Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Dodgers divorce from Mattingly is coming
By Buster Olney
BOSTON -- The divorce with Don Mattingly is coming, whether it happens in the next couple of days or after a couple of losses next April. The leadership that bought the club from Frank McCourt didn’t hire Mattingly and isn’t committing to him, given their own doubts about his in-game strategy. Mattingly is tired of being held at arm’s length, not fired but not really wanted, either.
Mattingly’s news conference Monday was more than a little awkward, and the reaction around the industry did not swing in his favor in a lot of corners, with some likening his move to a player threatening to walk out of a signed and executed contract. "If he doesn’t like the situation, he should just quit," said one rival official. "To publicly demand a new contract in that setting, that’s not right."
Mattingly is either going to be the Dodgers’ guy for a long time or else Monday was his last day as manager, writes Ramona Shelburne. The Dodgers need to make a decision on Mattingly right away, writes Dylan Hernandez.
It was uncomfortable and dramatic, writes Jill Painter.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers fired head athletic trainer Sue Falsone, and there are people in the organization who are really upset about it.
Before Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, longtime manager Tony La Russa walked on the field before the Tigers played the Red Sox, and he immediately went over to his close friend Jim Leyland, the two men chatting and smiling. When Leyland went through his daily routine of hitting fungoes to the second basemen, he called La Russa over, the conversation continuing as Leyland worked.
It’s very possible that La Russa attended the series because of his role with Major League Baseball. But with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, I suspect now that La Russa was there to be with Leyland for the end of his managerial career. Hours after Leyland and La Russa shared that time on the field, Leyland told his players that he was stepping down as the Tigers’ manager.
Leyland retired with modesty and a lot of victories, writes Mitch Albom. Lloyd McClendon may be in the mix to be the next manager.
It’s time, Leyland said.
Leyland was one of a kind to be around, writes Tom Gage. From Tom’s story:
The new manager, if he has a pregame media session, probably won’t conduct it from under a blanket on the sofa bed in his office at 9:30 on a Sunday morning because why not spend the night at the park after a Saturday night game?
Reporters, myself included, would groan about the time (3½ hours before game time Sunday morning), but the bad thing about it was never more important than the good thing: the fact Leyland felt it was his responsibility as manager to meet with the press twice a day.
And not in some informal interview room, either.
If it was a Sunday morning with Leyland still under the covers, hey, that was Leyland.
The new manager, if he refers to them at all, probably won’t refer to cigarettes as smags. That’s from the 50s, and as much as he knew he should stop smoking, Leyland never has.
He once attended a function at the White House, telling the story about “needing a smoke,” and how he and the late Harry Kalas, the Hall of Fame voice of the Phillies, found a corner where, allowed or not, they were able to light up.
Then again, continuing on a presidential theme, the new manager probably never played a round of golf with Bill Clinton.
"When he called to congratulate me for winning the World Series with the Marlins, I asked him, 'When are you and me going to play golf?" Leyland said. "I didn’t expect him to take me up on it, but I asked anyway, and he replied by saying he was going to be in Florida soon and would call me."
Cincy's new skipper
It was more than a decade ago that then-Seattle GM Pat Gillick talked about a rising pitching coach in his organization -- someone, he said, who was deft in his work with pitchers; had the spine to deal with the Mariners’ manager at the time, Lou Piniella; and had an egoless approach that put others around him at ease.
In fact, Gillick said at the time, he wouldn’t be surprised if the coach became a major league manager.
The coach was Bryan Price, who has made Gillick’s prediction come true: Today, he will be named the manager of the Reds.
Two weeks ago, former Reds outfielder Jonny Gomes talked about the inherent challenge for any pitching coach to ascend to the job of major league manager: He must garner the respect of the position players, who must believe that his knowledge goes beyond pitching, and he must be able to understand the daily grind that position players go through. Some pitching coaches simply don’t have that and never will, Gomes indicated.
"He does," Gomes said, about Price.
In my opinion: a great hire. Price is extraordinary in dealing with other people, to the degree that they will not worry about some unseen agenda. They will know that it’s not about him, it’s about winning, and with a lot of coaches that is not always the case. Price is pliable, and will maximize the use of the advanced metrics available to all managers these days; his doctrine is about getting better.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. A swap of Dan Uggla for Brandon Phillips sounds too good for the Braves, writes Mark Bradley.
2. The Rangers hired Tim Bogar as their bench coach.
3. Joe Nathan is leaving the Rangers at the end of the month.
4. Kirk Gibson is not going anywhere, says D-backs CEO Derrick Hall.
5. The Giants and Tim Lincecum could meet halfway in their talks, writes Tim Kawakami. In my opinion: This might be the simplest decision for any team involved with a veteran free agent. If they give Lincecum a qualifying offer of $14.1 million -- a nice one-year deal with no long-term risk -- it would completely cut the legs from underneath his free agency. It’s hard to imagine there would be teams willing to give up a draft pick to sign Lincecum to a pricey multiyear deal considering the inconsistency of his last two seasons. Tendering a qualifying offer to Lincecum -- and nothing more -- is the smart, conservative play for the Giants at this stage.
6. Taylor Green is staying with the Brewers.
7. The Dodgers spent a lot of money on an infielder from Cuba.
Dings and dents
1. Matt Kemp had surgery.
• The Red Sox and Cardinals make a great pair for the series, writes Bernie Miklasz.
• The A-Rod circus added another ring, with his lawyer arguing for a hearing in an open public setting.
And today will be better than yesterday.