Whether it was Ned Colletti or Stan Kasten or Mark Walter or Magic Johnson, anybody I spoke to recently about Mattingly’s performance was upbeat. Not tepid. Not cautious. Always positive, though always unwilling to go on the record about 2014 — anonymously or otherwise. (In fact, Kasten gave the Daily News a very cold shoulder — the New York Daily News — in a typical exchange about the subject yesterday.)
There’s still no mention of who will manage the Dodgers beyond next season. Maybe that hasn’t been decided yet.
There’s also an important, lingering question of when it was decided that Mattingly was still the right man for the job. What was the tipping point in the front office’s thought process? Johnson’s World-Series-Or-Bust attitude apparently didn’t apply to the manager, but was reaching the NLCS the minimum requirement for picking up Mattinglys option? The timing of Tuesday’s reports suggests it’s possible.
For now, we know that Mattingly doesn’t feel that he is managing for his job. That’s a significant vote of confidence. It means more than any platitudes issued through the media. It means Mattingly can relax enough to try to win a series, knowing his job doesn’t depend on it, in reality if not the court of public opinion.