Dodgers Dugout: Majority of readers support Dave Roberts
Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and today we take a look at an eventful offseason so far.
Are you a true-blue fan?
Get our Dodgers Dugout newsletter for insights, news and much more.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.
Should Dave Roberts stay or go?
A couple of weeks ago, I asked you to vote in a survey asking if you think Dave Roberts should remain as manager. There are absolutely no indications the Dodgers plan to make a switch, but there was a big reason it felt right to pose the question.
For the two weeks prior, the Times’ sports letters page in our print edition (you remember printed newspapers, right?) were filled with letters demanding the removal of Roberts because of perceived managerial mistakes during the 2021 postseason and those of the past. My email basket gets filled with people demanding the same. It’s easy to think every fan feels that way. However, it’s also true that most people write only when they are mad, and people who like and support Roberts won’t bother sending in an email or letter to that effect.
So I was curious to see what would happen if we ran a survey. After all, it’s easier to click a link and press “yes” or “no” than it is to compose an email.
And then the survey received 68,493 responses, so this seemed to be a big question for a lot of people. I shared the link to vote on Twitter and on several Dodgers fan Facebook pages, so while most of the responses were from Dodgers Dugout subscribers, a few came from outside the readership, as I wanted a wide range to take part.
Enjoying this newsletter?
Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a Los Angeles Times subscriber.
Should the Dodgers retain Dave Roberts as manager?
So, an overwhelming majority of readers want the Dodgers to keep Roberts.
“I said this at the beginning of the offseason — he’s been a big part of what we have accomplished looking back, and I expect him to be a big part of what we accomplish looking forward,” Andrew Friedman said of Roberts.
“For us, we have a lot of near-term things, with people who we aren’t sure are going to be here, that we’re working through. I’m sure it’s something we’ll have conversations on at some point.”
And now, as promised, my thoughts: Of course they should keep him. I have certainly been critical of some of the decisions Roberts has made in the past. I wasn’t a big fan of deviating from what brought them success in 2021 as far as pitching goes. They had the best bullpen in baseball, yet went with Max Scherzer and Julio Urías in key situations, throwing off everyone’s routine.
But it’s always important in these cases to step back and look at the big picture. If you read the fan pages on social media for every other team, you’ll see that every team’s fan base has an element that hates their manager, whether it be for the worst team in baseball or the best.
Also, if you want to replace Roberts, you have to ask yourself another question at the same time: Who do you replace him with? And don’t say Mike Scioscia, because that’s not happening. The old-school type of manager Scioscia is doesn’t fit in today’s game as well. Managers no longer control every part of what happens on the field. Most managers don’t select their lineups or starting pitchers. A committee, of which the manager is a part, does. Managers are given reams of data on which relievers match up best with which hitters, and are expected to use that heavily in their decision making. So, if you fire Roberts, who are you replacing him with that will be a marked improvement? There isn’t anyone out there that would fit that criteria over Roberts.
Also, Roberts’ record of success speaks for itself. Imagine being a fan of the Pirates or Orioles and listening to a Dodgers fan complain about their lot in life. Many of us have been spoiled by the team’s success. The Dodgers won 106 games this season despite injuries and a horrible year by Cody Bellinger. Roberts gets some credit for that.
And I guarantee you that if Roberts were fired, there would be about 25 teams on the phone immediately wondering if he would like to discuss joining their team.
So, while Roberts isn’t perfect, and does some frustrating things at times, if you look at the big picture, he should stay. One day he will no longer manage the Dodgers. But today is not that day.
Welcome, Andrew Heaney
The Dodgers signed free-agent left-hander Andrew Heaney to a one-year, $8.5-million deal on Nov. 8. He spent last season with the Angels and Yankees, and had a 5.83 earned-run average in 129 2/3 innings. Heaney, 30, has a 32-38 record and 4.72 ERA in eight big league seasons, which seems to not be worth $8.5 million, but the Dodgers think they know how to fix him.
Heaney had meetings with Roberts, pitching coach Mark Prior, analytics department staffers and front-office executives.
“We really dug deep into some things that I like to do, that I don’t like to do, that I do well, that I could do better,” Heaney said. “Some of the things are extremely achievable, and some are things I never thought of — little minor tweaks that had never crossed my mind or been brought to my attention.
“I’m excited because I think there is some really low-hanging fruit. But I also understand some of the things they want me to do are a bit more difficult, stuff I’m gonna have to really buckle down, work hard this offseason to not just do one or two times but be able to do consistently every time I take the mound.”
Good signing or bad? Time will tell.
What about the Dodgers’ free agents?
As expected, Corey Seager and Chris Taylor turned down their $18.3-million qualifying offers to return to the team for one season. It really doesn’t mean anything other than the Dodgers will get a draft pick if they sign somewhere else. It appears Seager is drawing interest from the Yankees and Dodgers, and Taylor from the Red Sox and Dodgers. If Seager goes elsewhere, that would up the incentive to sign Trea Turner to a long-term deal, since he could move back to his normal position at short.
As for the rumors the Dodgers might sign Carlos Correa to replace Seager, let’s hope those are just rumors.
There’s no real update on Clayton Kershaw. It is expected he will sign with either the Dodgers or Texas Rangers. The Dodgers want him back, but he might want to play closer to home.
“If he wants to come back, we will absolutely work together to make that happen,” Friedman said. “And if he doesn’t, for whatever reason, he’s earned that right, that prerogative. He is going to drive a lot of what he wants to do next year. The ball is in his court.”
All is quiet on the Kenley Jansen front. Friedman said if Jansen comes back, he’d be the closer.
The one thing throwing a monkey wrench in all of this is the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires Dec. 1. Do players try to sign before a new agreement is reached or do they wait until after to see if that helps them get a better deal? Some players (or their agents) believe the former, some the latter.
The Dodgers added outfielder James Outman, infielders Jacob Amaya, Eddys Leonard and Jorbit Vivas and right-hander Michael Grove to the 40-man roster, protecting them from getting taken by another team during the Dec. 8 Rule 5 Draft.
To make room on the roster, outfielders Billy McKinney and Zach Reks were designated for assignment, so they could sign with another team, or end up back with the Dodgers.
The current 40-man roster:
Dodgers Hall of Fame voting
I get dozens of emails every season from fans who want to know why their favorite Dodger isn’t in the Hall of Fame. Which got me thinking (always a dangerous proposition), what if we had a Dodgers Dugout Dodgers Hall of Fame, as selected by the readers?
The way it works: Below you will see a list of candidates divided into two groups, players and nonplayers. Voting will work similar to the actual Hall of Fame.
In the players’ category, you can vote for up to 12 players. You don’t have to vote for 12, you can vote for four, or six, or any number up to and including 12. Your vote should depend on what the player did on and off the field while with the Dodgers. The rest of his career doesn’t count, which is why you won’t see someone such as Frank Robinson listed. And you can consider the entirety of his Dodgers career, for example, Manny Mota was a good player and has spent years as a Dodgers coach and a humanitarian. You can consider all of that when you vote. And remember this is the Dodgers’ Hall of Fame, so there might be some people worthy of being in a Dodgers Hall of Fame who fall short of the Baseball Hall of Fame in your mind.
In the nonplayers category, you can vote for up to three people.
Whomever is named on at least 75% of the ballots will be named to the inaugural class. The 12 players receiving the fewest votes will be dropped from future ballots for at least the next two years. Active players or active nonplayers are not eligible (Jaime Jarrin will be eligible after he retires next season).
How do you vote? You email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send me an email with your choices, in any order (up to 12 players and up to three nonplayers). You have until 11:59 p.m. PT Nov. 30 to vote. Results will be announced soon after that.
Here’s the players ballot without comments. If you wish to read comments on each player, please click here. Counting the ballots received so far, there are two players on the fringe of election, so every vote counts.
Pee Wee Reese
Winter festival at Dodger Stadium
The Dodgers will host a winter festival at Dodger Stadium, featuring a skating rink in the outfield, an opportunity for kids to visit Santa in the bullpen (man, would that have been a great spot for Tommy Lasorda, or what?), a holiday light and music show, and other interactive experiences.
Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test is required and the Dodgers “strongly encourage” mask wearing.
The festival opens Friday. For more information: dodgers.com/holidayfestival.
In case you missed it
Vin Scully calls Kirk Gibson‘s World Series Game 1 homer. Watch and listen here.
Get our high school sports newsletter
Prep Rally is devoted to the SoCal high school sports experience, bringing you scores, stories and a behind-the-scenes look at what makes prep sports so popular.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.