Mattingly: 'I'm hoping it will be 10' years with Marlins
Former MVP, six-time All-Star, introduced as manager, guided Dodgers to past three NL West titles
MIAMI -- Saying he hopes to be around for a long time, Don Mattingly was formally named manager of the Marlins on Monday at a morning news conference at Marlins Park.
Mattingly, 54, reached agreement on a four-year deal on Thursday to become Miami's fourth manager since 2012, the organization's first season at Marlins Park. The former Dodgers skipper aims to elevate the Marlins, a franchise without a winning season since '09, into contention.
"I signed a four-year contract, but I'm hoping it will be 10," Mattingly said. "I'm thrilled to be here. I'm excited for the opportunity to come to Miami. The consensus around baseball is this is a talented club. It's a young, talented club. It's a good core that has a chance to grow and develop. For me, that was the single biggest thing, and the reason I was so intrigued with coming to Miami, was the chance to develop. The chance to teach. The chance to help mold a young club, and build toward winning the division and winning a championship."
It's no secret that the Marlins have a history of changing managers. Mattingly is the 11th different manager, counting Brandon Hyde serving one day as an interim in 2010, since Jeffrey Loria assumed ownership of the franchise in 2002.
"Hiring a manager is one of the most important decisions a team can make, which is why it was so important for us to find the right long-term solution," Loria said in a news release announcing Mattingly's hiring.
"I'm thrilled to welcome Don Mattingly to the Marlins family. He brings a storied life in baseball to our ballclub, and is one of the game's living legends. His experience as an All-Star, former MVP and accomplished manager of a team that won the NL West title three years running will be incredibly valuable to our organization. In addition to being a great baseball mind, he's also a wonderful person.
"Don's brand of strong and focused leadership is exactly what this team of talented players needs to help us compete at the highest level."
The Marlins greatly underperformed in 2015, finishing 71-91 in a shaky season in which they employed two managers. Mike Redmond was dismissed on May 17 after the team got off to a 16-22 start. In a surprising move, general manager Dan Jennings took over as field manager on May 18, and the team went 55-69 the rest of the way.
On Oct. 6, the club announced Jennings would not be back as manager. Jennings was dismissed as general manager last Thursday, ending a 13-year association with the organization.
Mattingly steps into a situation where the Marlins are eager to snap their drought of not reaching the postseason since winning the 2003 World Series. Only the Mariners (2001) have been out of the postseason longer.
The Marlins will look to juggle patience with urgency, because they've been through a long dry spell. Team president David Samson noted the World Series champion Royals and runners-up, the Mets, were experiencing losing seasons not long ago.
"Things can turn around, and we'd like for it to be us," Samson said. "But we have to go out and play."
After the season, the Marlins put a priority on finding a manager with previous big league experience. Loria has long admired Mattingly since his playing days as an All-Star first baseman with the Yankees.
When the Dodgers and Mattingly agreed to part ways on Oct. 22, "Donnie Baseball" immediately became the front-runner for the Marlins' job. He interviewed with the Marlins a few days later, and reached agreement on a four-year deal shortly afterward.
As manager of the Dodgers from 2011-15, Mattingly compiled a 446-363 record, including three consecutive National League West crowns (2013-15). In the NL Division Series, the Dodgers were eliminated by the Mets in five games.
As much turnover as the organization has had, Samson stressed that the Marlins hope Mattingly secures the position for the foreseeable future.
"I want him to be Pat Riley, that's the goal," Samson said, referring to the Miami Heat president and former coach. "Someone who would bring sustained winning. I want him to be [Heat coach] Erik Spoelstra. I want him to be here for a very long time, and I want him to win championships. That's always been our goal. We don't like having a 'revolving-door' manager. Mattingly made it clear from the very beginning, when he looked at his life, he's looking at 10 years and doesn't want to move again."
Mattingly is convinced the Marlins are committed to him and to building a strong foundation and franchise, though he acknowledged that he won't see in Miami the same kind of financial resources as when he was with the Yankees and the Dodgers.
"I felt very comfortable with our group here, that we're building something," Mattingly said. "We want to sustain it. But also understanding the challenges of this market. It's not a New York or an L.A. where you have kind of an endless financial situation. You have to be able to build and continue to build."
One of Mattingly's first tasks will be filling out his coaching staff. A few spots are already filled, and Tim Wallach is expected to be relocating from the Dodgers to remain Mattingly's bench coach. Returning from the 2015 staff are infield/first-base coach Perry Hill, bullpen coach Reid Cornelius and assistant hitting coach Lenny Harris. Frank Menechino, Miami's hitting coach the past two seasons, is finalizing a deal to also return.
Still to be filled are pitching and outfield coaches.
The Marlins interviewed Mattingly over a two-day period, in New York on Oct. 25 and in Miami on Oct. 26.
The Marlins also interviewed Larry Bowa (twice), Manny Acta, Bo Porter, Rick Renteria, Joey Cora, Phil Nevin and Mark DeRosa.
In Mattingly, the Marlins are bringing in a high-profile name who has experience in high-pressure situations as a player and coach with the Yankees, and as a coach and manager with Los Angeles.
As a player, Mattingly was a six-time All-Star and a nine-time Gold Glove Award winner. He was the American League batting champion in 1984, and the league's Most Valuable Player in '85.
Mattingly inherits a promising core in Miami, with a roster that includes All-Stars Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Fernandez and Dee Gordon.
"There's a lot of talent," Mattingly said. "This is a dangerous club."