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Don Mattingly

20 Days of Thinking Blue: How concerned should we be about Yasiel Puig?

The countdown has begun, kids. Opening Night (well, American Opening Night) is fast approaching as the Dodgers take on the Padres down in San Diego on March 30th. Leading up until then, MAMBINO will tackle 20 of the most important–and some not so important–questions that will get you set up for a season of almost unparalleled expectations. Let’s get it going:
 
Puig is fat right now. Concerned?
 
I’m not overly concerned that the Rookie of the Year runner-up landed in Spring Training 15-20 pounds overweight. He’s 23 years old. 15 pounds can come off of him in a few days of hard workouts and gluten-free meals.
 
What does worry me is… everything else. As per usual.
 
Puig started off… well, you know. In his first month of Major League service, he hit .436 with 7 homers. He “tapered off” from July to August, hitting .305, with a .858 OPS. His September? Not as great. Puig hit just .214 (but still maintaining his power at .477 slugging) and looked noticeably overmatched on many nights. His troubles extended to this spring, when he notoriously hit just .122 while, yes, looking out of shape for the first weeks of training camp.
 
And even as bad as his batting average has been for the past month in exhibition play, Puig’s troubles seem to have extended past just the percentage of at-bats he’s gotten hits. In Mark Saxon’s recent article for ESPNLA, he details how the young superstar in waiting has gotten on the nerves of his veteran teammates, screwing around in practice and generally acting like a butthole. None of this information is particularly out of line with his past behavior, as Don Mattingly benched him last season for lackadaisical play in the field.… Read more...

20 Days of Thinking Blue: How safe is Donnie Baseball?

The countdown has begun, kids. Opening Night (well, American Opening Night) is fast approaching as the Dodgers take on the Padres down in San Diego on March 30th. Leading up until then, MAMBINO will tackle 20 of the most important–and some not so important–questions that will get you set up for a season of almost unparalleled expectations. Let’s get it going:
 
Even with a brand new multi-year extension in his front pocket, how safe do we actually think Don Mattingly’s job is? If the team starts out in the basement of the NL West, will he be hearing calls for his head?
 
Certainly safer than it was four months ago, but ultimately, certainly not bullet proof.
 
In one of the strangest, most passive aggressive press conferences in recent memory, the usually restrained Mattingly openly bemoaned his lack of contract security… with General Manager Ned Colletti sitting right next to him. It was insanely uncomfortable, like a couple arguing at a dinner party you went to last week, or admitting you went to a dinner party last week. See it and squirm yourself:… Read more...

What else could the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers have done to win a title? Not much

I still haven’t watched a pitch from Game 6.
 
I have a general theory on the potentially penultimate game in a series when your favorite team is down 3 games to 2: other than a general enjoyment of the sport, there is no upside to watching Game 6s. Zero.
 
Let’s say your squad is entangled in one of these such battles for their very postseason existence, looking on down at a long offseason abyss, proverbial fingernails scratching at the cliff. For most people, the excitement of a pressure packed game is genuinely the most exhilarating situation possible. But for the fans of that team, it’s absolutely excruciating. Before the starting tip, first pitch or opening kick-off, you’re already on edge. For a fan whose team is down 3-2, it’s even worse.
 
In almost every single case, there is no upside to watching that game. All that winning the contest means…is that there’s still another game to watch and win, with the stakes raised and the anxiety ratched up seventeen dozen notches. Winning that Game 6 ultimately doesn’t mean winning, but rather, just delays any shot at a satisfying feeling of finality. For the hardcore fan whose emotions live and die with the team, Game 6s are the worst. Which is part of the reason I wasn’t sitting in front of a television on Friday.
 
Though the Pearl Jam tickets I bought didn’t help, either.… Read more...

Dodger Digs: What needs to go right for Don Mattingly to keep his job

Let’s run down the facts:
 
Last place in the NL West, 11th place in the National League. A 19-26 record has the Dodgers with only 6 more wins than the Houston Astros, a squad on pace to be one of the worst in MLB history. Part of the reason is a pitiful offense: LA is 29th in runs scored, 28th in home runs, 28th in slugging percentage and are 23rd in average with runners in scoring position (at .229!). Despite everything, the Dodgers are just 6 games out of first place–but that’s in spite of the fact that they’re in the worst division in either league. Of course, none of this would be terribly bad news in late May, except LA has the biggest payroll in baseball and possibly the greatest expectations in franchise history.
 
Who do you put the blame on? The line-up for under performing, including a disgraceful offense bogged down by awful early season performances from outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier? The bullpen for blowing 8 leads in just 6 weeks when they were supposed to be a bulletproof relief corps? Injuries for absolutely rocking the team, with over a dozen disabled list trips already, including a broken collar bone, pulled hamstrings, torn thumb ligaments and strained calves?
 
Wherever the true culpability lies, there’s little doubt where the ax is going to fall in a rapidly decaying season.
 
In short: it doesn’t look great for Donnie Ballgame.… Read more...

State of Chavez Ravine: 2012 LA Dodgers Preview

Oh boy. Here it is. Strap in and put on your positive thinking caps Mambinites. I hate to do it, but we’re about to take a ride to Negativetown, the air conditioners are broken and we only have a Lou Diamond Phillips spoken word CD in the car. Sorry everybody.

Always the best part of Dodger baseball…but especially in 2012

Never before have I been so apathetic about a Dodger season. We’re on the precipice of a major change in the organization, but this transition time has paralyzed the team, and locked them into a holding pattern until a new owner is decided upon. The most exciting part of the season might be that we get another year of the ever-immaculate play-calling of the legendary Vin Scully.

And thus, the half-hearted Dodgers squad you see before you. This offseason, Ned Colletti filled the team with stopgap solutions full of retreads, scrap heap finds and cheap veterans. Quite frankly, there’s not a lot that inspires you outside of the reigning NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw and NL MVP runner-up Matt Kemp.  Let’s take a closer look at the team through its various components:… Read more...