Interesting language in Guerrero contract

First, here is the breakdown of Alexander Guerrero‘s new four-year, $28 million contract with the Dodgers, lifted directly from an ESPN.com story:

Bonuses could increase the value of Guerrero’s contract. The deal calls for a $10 million signing bonus payable upon approval of the contract by Major League Baseball. Guerrero would earn $4 million in both 2014 and 2015, and $5 million in both 2016 and 2017. There is $1 million per year in performance bonuses, based on 500 to 600 plate appearances.

He also will be eligible for free agency after his age-30 season, and he cannot be optioned to the minor leagues without his permission.

OK, to me, the most interesting (and possibly dicey) part of this is that he can’t be optioned without his permission. Let’s say that as the Dodgers get to the end of spring training, they aren’t entirely convinced this guy is ready to be their everyday second baseman. And then, let’s say that as with all talented prospects, they don’t want him wasting away on the bench, so they want to send him to Triple-A (or Double-A) to get regular playing time and regular at-bats until they deem him ready for the majors. Is he going to go willingly? Would ANY player go willingly?

The ESPN story went on to say that Hyun-jin Ryu, who like Guerrero is being represented by agent Scott Boras, had the same deal in his contract when he signed with the Dodgers last winter. But with Ryu, there was no question that he was ready to join the Dodgers starting rotation. With Guerrero, there is some thought that he MIGHT be ready to jump into the everyday lineup, but that is far from a given, and general manager Ned Colletti indicated earlier this week that the club wasn’t ready to part ways with veteran second baseman Mark Ellis.

So, it will be interesting to see how this plays out if Guerrero should struggle in winter ball or in spring training.

As stated in a previous post, I went to my first Arizona Fall League game of 2013 today. I’m always amazed at the people from the industry that you run into at these games. There aren’t more than about a hundred paying customers here today, but among the non-paying customers, I have seen much of the Padres front office, including general manager Josh Byrnes and manager Bud Black, vice president of baseball operations Omar Minaya and special assistant (and former Dodgers infielder) Mark Loretta; from the Dodgers, I have seen assistant GM for player development De Jon Watson, assistant pitching coach Ken Howell, catching instructor Steve Yeager and minor league hitting coordinator Eric Owens. From various other teams, I have seen former major league manager John McLaren, former eight-time All-Star catcher Ted Simmons and even former Dodgers outfielder Eric Davis.

But the AFL isn’t just about spotting baseball celebrities in the stands. It’s a chance to see some of the top prospects in the game, guys who are no more than a year or two away from the majors. Of all the Dodgers prospects who are playing for the Glendale Desert Dogs this year, the biggest is Corey Seager, their first-round pick in last year’s amateur draft. He is all of 19 years old, and he is struggling in the AFL (hitting .172), just he did after a late-season promotion to advanced Single-A Rancho Cucamonga (.160). But Seager had a solid year at low Single-A Great Lakes, hitting .309 with 12 homers and 57 RBI. He is a couple of years away, but if you happen to live in the Phoenix area, he’s worth getting a look at, and the price of admission for AFL games is less than $10.

Seager, by the way, has the day off today.

Dodgers trade Alex Castellanos to Boston

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Greetings from Camelback Ranch. No, you didn’t hibernate through the winter and wake up with spring training already under way. This is the Arizona Fall League, the Glendale Desert Dogs (the team the Dodgers prospects are playing for) and the Peoria Javelinas.

So the Boston Red Sox may be getting ready for a World Series that starts tonight, but they aren’t too busy to make minor league trades, apparently. Today, they dealt outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker and cash to the Dodgers for outfielder Alex Castellanos, whom the Dodgers had designated for assignment a week ago to clear a 40-man roster spot for outfielder Mike Baxter, whom they claimed off waivers from the New York Mets.

Hazelbaker, 26, was the Red Sox’s fourth-round pick in the 2009 amateur draft out of Ball State. He has no major league experience, but he has progressed steadily through the Boston system and is coming off his first full season at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he hit .257 with a .313 on-base percentage, 11 homers and 54 RBI — decent numbers, but certainly not eyepopping. As acquisitions go, this one appears rather pedestrian, but this is a player you could see in the majors at some point in 2014 as a backup outfielder. And maybe “pedestrian” isn’t the right term, because he CAN run. He stole 37 bases for Pawtucket this year, in 44 attempts. But he also struck out once every 3.7 plate appearances.

The Dodgers had acquired Castellanos from St. Louis in the Rafael Furcal trade of 2011, and while he put up reasonable offensive numbers in the minors — he hit .257 with 19 homers at Triple-A Albuquerque this year in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League — his reputation as a proverbial “4-A player” was probably cemented by the fact that in 24 major league games over the past two seasons, he hit .171, with a strikeout every 3.3 plate appearances.

Finally, because this Don Mattingly thing isn’t going to go away until it’s resolved, I wanted to post a couple of links. First, Jeff Miller of the Orange County Register has one of the best takes on this I have read so far, drawing the conclusion that it’s probably time for Mattingly and the Dodgers to go their separate ways. And good friend Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com points out that this isn’t totally out of character for Mattingly, who frequently was candid with the New York press during his playing days whenever he would have differences with bombastic Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

Odds are, Mattingly will manage Dodgers in 2014

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Proving once again the Las Vegas will take bets on just about anything, I got another email today from the online gambling site Bovada (www.Bovada.lv, @BovadaLV). This time, it wasn’t about whether the Cardinals or Red Sox will win the World Series. This time, it was to provide odds on whether Don Mattingly will remain as Dodgers manager after delivering what sounded very much like an “extend-my-contract-or-I-walk” ultimatum during yesterday’s press conference.

What Bovada tells us is that (drumroll please) … Mattingly WILL continue to manage the Dodgers.

Yes -180 (5/9)
No +140 (7/5)

Now, keep in mind these odds don’t take into consideration whether Mattingly will get a new contract or simply manage as a lame duck for the second year in a row after his option automatically vested when the Dodgers won the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves. If you decide to place a bet on this, you are placing a bet on nothing more than whether Mattingly will manage the team “for Game 1 of the 2014 regular season.”

Dodgers finalize Alexander Guerrero signing

As reported yesterday, Alexander Guerrero will be sent to winter ball somewhere to gauge his readiness for the major leagues, but there is at least a decent chance he could be the Dodgers’ opening-day second baseman in 2014. It’s a four-year contract, widely reported to carry a base value of $28 million (including a $10 million signing bonus), plus $1 million each year in performance incentives that could raise the total value as high as $32 million.

To clear a 40-man roster spot for Guerrero, the Dodgers designated reliever Peter Moylan for assignment.

This is from the official release sent out by the Dodgers:

Guerrero, 26, played seven professional seasons for Las Tunas in the Cuban National Series from 2005-2012, earning three All-Star selections. During his final four seasons playing professionally, Guerrero never batted below .290, including posting a career-high .343 average in 2009-2010, while posting an on-base percentage above .400 each year and hitting 81 home runs in 327 games.

Hillman, Taylor out, rest of coaches retained

By now, you are probably aware that the Dodgers fired bench coach Trey Hillman, probably the closest confidant of manager Don Mattingly, as well as advance scout Wade Taylor earlier today. The Hillman move was one most of us saw coming, and I suspect Trey may have seen it coming, as well. A series of perceived late-season strategic blunders by Mattingly — although I hate using the term “strategic blunders,” because they wouldn’t have been blunders at all if they had worked out — probably put a target on Trey’s back because the primary reason you have a bench coach is to assist the manager in making in-game decisions. In this day and age, when managers are expected to pay attention to so many minute details during a game, the bench coach is there to be the manager’s sounding board, and if the manager is about to make an ill-advised move — such as pinch running for Adrian Gonzalez in the eighth inning of a tied game in the National League Championship Series — it is the bench coach’s job to TELL him it’s ill-advised.

As for the Taylor move, that one is a little more mysterious. More on that later.

By the way, the Dodgers plan to retain the rest of their coaching staff. Hitting coach Mark McGwire already was under contract for next year, and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, first-base coach Davey Lopes and third-base coach Tim Wallach all had their options exercised for 2014. Bullpen coach Chuck Crim, assistant hitting coach John Valentin and assistant pitching coach Ken Howell aren’t signed for next year, but the Dodgers do intend to keep them on.

Now, Hillman. There is a chance he could remain with the organization in a different capacity, but as he told the Los Angeles Times’ Dylan Hernandez after learning of his ouster as bench coach, he’d rather find a job on a major league coaching staff. Interestingly, Hillman also told Hernandez that before the meeting in which general manager Ned Colletti told him he was fired, he had dropped off Mattingly at the airport for his flight home to Evansville, Ind.

As I stated on Twitter earlier today, this was the right move for the Dodgers. Mattingly may be in his third year as a big league manager, but if he stays on in that role, a big if given his ultimatum-ish comments at yesterday’s news conference, he has proven that he needs a strong bench coach. What is a strong bench coach? Usually, it’s an older guy who has considerable experience as a big league manager. A guy who has been there, done that, seen everything. A guy who can save Mattingly from himself whenever he is tempted to make moves like the ones for which he drew so much criticism in the postseason.

It was the right move, but Hillman will be missed. He was as good a guy as I have ever met in this game, completely down to earth and humble. It was funny, when Hillman first joined the Dodgers staff in 2011 (the year Mattingly took over as manager), Hiroki Kuroda was still with the club, so there were always a lot of Japanese reporters around. Hillman had managed the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters for five years, winning the Japan Series in his final two seasons, so the Japanese reporters would seek him out almost as often as they sought out Kuroda. Far as I could tell, he didn’t speak much Japanese, but they didn’t care, because to them, this lifelong Texan was one of theirs.

In spring training, you were apt to run into Hillman just about anywhere. I once saw him at the gas pump at the QT station down the street from Camelback Ranch. Another time, I saw him at WalMart.

“Gotta get some coffee creamer,” he said.

“Don’t they provide you with coffee creamer in the clubhouse?”

“Yeah, but I like that vanilla kind. That stuff is gooooood.”

Trey had a 2 1/2-year, mostly unsuccessful stint managing the Kansas City Royals, but in those days, any stint managing the Royals was going to mostly unsuccessful. I hope he gets another chance one day. I hope he finds a good job this winter, but only because I know that is what he wants. If he ends up back with the Dodgers in some capacity — I’m told he hasn’t been offered a specific job, but he HAS been offered the chance to stay on — I’ll be happy about that, too, because he is a great guy to have around.

As for Taylor, I’m not sure exactly what was going on there. Although the Dodgers employ dozens of scouts at the amateur, international and professional levels, like most teams, they employ only one advance scout, and that was Wade. Given the nature of that job, I don’t know how you would judge an advance scout’s performance on anything other than your team’s won-lost record, and the Dodgers had a pretty good one this year. And you can’t really factor the postseason into that because advance scouting for the playoffs is done differently, with two or three scouts assigned weeks in advance to each team you stand even the slightest chance of running into in October.

I didn’t know Wade well other than to say hello, but he seemed like a good guy. He had a brief (one-year) major league career, going 7-12 with a 6.23 ERA as a teammate of Mattingly with the Yankees in 1991. There was a night early this season, when this blog was nothing more than a concept I was tossing around in my brain, when I went out with a couple of scout buddies in Scottsdale, and Wade was part of the group. That was the longest conversation I ever had with him, and I enjoyed getting to know him to whatever extent that I could. I’m told Taylor’s role had been scaled back late in the season, signifying that this move might be coming.

Oh, by the way, despite Colletti’s statement in yesterday’s infamous press conference that Mattingly’s situation would be “resolved very quickly,” keep in mind, “very quickly” is a loosely defined term. The guess here, especially given that Mattingly left town today, is that we may not know the outcome of this for a while. The World Series begins tomorrow night, and while Major League Baseball doesn’t strictly prohibit non-World Series teams from making major news announcements during the World Series, MLB does frown heavily on it, and for the most part, teams do comply.

So settle in. We may be in this for the long haul.

Dealing with frustration after the magic ends

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of what I hope will be many opinion pieces by Phil Stone, dodgerscribe.com’s resident statistical guru, whose beautiful mug you see here. Phil comes at it from a Dodgers fan’s point of view. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

The end of a baseball season often brings about a certain level of depression. When something is a part of your life every day for six months, then goes away in kind of an abrupt manner, it can be rough for a little while. Throw in the disappointment of coming so close to the ultimate goal, 25 years in the making, and the emotions don’t generally subside any sooner. Losing to St. Louis, however, was not heartbreaking for me personally. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m as big a Dodger fan as you’ll find. I just couldn’t really identify any type of desperate heartache or pain out of the loss. What I was feeling, however, was a bit of frustration, probably for a week during the NLCS and a day after, and here’s why:

The Dodgers lost Games 1 and 2 by two runs combined at Busch. They were in these games and could have won one or both with a healthy Hanley Ramirez. Now I realize that bad things happen in baseball and that teams have to have players step up when they do to overcome these obstacles. But like most Dodgers, fans I found it hard to excuse Joe Kelly for injuring the Dodgers’ most dynamic, talented and irreplaceable player. While I don’t believe he intentionally tried to hit him on a 1-2 pitch, his intention clearly was to drive him off the plate, a perfectly legitimate strategy so long as you know how to pitch inside and you don’t injure someone doing it. These are the playoffs, after all. I guess what I’m saying is Kelly “… wasn’t guilty, but he was responsible.” In my view, most of my frustration was due to my belief that Kelly literally changed the balance of competition by acting irresponsibly. All I could think about for a week as a fan, a non-violent one who generally doesn’t advocate the kind of thing we saw from a guy like Carlos Quentin this season, was WWDDD or What Would Don Drysdale Do? I think we all know the answer to that.

How did I deal with this frustration?

Well, first of all, if you would have told me on June 1 that the Dodgers were going to come within two wins of a World Series appearance after a historic run that would see them win a franchise-record 18 in a row on the road, play 40 games above .500 for a 66-game stretch and do it without the services of Matt Kemp for most of it, I would never have believed you. So some perspective is always a help in dealing with this kind of thing.

Looking to the future is a tool as old as the Dodgers themselves for consoling the frustrated (See: “Wait ‘Til Next Year”). I mean, the Dodgers are in good shape, right? A talented if not slightly older lineup with arguably the best one-two punch on the mound in all of baseball; a consistently good, young, third starter; a good young closer; and what should be a good-enough core of players to compete for a number of years. Right? Dodgers have all this money, a renewed involvement in international scouting, stadium improvements for both fans and players (don’t underestimate the impact outdated baseball facilities can have on a team’s ability to entice free agents) and some promising minor leaguers in their system. I’m already grabbing my shades, the future’s so bright! So frustrated fans can hang their hats on that right? Well, maybe, because usually, at least over 162 games, talent carries the day (or the months in this case).

This is what troubles me, though, and it shouldn’t be ignored by even the most blue-blooded, rose colored glasses-wearing Dodgers fan. If yesterday’s Don Mattingly-Ned Colletti press conference tells us anything, it tells us that the Dodgers still either haven’t addressed the institutional problems that have plagued them now since Peter O’Malley left in 1998 or are just starting to do so. “The Dodger Way” lost its way a while ago. You know, the mixture of talent, discipline, a situational understanding of the game, loyalty to teammates and the organization, these things have been elusive for a while now and may still be going unaddressed. As a fan and a stat geek, it’s hard to know. This was a fairly tight-knit team, don’t get me wrong, but there were frayed seams and a manager that may or may not have had the backing of upper management to deal with those stitches.

Now forgive me, Dodgers fans, but I’m about to wax poetic about the other sport I hold dear … hockey.

You see, this whole situation reminds me of when Colletti’s friend Dean Lombardi became GM of the L.A. Kings. He talked to fans and season-ticket holders regularly about building a team with talented players who have “the Kings logo tattooed to their butts.” He hired a coach who installed a system of play that would be played at both of their minor league affiliates with a core of drafted players who fit that system, with an emphasis on smarts and size. He wanted guys willing to play “Kings Hockey” for each other. He wanted a commitment from the players, and in turn, he’d make a commitment to them once they had established their value to their teammates and the organization.

Now I’m not naive enough to think hockey players and ballplayers are always motivated by the same things, or that this is a perfectly analogous situation, what with cultural differences and salary-cap restraints in the NHL. But Lombardi has built a perennial winner in this town, and the Dodgers need to build a new winning franchise much the same way. That’s right, four miles down the 110 Freeway, there’s a team playing at Staples Center that can be a blueprint for how the Dodgers need to do this, and it’s not the former championship basketball team one of its owners used to play for. They have a lot of the talent they need, but I’m not sure they have the TOTAL commitment of the whole organization — not if the comments from yesterday’s press conference are any indication.

If Mattingly leaves the team, it is incumbent upon the Dodgers to hire someone whose philosophies are echoed all the way down the chain. A man who can teach and use his veterans and coaches to reinforce the philosophies to young men from a variety of backgrounds. Colletti has to use the judgment necessary to either show patience or have the guts to make the tough decisions that need to be made based on the player’s perceived commitment to the organizational philosophy. But most of all, he needs an upper management team that trusts him because they’re on the exact same page, from Magic Johnson all the way down to the first base coach at Ogden.

The new ownership brings obvious promise, a track record of building (and playing for) winning or profitable organizations, but it’s hard to be completely upbeat until we know the Dodgers are moving together in the same direction with the same philosophy and with the right motivation, because that is how perennial winners are built.

That is the best way to ultimately deal with more than 25 years of frustration.

Matt Kemp has a setback, Sue Falsone leaves Dodgers

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So we learned today that Matt Kemp is going to have surgery on his left ankle, which means that the prognosis for him being fully recovered from this injury has moved from the start of spring training to “he is expected to be competitive in time for the regular season,” as it was worded in the email the Dodgers sent out to media. That may not sound like a significant setback, but it’s a difference of a few weeks. I’m told all it really means is that he may be on some form of restrictive activity during the early stages of spring training, so it doesn’t sound like any kind of major setback. But in theory, it could affect what the Dodgers do over the winter. We all pretty much expected them to try to trade one of their four outfielders so as to, you know, relieve that alleged logjam that existed for all of TWO games this year. Now, the Dodgers might opt to hold onto all four because even if Kemp is expected to be “competitive” by opening day, there is no guarantee that he will be.

By the way, here is the video I posted shortly after the final game of the regular season, when Dr. Neal ElAttrache seemed to indicate it was unlikely Kemp would need surgery on the ankle. It also is worth mentioning that Kemp now has done five stints on the DL in the past two seasons with four different injuries, and that doesn’t even count this late-season setback with his ankle, when he was never officially placed on the DL.

On another note, remember two years ago, when the Dodgers made Sue Falsone the first female head trainer for a team in a major American professional sport? Well, I received confirmation she officially stepped down today, that the decision was completely hers and that it had nothing to do with the crazy number of injuries the Dodgers suffered this year. It also is confirmed that Stephen Downey, who was in his second season as strength and conditioning coach, won’t be retained as part of the major league staff. Downey could return somewhere within the organization. He spent five seasons as strength coach for Dodgers minor league affiliates, including at high Single-A in 2007-08 and at Triple-A Albuquerque from 2009-11.

One other thing, regarding the strange comments of Don Mattingly from earlier today: it seems the national media has a much different take on this from the Los Angeles media, which is mostly bewildered by the whole thing (your humble correspondent included). Nationally, Mattingly is being hailed for having the fortitude to stand up for himself. Here is a great column by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

Did Don Mattingly just talk his way out of Los Angeles?

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OK, so at his annual end-of-the-season media availability this morning with manager Don Mattingly, Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti all but confirms (without actually confirming) that the club finally has agreed to terms with free-agent Cuban defector Alexander Guerrero, who possibly could be the team’s everyday second baseman by opening day, and that ISN’T the biggest news to come out of this thing.

For those of you pining for a managerial change, you just might get your wish — courtesy of Mattingly himself.

I’m going to allow myself plenty of wiggle room here, and I’m not going to make any bold predictions. But based on what was said this morning, it’s hard to see Mattingly coming back next year.

First of all, Mattingly confirmed something I heard in the men’s room last week, that his club option for 2014 actually vested when the Dodgers beat the Braves in the National League Division Series. But in what came as a shock to just about everybody, Mattingly, with Colletti sitting inches away from him at the podium in the interview room just off the Dodgers clubhouse, said this morning that he isn’t sure he will be back managing the club in 2014. Mattingly said he doesn’t like managing as, in his own words, a “lame duck.” Don’t forget, he already managed under that cloud in 2013, and was actually put on notice by team president Stan Kasten back when the team was going through its monumental struggles in May that the club might have to make a change.

I don’t know any way to interpret this other than that Mattingly’s stance appears to be that if he doesn’t get a new contract, he isn’t going to stick around.

Colletti said at one point that, “This is going to be resolved very quickly.”

Mattingly said at one point, in response to a question as to whether he needs it to be resolved very quickly so that if he doesn’t return he has time to pursue one of several other managerial vacancies, said, “Well, I want to manage.”

The only problem with this is, Donnie Baseball may be grossly overplaying his hand — unless he already has received overtures from another club, which one supposes is possible even though Major League Baseball prohibits teams from contacting people who still are under contract to other teams to discuss open jobs, because despite that rule, it still happens sometimes. There are openings with the Chicago Cubs, the Cincinnati Reds and, suddenly, the Detroit Tigers, all of which play in cities much closer to Mattingly’s hometown of Evansville, Ind. And reading between the lines of some of Donnie’s more cryptic comments from this morning, it sounds like he isn’t entirely happy with some of the circumstances of his current gig.

“I love it here … ” he said. “But I don’t want to be anywhere you’re not wanted.”

The problem for Donnie is that he isn’t exactly a hot managerial commodity at the moment. We hear all the time about how everything is magnified in the postseason. Well, that extends to managerial moves, and Donnie had two games in particular — Game 2 of the NLDS and Game 1 of the NLCS — that didn’t speak well of his strategic expertise. And dare I take it a tad further in saying that Yasiel Puig‘s fundamental mistakes in Game 6 of the NLCS, as well as Mattingly’s postgame concession that, “We need to do a better job of helping him mature,” also don’t speak well of Mattingly’s ability to handle high-maintenance players in an age when almost every major league player is high-maintenance in his own way.

And then, on that same subject, Mattingly offered up this rather cryptic little gem:

“There has to be some type of plan in place with Yasiel, where you want to go and what you want done. Leaving it to me is one way. … I think you have to help him maybe understand the importance of all the small things. … When he got here, we saw all the (fundamental) stuff we talked about (in spring training). I think it is our job to help him understand the importance of all those things, and it’s really not just Yasiel, it’s everybody. If they’re not physical (mistakes), then we’re throwing the ball to the wrong base or we’re trying to do something that is outside of winning baseball, then we aren’t doing our job of helping them understand the importance of the small things. Most of the time, the small things don’t get on ESPN, so they aren’t a highlight that everybody is talking about, so they aren’t important to guys.

“When guys are coming up, they need to learn how to play the game. We use the term the Dodger Way, the organizational way, the Cardinal Way, whoever it is. When you come up through player development, you have to understand how to play the game: this is what we do as an organization, this is how we play. We have to do a better job of helping guys understand that is important if you’re going to have sustained success and be able to get to the next level.

“When you make mistakes against teams that are just as good as you are, you lose. When you get to the playoffs, you’re playing teams that are just as good as you are for the most part. You have to play better. You make mistakes, you get beat.”

Now, what exactly is Donnie trying to say here? Obviously, he is trying to say that Puig has to stop overthrowing cutoff men, trying to show the world he has a cannon for an arm, all that. But what is he REALLY trying to imply? That the front office didn’t have his back in dealing with Puig? That he felt restrained from trying to administer the brand of tough love that Puig obviously needs? And if that is what he is saying, why was Donnie so quick to protect Puig all season whenever the media questioned why he kept making the same mistakes over and over? I remember at least once when a postgame question I asked Donnie about Puig was answered with, “It feels like we’re picking on him.” Which was a clear implication that I was the one picking on him by asking the question.

And finally, Mattingly also said this:

“This has been a frustrating, tough year, honestly. … You come in basically as a lame-duck manager, and with the payroll and guys you have, you make it tough in the clubhouse, put me in a spot where you’re basically trying out, auditioning. Can you manage or not manage? To me, we’re three years in. We’re at the point where you know or you don’t.”

Meaning, obviously, that Donnie feels if he isn’t worth a new contract and some job security, then maybe the Dodgers should look elsewhere.

Looking at this from afar — and I had to watch this morning’s session on streaming video because I wasn’t in Los Angeles — my gut instinct is that Colletti has Mattingly’s back and probably is on board with giving him an extension. If not, I can’t imagine Donnie would have made such bold comments while Colletti was sitting right next to him in front of a room full of reporters. It’s more likely that Kasten, who essentially runs the day-to-day operations of the Dodgers, is the one who still needs convincing.

Kasten is one of the most accomplished and most widely respected executives in the game. But he also doesn’t suffer much nonsense. And this is pure speculation on my part here, but I can’t imagine these comments by Donnie are going to sit well with Kasten, and they certainly aren’t going to sway him more toward giving Mattingly the extension he obviously wants. The fact Mattingly’s option kicked in means only one thing, that the Dodgers have to PAY Mattingly for 2014. It doesn’t mean they have to keep him on as their manager.

On one hand, I hope Donnie didn’t put himself in a bad spot with those comments. Again, his performance in the postseason didn’t create a situation in which other teams are going to be champing at the bit to hire him as their manager if he suddenly becomes a free agent, and there certainly isn’t going to be any major outcry among the Dodgers fan base to do whatever it takes to keep him in the fold. Mattingly’s support among Dodgers fans right now is probably lukewarm at best.

But on the other hand, this is a team of high-priced stars, a team that has to be managed with delicate hands. Today’s players, especially the star-caliber ones, tend to be difficult to manage. This is a desirable job because of the name and the history and the deep-pocketed ownership and the fact the pieces are in place for any manager to come in and win, possibly even win a World Series as soon as next year. But if I’m reading Mattingly’s comments correctly about managing Puig, if there is a perception that whoever manages this club is going to be left to massage all those high-dollar egos without knowing that the front office will back him up if he has to get tough at times, how desirable is this job, really? And what caliber of candidates would the Dodgers be able to attract if they suddenly found themselves in the market for a new manager?

Who knows, maybe the Dodgers will back down and give Mattingly his extension. Maybe Mattingly will back down and decide managing the 2014 Dodgers as a lame duck is better than not managing at all, which would certainly be a possibility were he to bolt.

But Mattingly’s comments this morning certainly didn’t push either side in either of those directions. And ultimately, they may wind up pushing Mattingly right out the door.

On that other subject, Colletti said that when the Guerrero signing, which he wouldn’t confirm, is official, Guerrero will be sent to winter ball somewhere to evaluate his readiness to possibly take over as the Dodgers’ everyday second baseman next season. Colletti also was quick to say incumbent second baseman Mark Ellis still has value to the organization, which could be an indication the Dodgers will pick up Ellis’ $5.75 million club option for next season, allow him and Guerrero to compete for the job in spring training and then shop Ellis on the trade market if Guerrero steals the job.

Colletti also confirmed that the Dodgers are looking at Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka of the Rakuten Eagles, who is expected to be posted this winter.

Dodgers reportedly close to signing Guerrero

Here’s the story by good friend and fellow Phoenician Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, who has been at the forefront of this story all along. This appears to be the exact same deal Jesse initially reported Alexander Guerrero had agreed to with the Dodgers several weeks ago, before he switched agents and opened himself up to all offers.

First offseason post: My thoughts on a bunch of stuff

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Happy Monday morning, everyone! Sorry the blog went dark for a couple of days, but I was busy flying home and getting my life back in order after all these months of traveling. I hope most of you are starting to move on now and put the shock of the Dodgers’ National League Championship Series disappointment behind you. I guess the old bullpen cart, parked up on the suite level at Dodger Stadium, will go at least one more season without having a championship year painted onto the side of its gigantic batting helmet.

Was able to monitor Game 6 of the ALCS from the plane, and it dawned on me that when the Dodgers were about to play the Phillies in the 2008 NLCS, I wrote a feature on Shane Victorino, then the Phillies center fielder, in which I questioned the fact the Dodgers had let him go not once, but twice in the Rule 5 draft, and now, here he was, having just had another solid season for the Phillies. Well, I suppose that in the interest of consistency, we should point out that the Dodgers now have let him go THREE times, losing him to free agency after last season, but the Dodgers simply didn’t think they would have a place for him in an outfield that already had Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. They would later add Yasiel Puig, theoretically creating a logjam that never really developed. So we can’t really blame the Dodgers for not retaining Victorino, especially given that he signed with Boston for three years and $39 million.

Still, at the moment Victorino hit that decisive grand slam in the seventh inning Saturday night, the one that put the Red Sox into the World Series, I couldn’t help thinking of the irony of the fact the Dodgers played the NLCS without Kemp, without a fully healthy Ethier and without a very productive Puig, who was OK in the middle three games at home but went 0-for-St. Louis, striking out eight times in 13 at-bats.

Victorino, meanwhile, now a three-time ex-Dodger, played the hero for the Red Sox.

On another note, this widely repeated narrative from the NLCS about the cultural differences not only between the buttoned-down, old-school Cardinals and the demonstrative, fist-pumping, mouse-ears-mimicking Dodgers but also between the Cardinals’ salt-of-the-earth fans and the Dodgers’ Hollywood crowd, well, it was all very tiresome. And overblown.

And in a lot of ways, not even close to accurate.

Look, stereotypes aren’t formed out of thin air. They exist for a reason, and there is always SOME level of truth to them. But the problem with stereotypes is that they paint with a very broad brush. And in this case, it assumes that anyone who lives in St. Louis and roots for the Cardinals is a product of good, old-fashioned Midwestern values, and that anyone who lives in Los Angeles and roots for the Dodgers is shallow, vacuous and insincere — and even worse, doesn’t respect the game of baseball or the apparently emotionless way in which it should be played.

Well, you know, I lived in Los Angeles for a long time. Four and a half years, to be exact. And I still spend, on average, probably three to four months a year there covering the Dodgers. And you know what? There are PLENTY of people who live in Los Angeles who live their lives by those same values that, in recent days, we have been repeatedly told are Midwestern values. People who are all about family, integrity, doing right by others, all of those things. These are not qualities unique to the Midwest, or to the South where I grew up. They exist everywhere.

And having visited St. Louis dozens of times in my life, beginning when I was 4 years old and my parents took me to my first big league baseball game at old Busch Stadium, I can vouch for the fact that people there are generally nice and pleasant — much as they are in, say, Los Angeles — but that I also have run into my fair share of rudeness and arrogance there, just as I have pretty much everywhere I have ever been, including New York, Boston and even Atlanta, a city that prides itself on the notion of Southern hospitality.

I even read one column stating that the Cardinals beat the Dodgers because the Cardinals are a team while the Dodgers are a bunch of individuals. Or something like that. Well, hogwash. The Cardinals beat the Dodgers because they beat them, simple as that. Over a six-game series, they were the better team. They were good enough to win three close games while losing two, and when they got the series back to St. Louis, they were good enough to blow out the Dodgers on a rare off-night for Clayton Kershaw.

It really was no more complicated than that.

The Cardinals are about to take on the Red Sox in the 2013 World Series, marking the fourth time those two teams have met for all the marbles. The Cardinals won seven-game victories over the Red Sox in 1946 and 1967, and the Red Sox came back to sweep the Cardinals in 2004, claiming their first world championship in something like 3,247 years, I think it was.

This would seem to be the most evenly matched World Series in a long time, impossible to predict. I’m rooting for the Cardinals just because, as I stated in another recent post, I always root for the N.L. team. But I think we have a great series on tap either way, so I hope everyone is sufficiently over the shock of the Dodgers’ loss that they can watch it and enjoy it.

By the way, Ned Colletti and Don Mattingly are having their end-of-season media session at Dodger Stadium this morning. I’m sure they’ll probably address Mattingly’s job status, but at this point, I would be shocked if he isn’t coming back.

I’ll post later today with an update. Have a good day, everyone.