Don Mattingly on the Dodgers’ Payroll: “The Expectations are Going to be so High They’re Going to be Unrealistic”

The Los Angeles Dodgers are expected to have the highest payroll in the history of Major League Baseball this season. Fortunately for Los Angeles, it has a manager who has some experience with teams sporting hefty payrolls. After all, Don Mattingly was teamed up with Joe Torre in the New York Yankees’ clubhouse between and. Don Mattingly joined Mason and Ireland on ESPN Radio Los Angeles to discuss his stacked pitching staff, the expectation level surrounding the Dodgers with their huge payroll and what he learned from his experience in a similar situation with the Yankees.

On the pitching staff:

“It’s pretty good. I think the fact they’re able to put Zack and Clayton out there together — these guys are both dominant guys, and really what we like is we get these guys pushing each other. I talked to Zack about that when I was out in L.A. I want him to be able to push Clayton, to be able to have that guy next to him saying, ‘Hey, I can hit and I can field and I can get this guy out,’ and create that competition amongst our guys. And the rest of our staff, since Rick Honeycutt’s been in L.A., I think it’s been the top ERA in baseball since he’s been there. He’s a great pitching coach.”

On managing high expectations considering the big payroll:

“No matter what we do this year, every article that’s written is going to have something in there about the payroll. And if we win, we were supposed to win. How could these guys not win with that payroll? And if we lose, then it’s a monumental disaster. So we might as well just take it head-on.”

On getting beyond the high salaries and the fact they look great on paper:

“A lot of our guys have reached financial security and getting paid, but there’s gotta be more than that. There’s gotta be a pride in what you do, who we represent and what we’re trying to do. And I don’t care what you look like on paper, it’s not going to be easy. When you start looking at San Francisco and the teams in our division, the Phillies and all the others teams, the Nationals, it’s not going to be easy.”

On what he learned from his experience with the Yankees when they had a very high payroll:

“I think it’s tough on guys. I really do. I think the Yankees teams that I was fortunate enough to be coaching with Joe [Torre] at the end, it was like if you didn’t win it all, you had a horrible season. Teams that went out and played hard, battled their way through Boston, got into the playoffs, and if you lost in the playoffs it’s like you didn’t do anything. And that’s tough, because it’s not easy. We’re going to have to work hard. There’s going to be a lot of hills still to climb and we’re going to have some low points during the season. For me, it’s not fair to guys. They bust and they bust and they bust, and somebody gets hot and two hot pitchers in a five-game series shut you down and you’re out of the playoffs. It’s just tough for me to be down on guys after they’ve battled 162 for you. So that’s the toughest thing. The expectations are going to be so high they’re going to be unrealistic. I’ve watched what’s going on with the Lakers and it’s like, that’s a battle in and of itself. And it’s not fair when you don’t play well, but there’s going to be expectations and we’re just going to have to meet those expectations.”

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