Why would any team want Mattingly for a manager?

Leave a comment

It’s long been assumed that he’d get the Dodgers’ job once Joe Torre retired, but Don Mattingly is in demand and apparently could jump ship now. He’s a leading candidate to take over for Eric Wedge in Cleveland and Jim Riggleman in Washington.
I just want to know why.
Mattingly’s reputation as a fine leader goes back to his playing days. There’s no doubt his teammates had great respect for him, and there was never any reason to question his status as one of the game’s gentleman.
Of course, that leadership never really translated on the field. Mattingly’s Yankees teams made the playoffs once in 14 seasons. That was in 1995, his final year of the bigs. Just a shell of his former self, he hit .288/.341/.413 with a mere 49 RBI in 128 games. He did end up turning in a big ALDS, going 10-for-24 with a homer and six RBI. However, the Yankees lost to the Mariners in a thrilling five-game series anyway. It was immediately after Mattingly retired that the Yankees went on their historic run.
Mattingly essentially took eight years off after his playing career, though he did serve as a spring training instructor with the Yankees. After the 2003 season, he took over as the Bombers’ hitting coach, serving in that role for three years. The Yankees then made him their bench coach, apparently with the idea of grooming him to replace Torre. However, after Torre was fired following the 2007 season, the Yankees picked Joe Girardi as their new manager.
Mattingly followed Torre to Los Angeles, but it was a bumpy ride at first. He was hired as the Dodgers’ hitting coach, but he abruptly stepped down in Jan. 2008, citing family issues, and took a lesser role. After six months, his family issues apparently cleared up, he made his interest known and took back to hitting coach job, replacing Mike Easler.
The family issues, though, have drawn more headlines than his on-field work of late. After Mattingly initially stepped down as hitting coach, his wife was arrested and charged with public intoxication and disorderly conduct for refusing to leave Don’s property. Mattingly later got a protective order. In July of this year, his son Taylor was arrested for allegedly shoving his mother and spitting in her face. He was charged with battery by bodily waste and criminal mischief.
There’s not any evidence out there that Mattingly isn’t the man every Yankee fan who grew up in the 80s admired. Still, it’s hardly unfair to question his ability to manage a family. As for whether he can manage ballplayers, we simply have no idea, since Mattingly had no interest in working in the minors following his playing career. That remains the biggest strike against him. Mattingly has never had to handle a pitching staff, and he hasn’t exactly had the best role model in that area in Torre. His track record as a hitting coach is largely positive, but it’s quite possible that’s the best role for him.

Report: Rays having “advanced talks” with free agent reliever Tommy Hunter

Leave a comment

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.

Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.

Pirates sign left-hander Cory Luebke

Cory Luebke Getty
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Eric O'Flaherty wasn’t the only reclamation project added by the Pirates today, as the club also announced that they have signed left-hander Cory Luebke to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Luebke once looked like a solid rotation piece for the Padres, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since April 27, 2012. He’s undergone a pair of Tommy John surgeries since. Now 30 years old, he logged seven innings in the minors last season before requiring a procedure to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. The Padres cut ties with him in November after declining a $7.5 million club option for 2016.

It’s hard to count on much from Luebke at this point, but he told Adam Berry of MLB.com that he feels healthy and hopes to compete for a bullpen job in the spring.

White Sox reportedly considering Ian Desmond

Ian Desmond
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
4 Comments

Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.

After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.

Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
Leave a comment

Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.