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Entries in Don Mattingly (3)

Tuesday
Jun042013

Peter Gammons: MLB Sources Say...

Don Mattingly, Matt Kemp and the Ned Colletti's Next Move

While speculation about Don Mattingly’s job security was rampant a week ago, one Dodger official made a cogent observation:”We had a clearly-defined projected lineup before the season opened. That lineup has not been together for one game.”

Matt Kemp’s pulled hamstring is viewed as a blessing in disguise, because he is now beginning his weights program to strengthen his surgically-repaired left shoulder, and that lead shoulder is what has left his mechanics a mess in the first half.

Carl Crawford’s pulled hamstring has further weakened the Dodger lineup, although the word around the game is that they would like to deal Andre Ethier, knowing they have to eat a chunk of the contract. Considering Ethier is owed a guaranteed $70M 2014-2018, he’s 31 and is sometimes considered a platoon player(.634 OPS, 1 HR vs. LHP) that isn’t going to happen.

The scouting department would love to see Joc Pederson, who is hitting .303 with a .387 on base percentage and 17 steals in Chattanooga and has a plus-plus makeup, get a chance, but the front office believes he needs more time.

“If the Dodgers get closer to Arizona and into the race in the next month, it will be interesting to see if Dodger ownership tries to force Ned Colletti to deal a couple of their prospects to make a run at the playoffs,” says one rival GM.

Pederson, RHP Zach Lee and LHP Chris Reed would all be trade chips. Reed was a reliever at Stanford and has taken time to learn to start, but while he’s 2-5, 4.34 at Chattanooga scouts following the club say Reed has consistently been throwing in the 90’s and is an attractive piece, either as a starter or a reliever.

Nationals on the Mend

Ryan Zimmerman’s continued throwing problems have him up to 10 errors, and Mike Rizzo’s suggestion voicemail is getting all kinds of advice. Make Zimmerman a Jeff Kent-style second baseman, where he can throw sidearm, and put Anthony Rendon at third. Or put Zimmerman at first, bring up Rendon and trade Adam LaRoche. For now, Zimmerman will continue to work on his footwork and try to get his throwing back to normal.

There have been suggestions that Stephen Strasburg’s strained oblique is an ongoing problem, but the day after his previous start against Philadelphia several Phillies players talked Strasburg. “I think he’s going to end up better than Justin Verlander,” said one, which is high praise, indeed. “Not only does he throw 98 with that great breaking ball,” said another, “but his changeup has evolved into an 89 mile an hour sinker, a nasty sinker, at that. It’s an unbelievable pitch.

Twin Thrillings

In one week, three different general managers have said, “the Twins right now have the best talent up and down their organization—by far.” With Terry Ryan absolutely the right man to decide who can play, and who cannot.

Sunday
May262013

Peter Gammons: On the shoulders of Ellsbury, Kemp and Gonzalez

Don Mattingly this weekend came out and stated what teammates, opposing players and managers understood—that Matt Kemp has not yet fully recovered from off-season reconstructive surgery. Two home runs and 17 on the morning of May 25 says it all about the 2011. 

Kemp hasn't whined or complained, but Mattingly told Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times. “He’s frustrated. The biggest thing we want to do with Matt is to try to keep the bat in the strike zone longer…when he’s going good he’s driving the ball to center, to right-center…I notice he’s cutting his swing off…if he’s top-spinning in left and left-center field, it tells me he’s getting extension to a certain point and he’s coming off just a little bit.”

Mattingly is not an orthopedic surgeon, but he is a PhD when it comes to hitting. Kemp has the finest in orthopedic care from Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Center. While Dr. ElAttrache cannot discuss the specifics of Kemp’s recovery, he fully understands the complex significance of the shoulder in hitters.

“The importance of the shoulder in hitting is underestimated,” says Dr. ElAttrache. “What is particularly important is the lead shoulder.” Kemp missed nearly two months of the 2012 season with hamstring pulls and other issues, but on August 28 he suffered his most significant injury when he crashed into a fence in Colorado, He continued to play the rest of the season, but after the Dodgers were eliminated he underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum and some minor damage to the rotator cuff.

The labrum tear was in the front of his left shoulder, the lead shoulder as a righthanded hitter. Mattingly adds that Kemp will return to his star level once he’s healthy; Kemp loves the limelight, but he is one of the rare players who accepts every thing that goes along with stardom. But “health” is far more complex than weeks of rehab and training following labrum surgery.

“Trying to re-establish ones mechanics after surgery is a complex process,” says Dr. ElAttrache, speaking generally. “It’s extremely delicate. It involves rebuilding strength, and all that goes into the swing from the front shoulder. It takes perfect mechanics to regain bat speed and the swing path. Sometimes it takes a year, sometimes more.

“A player may think he is fully recovered, especially after all the work that rehab entails, but regaining the mechanics doesn’t come easily,” says the doctor. “Sometimes we can see a hitter opening up too quickly. He may step out with his front foot to catch up to pitches, and also so he doesn’t have to finish off his swing, which puts a great deal of pressure on the shoulder, especially the front of the lead shoulder.

“Sometimes those mechanics can be just a tick off, and they are hard to re-establish. I’m certain there are cases where the should is never exactly the same as before an injury or the gradual wearing down process. It is mechanical. It can be mental. For the hitter, a shoulder injury isn’t really any different that a shoulder injury can be for a pitcher.”

Adrian Gonzalez

Kemp’s rehab is obvious, and well-explained by Mattingly. But there are other cases that at least are worth a look.

One is Adrian Gonzalez. He had three remarkable seasons his last three years at Petco Park, averaging 32 homers. In 2009, he hit 40 homers with a .958 OPS. His lead shoulder had bothered him in 2010, and he had labrum surgery prior to being traded to the Red Sox, and after continuing his rehab process in spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., his numbers leading up to the All Star Break (.354, 17 HR, 1.006 OPS, .591 slug) not only got him to the game, but into the Home Run Derby.

However, after the break, Gonzalez was not the same power hitter. He batted .317 with 10 homers, but more significant, his slugging fell to .489, his OPS to .893. Some suggested that he had worked so hard to be ready for the season—and, yes, get a new contract deal struck during spring training—that he wore down and the shoulder lost some of its strength. He denied it, continually saying that he simply got mechanically out of whack. Because of that, he sometimes tried to look for pitches and got himself out of sorts.

Look at AGon's numbers through May 25, before and after:

Gonzalez has never offered physical excuses, only opined that he gets mechanically unturned. However, is that related to the lead shoulder never being the same? We may never know, and playing 81 games in Dodger Stadium and another 18 in Petco and Pac Bell parks do not help any power numbers. And Dr. ElAtracche points out that the aging process historically impacts power, save for a ten-year window from the mid-nineties until the imposition of mandatory drug-testing in 2005. In addition, with the schedule as erratic as it is now with few getaway day games, the banning of amphetamines has led to a lot of grumbling about the maintence of energy levels that players in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties never had to worry about.

Jacoby Ellsbury

In Boston, there is the concern about the power numbers of Jacoby Ellsbury. Anyone who watched him take batting practice when he came up in 2007 saw some eye-opening power displays. Hitting coach Dave Magadan, when asked in 2007 if Ellsbury might someday turn into a (healthy) Grady Sizemore, always said that his timing took a lot of work and that there was just a tick’s difference between getting jammed by fastballs and hitting infield grounders and launching balls as he often did in BP.

It all came together for Ellsbury in 2011, when he arguably was the American League’s most valuable player:  32 homers; he’d never hit as many as 10 in a pro season. 83 extra base hits.

But on April 12, 2012, he suffered a separated right shoulder—the lead shoulder-- when Rays shortstop Reid Brignac landed atop of him as he slid into second base. Ellsbury played in only 74 games, he had 22 extra base hits, his slugging dropped from .552 to .370.

At no time since he reported for spring training has Ellsbury made excuses about any residual effects from the separated shoulder. He has handled his impending free agency with the ultimate professionalism and tried to stay away from any first person pronoun material.

The decline in on base percentage and slugging could well be mechanical, which has eroded confidence in his ability to hit deep in counts and stay back and drive pitches. On this past road trip, the Red Sox staff felt he was starting to once again launch in batting practice, a sign they felt was encouraging, especially since his best months historically have come after 

Still, one wonders about the mechanical, physical and psychological aspects of Ellsbury’s swing, based on these numbers:

Never underestimate the complexities of the mechanics of hitting,” says Dr. ElAttrache. “Especially when dealing with the lead shoulder.”

Monday
May202013

Don Mattingly is nearing the end, and that's no bull

Warming up in the bullpen is the next manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Whether, or when, the reliever manager gets the call, remains to be seen, but it is in the bullpen that Don Mattingly has been having a miserable time this season.

The great Ken Rosenthal on Foxsports.com wrote yesterday, "Now I’m convinced that Mattingly is going to get fired. And the sooner it happens, the better."

The last-place Dodgers were swept over their weekend in Atlanta, getting outscored, 16-8. Their bullpen allowed 12 of the runs.

No group of relievers have lost as many games as the Dodgers in all of baseball.

  W L W-L% ERA SV IP WHIP
LAD 5 13 .278 4.61 11 127.0 1.449
HOU 3 10 .231 4.82 7 170.0 1.488
CHW 5 10 .333 3.99 14 119.2 1.412
TOR 8 9 .471 3.92 11 151.2 1.345
CIN 10 9 .526 3.76 11 124.1 1.198
MIL 6 8 .429 3.46 9 132.2 1.229
TBR 6 8 .429 4.49 9 116.1 1.324
MIA 4 8 .333 3.88 6 144.0 1.340
PHI 7 8 .467 4.47 8 114.2 1.465
DET 3 8 .273 3.91 8 131.1 1.294
NYM 7 7 .500 4.77 7 139.2 1.360
LAA 7 7 .500 4.47 9 149.0 1.369
SDP 5 7 .417 2.96 10 146.0 1.164
SFG 10 6 .625 2.91 14 133.0 1.323
ARI 10 6 .625 3.10 14 127.2 1.230
PIT 10 6 .625 2.81 18 157.0 1.127
BAL 9 6 .600 3.31 16 141.1 1.245
BOS 7 6 .538 3.98 10 129.0 1.364
COL 5 6 .455 3.04 10 154.0 1.195
CHC 6 6 .500 4.11 10 114.0 1.333
STL 3 6 .333 4.55 15 110.2 1.383
SEA 4 6 .400 3.85 11 128.2 1.205
KCR 6 6 .500 3.07 11 99.2 1.174
MIN 5 5 .500 3.24 9 144.2 1.251
ATL 8 3 .727 2.65 14 118.2 1.121
NYY 8 3 .727 3.41 18 129.1 1.206
WSN 5 3 .625 3.87 13 116.1 1.307
OAK 8 1 .889 2.88 9 146.2 1.173
TEX 9 1 .900 3.24 14 125.0 1.176
CLE 7 0 1.000 3.03 8 127.2 1.238
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/20/2013.

 

  • As you can see, only the Mets and Astros bullpens have a worse ERA than the Dodgers
  • As you can see, only the Phils and Astros bullpens have a worse WHIP than the Dodgers

 

Here are the individuals relievers who have provided little relief for LA

Rk Player GR W L W-L% SV IP
1 Kenley Jansen 23 1 3 .250 2 22.1
2 Paco Rodriguez 22 0 2 .000 0 15.2
3 Ronald Belisario 21 2 4 .333 0 20.2
4 J.P. Howell 19 1 0 1.000 0 18.2
5 Matt Guerrier 18 1 1 .500 0 15.2
6 Brandon League 16 0 2 .000 9 16.1
7 Josh Wall 6 0 1 .000 0 7.0
8 Javy Guerra 5 0 0   0 7.0
9 Chris Capuano 2 1 2 .333 0 22.1
10 Skip Schumaker 1 0 0   0 1.0
11 Shawn Tolleson 1 0 0   0 0.0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/20/2013.

Here are the stats that have caused the pain

  IP GR GF SVOpp SV BSv SV% Hold IR IS IS%
Ronald Belisario 20.2 21 3 1 0 1 0% 5 12 8 67%
Chris Capuano* 22.1 2 0 1 0 1 0% 0 1 1 100%
Javy Guerra 7.0 5 3 0 0 0   1 0 0  
Matt Guerrier 15.2 18 2 1 0 1 0% 3 10 3 30%
J.P. Howell* 18.2 19 4 0 0 0   3 13 4 31%
Kenley Jansen 22.1 23 6 3 2 1 67% 9 6 1 17%
Brandon League 16.1 16 15 11 9 2 82% 0 2 2 100%
Paco Rodriguez* 15.2 22 2 2 0 2 0% 6 19 6 32%
Skip Schumaker 1.0 1 1 0 0 0   0 0 0  
Shawn Tolleson 0.0 1 0 0 0 0   0 3 2 67%
Josh Wall 7.0 6 4 0 0 0   0 1 1 100%
League Average             66%       31%
Team Total   134 40 19 11 8 58% 27 67 28 42%
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/20/2013.

 

If Don Mattingly loses his job, those calls to the bullpen will have been a number of the nails in his coffin.

As Rosenthal wrote, "a bad bullpen can create a bad manager." Mattingly defended his relievers afterward, saying “Take it all as a group, not just the bullpen.”

It certainly feels as if both the Dodgers bullpen and Don Mattingly are worried about hearing that phone ring. The call at the other end seems to only mean trouble.