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In July of last year, Don Mattingly took over for Joe Torre after his ejection from a game and made everybody question whether he really should be the presumed manager of the future. He made a rookie blunder by accidentally making two "trips" to the mound.
All he really did was step off the dirt and then turn around and step back on it, but still the Dodgers were forced to remove their closer with a two-run lead and would go on to lose the game. Still, others questioned if the Dodgers should give a guy with no managerial experience the reigns instead of pursuing other options.
From the looks of the ballclub, though, this might be exactly what they need. Joe Torre, who was one of the most experienced and decorated managers of his era, seemed to lose the young team as the season slipped away from them last year. Mattingly has been the hitting coach for a couple of years now, and it seems to reason that he has built a good rapport with the players that the Dodgers need to step up this year, mostly Kemp and Ethier.
He'll also get his first chance at managing a pitching staff, but with most of the staff back from last year and Rick Honeycutt staying on as the pitching coach he should have plenty of help in this department. Mattingly's biggest job will be getting the young players to play together and keep their intensity up for an entire season.
The Dodgers have the pieces they need to win a World Series this year, even if they didn't make a big splash in the offseason. But if they are to have any chance of doing it, then these are the keys. Good managing, good pitching, and their two stars need to play like stars.
I may be crazy, but when I think about the Dodgers this season, I can see this being a great year.