To say that the Los Angeles Dodgers are under-performing would be an understatement. They’re awful. They’ve been hit with a number of injuries to key players, and they continue to masquerade the likes of Juan Uribe, Luis Cruz, and Mark Ellis as viable infield options on a daily basis. The Dodgers are 18-26 today, which is far below whatever expectations a nearly $217 million payroll may have levied upon them.
Don Mattingly, despite a disappointing record and an awful -39 run differential, received a vote of confidence from general manager Ned Colletti this week. Not that Donnie Baseball should bear the brunt of the blame for a baseball team whose talent level may have been wildly overrated coming into the season, but it’s surprising nonetheless that he’s lasted this long.
Perhaps Mattingly has had enough and elected to slam Colletti’s personnel decisions and his team’s compete level in an effort to rid himself of this most unenviable position. Maybe Mattingly took that vote of confidence as a gesture to indicate that his job is secure regardless of what he may say or do moving forward. Whatever the case, Mattingly unloaded on his players, and Colletti in a roundabout way, with some comments to Bill Plunkett of the O.C. Register:
“We gotta find a team with talent that will fight and compete like a club that doesn’t have that talent,” he said, pointing to last year’s team which led the NL West by 5 1/2 games at the end of May despite a far less-talented lineup.
I felt we got more out of our ability (last year). I don’t know about being tougher but I felt we got more out of our ability.
There has to be a mixture of competitiveness. It’s not ‘Let’s put an All-Star team together and the All-Star team wins.’ It’s finding that balance of a team that has a little bit of grit and will fight you. And also having talent to go with it. All grit and no talent isn’t going to make you successful. But all talent and not grit isn’t going to get you there either.”
Mattingly has ostensibly questioned the talent level of his players, as well as their ‘compete level’, and he’s even slammed the construction of the roster he’s tasked with managing. Them’s some words of a frustrated man.
Furthermore, Mattingly chose to keep Andre Ethier out of the lineup for today’s game versus the Milwaukee Brewers. He didn’t exclude Ethier from the lineup because he’s hurt, but rather because he wants to “field a team that will compete the best”, according to a tweet from Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times. Ouch.
Was Ned Colletti’s vote of confidence just a ‘kiss of death’, and Mattingly’s firing some shots on his way out? Or is this a case of an old school guy trying to incite his club to pick up their play? Unless the Dodgers make a remarkable turn around beginning this afternoon, then it seems like Mattingly may be making it easy for Colletti to send him home.