When Dodgers manager Don Mattingly made some pointed comments about his team yesterday, many thought that it was the beginning of the end for him in Los Angeles. It still might be, but the Dodgers are sticking with him for now.
After we learned last night that Mattingly will indeed be the manager for Friday’s series opener against the Cardinals, Dodgers president Stan Kasten told FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal today that he saw the controversial comments as motivational in nature. He also provided what could be considered a “vote of confidence” for the embattled skipper.
“I know what Don is trying to do, what his intention is,” Kasten told FOXSports.com on Thursday. “It’s to light a fire, kick-start the team. He’s trying everything he can think of. We’re all behind him.”
Meanwhile, Buster Olney and Jayson Stark of ESPN are reporting that Mattingly “is in no imminent danger of being fired.” They also hear that general manager Ned Colletti and Mattingly are on the same page regarding the controversial comments.
Despite a $230 million payroll, the Dodgers will begin play Friday with a disappointing 19-26 record. If they don’t turn things around quickly, Mattingly figures to pay the price.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.