For a second-straight year, the Los Angeles Dodgers were unable to take home the World Series trophy.
Fans in Los Angeles have waited 30 years since last winning the title. In the wake of the mess left by former owner Frank McCourt, the new front office (led by Andrew Friedman, Stan Kasten, and Farhan Zaidi) has worked hard in building a championship contender. Under the guidance of the aforementioned trio, the Dodgers made the World Series for the first time since 1988.
The man in charge of the team itself is Dave Roberts. A likable character, the former UCLA Bruin took the job after previously being the bench coach with the San Diego Padres. Known as a great communicator, Roberts’ easy-going persona has worked very well with the laid back culture of the city. At the same time, he held tremendous respect as a man who both toiled away in the major leagues primarily as a reserve player — as well as someone with a Championship pedigree.
Since becoming the Dodgers’ manager in 2016, Roberts has led the team to the playoffs in three-straight years (two of which culminated in World Series appearances). He’s held a .589 win percentage over this time, and was even named as the National League Manager of the Year in ’16.
Based upon this resume, one would assume his job to be rock-solid. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Managers are often looked at as scapegoats when a team struggles. Roberts is no exception, especially after what transpired versus the Red Sox in the World Series. The decision to have Ryan Madson pitch in pressure-packed situations did not pan out. The same can be said when weirdly lifting Rich Hill for another left-handed pitcher (Scott Alexander) after Hill had been in the midst of a gem. After being up by four runs, the Dodgers’ bullpen ultimately fell — costing the team both the game and ultimately the series.
Things got so bad for Roberts, that the President of the United States weighed in on the decision. He was booed by the fans prior to Game 5 of the series based upon his decision-making the previous night.
Watching the Dodgers/Red Sox final innings. It is amazing how a manager takes out a pitcher who is loose & dominating through almost 7 innings, Rich Hill of Dodgers, and brings in nervous reliever(s) who get shellacked. 4 run lead gone. Managers do it all the time, big mistake!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 28, 2018
Roberts and his current contract situation doesn’t help matters, either. There’s a one-year club option ($1.1 million) remaining on his deal. The Dodgers could simply pick it up and think nothing else. Discussions over a longterm deal have been reported — though it’s curious to see Roberts not be secured for the future.
There’s only one thing for the Dodgers to do at this point: sign Roberts to an extension. The man has done a wonderful job in leading this team to the postseason. There’s something to be said about his managerial skills — both in terms of personnel and in managing egos.
Roberts remains unparalleled when it comes to managing a team featuring multiple platoon situations. This method has been successful for the Dodgers — though it certainly isn’t emblematic nor conventional when compared to the rest of the league. Roberts continually has to shuttle players in-and-out of the lineup based upon matchups.
This analytics-driven method is certainly pushed from the front office. With that said, Roberts must still work with players who’d likely want to play on an everyday basis. Keeping all of them ‘happy’ whilst also winning at a high clip is something very difficult to do.
Without question, Roberts is highly valued across the league. If the Dodgers continue to drag their collective feet, another club could come in with an offer Roberts can’t turn down. At the very least, Roberts should be given a competitive offer when it comes to an annual salary.
It will be a very interesting offseason in Los Angeles. Time will tell as to whether wholesale changes will be made, or simply minor tweaks.
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