Dodgers manager, Dave Roberts' task is clear: World Series or bust

Posted on 23 November 2015

Dave Roberts spent the last four seasons of his 10-year career playing for Bruce Bochy, the final two with the San Francisco Giants. If you’re going to aspire to match the feats of a club that has won three World Series this decade, you might as well hire someone who learned from its leader.

After early indications that they intended to promote Gabe Kapler to replace Don Mattingly as manager, the Los Angeles Dodgers changed course and have opted instead for Roberts, the San Diego Padres’ bench coach the last two seasons. He will receive a three-year contract, and will be introduced at a news conference Dec. 1st.

Roberts will be new to managing but not to the NL West. He played 2 ½ years with the Dodgers (2002-’04) and two with the Padres (2005-’06) before he and Bochy made the move north to San Francisco. As a bench player with the Giants for most of 2008, Roberts had plenty of chances to pick the brain of Bochy, a likely future Hall of Famerwith whom he’ll now match wits.

Roberts’ NL West immersion continued after his playing days, joining the Padres in 2010 and working his way up to bench coach for another highly regarded manager inBud Black.

There are many other reasons to like the Dodgers’ choice, and they go well beyond the fact Roberts is helping diversify a mostly white club. The son of an African American father and a Japanese mother, Roberts will become the third current minority manager in the majors, joining the Atlanta BravesFredi Gonzalez and the Washington Nationals’ newly hired Dusty Baker.

At 43, Roberts is just seven years removed from his days as player, when he was known as a scrapper who got the most out of his ability. Roberts spent the better part of eight seasons in the minors and didn’t establish himself in the big leagues until 2002, the year he turned 30.

He still managed to carve out a solid career built on his ability to get on base and his speed. His 226 stolen bases from 2002-2007 represented the fourth-highest total in the majors in that span.

That background should serve him well in gaining credibility with a mostly veteran team that has won the last three division crowns but has repeatedly fallen short in the playoffs, unable to end a World Series drought that stretches back to 1989.

Now it will be up to Roberts to make it rain titles, and fast. The Dodgers aren’t spending all that loot – a record payroll of $310 million at the end of last season – to keep going home after a round or two of the playoffs.

For all of Mattingly’s perceived strategic shortcomings, he guided the Dodgers to the three division titles, winning records in every one of his five seasons at the helm and the sixth-most victories of any manager in Dodgers history.

That wasn’t enough to keep him around.

Nobody knows what kind of strategist Roberts will be, but he will be facing a series of challenges while under constant scrutiny in the nation’s second-largest media market.

High on that list will be the task of extracting maximum production out of one Yasiel Puig, the mercurial outfielder with the legion of critics. According to Andy Van Slyke, the former major league player and coach and the father of Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke, the Puig detractors include ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw, who wants him traded.

Looks like they won’t be ping-pong partners in spring training.

And while Roberts will be able to count on Kershaw to head his pitching staff, the rest of the rotation at this time consists of Brett Anderson, Alex Wood and a lot of hope thatZack Greinke returns and Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy bounce back from injuries.

The charismatic Roberts, who is said to have made quite an impression on his new employers during interviews, deserves kudos for landing one of the game’s plum jobs without any managerial experience to speak of.

What comes next figures to be much harder.

Article by: Jorge Ortiz, USA Today

More Posts


Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing

Search our store