Nashville, TN -- During his press conference Tuesday at MLB's Winter Meetings, Don Mattingly reflected on the failures of last season and talked about the pressure on the Dodgers to perform in 2013, especially given their payroll. The Dodgers' current Opening Day payroll is hovering at $200 million, the highest in the majors, and given the spending binge, they might not be finished shopping before the season begins.
Spending money on roster-building doesn't guarantee success, and Mattingly acknowledged that given the payroll situation there's an added layer of pressure to bring a championship to Los Angeles. The moves the Dodgers made late this season didn't translate to wins, and despite the blockbuster trade that brought Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto to the roster, coupled with the trade for Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers should have been able to capitalize on the huge roster upgrades. Instead, they sputtered down the stretch and finished eight games behind the Giants in the NL West.
Mattingly blamed the late-season struggles on the fact that these players didn't go to camp together, and thus didn't build the strong foundation necessary to play together as a team. But he anticipates that the team will grow together in 2013, with players like Gonzalez and Beckett being more effective in a full season than they were late last season.
With the high payroll, there's a lot of pressure to win, but Mattingly said he's confident that his team has enough talent to be successful as long as his players are focused and have a hunger to win. Mattingly added that, given 2013's roster, the Dodgers are in a much better spot and no longer reliant on players like Matt Kemp to have career seasons in order for the team to be successful since there will be enough talent in the roster nightly. The heavy criticism is a side effect of having such a large payroll, but Mattingly is working with his players to make sure that they are accountable, prepared, and ready for the season.