Yesterday it was made official, Don Mattingly
and his entire coaching staff will return in 2012. The staff consists of hitting coach Dave Hansen, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, bench coach Trey Hillman, first-base coach Davey Lopes, third-base coach Tim Wallach, bullpen coach Ken Howell, and Manny Mota.
With the announcement, Dave Hansen gets his official promotion as the permanent hitting coach for the Dodgers after the Dodgers dismissed Jeff Pentland on July 20th. You gotta give Hansen credit where credit is due. After Hansen took over, he helped the Dodgers to an offensive resurgence. The Dodgers went on to finish the 2011 season ranked third in the league, both in batting average, and on base percentage after Hansen took over.
Lopes, what can I say? This guy got the job done this year. Lopes did exactly what he said he was gonna do. Mission critical was getting Matt Kemp
active on the bases again. 40 stolen bases for Kemp in 2011, mission accomplished. He absolutely took control of the running game that had all but disintegrated in 2010. The Dodgers went on to steal 126 bases in 2011, 34 more than the Dodgers did in 2010. I'm excited to see what he does with Dee Gordon
in 2012 after stealing 24 bases in just 56 games in 2011.
Honeycutt and Howell, hard to say anything negative with these guys. Together they helped the Dodgers pitching staff remain one of the best in the league. What these guys have done with very little at times deserves a pat on the back. The bullpen was in constant disarray all season, young, inexperienced, but adapt and overcome was the motto for the Dodgers pitching staff in 2011. In the end the coaches found a way to make it work with what they were given.
Then there's Mattingly himself. You could argue that next to Kirk Gibson
, Mattingly was the best manager in the National League this year. Wait, don't take my head off quite yet. Look at it this way, Mattingly was in his first year as manager, and I can remember wanting Tim Wallach to get the job over him not that long ago. Mattingly was too Joe Torre esque for my liking and I didn't feel like Mattingly had what it took to win a championship. Let's just say I was surprised with what I saw in 2011, and I look forward to Mattingly getting a chance to build on this in 2012. Mattingly coached a very young team to an impressive performance over the second half of the season, a team that should be a serious playoff contender in 2012. Don't get me wrong here, Mattingly isn't Manager of the Year worthy, but he did a heck of a job coaching this staff that was under construction all season long.
Mattingly showed he is capable of running this team despite what's going on, whether it's on or off the field. No matter what injuries, shortcomings, or player issues came along Mattingly was able to keep his team on track and focused on winning. In the end he did a phenomenal job, albeit surprised, I'm looking forward to what Mattingly and his crew bring to the table in 2012.