Mattingly is the same type of person, I'd have no problem with that.

But for a team that needs to change things up a little, is Mattingly different enough?

Fans will like this hire because it's a big name. It's a borderline Hall of Famer that played first base for the most storied franchise in the game. However what the casual fan doesn't realize is that Mattingly has a lot of the same personality traits that Wedge had and many fans did not like Wedge because of his personality.

Again, I have no problem with it, that's something I like.

But you just have to wonder how tolerable the fan base would be to some of the same things that they hated with Wedge, only difference being; this manager is a bigger star.