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.