The Los Angeles Dodgers announced in a press release today that all of the team's Major League coaches from this past year will return for the 2012 season.
“I’m very excited that the entire coaching staff will return next season,” said Dodger manager Don Mattingly. “These guys do a great job with teaching and development while creating an atmosphere that gives our players a chance to play the type of baseball we feel can get us back to the playoffs and an opportunity to win a World Championship.”
Mattingly enters his second season as the Dodgers’ manager after leading the club to an 82-79 record, including a second-half mark of 41-28 (.594). A former American League MVP, nine-time Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner, and six-time All-Star, Mattingly is the ninth manager in Los Angeles Dodger history and 27th in franchise history.
Although Mattingly did not get much national attention this year for his performance, he deserves some credit for keeping the team's focus on the diamond during the ongoing circus of owner Frank McCourt's court battles.
But the real accomplishments of this staff can be seen in two areas: (1) the development of the team's young players, and (2) the improvement seen in emerging superstar and MVP-candidate Matt Kemp.
In 2011, the Dodgers put several rookies and youngsters on the field, many of whom proved they could play at the big league level.
An example can be seen in shortstop Dee Gordon, who initially struggled at the plate during his first early season call up, but then later caught fire in September, hitting .372 with 12 stolen bases to earn the National League Rookie of the Month Award.
Even more important was the impact of First Base Coach and baserunning instructor Davey Lopes, who provided the crucial tutoring Matt Kemp needed. Lopes improved Kemp's baserunning by leaps and bounds, making him a more efficient base stealer en route to a career-high 40 swipes this season.
More importantly, Lopes created a climate that made Kemp comfortable coming to the ballpark each day, unlike the testy relationship he had with Larry Bowa and the rest of the 2010 staff.
Lopes will enter his 25th season as a Major League coach and second with the Dodgers, after playing for the team from 1972-82. In 2011, the Dodgers stole 126 bases, which was good for fourth in the NL and a 34-steal improvement from 2010. Los Angeles was successful on 75.9% of its stolen base attempts, which ranked fifth in the NL.
The 2012 Dodger Coaching Staff will include:
Don Mattingly – Manager (second season)
Dave Hansen – Hitting Coach (second season)
Trey Hillman – Bench Coach (second season)
Rick Honeycutt – Pitching Coach (seventh season)
Ken Howell – Bullpen Coach (fifth season)
Davey Lopes – First Base Coach (second season)
Manny Mota – Coach (33rd season)
Tim Wallach – Third Base Coach (second season)
Honeycutt enters his seventh consecutive season as the Dodgers’ pitching coach, making him the longest tenured full-time coach on the Dodgers’ staff. Since Honeycutt became the pitching coach in 2006, his staff has posted a 3.84 ERA, which is the best in baseball over that time. In 2011, the starting staff had an ERA of 3.41, good for third in the league.
Mota will enter his 33rd season as a coach with the Dodgers and 43rd year overall in the organization. He donned a Dodger uniform as a player in parts of 13 seasons from 1969-80 and 1982 and finished his career as the all-time leading pinch-hitter in Major League history. His tenure as a coach is the longest in Los Angeles Dodger history.
Wallach, who played for the Dodgers from 1993-1996, begins his second season as the Dodgers’ Third Base Coach. He has also spent four seasons as a minor league manager, setting a franchise record for victories (80) for the Dodgers’ Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes in 2009 and being named the 2009 Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year. This season, Wallach was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame.
Now that the coaching staff issue is resolved, the club's top priority is simple: sign Matt Kemp to a long term contract before he tests the free agent market.
By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for The Daily Sports Herald