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.