Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and we only have to wait about 360 days for the Dodgers to lose in the playoffs again! (Too soon?)
Some more thoughts
Now that we’ve all had a few days to let our emotions subside, let’s talk about a few things.
--I asked you all to email me with your thoughts on what you would do if you ran the team, or to just vent. I received more than 1,000 emails and will run excerpts from them on Friday, after I finish reading all of them.
--On social media after the loss, some people were shown throwing their Clayton Kershaw jerseys on the field. Some were shown running over his jersey with their car. Some were shown burning it. I have a word for people like that: Idiots.
--If anyone you know reacted that way, you need to tell them to get a grip and move on with their lives. Find something else to do, because being a sports fan is really not for them. I can guarantee that no one feels worse about Game 5 than Kershaw. And those seven division titles in a row? Most of them, perhaps all, don’t exist without Kershaw.
--You see, the people out on the field aren’t trained seals there for our entertainment. They are humans with families. Wives and kids. Brothers and sisters. Mothers and fathers. Criticize them, sure, just like you can criticize a chef after a bad meal, or a director after a bad movie. But if you ramp it up to a personal level, then you are the problem, not the player.
--There were a series of questionable decisions in Game 5. I ran down the list in the last newsletter. But that doesn’t mean we should hate Dave Roberts or curse the team. It means you hope lessons are learned and next time everyone does better.
--For me, I would love to see a strong bench coach on the team. Remember how Joe Torre had Don Zimmer when he was managing the Yankees? I’d love to see Mike Scioscia as Roberts’ bench coach. Or even Bruce Bochy. The odds of that happening are so long they are impossible to calculate. Probably about the same as someone developing a pill that makes Tommy Lasorda 50 again so he can be the bench coach.
--For those of you thinking I am backpedaling from what I wrote after Game 5: Not at all. I stand by every word. Just want to give some perspective.
--It’s always dicey when you sit and play psychoanalyst, because no one truly knows what is in anyone’s mind or heart. But it sure seems that sometimes Roberts’ love for his players overwhelms his baseball instincts. Being a good person is a wonderful thing, but sometimes in sports you have to set nostalgia aside and risk bruising some egos in order to do what is best for the team. The Dodgers sometimes appear hesitant to do that.
--David Freese announced his retirement on Saturday. Freese isn’t a Hall of Famer, but he was a really good baseball player for a long time. He’s only 36 and can obviously still play, hitting .315/.403/.599 last season. He played for 11 seasons and was MVP of the 2011 NLCS and World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Freese announced his retirement on Twitter, writing: “Family, friends, teammates, coaches and fans that handed out support especially when your lives were already full, you helped me more than you know. Padres, Cardinals, Angels, Pirates and Dodgers. You took a 23-year old kid out of college and pushed him to 36. Can’t thanks you enough for that. Needed it. Will never stop thinking about the days I got to be around such wonderful people playing this game. As I move forward with the next phase of my life, I am forever grateful to all of you and the game of baseball. 11in11. Sincerely, David Freese.
--Freese was the veteran sage on the bench after Chase Utley retired. Who will take that role next season?
--Freese has battled alcoholism and depression in his career. You can learn more about that by clicking here.
Now let’s address two big issues. One has been resolved, the other hasn’t.
Dave Roberts is coming back
In an exclusive for the Times, Dodgers beat writer Jorge Castillo reported that Roberts will return as manager next season. Roberts is under contract through the 2022 season.
If Roberts manages through the 2021 season, he will be the first person to manage the Dodgers for more than five seasons since Lasorda. This was Roberts’ fourth season as their manager.
Roberts has the best winning percentage of any Dodgers manager who has had the job for at least four seasons. A quick look:
Roberts, 393-256, .606
Burt Shotton, 326-215, .603
Leo Durocher, 738-565, .566
Walter Alston, 2,040-1,613, .558
Don Mattingly, 446-363, .551
Andrew Friedman’s status uncertain
The Dodgers’ president of baseball operations’ contract expires at the end of the World Series. Both he and team president Stan Kasten have insisted they are confident an agreement will be reached. But Friedman’s name has been linked with the Boston Red Sox in recent days. We’ll just have to wait and see.
I asked you “Should Dave Roberts be fired?” and after 20,362 votes, here are the results:
Which Dodgers are free agents?
Five Dodgers are free agents now: Freese, Jedd Gyorko, Rich Hill, Russell Martin and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Freese has retired. Gyorko technically has a team option for $13 million next season, but if the Dodgers picked up that options, every Dodger fan in existence would have a collective heart attack. That leaves Hill, Martin and Ryu.
Hill wants to come back. If he does, it will be at a heavily discounted price from the three-year, $48-million deal he signed in 2017. The Dodgers’ starting rotation candidates next year without him and Ryu would be: Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin and Ross Stripling. I could see the Dodgers bringing Hill back for a very low price, but he’ll be 40 next season and is injury prone.
Ryu is the most interesting free agent. He could win the NL Cy Young Award this season. He was their best starter all season and rebounded nicely after a couple of shaky September starts. But you would think he would be in high demand and the Dodgers are usually reticent to get in a bidding war for anyone. There will be other starting pitchers on the market, with Gerrit Cole of the Astros leading the way. Unless Ryu really wants to return to the team and is willing to take below market price to return, I wouldn’t expect a quick resolution to this decision.
Just kidding. No one cares what is happening in the NLCS.
What’s next for Dodgers Dugout?
This concludes season five of Dodgers Dugout. Some of you have been with me from the beginning, some joined just recently. I have more subscribers than can fit safely into Dodger Stadium and it is one of the most successful of the Times’ many newsletters. And as much as I’d like to take credit for it, it’s all because of you. I try hard to make this our newsletter, not my newsletter. I try to balance stats with the human side. Sometimes I am wrong in my analysis and sometimes I get it right. I read every email I get, even though because response is so great now, I don’t have time to respond to all of them. Many of you have touched me greatly with your stories of how you share the newsletter with your relatives in different parts of the country, or how you bond with your parents while reading and discussing it. And some have shared with me how you think I am a complete idiot who knows nothing about baseball. And I always tell my mom “Stop reading, then.”
So, I thank you all. Barring an unforeseen catastrophe, Dodgers Dugout with return for a sixth season. In fact, I’ll be back at the end of this week to share the reader feedback. After that, I will be off for the rest of October. Issues will be sent sporadically during the offseason, when news warrants. But the main offseason feature will be the “Where are they now?” feature I asked for your input on in the first half of the season, And, you thought I forgot, right?
So, thank you all. The platform will be yours on Friday, then I’ll “see” you all again next month.
Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston. Here’s how to subscribe to this newsletter.