Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dodgers' manager Don Mattingly facing 'make-or-break' season in 2013

Under normal circumstances, Don Mattingly probably would have been dismissed after the 2012 season. The new ownership group came in and would presumably like to hire its own management.

However, General Manager Ned Colletti was signed to a long-term extension, paving the way for Mattingly to stick around.

Mattingly is entering his third season as the Dodgers' manager and, no matter how much upper management and ownership like him, it's a make-or-break season for him.

Mattingly owns a 168-155 (.520 winning percentage) record in his first two seasons -- both of which ended without a playoff berth. With the insane amount of money ownership is committing not just to payroll, but to the stadium itself, it expects to win.

The Dodgers may not have the best 25-man roster in the game, but it is infinitely better than it was just one year ago. The additions of Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Zack Greinke have made this team instant contenders. With that added pressure, something Mattingly is embracing, it is more important than ever for the team to be competitive.

Nothing in sports would make me happier than to write a blog post in late October that has the words "Dodgers" and "World Champions" in it. But the Dodgers don't need to win the World Series in 2013 -- despite what the media might claim -- for Mattingly to keep his job.

The magic number for Mattingly to keep his job -- and this is my own thinking -- is 90. The Dodgers need to win 90 games for Mattingly to be the team's manager going forward. Now, if the Dodgers make the playoffs at less than 90 wins, that would presumably be enough for Donnie Baseball to stick around.

Hell, if he stopped bunting so much, I'd sign him to a multiyear contract extension.

Injuries happen, and that would be taken into consideration, depending what the Dodgers do in 2013. But the team needs to be competitive and play well so ownership sees Mattingly is the man to captain this extremely expensive ship through the rough waters that are the Major League season.

Everyone involved with the organization seems to like Mattingly. There haven't been any reports about clubhouse problems or players getting into it with Mattingly. I wouldn't expect that to happen, despite some of the turmoil that was present when Joe Torre was the Dodgers' manager.

The roster is star-studded, ownership is willing to do whatever it takes to upgrade the roster and the fanbase is more than ready. It may be a lot of pressure for one man, but that's what managers sign up for. This is Don Mattingly's time.

Oh, and it'd be nice to win one for Vin Scully before he unplugs his microphone.

Photo credit: BryanKemp, Flickr

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