I wouldn't want to be around Don Mattingly right now.
Not even two weeks after Andrew Friedman left the Rays to join the Dodgers as president of baseball operations, Joe Maddon pulled a stunner by opting out of his deal today, ending his nine-year tenure in Tampa Bay.
And just like that, it looks as if another East Coast shakeup is directly impacting a West Coast club.
I'll give Friedman credit for immediately coming out and saying that Mattingly will still be the manager of the Dodgers in 2015. Part of his statement alluded to the fact that he hopes Mattingly will be the manager next season and "for a long time to come."
But then again, Maddon said all of a week ago how much he loves being in Tampa. So go figure.
I'm not saying that I think Maddon will be LA bound, because early speculation has him possibly going to the Cubs. I am saying that if I'm Mattingly, I have to deal with yet another distraction in a short managerial career that has been one distraction after another. And I'm not too happy about it.
And yet again, no matter what Friedman might claim, you can't help but think there's been some discussion in Friedman's inner circle about what it would take to get Maddon to the Dodgers. It could all by hypothetical, it possibly wasn't even a serious discussion, but there's no denying that there has to have been at least SOME sort of talk.
Obviously, the three-year extension Mattingly inked after last season has turned out to be his saving grace. Even in a money rich place like LA, I'm not sure they'd be willing to eat yet another contract. You would think they have to draw the line somewhere.
Besides, Mattingly did lead the Dodgers to the playoffs the last couple of seasons, something that is much harder to do than people realize. Winning back-to-back division titles in any sport is tough, but especially in baseball.
Yes, I realize his handling of the bullpen in the NLDS left something to be desired, and sitting Yasiel Puig in the finale against the Cardinals didn't turn out to be a smart move. But nobody could've won with the bums in this 'pen, and Puig looked completely lost. In other words, I'm fairly certainly plenty of other managers would've met the same fate.
We'll see how this plays out in the upcoming weeks. Perhaps the lure of flashy Los Angeles will be too much to pass up for Maddon, and he'll quietly lobby for the job, leading to Mattingly's demise. Perhaps nothing comes of it at all, and Mattingly is back.
Either way, I'm guessing we haven't heard the last of this. These are the Dodgers, so that's a pretty safe bet.