Dave Roberts is Feeling the Heat – and Quietly Pushing Back

It’s clear to anyone paying attention that last year’s NL West champs, the Los Angeles Dodgers, are this years NL West chumps. They are swirling in a whirlpool of blown leads, empty bats, lousy pitching arms, and picking up speed.

What’s not so clear is – who’s to blame for this massive turnaround? Is it the fault of a bunch of malingering non-hustlers, a clueless manager who lacks rudimentary motivational skills, or a penny-pinching front office philosophy that has come home to roost? What often happens in cases like these is, no matter who or what is to blame – one or a hundred reasons – the first casualty is usually the manager.

The picks and torches against Dave Roberts are breaking out all over social media, and I’m sure Roberts is starting to feel the heat rising around him. Tonight the Dodgers lost their sixth game in row, and ninth out of ten. At 16-26 for the season, they now occupy last place in their division. The team wasn’t responding to anything Roberts was trying two weeks ago, and everyone was holding out (albeit unrealistically) hope that somehow the return of Justin Turner and Logan Forsythe from the disabled list would spark the team to at least ONE victory. No such luck.

That’s the sort of thing that makes people say, “The player’s you were waiting for are back, but the team is still losing. What about it, skipper?” Dave Roberts is clearly not going to suffer in silence, but you will have to read between the lines to find his defensive jabs.

About a week ago, Roberts was asked in a pregame press scrum about his team’s offensive philosophy. The Dodgers are a team that tends to rely upon the home run. At this point of the season, it’s a reasonable conclusion that ain’t working out so well. So Roberts was asked why the Dodgers don’t play small ball? Why not bunt a runner into scoring position? Why not steal bases and move runners station to station, rather than swinging for the fences over and over again – in spite of the failure rate?

Roberts said that wasn’t the type of team he had, the personnel wasn’t built for that type of offense. It was a passive-aggressive swipe that wasn’t against his team so much as it was aimed at the front office that put them together. In essence, he was saying, “Don’t blame me for a one-dimensional offense. That’s what they gave me.”

Today, after yet another loss and the drop into last place, Roberts was asked about his unproductive bullpen. Earlier, the Dodgers had mounted something rarely seen this season, a comeback from a four-run deficit to tie the game at five apiece.  Pedro Baez came in and immediately surrendered a home run, which was the difference in the game. They lost and sunk to last place. Roberts was asked why he chose Baez. His response:

“Someone’s going to have to pitch.” -Dave Roberts

In other words, “Don’t blame me. This is what I have to work with. I have to use one of these fire bombs.”

This is just the first round, folks. If the Dodgers don’t improve, there promises to be other fireworks in store.

 

Oscar Martinez

Oscar Martinez

I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

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41 thoughts on “Dave Roberts is Feeling the Heat – and Quietly Pushing Back

  1. Burn him! A team that wants to win does something at this point. That something is usually firing the manager or coach. It may not be the total answer but it does send a message and we all know change can be good for any atmosphere. We would still have the problem of the FO/FAZ. This may be beyond changing as ownership have their own agenda. So we stick to the actual situation and the players who dress everyday and take the field including the mgr. and coaching staff. None of them should be safe at this point. We are melting fast.

    What is interesting to me is to see which players withstand the bad times and continue to play well.
    The pitching staff seems to be beyond help and no one has their head out of the water. This seems to be the logical place to start a re-build. Can a group like FAZ do it? Seems unlikely.

  2. I’m surprised that they haven’t at the very least fired Turner Ward. Usually when the offense completely tanks, the hitting coach is the first on the firing squad.

    As much as Dave Roberts infuriates me (and yes, I do mostly blame him for the WS loss due to his gross pitching mismanagement), he’s right – he didn’t build this team, Friedman and Zaidi did. And I’ll go further up the line than them – Kasten gave them the keys to the kingdom. If we’re using “the buck stops here” as our guide (meaning the person in charge is ultimately responsible, that’s why they get the big bucks), then Kasten would be the one who should get fired. But that will never happen.

    Friedman and Zaidi’s philosophy and strategy should be under the microscope, and at long last, because they appear to be failing spectacularly, should be found wanting. I was never convinced that focusing solely on high-risk oft-injured pitchers, avoiding expensive free agents, overvaluing minor league players and stocking the team with guys who either hit home runs or strike out was the way to build a team. But what do I know? So when the team continued to be successful and made it to the World Series, I gave the team’s upper management and front office a pass. But I’ve always been suspicious of their approach. Now my suspicions unfortunately have turned out to be true. This apparently is NOT the way to build a baseball team.

    What bothers me the most right now is the inaction. While Friedman obliquely says he’s to blame, he and his team haven’t made move one to turn this team around. I’ve worked for plenty of organizations in a variety of industries and I know that when the bosses sit on their hands, they either don’t want things to change or have no idea at all how to change them. Which is it for the Dodgers?

    Sigh. Go Dodgers.

    1. The one move they have made to turn this team around was to dive under the luxury cap.

      I’ve said it before, I think this year will be remembered as the year that was done. Why fire anyone when you’ve accomplished what it was you set out to do?

      We ride it out until the deadline. It’s way too early to throw in the towel. No teams will be making big moves in May. Even those who already know they’re done don’t make moves in May. They wait until the desperation peaks. July. We’ve got 50 games to go. Enjoy the ride.

  3. I have not posted on this site in quite a while. So here goes.

    I believe in the whole sabermetrics approach. To an extent. Seventh inning, eighth inning, ninth inning, lefty right matchup, could be important. 4th or 5th inning? Blowing through your bench so that you have no one left by the 8th? And lefty righty pitching matchups in the middle of the game so there are no pitchers left later in the game?

    Its a self fulfilling prophecy, you tell a guy he cannot hit lefthanded pitching enough times, you bat for him enough times to drive that point home, what you get is a guy who cannot hit lefthanded pitching.

    You have a guy who is starting to see the ball well, hitting everything thrown to him, and you take him out after 3 days to rest. Rest for what? He is batting 4 times a game and now the conventional wisdom says he is tired and needs a rest?

    I don’t know if it is Roberts, or the self proclaimed geniuses in the front office. I have no idea. It’s probably a concerted effort involving both equally. But I do remember it was a Roberts stolen base that turned a playoff series around for the Red Sox. Why does he not remember that?

    Last year, most of the team had career years. That does not happen every year. It certainly is not happening this year. Woods unbeatable, Taylor hitting everything, Bellinger with his home run binge, I could go on and on.

    Bottom line, you win with pitching and defense. We have neither. The numbers may tell you I am wrong, but I know what I see, and every game there are mistakes some of which may not show up on stat sheets or in box scores.

    I am getting myself worked up, so I will stop. Thank god I have DirecTV and cannot watch them.

    1. Howard

      Your right about those problems, but the problem is there is to many different problems with the team right now.

      Because they are terrible with runners in scoring position, and most of the line up, is hitting under 250 so how many hits can a line up of these type of players get hits, when runners are in scoring position.

      And what made that rally happen yesterday, was the fact that Turner used his at bat, to make sure he could move the runner on second, to third.

      And the rest of this team, doesn’t do these small things, and if most of the players can’t get hits, with runners in scoring position, they have to do the small things, to get runs in.

      Just like you talked about hitters being told they can’t hit lefties, the same goes if players, are not asked to do the small things, they are not going to try to do the small things, but that doesn’t mean they are incapable of doing these small things.

  4. Social media is more or less a bunch of idiotic fans. Myself include. They represent nothing of consequence.

    Roberts didn’t, to the best f my knowledge:

    Cut 90 million from the budget
    Injure Kershaw, Koehler, Hill, Seager, Toles, Forsythe and Ryu
    Cause Taylor, Bellinger, Puig and Kemp to worsen at hitting.

    1. Bluto
      Let’s not forget who has their hands on the controls during games? Koehler, Toles, were never on the team. Ryu didn’t play last year. Kemp has been more than a respectable hitter. Forsythe never has been worth a crap. Taylor and Bellinger cannot be expected to have career years every year. That leaves Puig who does not hit much better than he is now and his defense has improved in my opinion. Kershaw and Seager both spent time on the DL last year. I am not proud of the 90million that the FO cut because my team is in last place. That is the result of guess who?? Dummy ROBERTS!!

    2. Bluto,

      I still don’t see where the cutting $90mil is responsible for this nose dive. We’ve got more or less the same players on the team. Aside from injuries, what is the difference? Most championship and near championship teams don’t often see the necessity of upgrading. They got to where they are because they actually had a good team. With our Dodgers, we’ve had some glaring holes over the FAZ reign that have never been fixed, mainly the pitching. We lost 2 relievers that nobody thought would cause the demise of the bullpen, Morrow and Watson. I didn’t like seeing Morrow get away and I do think it was a bonehead mistake of FAZ not to sign him, but that’s one reliever. Our whole squad sucks!! What happened, did the $90 million affect their pitching skills?

      One very interesting thing I observed today when I looked at the 40 man roster and their salaries. Almost every reliever is making less than $1 million, most making 1/2mill. How does this rank with other major league teams that are contenders? Jansen makes $10mil.

      1. Who said it was solely responsible for this mess? I’m saying it’s a factor that is outside of Roberts.

        I basically agree with your premise, nobody saw this kind of start coming, but the silly article we are posting under is somehow drawing a line (or saying a line has been drawn) to Roberts’ performance. Which I cannot understand at all.

        I imagine last year’s pen (and probably the Blanton year before it) was also similarly compensated.

        How much was Koehler to make?

      2. Jeff
        Forget it, he will never get it. If you had mentioned sabermetics or good things from the FO, he would have been all over it.

  5. Hey,Hey, Hey, Big News, the Dodgers just signed Logan Bawcom. That is correct Logan Bowcom. That should push the Dodgers over the top for sure!!

  6. Hey Howard, good to see you again.

    Thinking about what you said ….. I’m in line with your position on saber metrics. It makes sense to look at the numbers. To a point. I’m thinking that we overuse the principles of the approach and often look done by the 7th. I believe to do it the way we do requires roster expansion. We need at least one more pitcher, one more GOOD pitcher that is, and frankly 26 players may not be enough. We could use 28.

    I think it’s imperative our utility guy and our 4th outfielder hit better than Hernandez and Pederson. I’ve seen enough of those guys. I also think come deadline it may be time to move Grandal. That depends on where we sit 60 games down the road but if we are still smelling the begonias we might could get some quality from teams like Washington. Other competing teams may need catching too. He’s a FA at the end of the year so, unless FAZ sees him over Ruiz and Smith, he walks.

    Santana moved to OKC tells me he will be here soon. Wonder how they intend to use him.

    Still time left on the clock. A 10 game win streak could change everything.

    1. Badger

      It is a lot easier for Joc to hit, then Kike.

      Because Kike doesn’t get that many consistent at bats, because he is on the wrong side of a platoon.

      Joc gets to start more games, because there are a lot more rightie starters, then leftie starters.

      And Kike’s biggest value as you know, is the fact he can play every position except catcher and pitcher.

      1. MJ, don’t start that crap again…Kike has exactly 1 less at bat than Pederson so your theory is BS. And he has been in 1 less game…just face it, Kike is not as good as you or the Dodgers think he is…and he is hitting under the Mendoza line AS A STARTER, over .400 off the bench…end of argument.

        1. Michael

          First read what I said, I didn’t say Joc got more at bats, I said Joc got more starts, which is true.

          Because right hand hitters, get the short end of platoons, because there are many more, right hand starters, then leftie starters.

          And because of all of this, Joc gets more consistent at bats, which is the truth, so you didn’t win this argument like you thought, so read exactly what someone wrote, before being so sure of yourself!

          1. It is not easy for anyone to hit in the majors. You give the same old lame argument about Kike all the time. I care less if Joc gets more starts or Kike does. They both have had pretty damn close to the same opportunities whether you can see it or not. That is a fact. Kike has sucked as a starter and Pederson is not much better. Neither one is worth a rats ass, but when ever you feel like it you slam Pederson. Hey, I get it, you want more time for Kike. Unfortunately for you and him, he is not producing when he IS PLAYING. Kike is what he is and so is Joc. Unfortunately for you, the FO and the manager make the decisions as to who is going to play. Kike is supposed to be great against LHP. This year he is hitting a whopping .204 against them….he is hitting .208 against RHP. That is not because of a lack of chances. He has just sucked big time. His value is in his versatility in the field, not his bat and it has not been his bat for most of the last 2 1/2 years. .190, .215, and now .206….gee, I wonder why he does not play every day. That first year where he hit .307 is nothing more than a dim memory and he did that when he was not getting consistent playing time either, so what it his excuse now? The guy has struck out over 30 percent of his at bats this year. And whether you like it or not, his OBP is under .300. Joc’s is much higher. And also too bad for you, the FO has never and will never think of Hernandez as anything more than a utility player…so yeah, I win the argument…….

          2. By the way miss smarty pants. Joc has started 22 games….Kike has started 28….so like I said your frippen lame argument does not hold water..

    2. I look at yesterday’s game. Muncy hits a game tying double. First time in maybe the entire season someone had a clutch hit. His reward, today he sits. Maybe gets DFA’d. The numbers, you know.

      Again, its not sabermetrically popular, but guys do get into a rythym, start seeing the ball better, start hitting better. It does happen.

      You set your lineup and that is it, maybe platoon Forsythe and Utley, but leave them intact for the most part. They are your starters.

      1. That’s not how most teams play it anymore Howard. Certainly not the Cubs and Astros, to name two teams who have had equal or more success than the Dodgers.

  7. MJ,

    What you say about Joc is true but he does have more value than Kike, but that might not be saying much. Joc has learned to get walks. This seems like a minor compensation for the power he has lost. It only get his OB% up there and his hitting is still atrocious. Both seem to hustle well enough defensively. Neither have sustained an MLB career with any confidence and to me I would not waste anymore time trying to get them functional. They are what they are. Because we are not seeing any outfield depth coming up, we are stuck with only Kemp producing. We are also not seeing any infield depth with all the errors being made. Taylor is a poor choice at SS. He is a much better outfielder and we may be seeing his turnaround right now. His BB/KO ratio has narrowed and his hitting is picking up. By playing Taylor at SS, our outfield is exposed to poor hitters, Puig and Joc. By having little depth in the infield, we are exposed offensively with Forsythe and Kike, and defensively, with Forsythe, who has proved to be an inferior batter and infielder to me. Playing Bellinger in CF is sheer is the height of folly, not because he can’t do it, because he is a very good at 1B and the guy can still bloody hit in spite of his sophomore curse.

    With Turner back, and Bellinger, Taylor, and Kemp contributing, we will see improvement. But the real improvement is yet to come, when we finally trade or acquire more positional talent, and finally get a pitching staff that is worthy of being called one. Get rid of underperformers and pretenders. If the ownership is not committed to winning, sell the bloody team to people who are! Please!!

    1. Jeff

      I agree with most with what you said, except Joc’s walks, because other team’s pitchers, have to throw enough balls, for any player to get a walk, so walks, are not a given.

      And if a player’s OBP is more based on walks, then hits, that is not a good thing.

      I believe the last time I looked, Kike actually had a higher OPS then Joc, because Kike has hit with more power, then Joc.

      But Kike is only a part time utility player, and you are always going to expect more, from a semi everyday player like Joc, then a part time utility player, like Kike.

      I totally agree with you about Taylor being a better centerfielder then shortstop, but he is probably the only player we have, that can play shortstop, and face both lefties and righties, because Kike can’t hit righties well.

      And we also agree on Forsythe, because he has had terrible numbers against righties, and overall, since he has joined this team.

      Taylor is our best defensive centerfielder, on this team, because Joc doesn’t have enough speed, to be a decent defensive centerfielder.

      Because Joc already has a negative five defensive runs saved this year, and his range numbers, are not that good at all.

      I also agree with you, about Cody, Turner, and Kemp, being the key to this team, on offense too.

  8. According to the charts I read the most valuable defensive positions are C, SS and CF. 1b is obviously important but for defensive runs saved it’s down the list.

    I like the idea of Seager at first, Bellinger, Puig, Verdugo and Kemp in the outfield, Turner, Machado, Taylor left to right on the infield. Yeah, I know. Dealing with who we have right now? I don’t know. Bellinger’s throw home yesterday was a 2 bouncer 15’ off target. His speed out there is fine, but he would have to learn to retrieve and hit the cutoff man much more quickly. There are drills for that. Give him to me for a few days and we’ll cut a second off the relay time. Taylor in centerfield works, but he came up as a middle infielder. Like I was saying in the winter, I still believe in strong up the middle and that means a real centerfielder, a fast vacuum at short, same at second with both turning the double play like Aparicio and Fox. Looking out at all of that is a backstop that actually stops EVERYTHING and controls the diamond. Frankly what we have out there now doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence. I don’t know who Muncy is but he looks like a gamer squirrel. He wants it, but his nuts are few and far between. Most of the defenders look like utility guys. Is there anyone on this team facing the plate that knows where he will play and where he will hit in the lineup everyday?

    Agree starters should start. But, that isn’t who we are.

    1. Badger
      If Dummy keeps taking out Kemp we are going to have to rethink our bet. Matt has had 3 hits today, guess that is not enough to keep him in there. If Dummy wanted to play Joc, he should have pulled Kiki who isn’t worth a crap.

      1. Package

        You right, Kike didn’t have good at bats today, but you never know with these two guys, like Jeff said.

    2. If you are going to name a great DP combo, you should stick to players over the last 20 years…I doubt these guys saw Louie and Nellie play.

  9. Package

    I didn’t say much about Kemp getting a day off yesterday, because I thought that might be a good thing.

    Because Kemp has been getting a lot of starts, and Roberts stopped taking him out early in games, and Kemp had not hit much, in the last week, so I thought maybe Kemp needed that day off, yesterday.

    But I don’t think we will be hearing Bluto say to much about Kemp, after today’s game.

    And I do have a better feeling about this team today, after I saw Turner and Kemp, bat one after another, in the game today.

    Those two players, could really help our offense come back, and help our young players to start, having better at bats.

    And Roberts will figure out, which of our relief pitchers are best for our bullpen, in the later innings, soon.

    And just like Badger has been saying for a while, they will start hitting like they did today, especially with both Turner, and Kemp, in this line up, now.

    And like I said, Puig is a better hitter, when he is hitting eighth, and sitting next to Turner Ward.

    1. MJ
      Don’t worry about Bluto. He can’t get it when you answer his comments. Yes, Puig does better later in the lineup for sure.

      1. Package.

        1. I don’t think MJ is worried about me.
        2. She wasn’t answering my comment, but I definitely continue to be unable to parse that comment you made above. Would love some help there.

  10. I think we all should feel a little better today, because the players that are hitting in this game, have hit in their past, so this game just might get the team back on track.

    And Maeda has stepped up, and pitched really well today.

    That might be Roberts answer to the bullpen, don’t pull your starters so fast, if they are pitching well.

  11. MJ
    Another situation where Dummy has dropped the ball. Maeda should have been allowed to finish his shutout. 95 pitches is not too many to send him back out for the 9th inning. He will not turn into a pumpkin if he goes a few pitches over 100. That is why I call him Dummy.

    1. 8 innings is enough. 96 pitches might be a lot for Maeda.

      Good game. But ‘cept for Kiké and the Logie.

    2. Package

      I think this was more about getting work for Kenley today, because Kenley has to pitch regularly, to stay good.

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