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Dodgers Dugout: Was Ron Roenicke hired to make Don Mattingly nervous?

Dodgers Dugout: Was Ron Roenicke hired to make Don Mattingly nervous?
The Dodgers have hired Ron Roenicke to replace Lorenzo Bundy as the team's third base coach. (Doug Pensinger / Getty Images)

Hi, welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and I’m wondering if the Dodgers should consider putting Zack Greinke at second base and batting him third on his non-pitching days.

Manager in waiting?

The Dodgers announced Monday afternoon that they had hired Ron Roenicke to be their new third base coach, removing Lorenzo Bundy from that job and making assistant bench coach, which sounds like a giant demotion to me. However, this brings up an intriguing possibility. Roenicke is a former Dodger who managed the Milwaukee Brewers from 2011 to May of this season. And it is very unusual for a team to bring in an outsider to the coaching staff this late in the season. So, as a Dodgers fan, I have to ask: Is Roenicke here as a message to Don Mattingly, telling him he better up his game or there is a replacement waiting?

It's no secret that Mattingly is overmatched as a game manager. He often makes baffling decisions during a game and at other times seems too paralyzed to make a decision. Perhaps Roenicke is here to shake him from his lethargy and get him to start paying attention during games. Roenicke also fills two requirements that fans are quick to point out Mattingly is lacking: 1. He is a former Dodgers player and 2. He has managerial experience. Mattingly is a former Yankee who had no managerial experience.

Or maybe the Dodgers have decided to make Bundy the scapegoat for the worst baserunning team in baseball. But if that were the case, you could just move Tim Wallach out to third base, or promote someone else from within. Why bring in someone like Roenicke?

It looks to me, and to most other Dodgers fans who have emailed me, that this is a direct message to Mattingly. The next six weeks of the season just got a lot more interesting.

Overlooked Jansen

In all the talk about the miserable Dodgers bullpen this season, I haven’t said much about the big bright spot: Kenley Jansen. He doesn’t get much national notice, but Jansen has been one of the best closers in baseball over the last four seasons. Since 2012, Jansen’s first season as Dodgers closer, here are the MLB leaders in saves:

  1. Craig Kimbrel, 172
  2. Fernando Rodney, 149
  3. Aroldis Chapman, 136
  4. Greg Holland, 135
  5. Jonathan Papelbon, 125
  6. Huston Street, 124
  7. Kenley Jansen, 121
  8. Glen Perkins, 117
  9. Rafael Soriano, 117
  10. Joe Nathan, 112

In that span, Jansen has pitched 239 2/3 innings, giving up 155 hits while striking out 370 and compiling a 2.33 ERA. This season, he has blown only one save. But I’m pretty sure all that pales in comparison for Jansen to one thing: His girlfriend, Candace Cotton, gave birth to a baby boy, Kaden Isaiah Jansen, on Sunday morning. Jansen then raced to the ballpark in time to save Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Cincinnati.

More on Jansen

So what’s it like to go from watching your son being born to saving a game?

“A little exhausted right now, but I feel great," Jansen told The Times’ Dylan Hernandez.

Jansen said he woke up at 4 a.m. He and Cotton decided to have labor induced Sunday morning because the Dodgers are starting a road trip on Tuesday.

"Do it this way so I don't have to go on the road and fly back and miss some games," Jansen said. "I know these are important games for us."

Now that’s commitment to the team. Especially by Cotton.

Moving up the list

Sunday’s save was Jansen’s 130th, putting him in second place on the all-time Dodgers list. Eric Gagne leads the way with 161.

And Jansen had the right thing to say when this was brought up to him:

"You're going to be recognized by winning championships. That's my goal. That's what I'm focused on — winning, not my stats.”

Going the extra mile

The Dodgers ball boy who was stationed down the left-field line on Sunday made a play worthy of a major leaguer on a foul ball. Take a look

Ask Ross

Some of you have emailed me to ask whatever happened to longtime Dodgers announcer Ross Porter. Well, I am pleased to say that he is a subscriber to Dodgers Dugout and has agreed to answer questions submitted by Dodgers fans. So if you have a question you would like to ask Ross, who broadcasted Dodgers games from 1976-2004, please email it to me, and I will pass it on to him. Selected questions will be answered by Ross in future newsletters. You can read more about him here.

Heating up

In the month of August, Carl Crawford is hitting .478 and slugging .696 and Jimmy Rollins is hitting .306. If those two guys start hitting like they are capable, the Dodgers will definitely have the best offense in the NL.

This week in Dodgers history

Aug. 20, 1978: Steve Garvey and Don Sutton get into a clubhouse fight over a newspaper article quoting Sutton being critical of Garvey.

Aug. 22, 1965: The infamous Juan Marichal-John Roseboro brawl takes place after Marichal thinks Roseboro throws too close to his head returning the ball to Sandy Koufax and hits the Dodgers catcher over the head with his bat.

Aug. 22, 2000: Eric Karros becomes the first Dodger to hit two home runs in one inning when he does that in the sixth inning against the Montreal Expos at Dodger Stadium.

Aug. 23, 1958: Gil Hodges sets a National League record with his 14th career grand slam.

And finally

Times baseball columnist Bill Shaikin takes a look at how the Dodgers might fill some holes this off-season. Read it here.

Have a comment or something you'd like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston

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