Don Mattingly: Expectations unfair

From 2004-07, Don Mattingly coached under Joe Torre with the New York Yankees, so he has a good understanding of what people expect from a team that has the highest payroll in baseball.

That doesn't mean he has to like it.

In his first public comments since the Los Angeles Dodgers signed free-agent pitchers Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu for a combined $208 million, the Dodgers manager expressed frustration with the way the media and fans create unfair expectations for such marquee teams. The Dodgers will enter 2013 with a record payroll, likely north of $230 million. The Yankees' highest payroll was $209 million in 2008.

"It was like if you didn't win it all, you had a horrible season," Mattingly said of his time with the Yankees in an interview on ESPNLA 710 on Wednesday. "I mean, teams that went out, played hard, battled their way through Boston, won a bunch of games, got into the playoffs. If you lost in the playoffs, it's like you didn't do anything.

"That's tough, because it's not easy. We're going to have to work hard and there are going to be a lot of hills left to climb and we're going to have some low points during the season. For me, it's not fair to guys. They bust and they bust and they bust, then you run into two hot pitchers in a five-game series, they shut you down and they're out of the playoffs. It's tough for me to be down on guys after they battle 162 (games) for you."

Mattingly, who lives in Indiana, even drew a comparison with the Los Angeles Lakers, who lost to a 4-17 Cleveland Cavaliers team on Tuesday night and are 9-13 with a star-studded roster.

When host ESPNLA 710 Steve Mason asked him what's wrong with the basketball team, Mattingly asked: "Do they play any defense out there at all?"

Mattingly shed some new light on the chemistry issues in the Dodgers' clubhouse last September after a series of high-profile trades, the biggest of which landed Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford from the Boston Red Sox, plus about $260 million in salary obligations.

"Our guys were just fighting every day and then, all of a sudden, you've got a whole new club and they don't really know the fight that you're in," Mattingly said. "They're coming from a different fight. They're happy to be out of the one that they were in. The Boston guys were so happy to be in L.A. that they didn't care what happened, it didn't feel like.

"It's just nice to be able to get these guys together and set a common goal."