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.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.