Just before packing it in at the end of the season, the final task for most players and coaches in Major League Baseball is to take a trip to the general manager's office—for, at the very least, the purpose of reviewing the performances of the previous year.
But rather than discussing the 2010 season, former batting coach Don Mattingly and GM Ned Colletti will be discussing the future.
For the newly named manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Mattingly's own personal coaching production in 2010 never really seemed to matter. Mattingly knew even before the season began that his future was bright in Los Angeles—regardless of the team's offensive output.
Just last week, when asked about the cause of the Dodgers offensive struggles by LA Times reporter Dylan Hernandez, Mattingly replied, "It's really kind of confusing and frustrating."
And when faced with the question of where the responsibility falls between the player and the coach, Mattingly stated, "In the end, as a player, I always took responsibility for what happened."
Heading into 2011, if the Los Angeles Dodgers players will be required to take the blame for the performance on the field, this year's results will look glorious compared to what lies ahead.
Hopefully for the sake of Dodgertown, Mattingly isn't revisited by those feelings of "confusion and frustration" that he felt as hitting coach in 2010.
Most teams around the league that expect success will make proper decisions in regards to management. However with the Dodgers, the problems start at the top, and the viruses have already spread deep into the roots of the entire organization.
An excellent example of a club being proactive and tackling a similar offensive drought this year is the Philadelphia Phillies. Just one week removed from the All-Star break, the Phils found themselves struggling offensively, and as a team posted a disappointing 49-46 record.
Philadelphia management decided to make a controversial move and replace hitting coach Milt Thompson, who was key in helping the Phillies offense to two consecutive World Series appearances in 2008 and 2009—not to mention that he also played three years for the Phils in the late eighties.
Despite Thompson's service record with the franchise, Philadelphia replaced him with Greg Gross, and the Phillies offense soared once again. Only two months after the move, the Phillies find themselves with a 90-61 record and are primed for yet another strong run in the 2010 playoffs.
Sure, the Dodgers and the Phillies are two completely different clubs with an entirely different set of circumstances, but the Dodgers, who were 10 games over .500 at the All-Star break, took a different avenue by trying to add a few speedy veterans and selling part of the farm.
As Ned Colletti's decisions could be evaluated with a multitude of failing grades, Ned's performance must be correlated to team owner and chairman, Frank McCourt.
McCourt calls the shots and dictates the budget, while Colletti obeys Frank's every single wish and desire.
Joe Torre recognized the cancer and ended up skipping town. The Dodgers players felt the disease and eventually collapsed.
Mattingly could very well be a victim of circumstance, as he finds himself in a bad spot at a horribly bad time. Yet McCourt and Colletti made a horrible decision in predetermining the club's future by making a managerial decision almost a year in advance.
The future of a manager who struggles to put together a lineup card or who is incapable of following etiquette when visiting the pitcher's mound looks bleak.
Under current ownership, Los Angeles needed to make a clean sweep and retool the entire coaching staff if there were to be even a glimmer of hope moving into 2011.
Perhaps a manager from the farm system who was familiar with the future stars or a seasoned veteran who would put his foot down at any signs of clubhouse drama may have been better choices for a skipper.
It's already rumored that Mattingly has asked third base coach Larry Bowa to become the club's bench coach next year, and based on Bowa's past personality issues and his ongoing conflicts with several players on the team, this move could very well be adding fuel to the fire.
While the folks around Dodgertown are hoping Don Mattingly can lead the Dodgers back into contention next year, perhaps they should redirect their hope to Frank McCourt and pray that he doesn't systematically destroy the core of the squad and put the organization in a hole that will take many years in which to dig out.
And in terms of a career choice for Donnie Baseball, maybe, just maybe, accepting the Cleveland Indians or the Washington Nationals job offer may have been the smart move.