Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had all winter to think about the end result of the 2018 postseason. Whether it was leaving Muncy and Bellinger on the bench in game one, pulling Rich Hill early on in game four, and other decisions that backfired throughout the World Series.
In a recent article from The Athletic, Pedro Moura joins Dave Roberts for coffee and, of course, some Dodger talk.
It took just four games for the Dodgers to slide past Atlanta in the NLDS and all seven games to squeak by Milwaukee to reach their second consecutive World Series. The first two games and only two games took place in Boston. The Red Sox won the World Series in five games, finishing the series in Los Angeles as Champions.
Following the conclusion of the Fall Classic, reporters, writers, and especially fans were all anticipating one of the greatest baseball off-seasons we’ve ever witnessed. With plenty of free agents, highlighted by Machado and Harper, looking for a new home, the baseball world was due for one of the most exciting Winter Meetings to date.
The new year has arrived and both Machado and Harper have yet to ink new deals. Spring Training is just a month away. Fans, players, and managers around the league are itching for some baseball. Dave Roberts is ready to go.
“When February 1 hits, my mind starts to get out of that Southern California beach relax mode and I start to get a little more antsy, uptight, a little bit irritable…
I’m sure we can all relate to how Roberts is feeling. We are just a few short weeks from the end of January. Our beloved time to relax is limited.
“…I get that look in my eye where I get a little edge. We’re not there yet. Right now, I’m still Southern California Dave, enjoying my coffee.”
A Look Back at the numbers
If it weren’t for a Max Muncy 18th inning walk-off home run in Game 3, the Red Sox were looking at a clean sweep. When Roberts looks back, I’m sure there are a number of things he can take away as a negative. We all knew what it came down to. The offense.
“You know our average in the World Series?” Roberts asked.
He knew the answer: .205 in 2017 and .180 in 2018. The Dodgers made outs more than 75 percent of the time they stepped to the plate against the Red Sox.
Dave Roberts is also looking back a few seasons ago in the 2017 World Series. With all of the twists and turns in both Houston and Los Angeles, there were plenty of mistakes within those seven games.
“We didn’t get on base, we didn’t hit, we didn’t do anything,” Roberts said. “The bottom line is that we just didn’t play well in the last two World Series. To win a championship, you’ve got to play well in the World Series, and we were outplayed in both. We play two good series and we’ve won back-to-back championships.”
Communication And Yasiel Puig
Dave Roberts’ clubhouse has always been known as “loose” and “fun”. From guys like Yasiel Puig, Rich Hill, and of course the clown himself, Kiké Hernandez. It’s important to hold a strong relationship with your team. This clubhouse spends every single day together throughout this 8 or 9 month span of the season.
“Nowadays, it’s how you manage men,” he said. “I think managing them is being consistent in your communication, your message, your contact.”
Roberts is big on communication and he likes to keep in contact with his players throughout the year.
In one of the more intriguing points of Moura’s interview, Pedro and Roberts chatted about the big trade that sent Puig, Kemp, Wood, and Farmer to the Reds. It seems that Roberts attempted to contact Yasiel after the trade but “could not connect.” He expanded on Puig the player and the person.
“Yasiel has a unique way of attracting a lot of attention and still playing at a relatively high level,” Roberts said. “With that, it does take some of the pressure or focus off the other players — good and bad…”
Beyond that, Dave credited Puig with helping him learn patience and expressed a “belief that both the player and the team could benefit from a change of scenery.”
A short time after that trade, Roberts decided to give the 22-year-old Alex Verdugo a call.
“He was excited about potentially getting an opportunity,” Roberts said. “But he expressed to me that he still has to earn it. That maturity was good to hear.”
According to Baseball America, Verdugo is currently the number two prospect in the Dodgers organization. The outfielder spent just 15 games in 2017 and 37 games in 2018 with the Dodgers. Verdugo is expected to make the opening day roster and possibly the starting lineup. Barring a Bryce Harper signing of course.
Despite what happened in the last few seasons and the lack of movement this off-season, Roberts continues to stay optimistic about the future of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I do believe, and I know Andrew feels this way, that sometimes changing the pieces a little bit keeps things fresh,” Roberts said. “If you look at our roster going forward in 2019, we did more than we did ahead of 2018. We haven’t added more, but we’ve changed, and I think that’s important. And we’re still not done yet.”
Pedro Moura’s post was a great read — and highly recommended — but more importantly paints the picture of a manager that ready to learn, evolve, and win.
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