Look, I’m not saying I would be a better manager than Don Mattingly. I know I wouldn’t be. I’d screw up every single double switch, I’d forget to warm up guys in the bullpen, I’d drop F-bombs on my local radio show and the first time my clubhouse got a little out of control I’d handle it poorly and have a revolt on my hands that even A.J. Hinch would mock.
But I do think that, if I managed the Los Angeles Dodgers, I’d do everything in my power to make sure the bat was never taken out of Matt Kemp’s hands if it could be helped. This is something Donnie Baseball did not do last night.
The scene: eighth inning of last night’s Dodgers-Giants game. Bobby Abreu on second base, Dee Gordon on first, Mark Ellis at the plate. No one out. Mattingly has Ellis bunt and he’s “successful.” That success, however, ensures that Kemp — who was on deck — would be walked because it put runners on second and third with one out and first base open.
So Kemp was walked, Bruce Bochy brought in lefty Javier Lopez to face lefty Andre Ethier (and behind him were two more lefties, so it was certain that Bochy would bring in Lopez). Eithier hits into a double play, ending the last best chance the Dodgers had to win the game.
Mattingly defended the move after the game, saying that Ethier led the league in RBI and he had confidence in him and all of that. But really: wouldn’t you rather have Matt Kemp in a position to where he could do some damage rather than have him given the inevitable free pass? And that’s before you figure in what Ellis giving away an out does for your scoring chances.
I don’t usually second-guess like this, but man, there is no one hitting like Matt Kemp right now. I think I’d let the man hit.