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Dodgers

Taking a breath on this Dave Roberts/Dodgers lovefest

Dave Roberts

Dave Roberts, acting Padres manager for one game agianst the Oakland A’s on June 15, heads to the dugout after a visit to the mound.

(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

Not to rock the waters on this Dave Roberts love boat cruise we all seem embarked upon, but you do realize he has managed exactly zero games in his entire life? (OK, one as an interim manager.)

That there are going to be agonizing growing pains along the way? That rookie managers have won the World Series exactly four times in baseball history and just once since 1961? That, yes, his career blossomed as a Dodger but his signature moment came as a Red Sox?

Roberts is a great person, bright, soft-spoken, pleasant as a morning cup of coffee, classy, the kind of guy you’d love to have as your next-door neighbor. Which sounds suspiciously like what everyone was saying when Don Mattingly was hired.

At least Mattingly, his ascension understood when Joe Torre retired, was able to go down and manage the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Instructional League prior to taking over the Dodgers. Too late for that this go-round.

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Roberts will be raw as they come when he opens next season as the Dodgers manager April 4 in, of all places, San Diego. Roberts served as the Padres bench coach the last two seasons and was twice passed over this year to become their manager. When the Roberts’ managerial biography is written some day, only one of these two teams is going to look smart.

You have to assume Roberts knows exactly what he’s stepping into. Mattingly won the National League West three consecutive years and his reign in Los Angeles was viewed a disappointment. Only big dreams are allowed in L.A.

The Dodgers had the highest payroll in sports history last year. If they have plenty of the kind of pieces you would expect for such rarified air, they also had plenty of holes and mismatched pieces. And now could lose Zack Greinke to free agency.

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Andrew Friedman is starting his second off-season as the Dodgers Grand Poobah, and if the team is yet to represent his ultimate vision, the hiring of his own manager draws it significantly closer.

Friedman has hired only one other manager in his career, tabbing Joe Maddon at Tampa Bay prior to the 2006 season.That proved a wise choice, though it probably should be noted his first two teams won 61 and 66 games.

Roberts, of course, will inherit a vastly superior club than the Devil Rays Maddon first helmed. He will also inherit a highly frustrated fan base, keenly aware the Dodgers have not been to the World Series in 27 years.

The history of rookie managers says it’s unlikely to happen next year, either. Growing up is seldom easy.


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