For Dodgers, new-age stats and old-school coaches can co-exist

In his playing days, Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly served under managers not exactly known for their even temperament. Most famous among them, of course, was Yankees Manager Billy Martin.

Since then, the emergence of the advanced-statistical approach to assembling a team has changed the role of manager in some fundamental ways. The latest skirmish over the use of advanced metrics, between Angels Manager Mike Scioscia and General Manager Jerry Dipoto, ended in Dipoto’s resignation.

So it was an interesting time to ask, how would Martin and his contemporaries have handled the information age?

“Probably not so good,” Mattingly said with a laugh.

The Dodgers' new front office, led by Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations, and General Manager Farhan Zaidi, has promoted a more mathematical approach to baseball.

And yet, Mattingly says the relationship between the front office and the coaching staff is strong. Both have publicly given Mattingly their support.

Mattingly said the key has been frank dialogue.

“Andrew and Farhan always communicated from the very beginning,” Mattingly said. “So the discussions have been easy. It doesn’t mean they agree with everything, or we agree with everything, but the communication has been really easy, and the back and forth has been solid.”

The new information, Mattingly said, hasn’t felt complicated. He said managers are still trying to accomplish the same things. Now, they have more tools to do it.

“You always want to position right,” Mattingly said. “You’re still trying to throw the ball to certain parts of the plate. Now you just have a lot more information, giving you better information on how to target that stuff. So it’s a matter of taking that information and put your defense in the right spot, and take all that information, hopefully pitch properly.”

This is a different era of baseball, Mattingly said. The old-school managers he played for had their own ways. Managers now have adjusted.

He considered this, then added, “But I really think Billy was really smart, right?”

It was agreed he was.

So, Mattingly concluded, he probably would have handled the new information OK after all. 

Twitter: @zhelfand

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times