Let me preface all of this by saying that over the past two seasons I have come to know Dodger manager Don Mattingly rather well through my time spent in the Dodger clubhouse and dugout and I really like the guy. I like the way that he supports his players and respect that he toes the company line – whether I agree with it or not. Mattingly is always polite, friendly and usually very open and honest with the media – although I did hear him once say (and I quote): “That was just bullshit,” when asked about something he once told us – but he did so jokingly and with a smile on his face.
But the bottom line is that barring an absolute miracle, Mattingly will most likely be gone before the July 31 trade deadline, this in spite of reassurances from Dodger President and CEO Stan Kasten that Mattingly’s job is safe. (Is it just me or does it seem that these reassurances aren’t quite as frequent as they used to be?). I don’t say this because Mattingly is incapable as a major league manager, I say this because Mattingly is inexperienced as a major league manager.
Oh sure, some may argue that two and a half seasons as a MLB manager is more than enough experience, but in my opinion, two and a half seasons as an unsuccessful MLB manager makes you anything but an experienced manager – and Mattingly has been anything but successful. In fact, according to Howard Cole of LA Weekly, Mattingly will enter Friday night’s game with a career managerial record of 198-196 (.502) – the worst winning percentage for a Dodger manager since Burleigh Grimes in 1938 (.434).
With that being said and with the painful reality that Don Mattingly’s days are undoubtedly numbered as the Dodger manager, who should replace him?
My first choice is the guy who should have been given the job to begin with when Joe Torre stepped down in 2010 – Tim Wallach. Talk about a guy who has paid his dues, since retiring from the game after an outstanding 17-year MLB playing career, Wallach has been a minor league manager and major league coach for a combined 16 years. To be brutally honest, Tim Wallach has forgotten more about coaching and managing that Don Mattingly will ever know; and when he was snubbed by Frank McCourt and Ned Colletti for the job in favor of Mattingly (which was clearly nothing more than a publicity move), it was among one of the greatest travesties and injustices in Dodger franchise history.
My second choice to replace Mattingly would be former MLB manager and current MLB Network Radio and DodgerTalk Radio co-host Kevin Kennedy, who came up through the Dodger farm system as a catcher and served as both a minor league manager in the Dodger organization and as a major league manager for the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers. Kevin’s low-key personality and his extremely analytical mind would make him an excellent choice for the position.
Dodger bench coach Trey Hillman is yet another option to replace Mattingly and very well may do so on an interim basis if/when Mattingly gets the ax. Not only does Hillman have MLB experience as a former manager with the Kansas City Royals, he also managed in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league.
While many longtime Dodger fans are clamoring for the Guggenheim Baseball Management group to hire current Angel manager (and former Dodger) Mike Scioscia to replace Mattingly, would this be a wise choice? Don’t get me wrong, I have always been a huge Mike Scioscia fan, but is replacing one struggling manager with another a wise move? And this does not even take into consideration that Scioscia is under contract with the 33-40 fourth place Angels until 2018. That said, it is no secret that Scioscia and Angel general manager Jerry Dipoto do not see eye-to-eye on many things, so the Angels may be willing to eat Scioscia’s contract to get rid of him.
Regardless of who gets the nod, I still believe that Ned Colletti is far more responsible for the current state of affairs with the Dodgers than is Mattingly and that if Mattingly gets canned, so too should Colletti; but that’s another story for another day.
So, if you were calling the shots who would be your choice to replace Mattingly as either the interim or permanent Dodger manager?