Five Reasons Why Don Mattingly Will Be More Successful Than Joe Torre in L.A.
The Los Angeles Times broke the story Friday, announcing Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre will resign at the end of the season, giving way to his understudy apprentice, Don Mattingly.
Mattingly has been Torre's right-hand man since 2004, following Torre from the New York Yankees to Los Angeles.
Since mid-June, rumors have heated up regarding the status of Torre and his intentions for 2011—while many insiders felt he was leaning towards leaving Hollywood.
Rumors turned into foreshadowing when it was announced Mattingly would coach in the Dodger's minor league system over the winter, perhaps a preseason of sorts for the soon-to-be rookie manager.
Torre is certainly a legendary manager in the game of baseball. Successful in his playing days, and even more successful as a manager, Torre couldn't continue building his legacy in Los Angeles.
Perhaps he was the victim of turmoil and uncertainty in the organization, stemming from the current divorce process in ownership.
There are approximately six months until next spring, and changes are coming in that duration. Here are five reasons why these changes will benefit Mattingly, and why his tenure as Dodgers skipper will be more fruitful than Joe Torre's short stint in Los Angeles.
5. A Crowded Free Agent Pool May Yield Support
With names like Adam Dunn, Derrek Lee, Cliff Lee, and several Dodgers scheduled to be free agents at the end of the 2010 season, there is a potential for the Dodgers to make roster moves to assist Mattingly in his first season as manager.
Most experts are predicting the Dodgers to be quiet during the offseason, waiting out the divorce between Frank and Jamie McCourt. However, there is definitely a possibility the Dodgers will hit the bargain bin, finding temporary talent to make up the gap between their likely fourth place 2010 finish, and a 2011 playoff berth.
Should the divorce be resolved, or Frank McCourt give permission for a larger allowance—General Manager Ned Colletti may be able to make some key moves.
The main concern: Nearly half the active 25 man roster will be eligible for free agency next season. If the Dodgers are indeed going to concede the season, Mattingly's debut may be disastrous. Recent history shows the Dodgers still have the possibility to be buyers, so fans may have to wait until April to see results.
4. So Far, Torre's Staff Is Sticking Together in His Absence
The coaching framework for the Dodgers thus far stands to be essentially the same.
Larry Bowa, Mariano Duncan, Rick Honeycutt and the rest of the staff have avoided involvement in the media, perhaps an indication they will stay on under Mattingly next season.
With the same foundation underneath him, Mattingly won't have to rebuild from the bottom up. The Dodgers' coaching staff is one of the best in the league. Mattingly's cabinet will aid him in all decisions while providing wisdom from years of combined experience.
3. The Dodgers Have One of The Biggest Payrolls in Baseball
Of all the places to begin a managerial career, the city of Los Angeles serves as one of the most comfortable environments. A high payroll with a legion of loyal fans will add stability to the situation.
As we have seen so far, Dodgers fans are quick to forget.
While filling in for Torre while the Dodgers expanded foreign relations in Taiwan, Mattingly goofed up the line-up, but it worked in his favor. During the preseason, Andre Ethier was forced to bat again when his manager delivered an inaccurate line-up to the home plate umpire. Ethier eventually homered in the at-bat, giving the Dodgers the victory.
Luck wouldn't strike twice during the regular season, when Mattingly stepped in for Torre following an ejection. Mattingly made a technical error by leaving the mound and then stepping back to speak with first baseman James Loney. The error would lead to the crushing blow for the Dodgers, and they lost the contest.
By next season, Dodgers fans will hand Mattingly a clean slate, with high expectations and plenty of cheering.
2. Experience Never Hurts
As a former player, Mattingly knows the ends and outs of a grueling 162 game season. There are certain elements of coaching that can't be taught, but rather learned by observation and intuition.
Such things as: Dimensions of ballparks, which grasses are faster or slower than others, how individual players react in any given situation, and scouting report match-ups give Mattingly a head start.
From a technical, emotional and intellectual standpoint, Mattingly is advanced beyond the average.
1. It Can Only Get Better From Here...
Dodgers fans will likely enter the 2011 season with high hopes, but low expectations.
The general consensus from polls, reader feedback and contributions from other writers points toward a general decline in morale.
"The divorce" is the constant keynote in conversations regarding the status of the organization. The issue is still unresolved, with no solution in the near future. Mattingly will be an understudy of design next season.
Just remember Don: "D" students always welcome a "C-" and even a "B+" in 2011 will be considered a success in Tinsel Town.