Has Don Mattingly Lost Control On The Field?
By Scott Andes
Not to say he’s ever really had it. But if you read between the lines you may be able to see that the players are running the show. Don Mattingly no longer has control over his players on the field . Having control over your payers on the field is just as important as having control in the clubhouse. Take a look at what Ken Gurnick wrote over at MLB.com this morning. It’s some pretty disconcerting stuff.
It’s bad enough that the Dodgers decided to option catcher Tim Federowicz back down to AAA Albuquerque today to make room for second baseman Mark Ellis. The veteran second bagger is coming off of a sore quad, and is in the starting lineup this afternoon in the third game of the three game series against the Braves in Atlanta. The move is suspect, as it leaves us with the horrendous Ramon Hernandez once again as the backup catcher to A.J. Ellis, but was the move perhaps more of a disciplinary move?
Has Mattingly lost his control?-Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Apparently Mattingly was not happy with Tim Federowicz’s pitch selection in that fateful bottom of the eighth during last night’s 3-1 loss to the Braves. With Fedex behind the plate, the Dodgers were clinging to a 1-0 lead. Before the inning, starter Chris Capuano told Mattingly that he was tiring and his calf was hurting, despite allowing just four hits and no runs up to that point. In that fateful eighth frame, Capuano allowed a one out piddly groundball single, and then was yanked. Mattingly went to the bullpen and brought in Kenley Jansen. The right hander has been the Dodgers best and only good reliever all season long.
With a runner at first, the Braves called up 26 year old rookie Evan Gattis to pinch-hit. Before the at-bat Gattis was seen talking with Justin Upton and former Dodger Reed Johnson on how to hit Jansen. The Braves easily scouted Jansen, telling Gattis to wait back on an inside cutter.
Jansen threw eight straight cutters to Gattis. With the count 2-2 and on the eighth pitch, Gattis waited back on an inside cutter and hit it out pulling it down the left field line. Jansen than allowed a second home run to Andrelton Simmons, which gave the Braves a 3-1 lead, and eventually the win.
Mattingly had called for a slider. Fedex had called for an outside cutter. Jansen listened to nobody, instead shaking off both his manager and his catcher, instead choosing to throw that inside cutter. He said he wanted to back Gattis off the plate. But on a 2-2 pitch? Is that wise?
Jansen made a typical rookie mistake. He should have thrown a slider. Gattis was sitting dead red there. He knew what was coming and just waited for Jansen to make a mistake. He did. Gattis made him pay for it. What’s more concerning is Mattingly’s lack of control during that whole scenario.
So did the Dodgers send down Fedex again because of this pitch selection mix up?
Mattingly went on to tell Gurnick….
"“You want him to pitch to his conviction, but he pitched right into [Gattis’] strength,” Mattingly said. “[Catcher Tim Federowicz] called a slider, he didn’t want to throw it. He called for a fastball away, he wanted to come inside. For me, [Federowicz] has to go out and make sure. If he says, ‘I can get this guy inside,’ that’s his conviction“But you can’t go to the mound and say, ‘Kenley, throw what he says,'” Mattingly said. “The pitcher has the game in his hands.”"
This is what poor game management leads to. Losing-Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Yes the pitcher has the game in his hands, but the manager calls the shots. If these guys aren’t on the same page during the game, then they can’t be on the same page in the clubhouse either. It’s Mattingly’s job to get these guys together and make good decisions quickly during the game. How about stopping the game and going out to talk to Jansen and Fedex and make sure they are aware of how you want to pitch Gattis?
These kind of issues spell a bigger issue with the Dodgers that comes from the top. Can’t go out and tell Kenley what to throw? Are you kidding me? Of course you can do that. It’s simple, you go out to the mound and tell him. You are the manager Don, and you must have control of the players, not only in the clubhouse but also on the mound and on the field. Having control of the players on the field is just as important. I fear that Don Mattingly has lost control of his team on the field.