Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and the Dodgers made a key change since last we spoke.
Honeycutt changes roles
Before we get to the excerpts of some of the many emails you sent me, let’s catch up on what has happened since the last newsletter.
Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt has been moved to a special assistant role in the front office and bullpen coach Mark Prior will more than likely become the new pitching coach. The move is not unexpected. Honeycutt had spinal fusion surgery last offseason, and if you watched him walk to the mound during the season, you could see he seemed to be in pain.
“Obviously, he’s meant a lot to this organization for a long time and he still will going forward,” Andrew Friedman said. “It’ll just be in a slightly different role that we’re still kind of working out the details on and I think fortunately we’ve been able to have Mark Prior around and have him build up relationships.”
Speaking of Friedman, at his season-ending news conference, he said he will definitely be back and expects his new contract to be finalized in the next couple of days.
As far as Dave Roberts being dismissed as manager, Friedman said, “Frankly, I was surprised by the question. This was a team that won 106 games. ... Obviously, it was as painful a loss as I can remember, the whole thing is focusing on how we get to winning those 11 games in October and in our mind Dave is absolutely a part of that and is an additive part of doing that.”
Friedman also said “I do feel like it was a bullpen that was capable of winning the World Series.” Unfortunately, it apparently wasn’t capable of winning the NLDS, though.
And will Kenley Jansen be the closer next season? “I haven’t gotten into the exact specifics of offseason planning. Just more kind of broad strokes. My sense sitting here is that Kenley will be our closer. We’ll see how things play out.”
I asked for you to vent about the NLDS loss, and boy did you vent. Responses are still coming in. Here are a few. My apologies if yours wasn’t chosen, but I read them all.
Joe McKoy: After watching the current playoff, I have begun to wonder if the Dodgers have it too easy in their division. I realize they had a good record outside the division, but it seemed like when the tougher teams showed up, they either choked or did not play well. For instance, when the Yankees showed up, I felt they choked. That thought stayed with me during playoffs. I like Bellinger a lot, but my goodness three years ago, he led in strikeouts and with this great regular season and laid another egg.
Ron Hutchins: First and foremost, Roberts needs to go. He manages with emotion instead of doing what is best to win as a team. This is a business and he forgets that at the most critical times. As Roberts is leaving, take Pollock, Kelly, Martin, Jansen and Hill with him. Again, this is a business. Roberts cost the Dodgers three chances at a World Series title. And Freidman wants to give him a fourth chance to do it again? Dump Freidman too!
Charlie Felter: Bottom line is Dodgers management knew they had a weak bullpen and didn’t make any moves to correct it! They have all the money needed but wouldn’t give up any young players! Looking for the future and trying to win now! Do they get its 31 years and we are tired of waiting?
Charlie Yoon: I can’t stomach another agonizing season of watching Dave Roberts’ post-season game management. Watching him put Yu Darvish back out for another inning in Game 7 with no one at least even warming up in the pen was really enough for me to know Roberts was robbing us fans of the chance for better things as committed fans. But now? Three agonizing post-season strikes has to mean Roberts is out. Enough!
Nancy Bainter: My family and I have never held anyone to blame for an outcome that could go both ways—a win or a loss. It’s baseball. It’s Dodger baseball. We’re in it for the long haul, to watch the veterans play better and then hang it up in retirement is wonderful, to watch the rookies come up and get better or sadly be traded is also very cool. I only wish in my own selfish way for the Dodgers to know they have fans who trust them and they will play their best and not worry about the losses. Life is too short to do the blame game which is too childish for me to hear when others shout crazy things because a player isn’t doing what they expect or bet on in . There are other ways to be disappointed and to channel sad feelings.
Tamara Iwerks: The 2018 and 2019 Dodgers are the first teams I felt in decades were not just immensely talented, but focused on winning. There is no ownership drama. The team is being guided by a steady and winning hand in Dave Roberts. He seems to have quelled personality conflicts and created a unifying and winning force among a group of highly paid men who could easily be selfish in their pursuits. Those calling him for him to be fired are flat out wrong. Either they are not old enough to have lived through enough highs and lows of Dodger teams or they are short sighted in our impatient world. Am I disappointed in some of his decisions? Absolutely. Does he need an experienced presence on the bench to help in high stakes games? It would seem to be a helpful solution. But should he have been fired? No way. He is doing a great job in so many areas. Dodgers upper management needs to help him go the distance in the post season.
Jesse Sprinkle: I’ve been a musician on a national level for about 25 years. And I’m absolutely exhausted with the way people heap such hurt and negativity toward musicians, actors, and athletes. … All in the name of “feelings” or “opinions”. Anyway, I could go on forever. But I believe this situation is becoming increasingly worse throughout our culture, and I’m trying to find ways to keep my family and friends emotionally healthy and positive. Just like in [Bill] Buckner’s ground ball situation, there were a dozen times in the game that other players on the Red Sox could have helped win the game, but all the hate and anger went to Bill. ... I wish the fans could release the stress and hurt they are holding in LA. It’s not good for anyone.
Bob Watt: I cannot agree with you more on Clayton Kershaw. I wonder what would have happened if the name were Sandy Koufax instead of Clayton Kershaw. The “What-have-you-done-for-me-today” Fans, are truly not Dodger fans at all. Voted against Roberts because of his mishandling of the bullpen in the Washington series. Worst job of all time in the playoffs, in my opinion. He probably feels the same right now, so no need to pile on. But hopefully he will have learned a lesson from it. ... We all need a second chance.
Sergio Hernandez: I watched my first Dodger game in 1958 when my dad took me to Chavez Ravine. I was already a baseball fan having seen my first pro game at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. Baseball fever ran strong in our family. So, all the years growing up I listened and hoped the Dodgers would be champs. In a few instances they were champs and there was no happier kid. I was inspired to play ball and I played up until Junior College. So, all these years I’ve been a loyal fan, even buying season tickets now that I’m retired. I’m in my 70th year and the Dodgers losses have taken the wind out of my sails. The Dodgers have come so close and choked at that pivotal time. Now I don’t care, it’s sort of sad because the Dodgers have always been a comfort to me. They have driven me away from the game I’ve loved.
Cindi Richardson: The Dodgers are cursed until the networks make a deal so that their fans can watch the games on TV again. Call it the “Spectrum Curse.”
Rich Chinen: I was at Game 5 and it tore me up how viscerally upset and vulgar the fans’ displeasure was at Kershaw, Kelly and Roberts. I wrote each of them a note of encouragement the next morning. I don’t know any of them but my guess is that they get a lot of notes that are not very encouraging. We are all humans with families as you say and frankly, better people than most of the knuckleheads who reacted so poorly.
William Hagan: I don’t blame Kershaw or any of the players, really. I know they are trying. I’m sure Bellinger and Seager didn’t plan on dropping off the face of the planet. I cannot support keeping Roberts. I think what you are saying about him loving his players is true, but he vacillates between gut decisions and analytics, and makes the wrong choice every time. I cannot support keeping Friedman. He has built a great frame work, and farm system, there can be no denying that. But…I know we won’t get Gerrit Cole. I also see Ryu leaving. So, we won’t do either. And he will run this team, minus those guys, out there again, and hope it’s enough. And it’s not. Joe Kelly and AJ Pollock were his big moves. Ugh. I could not have imagined having a 106-win season not be any fun. But I really couldn’t enjoy it, because I knew the pitching was not good enough. We all did.
Sergio Casarrubias: The team won 106 games during the season; something must have been done very well to obtain that result. Let’s not forget about it. Saying that I believe we need to be serious about the fact that the great majority of the wins were achieved from West division rivals who had very lousy performances during the year. I think that fact was not considered enough during the year, and probably that large number of wins made the front office reluctant to make a significant trade before the July deadline, which I believe at the end was the fact that produced the loss of the division series.
Rafael Baez: I live in the Dominican Republic and I’m a huge Dodgers fan. I’d like to share what I saw in this disappointing Game 5: the Nationals were waiting and getting ready for Kershaw. I saw in different camera shots of the Nationals dugout several IPads just showing Kershaw’s pitches. He hadn’t even started to warmup in the bullpen. Everyone knew that he was going to enter the game at some point because Roberts said it to the media the day before (where’s the surprise factor here?). As almost every Dominican citizen, I’ve got my share of baseball experience and preparing for a pitcher as a batter is one of the most basic advantages you got.
See you in November when the end-of-season awards are announced. In the meantime, enjoy this.
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