Will Dodgers respond to Don Mattingly?

Don Mattingly publicly criticized the Dodgers last season after they got off to a poor 18-26 start to the season. Now, after going 31-30, he's done it again.
(Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

There was nothing surprising about Don Mattingly’s recent criticism of the Dodgers, other than perhaps the decision to use an obscenity to describe the team.

Mattingly tried something like this early last year, when the Dodgers were playing even worse than they are now.

Based on how the Dodgers responded to the previous public censure, there’s no reason to believe they’ll be a new team when they start a three-game series Friday against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.


When Mattingly called out his players last May, the Dodgers were 18-26. The team was in its first full season under the ownership of the Guggenheim Baseball Management, which fielded a lineup with a record payroll. Mattingly was in the final year of his contract and speculation mounted that he could soon be fired.

At the time, Mattingly said he found his team to be lacking mental fortitude. On the day he made the comments, he benched Andre Ethier, which seemed to suggest he thought Ethier was missing the character traits he wanted in his players.

The Dodgers beat the Milwaukee Brewers that day. But in the 27 games that followed, they won only 11 times. Yasiel Puig was promoted to the major leagues June 3, but the Dodgers continued to drop games an alarming rate for another couple of weeks.

The turning point of the 2013 season was when Hanley Ramirez, who was sidelined for the majority of the first two months, turned himself into the second coming of Manny Ramirez, and the Dodgers went on a 42-8 run.

Mattingly might not be fearing for his job now as he did last year, but he’s probably more frustrated. The Dodgers are only one game over .500.

Mattingly’s anger was reflected in his concise appraisal of his team after another loss Wednesday night: “Basically, we’re [bleep].”

Injuries shouldn’t be used as an excuse.

Carl Crawford is on the disabled list, but the Dodgers are starting an outfield of Puig, Ethier and Matt Kemp. A.J. Ellis and Juan Uribe are also sidelined, but they aren’t game changers like Ramirez.

Mattingly also can’t count on finding another Puig-like savior in the minor leagues. Triple-A outfielder Joc Pederson could be an All-Star one day, but there’s no room for him on this roster.

So, again, Mattingly has no choice but to wait for Ramirez, who is hitting a disappointing .253 and looks nothing like the shortstop he was last season.

Ramirez is waiting for a new contract, which he probably won’t get until the winter. Perhaps that was what Mattingly was talking about before the latest game, when he said his players didn’t share a common objective.

Future stars?

With the 22nd overall pick in baseball’s amateur draft, the Dodgers selected right-hander Grant Holmes of Conway High in South Carolina. Holmes, 18, has touched 100 mph with his fastball, according to reports.

In the second round, the Dodgers chose outfielder Alex Verdugo, an outfielder from Sahuaro High in Tucson.

Up next

Hyun-Jin Ryu (6-2, 3.09) will face the Rockies and Eddie Butler (major league debut) at Coors Field at 5:30 p.m. PDT. On the air: TV: SportsNet LA; Radio: 570, 1020.