I think that face sums up my initial reaction to the Dodgers declaring Don Mattingly the manager of the 2011 (and beyond) team. Why was that my initial reaction? Well, mostly because Mattingly has zero (zip, zilch, nada) managing experience, and he comes from the same family tree as Joe Torre, who has made many, many, many perplexing moves this year. While Torre was great for the 2008-2009 Dodgers, he was almost as lethal for the 2010 Dodgers as the core failing after the All-Star Break.
So it was with a bad taste in my mouth that I heard Mattingly was going to be hired, because he's essentially a new version of Joe Torre, minus the championship rings and managing experience.
So who else did I initially think the Dodgers should have hired? Well, AAA Manager Tim Wallach would have been a good place to start. He's a Dodger, through-and-through, he's got experience managing, and he knows the pros and cons of all the Dodgers in AAA better than anyone else. I'm not really interested in Dusty Baker managing (not with his talent of destroying the arms of young pitchers), there's no way Joe Girardi comes to L.A., and Tony La Russa is likely staying in St. Louis. So that basically leaves Mattingly and Wallach. I know Mattingly has been groomed to be the successor of Joe Torre, but did Wallach even get an interview? A chance to show that he's worth keeping around? If he did, fine. But if he didn't, shame on Ned Colletti.
But back to Mattingly. Like I said, initially, I was not too pleased. Torre has made some downright strange moves with his roster, and his inability to manage a bullpen is quite well known by now. But is Mattingly the same as Torre? Hopefully not, and I don't think it's fair to brand him as Torre 2.0 if he hasn't made it clear that he is. Also, people really need to get over his "two trips to the mound fiasco" or whatever that was. I really couldn't care less, and honestly didn't think much of it after about 2 days.
So as the title says, I'm not sure what to think of Mattingly. And that's probably good, because he's never managed, and his managing style is unknown. I'd like it if he wasn't Torre 2.0, or at least didn't have the obsession with veteran grit and strange bullpen usage that Torre had/has. But if has to be, Wallach better be the bench coach, ready and waiting to seize the job should Mattingly prove to be completely (yes completely, if he makes a few mistakes, that's fine. Managers do that) incapable of managing. Hopefully it won't come to that though.
When the season ends, I will give my assessment of the Dodger season, i.e., what went wrong, and what needs to be (realistically) changed. For now, I wish Mattingly the best of luck in the Arizona Fall League, and as 2011 Dodger manager.