How much influence a manager has -- or ever can have -- over a team's fortunes is one of the longer-running and more open-ended baseball debates, but the Los Angeles Dodgers have figured out where they stand. They believe manager Don Mattingly had enough to do with the team's second-half turnaround to lock him up to a contract extension through 2016. The move was first reported by ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, and Fox's Ken Rosenthal confirmed (via Twitter) that the deal will replace the remaining year on Mattingly's existing contract and run through the 2016 season.
Mattingly took plenty of blame for the team's early season struggles, and he revealed after the season that his option for 2014 vested only when the Dodgers -- after a scorching 42-8 finish to the regular season -- made it all the way to the National League Championship Series. During the season, Mattingly earned both criticism and praise for his handling of mercurial rookie Yasiel Puig and a lineup full of big-ticket talent with contracts and egos to match.
How good or bad a manager Mattingly is or isn't is, invariably, more the sort of thing that columnists and fans will argue about than a question with an objective answer. The various answers that will appear to be right at one moment and wrong at the next will vary with a given game's final score, inevitably coming back to how well the baseball players he manages manage to play baseball. In this sense, Mattingly is like everyone else presently (and temporarily) holding down a managerial gig.
But if Mattingly's dramatic last several months -- on the hottest of hot seats in May, owner of a new extension in January -- mostly prove a point about the variability of a manager's stock, they do make one thing notably more certain. When Dodgers fans argue about how much a manager is or isn't worth in years to come, they can at least know that it will be Don Mattingly they're arguing about.