Since taking over the team last year, the Dodgers' new owners have spent money to revamp their roster, refurbish their stadium, rebuild their scouting department and restock their minor-league system. But they have yet to spend any on their manager.
Don Mattingly was told in the fall that the Dodgers were not ready to pick up the 2014 option in his contract, leaving him (for now) a lame-duck manager of a high-payroll, star-laden team with expectations as outsized as the salaries. That is a combination that could make for uncomfortable temperatures if the Dodgers stumble out of the gate or fail to meet those expectations.
But Mattingly insists it will not make him angry or concerned if the issue is not addressed before Opening Day.
"Not at all. I'm absolutely fine with it," Mattingly said. "The way I look at it is this – somebody that comes in and spends $2 billion on a team and takes the payroll over $200 million, they're not going to hesitate to get rid of the manager if they don't like him. I feel I got a vote of confidence (by returning for 2013). If they didn't like me or didn't like the job I'd done, I'd already be gone."
Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten would not comment on the situation, saying only that he thought very highly of Mattingly and the job he has done with the Dodgers during a very turbulent stretch in the franchise's history. GM Ned Colletti was given a multi-year extension last September by the new ownership and has indicated Mattingly's contract status will be addressed at some point.
In the meantime, though, that status could create a frequent line of questioning for Mattingly and his players – something the manager would like to avoid.
"You know going into the season there's going to be a stretch of games where we lose six of 10 or just don't look good," Mattingly said. "I don't want to become a part of the story line or a distraction for my ballclub. What I want to do is cut out as much noise as possible – and that goes for all the talk about expectations and payroll and anything that distracts my players from what they need to do – and I don't want that noise to be about me.
Mattingly doesn't want to be a distraction for the Dodgers
Orange County Register | Jan 28