The last time we heard from Don Mattingly it was on a conference call. Trying to explain his “mutual agreement” to divorce the Dodgers, he said pretty much nothing. He was on script.
Tuesday he was on “The Dan Patrick Show,” and if he wasn’t exactly revelatory, he was at least slightly more forthcoming. He sounded a lot like a guy who will be managing in Miami next year, who recognized postseason failure was a major factor in his exit, and offered up interesting opinions on Zack Greinke’s potential return for the last year of his contract and what’s next for Yasiel Puig.
Here is a partial transcript from the nearly 15-minute interview:
Has he agreed to be the next Marlins manager?
No, absolutely not. I got a chance to meet with some of their people yesterday and that went really well, for me. I like their guys and we’ll see where it goes. At that point you don’t know how much they like you and how everything works out, but it was I felt like a good visit.
How many teams have called?
It’s been pretty quiet. I’ve talked to a few different guys who called me from different organizations with different types of scenarios. Without getting into it, the one team I have interviewed with has been Florida.
How was his departure from the Dodgers mutual?
As we kept talking it just seemed like it was the clear path. It was the best thing for me at that moment, I think it’s the best thing for the organization at this moment. And it was mutual .… I’m really comfortable with the way things ended from that standpoint, that it is something you can walk away as men, being respectful of the two different positions and move forward.
Why are the Dodgers better off without him?
I just think it’s the right time. Sometimes change is the right thing. I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in the regular season, the ways guys responded to what myself and the staff tried to do and tried to get to.
But we haven’t had the success in the postseason that a major market kind of demands. And at some point I think it says, “Hey, let’s move in a little bit different direction.” I think it’s just the right thing. There’s a lot of noise around me, which is a distraction for the team and what guys are trying to do. Andrew [Friedman] and Farhan [Zaidi], a new regime coming in, have their way of doing things. So I just think it seemed like ... the momentum was going toward a nice mutual agreement. This was the best for both guys.
Despite their payroll, the Dodgers had an imperfect roster.
I think it’s [a] fair [assessment]. You’re paying guys for what they’ve done in the past. There were holes and areas where our club could be better. I think definitely since Andrew and Farhan came in, there’s a transition going on and I think it’s going to be trending to getting the payroll down, trending toward getting younger.
But my thought on our club is if you get in, you’ve got your shot. The Mets were able to beat [Clayton] Kershaw once and Greinke once. So you have to give them some credit. We took those guys down to Game 5 and got them down, 2-0. One more big hit and we had [Jacob] deGrom out of the game and maybe it’s different and we’re playing the Cubs and we’re in the World Series. But that didn’t happen.”
What does the future hold for Greinke?
I think he’s opting out. I would think that’s 100% sure. To get Greinke back, I would think you have to make a commitment to five, six years, and then you’re into a 38-year-old starter. And the back end of those deals don’t look very good sometimes. A lot of people think Zack can pitch for a long time because his motion is good and he knows how to change speeds.
Where is Puig in his career?
I think at a crossroads. For me, I think he jumped out there and was great and then he has not really continued on that path. You’ve been around the game a long time, and a lot of sports. Guys will jump out that first year to throw the magic out there, and then there’s a league change. Teams are going to gear up for you, continue to make adjustments to get you out. If you don’t continue to work and continue to make adjustments, then you get stuck. Obviously the talent is there. The talent is off the charts. But he’ll have to make some adjustments.
After wearing iconic Dodgers and Yankees uniforms, could he really wear Marlins’ teal?
I don’t know what’s going to happen. But it’s just an interesting place because of the young talent they have and the challenges that it brings with a young roster, with a situation that’s not going to go out and buy players. They have to develop players. You have to be able to work from within.
It’s a different challenge, and to be very honest, that’s really interesting to me at this point in my life, in my career. I am interested in that kind of challenge.
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