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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

NLCS managers leverage success into security

In a way, it only makes sense that the two managers of the clubs that faced off for the 2013 National League pennant, Don Mattingly of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals, now also have the longest contracts.

Last summer, that statement would have been considered the longest of long shots, however.

Mattingly, with a generous assist from the rookie phenom Yasiel Puig, led a most amazing transformation. His club was 12 games under .500 and in last place as recently as June 21. There was a daily firing watch in place with the buzzards circling in ever-tighter formation.

Four months later, Mattingly not only survived, he thrived. His club fought back until being eliminated in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.

It is amazing how much matters changed in a few short months.

Even though a one-year extension clause in Mattingly’s contract that covered 2014 kicked in when the Dodgers beat the Braves in the NLDS, it was not enough.

Having been able to capture the high ground due to his team’s dramatic turnaround, Mattingly moved swiftly and strongly to secure it. In his season-closing remarks to the media, the manager openly expressed concern about spending another season as a “lame duck” manager.

To that end, the Dodgers gave Mattingly a new three-year contract running through the 2016 season, announced Wednesday. The deal supersedes his 2014 extension.

I found a few related factors interesting, as indicators of the very fine line between being a managerial hero and an unemployed goat.

In a few short months, Mattingly evolved from being the least secure MLB skipper to being tied with several others for having the second-longest contract in the NL.

My second observation is about manager Mike Matheny’s extension received in November. How many realized that as a result, the 43-year-old alone has the longest contract of any manager in the league?

Instead of tearing up the third year of Matheny’s current deal as did the Dodgers with Mattingly, the Cards gave their skipper a full three-year contract extension for the years following his initial deal. In other words, Matheny is under contract through the 2017 season.

That makes Mattingly and Matheny the most unlikely bedfellows.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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3 Responses to “NLCS managers leverage success into security”

  1. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    Puig changed the chemistry of the Dodgers in the most elemental way. Don M. was in a world of hurt up until that point. Does he control any of the elements that led to the turn around? That should be interesting.

    MM wore the Front Office thinking like a true lackey. I think he will be a good coach if he can just learn to say no. His contract isn’t big enough to be much of a shield should he have an attitude arise.

    The Motte contract extension is a fascinating topic. The Medical staff does many things. They know many things………….and when to be quiet……..Cards made money on that contract…..if you count all the angles……. a dollar hanging on the line to dry is worth 5$ of those “foreign” jobs.

    • blingboy says:

      I too think Puig had far more to do with the Dodgers turnaround than Mattingly. In fact, I don’t think Mattingly had anything to do with it. At least I have heard nothing that convinces me he did. But he didn’t cause the horrible play before Puig arrived either, yet he was about to take the hit for it. So I guess it is only fair that he reap the reward.

      We will have to see if the Dodgers have fixed the underlying problem, whatever it was, because the Puig factor has pretty much worn off I would think. Besides, he will probably self destruct.

      As to Matheny, he will behave. He needs the money, and will need more in 2018. I don’t think he will mind towing the line. He seems to have bought in 100%, and besides, it seems to be a very good line. There is nothing inherently wrong with being a committed company man. It could really pay off big for him.

      • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

        You have a good attitude BB………………the company is involved in some conflicting valuations though………………… they hurt the team this year……… at some point even MM will recognize a conflict……… I like this team though……should be a provocative year………….

        do know why Clark asked for a clarification in the AP law suit………… what that closely…..

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