Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times talked to owner Magic Johnson about his expectations for the Dodgers this season:
We want to go to the World Series. If we don’t accomplish that, yes, it is not a good season for us. Guys should be saying that. As the ownership group, that is what we are saying.
That makes sense in that the Dodgers have added a ton of star players and now boast the largest payroll in baseball history, but as the playoffs constantly prove being the best team–or at least having the best record–doesn’t always mean winning the World Series. It’s much different than the NBA that way.
And if they don’t win the World Series, what happens to manager Don Mattingly when his contract expires after the season?
Don has been in this game. He understands how these things work. He knows, if he does his job, he will get rewarded. Look, everybody likes Don a lot. Nobody wants to put Don in a situation where he is going to be the fall guy. We’re not that type of guys. What we’re trying to do is give Don all the resources necessary to be a winner, be effective and be a champion.
If it’s truly “World Series or bust” for the Dodgers this season Mattingly ought to be very nervous.
Marc Carig of The Athletic reports that the Mets have interviewed Dave Littlefield to fill the club’s GM vacancy. The position hasn’t exactly been a popular one for potential candidates, with many preemptively taking their name out of consideration.
Littlefield, 58, was the Pirates’ GM between 2001-07. It didn’t exactly go well. The club never won more than 75 games during his tenure. Littlefield was also infamous for the 2003 Rule 5 draft in which he carelessly left several valuable players unprotected, including Chris Shelton and José Bautista. Littlefield was also criticized for trades he made (e.g. Aramis Ramírez) and for trades he didn’t make (e.g. Kris Benson for Ryan Howard).
In the time since, Littlefield worked as a scout for the Cubs, then for the Tigers. Since 2015, he has worked as the vice president of player development for the Tigers. Littlefield’s successor, Neal Huntington, went on to have more success which didn’t help Littlefield’s cause any. Huntington was also comparatively much more open to analytics.
The Mets’ interest in Littlefield isn’t surprising. There are plenty of up-and-coming GM candidates — like Ben Cherington — the Mets could target, but Fred Wilpon (pictured above) doesn’t want that. He wants someone malleable who will adhere to payroll constrictions. Mets ownership’s involvement is an issue for the younger, analytics-oriented executives, Matt Ehalt of The Record reported earlier this month. Ehalt wrote, “There are rumblings that several candidates with progressive, analytics-oriented approaches do not believe they will be able to operate as they please should they take the Mets job, according to a source. That hesitation played a factor in why former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington bowed out of the mix, per the source.”
You have to feel bad for Mets fans, who seem relegated to having to root for a middling ballclub once again. And you have to feel bad for the likes of Brandon Nimmo, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard, who will once again have to perform for a team that doesn’t have competing as its chief priority.