Daily Distractions: IBWAA announces its end-of-season awards finalists.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Hyun-Jin Ryu (center) was honored at an awards gala in Korea yesterday. Lots of awards these days. (Photo by Jun Park/Asia Society)


The Internet Baseball Writers Association of America was founded here, in the awards capital of the world, so naturally the IBWAA gives out awards at the end of the season. This year there are “finalists” too, just like the BBWAA has “finalists” who really represent the top vote-getters in each category.

The IBWAA has more categories, and more Dodgers, than the BBWAA awards. Clayton Kershaw (National League Cy Young), Yasiel Puig and Hyun-Jin Ryu (NL rookie of the year), Don Mattingly (NL manager of the year), and Kenley Jansen (best NL reliever) are all in the running for the virtual awards.

Jose Fernandez and Adam Wainwright are the other Cy Young finalists, same as the BBWAA awards. Fernandez is the other rookie of the year finalist. Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel are the other finalists for best reliever. Fredi Gonzalez and Clint Hurdle are other manager of the year finalists, (same as the BBWAA.

Winners will be announced as follows:

Relief Pitcher, Friday, November 8, 2013, 11:00 a.m. PST.
Rookie, Monday, November 11, 2013, 11:00 a.m. PST.
Manager, Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 11:00 a.m. PST.
Cy Young, Wednesday, November 13, 2013, 11:00 a.m. PST.
MVP, Thursday, November 14, 2013, 11:00 a.m. PST.
Some bullet points for a Thursday afternoon:

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Yasiel Puig, Don Mattingly, Clayton Kershaw are finalists for BBWAA awards.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw won the 2011 National League Cy Young Award and is the favorite for the award again. (Associated Press photo)

The Dodgers have three finalists for the annual year-end Baseball Writers Association of America awards.
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Analysis: After a bad week for clarity, the road map is clear for Don Mattingly and the Dodgers.

Don Mattingly contract

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, foreground, appeared pensive throughout an end-of-season press conference Monday that focused mostly on his contract status. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff photographer)

At Dodgers headquarters, this was not a good week for clarity in the information age.

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Dodgers coaches Davey Lopes, Rick Honeycutt, Tim Wallach, Mark McGwire will return in 2014.

Don Mattingly

The Dodgers declined the 2014 contract option on bench coach Trey Hillman (left), but will bring back pitching coach Rick Honeycutt (right). Manager Don Mattingly, center, remains in limbo after publicly doubting his future Monday. (Getty Images)

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, first base coach Davey Lopes and third base coach Tim Wallach will return to the Dodgers’ coaching staff next year, as the Dodgers renewed the 2014 options on each of their contracts Tuesday. Hitting coach Mark McGwire, already under contract for next season, is also returning.

The Dodgers are still hoping to retain bullpen coach Chuck Crim, assistant pitching coach Ken Howell, and assistant hitting coach John Valentin, but none have a contract option for 2014.

That leaves bench coach Trey Hillman as the only member of the Dodgers’ 2013 coaching staff who might not return. Earlier in the day, the Dodgers declined the option on Hillman’s contract but invited him to remain in the organization.

That scarcely adds up to an overhaul of a staff that manager Don Mattingly was hoping to keep intact. The larger question, of course, is whether Mattingly himself will return.
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Dodgers, Don Mattingly have a contract for 2014, but questions remain.

What could have been a routine press conference to recap the end of the Dodgers’ season got interesting in a hurry Monday.

After sharing their thoughts about the 2013 campaign, which ended with a six-game National League Championship Series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, manager Don Mattingly and general manager Ned Colletti were asked about Mattingly’s status for 2014.

“My option vested once we beat Atlanta,” Mattingly said. “That doesn’t mean I’ll be back.”

With that, the floodgates opened.
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Reports: Don Mattingly to return in 2014.

Andre Ethier Don Mattingly

Don Mattingly will manage the Dodgers in 2014, according to multiple reports. (Associated Press photo)

Even before a Source With Knowledge of Don Mattingly’s Situation anonymously confirmed that Don Mattingly’s situation looked good for 2014, it had come to this: The Dodgers doing anything less than picking up the team option on his contract would be a surprise.

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.)

So it came as little surprise last night when reports surfaced that Mattingly is indeed coming back next year.

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.

What was Kenley Jansen doing on the mound at the end of Game 3?

Kenley Jansen

Kenley Jansen recorded the final out of Game 3, a non-save situation in the Dodgers’ 13-6 win. (Getty Images)

Don Mattingly‘s decision to use Kenley Jansen to record the final out of Game 3 of the National League Division Series has at least one detractor: Pedro Martinez.

Jansen struck out Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann on four pitches to close out a 13-6 win. To Martinez, who spent the first two years of his 18-year major-league career with the Dodgers, that was a sign of panic.

“With all due respect to [Dodgers manager] Mr. Mattingly, I did not see the need for [closer] Kenley Jansen to be in [Game 3],” Martinez said Sunday on TBS. “I did not see the need for Paco Rodriguez to face more than one batter, he’s a specialty lefty. I can only imagine seeing this kind of scenario in a World Series game, tied in the ninth inning. I don’t know what Mattingly is going to do [then] if he panics in a game with a seven-run lead. This looks like more of a panic-time than anything else.”

Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson praises Don Mattingly, won’t to commit to manager beyond 2013.

Magic Johnson

Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson wasn’t keen on discussing Don Mattingly’s future with the Dodgers on Thursday. (Getty Images)

Asked if he has decided to bring back manager Don Mattingly, Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson was less than definitive on Thursday.

“We’re going to deal with all contracts after the season,” he said. “Nothing has changed. We understand we’ve got guys that we have to have back, but we’re going to deal with it after the season. Same thing I said two months ago is the same thing I’m saying today.

“That’s between Stan and Ned,” Johnson added. “All we’re going to talk about today is Game 1.”
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Daily Distractions: Back injury puts Jerry Hairston Jr.’s playoff availability in jeopardy.

Jerry Hairston Jr.

Dodgers veteran Jerry Hairston Jr. is batting .211 this season in a reserve role. (Associated Press photo)

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti told the “Petros and Money Show” on 570-AM (KCAL) yesterday that Jerry Hairston Jr. is fighting a back issue that might keep him off the Dodgers’ playoff roster.

“It’s something we’re debating,” Colletti said.

Hairston, one of seven Dodgers with World Series experience, is batting just .143 in the second half of the season in a reserve role.

Colletti responded to a question specifically about whether he would choose the experienced Hairston over younger shortstop Dee Gordon.

“We’re also debating Dee,” Colletti continued. “He brings speed to the game. If you watched our games against Cincinnati a couple weeks ago, you saw the effect of a Billy Hamilton. If you paid attention when we weren’t playing him you saw the game-changing aspect of it. He’s somebody we’re thinking about.”

Colletti added that he’s hopeful that Andre Ethier will be healthy enough that “we’ll be able to use him to some extent starting Thursday.” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that Ethier is likely to be used in a pinch-hitting role at the outset.

Some bullet points for a World Vegetarian Day:
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Daily Distractions: Don Mattingly’s job seems safe.

Don Mattingly

Don Mattingly’s contract expires at the end of the season. He and the Dodgers have not discussed extending it to 2014. (Associated Press photo)

Apparently it’s time to talk about Don Mattingly‘s job security again.

ESPN.com’s Buster Olney told Steve Mason and John Ireland on 710-AM yesterday that “If they [the Dodgers] lose to the Braves in the first round or lose to the Cardinals in the first round, I don’t think he’s going to survive. … I think they would make a change.”

Olney’s prediction was based on how the industry regards Mattingly’s in-game managerial skill. In that area, there’s room for criticism (or improvement, depending on how you choose to look at it). But room enough to not renew Mattingly’s contract?

FoxSports.com’s Jon Morosi wrote that Matt Kemp is “sure” that Mattingly will be back next year no matter what.

Our Tom Hoffarth caught up with team president Stan Kasten recently, and Kasten offered nothing less than a ringing endorsement. “I’m glad we had him at the start, glad we had him in the middle and glad we have him now,” Kasten said of Mattingly.

If there is any uncertainty about Mattingly’s future with the Dodgers, Kasten and general manager Ned Colletti are doing a tremendous job hiding it from players and the media. While that might be the case, it seems unlikely that Mattingly’s job depends on the Dodgers’ playoff performance.

There are skills that go into the manager’s job that can’t be taught. As Morosi points out, Mattingly’s background as a player and his demeanor as a person fit almost perfectly with the Dodgers’ roster as currently constructed. That will count for a lot. In-game strategy? That can be learned in time, and it’s reasonable to guess the Dodgers will give Mattingly more time.

Some bullet points for a New Zealand Dominion Day:
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