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Dodgers: Dave Roberts Says Whoever Followed Mattingly in LA Would be Deemed a Puppet

It was always going to be an uphill battle.

Sometimes it can be a tough room for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. Despite being the winnest manager in Dodger history (by winning percentage), Doc tends to catch a lot of flack over moves and lineups deemed “analytically driven.”

Recently on the Bleav in Dugout Dudes podcast, the manager opens up with friend and former big leaguer Brett Tomko about his time coming to the Dodgers, among other things. And opens up is indeed the correct descriptor as Dave shares a more vulnerable side to his story.

Surprisingly, he goes all the way back to former LA manager Don Mattingly to start his story.

It was from the very beginning when I took this job and they parted ways with Don Mattingly and Andrew and Farhan were running the baseball operations from day one, whoever the manager was  going to be deemed as a puppet. No matter who it was. So now it’s just something that I’ve just got to deal with I know what’s real, what’s not real, but there’s a narrative that was built from the very beginning.

The Mattingly Era

For those who might not remember, Mattingly managed the Dodgers from 2011-2015. By the middle of his tenure, the clubhouse began to get away from him as egos grew larger and larger amongst players. After an NLDS loss to the New York Mets in 2015, the club held an impromptu and tense press conference where it was announced that Donnie Ballgame would no longer be leading the team.

Former LA GM Farhan Zaidi had been hired a year before and as his time with Mattingly went on, it became clear that the two did not quite see eye to eye. Zaidi was much more of a computers and numbers guy as where Mattingly was a former player from the 80s — a very different era for the game.

So with Zaidi given a blank check to hire just about whoever he wanted (although he didn’t get his first choice of Gabe Kapler at the behest of ownership) and ultimately landed on Dave Roberts to be the guy to lead the club.

But with that came the perception Roberts mentioned above — he’d be a yes man, a figurehead… a puppet. Something Doc strongly says he is not.

Through his growing pains, Roberts has become a top manager in the game, even if every move doesn’t work out in his favor. Still, he sees the criticism.

Whether I take a pitcher out because he’s not throwing well — it’s analytics. Whether he takes him out and he does well, there’s nothing to be said it’s never it’s always when it goes bad — it’s the analytics. And then when I do stuff that goes against analytics then its always ‘he should have used the analytics’ so you can’t win and you can’t play that game. 

Seeing a little fire come out of Roberts is a nice thing to hear… I think quarantine might be getting to him. Great stuff with Dave and the Dugout Dudes!

NEXT: Roberts Says the Front Office Doesn’t Make the Lineups… Mostly

Written by Clint Pasillas

Clint is the lead editor of Dodgers Nation, and a host and analyst on Dodgers Nation's own Blue Heaven podcast live stream.

He's been writing, blogging, and podcasting Dodgers since about 2008. He was there for Nomar, Greg Maddux, and Blake DeWitt, and he'll be there for Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Dustin May, and any Dodgers of the future.

He's also a sandwich enthusiast, a consummate athlete, and a friend.

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  1. Pulling Hill in game 2 of 2017 and game 4 of 2018 cost 2 championships I don’t care what anyone says. They would’ve beat Houston despite the cheating had they won game 2, and tied the Boston series after puigs big homer and I think they would’ve won in 6 or 7. Those are either all on Roberts or he was a puppet following orders. Either way it’s a sh*tshow here

  2. I don’t believe that for one minute anyone who pulls a pitcher out when he pitching a no hitter or a PERFECT game is an IDIOT!! And he did both!!

  3. I am a Roberts fan, delighted when Mattingly got the ax. If Kapler was so great how come he was moved out of Philadelphia? Because he couldn’t win anything. Roberts keeps us always there. It is always easy to find fault when one does not get an outcome to their liking. Quick to criticize and never quick to congratulate, if ever at all. I am amazed at all the “wannabies” who think they have the answer to anything. They have that “people who think they know everything are an annoyance to those of who do”

    • The answer is simple. Don’t pull a dealing starter after 4 in a World Series game because the nerd upstairs wants to show off how smart he is, and don’t pull that same pitcher the very next year in the World Series just after getting a big go ahead homer by puig the Dodgers had all the momentum after Muncys walkoff In game 3 would’ve tied the series 2-2. Oh and don’t use Kershaw in the 8th of a 3-1 game with the ENTIRE bullpen available and then after he predictably flounders use Joe “1 inning” Kelly for 2 innings. Sadly these are all mistakes that not even a fan at home would’ve done

  4. Doc manages the team based on analytics. Analytics comes from upper management.
    So, basically he managing by what he is being told from upstairs. I think that that has cost the Dodgers a championship or two.

    • What a hilarious boomer joke. I will say Roberts is no idiot but he’s a sad puppet unfortunately. I’d love to see what he can do left alone

  5. Yeah, but Roberts acts like he is a Moneyball puppet. From watching games, I’d say Friedman has his hand up Roberts’ behind and controls Roberts every move.

  6. I want to know who decided to play Lux for several games in the Nats series. A lot of focus on pitching decisions, and too many were not great. But a team that came in looking like they had the missing offensive piece for playoffs 2019 was not performing. That made the Lux decision look insane. Needed to act fast on those results. Freese on the bench. Martin an option after a good game. Kike…Veterans all. But they did not get the call over underperforming 1st year rookies. I am not a DR hater. Great energy with players and love for the game. But I think too often he manages from his heart and player loyalty. Not the same as managing with heart! The Kershaw decision was wrong and unfair to him and the fans. He did his job in the 7th. Considering the toll of injuries and the drop in velocity, call it right there. Let us ride that high. And maybe not announce to the world he will pitch in relief 3 days in advance of game 5. Kelly pitching two, no answer for that. These crunch time decisions don’t just feel like “maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. Let’s roll the dice.” It looks to me like a pattern where heart & player loyalty collide with common sense, analytics and right now on field performance. Madson in 2018, how do we keep running that guy out there? Hill game 4 2019? Finding the path to success will take some shift on DR’s part. Love the game. Hoping for a season of some kind. A lot of promise on this 2020 club.

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