Without a turnaround, Dodgers could turn to someone other than Don Mattingly

General Manager Ned Colletti says the team has the right personnel to break out of its slump. And he says the players love Mattingly. But one has to wonder who will pay with his job if things don't change.

The new Dodgers owners, it turns out, jazzed up every corner of Dodger Stadium but one.

The concourses are brighter, the restrooms cleaner, the entertainment snappier. There's still one area, however, that feels wholly unfinished, an inherited structure that the bosses are beginning to wonder about remodeling.

What are they going to do with the manager?

Everyone loves Don Mattingly, but folks are starting to question if he'll ever evolve from idol to inspiration. Everyone loves Donnie Baseball, but they want to see more Donnie Hardball.

Unlike in Anaheim, where it seems officials are just looking for an excuse to fire Mike Scioscia, it appears the Dodgers are looking for every reason to keep Mattingly. But with the highest payroll in sports history sitting in last place after one-fifth of the season, they are slowly running out of those reasons.

Mattingly is rightfully one of the most respected figures at Chavez Ravine, but if the team continues to trudge through the schedule like reluctant kids on a school hike, he is also the one who is most likely to be fired.

"I'm confident we're going to turn it around, and I'm confident we have the right people," said General Manager Ned Colletti.

He might not still be saying that if they don't break out of their seven-game losing streak this weekend against the wretched Miami Marlins. Mattingly needs to right this wreck now, and don't believe that ownership is going to cut him a break simply because of the team's bevy of injuries.

Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier have all played in at least 30 of the team's 33 games. Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Josh Beckett have at least seven starts each. Brandon League, Kenley Jansen and Ronald Belisario all have at least 13 appearances.

Those players, alone, are good enough to stay out of last place.

"A lot of guys have been hurt, but that's no excuse, we're still a good enough team to win a lot of games," said Colletti.

The question is, do they believe Mattingly is a good enough manager to find those wins? Mattingly was not hired by new Dodgers ownership, and has not done much with their shiny new toys, going 31-38 since this All-Star team was assembled late last summer.

They certainly wondered about him last winter when they refused to extend his contract past this summer's final season, turning him into Donnie Lame Duck. They are obviously wondering about him still.

There seems to be little fire coming from the dugout, particularly in the late innings of recent games, when the manager's moves are as absent as his team's motion.

On Wednesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, with the Dodgers trailing by one run in the ninth inning, Skip Schumaker led off with a double, yet never moved a muscle. The Dodgers lost, 3-2.

On Tuesday against the Diamondbacks, with the score tied in the eighth inning, Matt Kemp led off with a double, yet also never moved a muscle. The Dodgers lost, 5-3.

There also doesn't seem to be enough fire outside the dugout; witness the fourth inning of the game Monday with the Diamondbacks, when Crawford clearly made a catch of Didi Gregorius' fly ball before dropping it while transferring the ball to his throwing hand. Yet it was wrongly ruled a non-catch, the sort of umpiring blunder in the middle of a losing streak that would normally induce the manager to storm the field and bark at the blue and get himself tossed in righteous outrage. Yet Mattingly calmly jogged out, held a brief discussion, and returned quietly to his post. The Diamondbacks scored three runs in the inning and eventually won, 9-2.

"If he does something more animated, does that change the direction of team, do we hit better with runners in scoring position?" asked Colletti. "I don't know that it does that. But I understand that sometimes people look at those things as reason to doubt, a reason to question."

Mattingly gave people another reason to question him after the weekend sweep in San Francisco, when he praised his team for its effort despite the three bad losses. Internally, the Dodgers understood what he was saying, but, knowing the potential public reaction, nonetheless cringed when he said it.

"I know what he meant, we played better and we played hard," said Colletti. "But this game is results-oriented, and I know Donnie also knows that."

Colletti has been working overtime trying to get this fixed, and spent much of the last week meeting individually with the players and staff. As expected, he found that everyone in the clubhouse still believes in their boss.

"The guys both love and respect Donnie, and that's a hard combination to find," said Colletti. "I still have a lot of confidence in him, in our staff, in everyone. We just have to play better."

Ironically, the makeup of that staff adds to the pressure on Mattingly. The Dodgers have at least two capable replacements already in uniform, coaches Tim Wallach and Davey Lopes. They could also pull a Jack McKeon-type move and bring down 72-year-old Pat Corrales out of the front office.

They don't want to do any of that. They desperately want Mattingly to succeed. But they also want to stop the bleeding from a revamped stadium and $220-million payroll before it's too late.

A whole new blue, right? Don Mattingly needs to start convincing everyone that can happen without a whole new manager.

bill.plaschke@latimes.com

twitter.com/billplaschke

CHICAGO