The Dodgers were contractually obligated to give Mattingly the job

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We now turn to the latest bit of evidence showing that the Dodgers couldn’t manage their way out of a paper bag. Dylan Hernandez reports the following:

Before the start of this season, Mattingly had signed a deal that guaranteed him the manager’s job if Torre stepped down.

Look — I’m not going to quibble too much with the choice of Mattingly as the Dodgers’ manager. He’s a great guy by all accounts. While he hasn’t managed, he’s been the right-hand man of a Hall of Fame manager for the last several years.  He may very well do a fine job there and, because I loved him as a player, I really hope he does.

But what kind of an organization binds itself into hiring a guy via a contractual succession clause like that?  What if the reason Joe Torre stepped down was because the entire team turned on him in a clubhouse revolt? The Dodgers would then have to either install Mattingly nonetheless or else buy him out, likely at a premium over and above what he would have been paid.

Or maybe that’s really it: maybe they locked Mattingly in like that because Mattingly agreed to do the job dirt cheap. I haven’t seen any reports of his salary yet — though I have heard that the deal is for three years — but perhaps it’s peanuts.

But apart from rank parsimony, there is no business or baseball justification that I can think of for pledging to hire someone like the Dodgers apparently pledged to hire Mattingly.  If the Dodgers have one, I do wish they’d share it with the rest of us.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.