You’re Killing Me, Doc (with those insane lineups)

When Dave Roberts won the job as manager for the Dodgers, there were plenty of reasons I was glad. One of the biggest reasons was I believed Roberts would manage the game just like he played it – with conviction, daring, and a touch of fun. We stand a little more than a month into the season, and I’m starting to doubt some of those assumptions.

When Don Mattingly managed here, I did my fair share of critiquing the man’s curious lineups on plenty of occasions. With a new skipper running things, I figured the days of the silly lineup were gone.

Every major league manager, whether a rookie or a World Series winner, is going to send out the occasional questionable lineup. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the lineups that run several in a row that make you say, “WHAT???!!!” We got that a lot from Mattingly, and we’re starting to see it with Roberts.

Carl Crawford has played out his stay in Los Angeles, and is hurting more than helping every time he starts a game. Yet, the man somehow merits a start over Trayce Thompson, who won last night’s game with a walk off home run.

Thompson has four home runs to Crawford’s zero. He has 12 RBI’s to CC’s 4. How do their slash-lines compare?

Thompson .273/.304/.590 OPS .835    Fielding Agility: Decent     Arm – adequate. Nothing special.

Crawford  .200/.229/.289  OPS .518    Fielding Agility: Did you mean fragility?   Arm – almost worthless. At times, laughable.

OK, you’re the manager – who would you start? Yeah, I thought so. Me too.

But Dave Roberts, the guy I thought would manage TO WIN…sits the guy who’s bat is still smoking from hitting the game-winner the night before.

Want another example? The man with the hottest home run bat on the Dodgers, Joc Pederson, still sits out games against LH pitchers. This even though he got to the majors precisely because he IS capable of hitting left-handed pitching. Pederson has already shown this season that not only can he hit southpaws, he can do so with home run power.

When Roberts went to the “Mattingly” RH-heavy lineup against Mets southpaw Steven Matz, he sat Pederson. The day after he blasted another home run in a Dodgers win. He took Pederson’s OPS of .941 out of the lineup. It’s .909 as I write this, but that’s still more than 200 points higher than anybody else on the team. You can’t bench your team’s power and on-base leader and expect to win. How do you think that lineup did? They lost.

During the last couple of weeks of Mattingly’s final season managing here, there was open talk that the screwy lineup decisions did not always come from him. It was said Dodgers’ General Manager Farhan Zaidi would overule Mattingly’s player choices regularly. That talk arose again when the Marlins visited Chavez Ravine last month. Ex-Dodger Dee Gordon and Mattingly himself hinted that he was happy to be out from under Zaidi’s thumb and able to manage “his way”.

I recognize the rising pattern of curious choices made in the nightly lineups. New skipper, new coaches, new blood, new ideas – but there’s that pattern again. There is one constant in this equation – Zaidi, and his charts, slide rule, sextant, and whatever else he uses to justify sitting the hottest players, or to place them in baffling batting orders.

Is the G.M. keeping Roberts from managing his way? Is Zaidi snatching victories away from the Dodgers by insisting on starting broken down, overpaid players and relying too much on bloodless number-crunching over common baseball sense?

I’m betting that Dave Roberts is a better judge of which group of players can win a game on any given day than the guy who wears an orange jacket to represent the Dodgers –  in San Francisco! 

You’re freakin’ killing me.

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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21 thoughts on “You’re Killing Me, Doc (with those insane lineups)

  1. Well, in other Dodger news:

    1 – Another one of our Cubans is going down with an UCL tear and will have Tommy John surgery. Pablo Fernandez, whom no one else wanted and to whom the Dodgers gave an $8MM signing bonus, compiled a 3.92 ERA in 10 minor league starts at age 28. More money well spent!
    2 – Former Minnesota Twin reliever Casey Fien was outrighted after one minor league appearance. The team owes him $2.45 MM for the season as he stays on the roster in OKC.

    More roster churn, more dead money instead of signing real major leaguers.

    But hey, it’s great depth!

    1. Not to endorse their actions in any way but that was their intent all along, it is a procedural move to get him off the 40 man roster. So they can claim another stiff….

  2. You know, when you think about it every team in MLB has the same number of players. Equal numbers everywhere you look. Are ours better than everybody else’s? Somehow I doubt it. Depth is quite possibly an illusion. We play Thompson and Crawford, the Angels play Mike Trout. We play Utley and Kendrick the Astros play Jose Altuve. Every position other than first base could be a platoon on this team. Who other than Gonzalez is going to start 145+ games? Seager maybe. Nobody else.

    We are a military company. We’re made up of platoons. It’s who we are. It’s what we do.

  3. I just thought of another stupid mistake our FO made. It’s a given that the manager they hire must promise to follow their stupid orders on lineups and such. So why hire a baseball man who MIGHT someday find his cajones and think for himself. Makes a lot more sense to hire someone like Bob Hope or Jack Benny. Can you imagine the great press conferences? So entertaining the fans and press will be too busy laughing to notice all the losses. I really like this idea.

  4. Oscar the problem is that both Joc and Trayce are playing well, after Roberts has done this. And if he would have had Joc playing in every game, then Trayce wouldn’t have gotten a chance to play. And because Trayce got to play, when Joc sat, it has made Trayce a better player. And helped him gain more confidence. And Joc sat out, in Tampa Bay, but he still was hitting, and hit those HRs, against both the Rays, and the Bluejay’s. I think Roberts has done his best, to get Trayce playing time.

  5. Man I love it when Kershaw pitches! Shame he can’t pitch every day. Where is Ol’ Hoss Radbourn when you need him?

  6. Had to look him up. Damn. He’s got some conspicuously surreal stats. 488 complete games, 73 in one season. He pitched 678 innings that year, (1884) won 59, lost 12. Had a 19.1 WAR. 4527 innings pitched, 309 wins – in 11 years. The guy was 5’9″. Damn.

    1. Thank you for stating what no body else will that Pedro was good at 3B last year and bad in LF where Dummie made him play. Too much depth on the LAD?

    2. The 59 wins are the most in major league history in a single season. But check it out – after his team’s other starting pitcher left the team, he pitched 41 of the remaining 51 games and completed all of them. That’s what we need from Kershaw.

  7. I imagine pitchers used a more natural motion in those days, mostly “fast balls”. They did not put the stress on their arms that is “required” in today’s game. That is the only reason I can see that prevents today’s bigger, stronger, healthier players from achieving at least as much.

  8. I think playing Kendrick and Crawford over Thompson and Hernandez may boil down to the old philosophy that veterans play while rookies wait. At some point it may become obvious that it isn’t working. Last year Uribe got pushed back because Turner and Alex Guerrero were hot and they ended up trading him. Unfortunately, I’m not sure anyone is going to take these two off our hands. Who knows what will happen when Ethier and Van Slyke come back.

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