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Dodgers: It’s Time to Stop Shuffling Players Around

Seriously. It’s time.

Andrew Friedman and Dave Roberts meeting at Dodger Stadium.

The 2019 Dodgers are team so deep and dominant, you’d think they were fairly consistent in their regular lineups because of it. Yet recently, the team has been effectively spinning the wheel with many players. And it’s high time they stopped it. 

First, there’s Joc Pederson at first base, a Frankenstein baseball experiment that should never have been foisted upon the public — especially during the middle of a season. Pederson is a solid left fielder, and should be allowed to stay in that position especially to build on the defensive acumen he displayed last season. There are enough everyday and utility players who have better 1B acumen. 

Having Adam Kolarek play first late in games is even more egregious in how superfluous it is. He’s a lefty reliever, not a position player, and especially with Julio Urias’ ongoing troubles he needs to be protected all the more as one of the team’s few viable lefty options. If Kolarek were to sustain a massive injury during a frivolous defensive replacement inning, it would cripple an already suspect bullpen. 

The most debatable is Dustin May. After his rough relief outing in Atlanta this past weekend, it makes sense to just want him to start from here on out. On the other hand, adjusting to relief takes some getting used to, so this could just be a learning curve. In my eyes, though, he’s the likely number 4 playoff starter, with Rich Hill and Tony Gonsolin as the surplus relievers waiting in the pen. It would be best to pick one role either way for Big Red and stick with it. 

Roberts’ free-wheeling approach to putting players in seemingly random positions almost feels like a Moneyball strategy. But when the Oakland A’s do it (think Josh Donaldson’s conversion from catcher to 3B) it’s out of absolute necessity, as their limited budgets have forced them to improvise. The Dodgers are not in a similar situation, no matter how much they emulate other Oakland/Tampa Bay tenets. 

It also vaguely resembles the platooning that defined the 2018 team. Except it isn’t. That team was such a dirge (with plenty of injuries, granted) that Dave Roberts had no choice but to platoon constantly to get the best possible results. They wouldn’t have made the playoffs, or World Series, without it. The same could be said of his first year in 2016, a team whose record-setting spate of injuries forced Roberts to use whatever he could to grind out a run to the NLCS. 

This isn’t 2016 or 2018. Quite the opposite, I believe this is shaping up to be the best team in Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodger history. Whether Roberts is doing this position musical chairs out of his own volition, or via an edict from the front office, it’s time to stop it and let everyone settle into their roles for the stretch run. The best team in baseball should play its best possible iteration every day, no exceptions. 

Written by Marshall Garvey

67 Comments

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  1. Its funny how one experiment does not work out (joc at 1B) and everyone freaks out. The experimenting all has a purpose which is for October Baseball. Lets not forget that Muncy at 2B and 3B has worked out. Baez at 3B and Kolarickat 1B has a purpose. You might see those guys face a batter or two go back in the field and come back in again with a guy like Muncy swaping back and forth between 1B and 3B.

    It is doubtful that May or Gonsolin starts game 4 as they just wont have a lot of MLB experience. Thus May to the pen and Gonsolin I’m sure will also get some pen time as well.

    They have experimented with may rookies this year, Beaty, Garlick, Smith, May, and Gonsolin. I think they have gained much more than they have lost.

    Relax, trust the process, enjoy the ride.a

    • I can’t wait to see what you’ll say when May and Gonsolin blow a lead in the bullpen during a playoff game because tightwad wanted to use inexperienced rookies instead getting a veteran reliever

        • Hey Jerry do you really think our odds are better in a high pressured playoff game with a rookie who’s not even used to coming out of the pen or a veteran who’s maybe pitched in some big games or you know, has actually been a reliever for more than a few outings. This is arrogance on Friedman to think his prospects are such hot shots that they’ll be able to mow down the opponent in October. This will blow up in our faces

          • NODH, How do you know what will happen in October? Friedman built this roster. Take a look at his soon-to-be-legendary draft class of 2016. As talent evaluators go, I’ll trust his judgment over yours. And a a Dodger fan, I hope AF is calling the shots for decades. He and Roberts are the best FO/field manager combo the Dodgers have ever had.

    • I’ll give you Muncy at 2B has worked out, but another thing you have to consider is that this experimenting can cost us games when we’re in a battle for WS home field advantage. If we need to switch positions out of an emergency situation, then fine. But a lot of this just feels excessive to me, chiefly Kolarek at 1B. What’s the value in that? Experimenting has helped the rookies, but now it’s just going overboard. It’s time to field a more consistent lineup.

      • I concur and if I was a minor leaguer in the Dodger system, I might think twice and decide I may be better off elsewhere on a team that will allow a bit more consistency at a position that I for the most part have been playing and doing well enough.

        • Paul, any so-called Dodger fan who complains about this team is nuts. Best team I’ve seen in 50-plus years as a fan. If you can’t sit back and enjoy this team, all hope if lost for you.

          • I watch this team DAILY with DTV Extra Innings. Let’s get one thing clear, most are not complaining about players as such, but these strategies that are implemented in the regular season will not guarantee success in the PS or WS and maybe some of the ‘complaining’ is from the fact that Dodgers haven’t won a WS in 31 years, and that’s what EVERYONE wants to see change. Dodgers have lost the last 2 WS on their own turf. I enjoy this team as much as anyone, but when it matters the most, is where most fans have issues.

  2. Dave Roberts is the worst manager in baseball constantly change people and pitchers. It’s time people know what their rolls are on this team. He is horrible with his pitching staff one day your the set up man the next day your coming in to the game in the 5th inning. It’s been going on ever since he became manager time for change before it’s to late again. Paul

    • The Dodgers do not need your evaluation of their team, manager, etc. Dave Roberts has the highest winning % of any manager in the years he has been at the helm of the Dodgers. Knee-jerk reactions over every setback a pitcher has is a juvenile way of watching a baseball game. You seem to overlook every time the versatility of this team has worked to their advantage. They are on their way to their 8th straight NL West title with the most talented top-to-bottom lineup in baseball, and best situated to prevail in the 2019 post season.

  3. Unfortunately I do not agree with Alex at all..and Marshall has hit it right in the head..We have the Mad Hatter as manger.. always screwing something up..and then of course we haveTweedledum and Tweedledee in front office…we have proven players why do need to do any experiment …look what Cody has done since they let him play everyday…No we have to stop dickin round

    • Thank you! I mean I can see the logic behind the constant experiments but it’s just become superfluous in my eyes. Joc at first was bad enough, but the one that exceeded my limit is Kolarek at first. Like I said, why goof around and risk one of the few lefties we have? We are not a Moneyball team, let the best players breathe consistently.

      • Marshall, Kolarek to first was a brilliant move. Tampa Bay did it several times, and I’ve been wishing for years that some team made a similar move with a lefty bullpen specialist. If you don’t understand the logic behind it, then baseball might not be the game for you. Are you new to the game?

      • Kolarek played 1 inning of 1B in 1 game for a very specific reason. He is a situational LH pitcher that could be brought back into the game if needed against a tough LH hitter, he is a converted 1B man with experience playing the position, and it was a runaway game where the Dodgers did not want to spend any more of their bullpen if not needed.
        To single out that instance in such an historic season (several seasons) is very small-minded and certainly not very well thought out.
        Maybe you could explain how this 1 inning has had a negative impact on the team? I doubt if you could name a single thing, succinctly.

  4. I don’t think May should be forced out of his comfort zone when he was doing so well as a starter. The relief appearance may have cost him some confidence, and if our starters get knocked out early, we are in trouble anyway, and Gonsolin I think is a better choice in the pen. I agree about Baez and Kolarek playing positions. The pen is already weak and thin, if Baez especially got hurt there, say a hard grounder/bad hop that breaks his nose and knocks out some teeth…there goes our setup man. We have seen what happens when a GOOD EXPERIENCED POSITION PLAYER tries to play 1st. Peterson was lost. If you lose a WS game because you had Baez at 3rd or Kolarek…even Peterson…at first and they make a critical error, you DESERVE to lose they game because you are an idiot for playing them there.

  5. I agree. It’s become quite ridiculous. I also feel they are not running out their best lineups on a daily basis. There seems to be a regular out of the line up every single. What happened to giving yourself the best chance to win.

  6. Totally agree on all points. Only would add the Pedersen experiment may well cost us WS home field advantage. Doc’s stubborn streak appears again come post season time. He should have been able to tell as anyone could that Joc was not built to play 1B through no fault of his. For sure Doc’s stubbornness has cost us one WS to date possibly two by benching Bellinger and Muncy against Sox lefties. DUMB.

    • I do hope Doc doesn’t throw anything unorthodox in the playoffs. He had such weird lineups last year, but we were probably never going to beat the Sox so I guess I let it slide. (Keeks starting in game five over Kemp?) If he “gets creative” this year I will be furious.

        • No shot against the Yankees or Astros? Are you serious? The Dodgers are one \game back of the Yankees for best record in baseball. Keep in mind that the Yankees play in a terrible league with four teams on pace to lose 100 games. Friedman and Roberts have continually made the correct moves regarding regarding personnel and player deployment. Yet you somehow think that you know more about running a baseball team. Methinks the game is beyond your grasp. Perhaps you’ll learn about it by the time you hit adulthood.

          • Perhaps you will never hit adulthood with that comment of yours.. In the regular season, lineup shuffling is OK if the present situation, (injuries and the like) make it necessary. But not during the PS when a consistent cohesive unit is absolutely necessary, especially in the WS, which as you know is the ultimate goal. It’s been 31 years and even the players themselves have indicated they are tired of the 1988 reruns…Ask some other fans if they all believe every move the FO and Roberts was right on point. Yes the Yankees play in that AL East but they also play many games against the other teams in the league too. And if anything , the Yankees have by far a superior BP and as Lasorda has often said, Pennants and WS are won or lost in the BP.

      • Exactly Paul. The Dodgers method doesn’t work in a series against one great team. It only works in the long haul marathon of the regular season against many different opponents over the course of 162 games it will play out the way they want but in a short 7 game showdown against the best it does not, one 3 game slump and you could be out whereas in the season it’s no big deal

        • NODH, that is basically what I was referring to as far as how games, lineups are managed in the regular season as opposed to how they should be managed during the PS and WS.. That is when the team will face it’s best challenge, meaning competing with the top elite teams in the game.

  7. Amen to what was written today. Way to much shuffling around. Lasorda used to say” I pick my 8 starters in the off season, and they play together for a few innings each game in Spring Training, they run together as a group, they play together during the season, and I pick the Best bench players during Spring Training, and they play if one of my starting 8 are injured. Worked for Tommy. Works for me.

  8. I’m happy that none of the commenters here is the manager. I’ve been Dodger Blue for almost 60 yrs. I think this is the best Dodger team that I have ever seen. Dave Roberts is fine. The front office has assembled a group of players that we can draw from for years to come. We always second guess after a failed attempt. The talent runs very deep. There are times when you need to find the potential of players. The times most likely are when you are 20 games down, or 20 games up. We happen to be 20 games up!. Lighten up kids.

  9. You hit the nail on the head! I get so tired of tuning in and seeing all of these different lineups and messing with the chemistry of the team by doing that. Get the players in their natural position and use the players who started the season together on the field together. Some of these players they have inserted into the lineup from other organization just don’t have “it”.

  10. I have no problem with it, afterall isn’t baseball about having fun? Yet no one is criticizing Dave Roberts for putting in Russell Martin pitching relief.

  11. Gonsolin was a reliever in college, May has never been a reliever; so what does Roberts do? Three left hand hitting first basemen, so why the Joc experiment? Muncy or Beatty at 3rd, while playing an all-star third baseman at 1st? Sometime I think Doc & Friedman are just wanting to show how clever they are. Depth & versatility are strengths, but… The defense has come in for some criticism, but if everyone was playing in their natural positions I think the team defense would be outstanding. Caveat, Friedman is a baseball genius. I watched keep the Rays competitive w/NYY & BoSox w/very little financial or fun support. And… Turner, Taylor, Muncy, Beaty. The guy can find players.

  12. Experimenting will cost us home field advantage in the World Series. Spring training is the time to experiment. Every game matters now. Home field advantage will be huge for the Dodgers in their quest for the ultimate prize.Stop screwing with player’s minds.

  13. Great article!!

    Finally!!!!! I’ve been preaching this exact wish all season!!! Stack that lineup and let it feed off itself. We can easily have the most feared lineup in MLB. There has NEVER been a Dodgers roster like what we have this year. That lineup needs to be put together, kept together like it deserves to be. Instead, the powers that be, can’t seem to refrain from a daily dismantling of one of the greatest Dodgers teams ever.

    Seriously, if they feel the overwhelming need to ‘experiment’, how about putting together that PERFECT lineup and letting them unleash their fury on the league for 2 weeks. Can you just imagine!?

    I’m at a total and complete loss as to why we haven’t seen something, (that is soooo obviously ready made), not implemented, utilized or attempted. I’m ALL about keeping your foot on the gas pedal. And that would be flooring it!!!

  14. The Dodgers have a20 game lead! They don’t need to play a set lineup every day and try to win every game. Guys will get plenty of rest and avoid injuries like Turner and Pollock. Keeping role players engaged and ready is their philosophy and it works. Guys will have defined roles and positions come playoff time.

  15. “Whether Roberts is doing this position musical chairs out of his own volition, or via an edict from the front office, it’s time to stop it and let everyone settle into their roles for the stretch run. The best team in baseball should play its best possible iteration every day, no exceptions. ”
    I could not really say this any better. ya want to know why Dodgers failed last year in the WS and why they may not even get there this year? This page is your answer

  16. Thank you Captain Obvious. Every baseball player knows we need to get into a groove and the only way this happens is by playing everyday. If someone is hitting .288 or above .300 leave that player in for the stretch. I hate to see when Taylor oe Kike return and get thrust into the everyday lineup and they are batting a combined .214. Stick with the hot sticks!!! GO Dodgers!!!

  17. Yes, this Dodger team is one of the best that we have ever seen and no, Dave Roberts if not the worst manager in baseball, in fact he may be one of the best. But, nearly our entire starting rotation is significantly better at home than on the road. Every game counts at this point. We absolutely MUST HAVE HOMEFIELD ADVANTANGE in the Series. Let’s keep our eyes on THAT prize and not on whether we can wring a little more “versatility” out of the lineup.

  18. There will be major problems next year also. Many great players in their triple AAA club.

    Also players cannot be be happy sharing their position every other night. Joe is struggling one because he’s platooned! It mentally wears you down. As for Roberts I’m not a fan.

  19. Could not disagree more. Baseball is a humbling game, but it is also a game of streaks and averages. Is Kenley on a bad streak, a return to norm or just worn out? How about Martin? (among the worst clutch hitters in the game today.). Hard to say, but very important to find options by tinkering with the line up.

  20. Robert’s and Friedman need to stop watching reruns of Moneyball. People, these two yo-yos are going to make the exact same mistakes this year as the past two. I can feel it in my gut!

  21. Lots of proof on this thread as to why the Dodgers’ fan base is considered among the dumbest game. You folks need to stop flattering yourselves by thinking you know more than the people running the team. This is clearly not the case.

    • We know that nothing they’ve ever done the last 30 years has produced any championships and that includes this brilliant regime that you think is so smart

    • You’re projecting your own baseball ignorance onto others.

      I remind your Lowness that the Dodgers lost the last two WS because of managerial incompetence, as is being discussed in this thread. The guys here witnessed it, and that incompetence was verified by experienced baseball people everywhere.

      Take a hike, you’re in over your head.

      • Exactly Jon. Were not complaining against any said player as such. But when it matters the most to all is where Dodgers fell short. and we can put that on the player’s performances that we have all witnessed. One example for these 2 WS losses in a row (12 games combined) is the fact that our pitching staff allowed 23 HR’s.

  22. Great feedback, Dodger loyalists!!!! PaulDodgerFan1965 and I have been complaining about this platooning and “lineup experimentation” for years. And judging by the above posts, most of you posters feel the same way we do. DR and AF need to come up with a core group of plaers who will hit the diamond each and every day, barring injury. Joc should be in left, Verdugo in center, and Belles in right. At present, I like Red at third, Corey at ss, MadMax at second, and Beattie at first. Will Smith starts each and every game; we do not need a 210 hitter behind the plate. We do need the longest lineup we can put forth. Kolarek is a relief pitcher, and he should remain one. Gonsolin and May are in my starting rotation.Presently, Gonso has a bit more poise IMHO, and would be my #4 starter, with May to follow. BP : KJ, Baez, Joe Kelly, Urias, Strips, Maeda and Hill. I will be very curious to see the Yankee-Dodger series as it may be a portent of things to come. Go Blue!!!!

  23. Roberts and the team will not , I repeat will not win the WS , they are so screwed up , the mad scientists running the team . This is not little league . Keep Big Red as a starter , its a mind set that starters have , no more mix and match . I used to like knowing were I was going to play its a mind thing . Joc is lost in right , Joc is lost period ! Baez at third and the lefty at first , just like little league ! If Roberts and Freidman don’t win are they fired ?

    • The answer to your question concerning Roberts and Freidman is no. They have put a team that will compete for a PS shot and maybe a chance for a WS appearance but the very end result is what we all will be looking at.

  24. Urias should start in Hill’s rotation spot. May is not ready yet for post season. Stop experimenting. Get regulars & key reserves playing time. Walker doesn’t start on road. We can beat houston this year b/c we don’t have former Rangers pitcher on team that Roberts Gifted the astros the WS. Stupidest move. Upcoming series vs NYY will be a good barometer. Put best lineup out there each night. This is a big series which means home field.

  25. It is forward thinking. Things happen in this game. Well padded with games ahead. Tinker a little. May will be a beast in time. Getting feet wet from pen is good. Nothing wrong with using your wrench and ratchet while working on your masterpiece!

    • and if you lose home field by tinkering with lineups? put the best team on the field….period.

  26. This is possibly the best observation I have read, I have been putting it squarely on DRs shoulders.
    Why mess around with Belli at all, he could get stepped on at first. Joc does belong in left period,
    AJ looks dynamite in center and maybe platoon AV against righties. Corey has had some brain bruises at short but at least he’s hitting now. JT is solid at 3rd. Max is solid at second. what a great addition Will has been behind the dish. Russel is the Boss, but he needs the rest which seems too be affecting his hitting a bit. Joe Kelly cost the Blue 5 games early this season, now he looks more comfortable. I think KJ has lost his edge under pressure, God Bless him. The new dude White plays first like a Boss, Beaty can play there as well. You can put the rest in a hat if someone needs a spell. Your article was so insightful, thank you ?????

  27. i totally agree with the article. tinker to evers to chance didn’t have their manager shaking up that combo. ditto with cey, russell, lopes, and garvey. get a set lineup and stick with it. continuity is critical for fielders to know each other’s moves. i’d platoon pederson but that’s it. nobody needs rest at the expense of losing home field. put the best team on the field at all times. let the competition know…..we don’t lose.

    • this we all know for sure…in today’s game we will NEVER EVER see a set infield like Cey, Russell, Lopes and Garvey again. They played together for 8 years and in that time Dodgers won 4 divisions, 4 Pennants AND a WS ring!

  28. Beating poor teams during the regular season is a different thing entirely that the best in the AL. Roberts’ moves will be figured out before the WS even starts.

  29. Marshall Garvey nailed it.
    Roberts’ ridiculous decisions have already hurt a great team.

    They’re now in an very important battle for best MLB record where the Dodger should already have a big lead. Home field advantage is huge, Roberts needs to stop his amateurish actions.

    We can only hope that The Dodgers pull it off in spite of Roberts poor decisions.
    It’s well know he was outmanaged in both of his series losses. It was embarrassing and unacceptable.
    Thanks

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