He’d be an interesting hire and the “out-of-left-field” candidate some have been asking about. And no, that guy isn’t Kirk Gibson, despite having, somehow, interviewed for the manager position. With this front office and Gibson’s resume, I found it to be quite odd. Anyway, back to Roberts.
Roberts was a journeyman outfielder who spent 2 1/2 seasons with the Dodgers, including being a member of the offensively starved 2003 team. His best Dodger season came in 2002 when he posted a 2.6 WAR, 101 wRC+ and stole 45 bases in 55 attempts.
He’s obviously most remembered for stealing second base in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS that helped to catapult the Red Sox to their first World Series title in 84 years.
After his time with the Dodgers and Red Sox, he went to Padres and finished his career with the Giants. After retirement, he spent a year in the Red Sox’s broadcast booth and a year in the Padres’ front office before he was brought in to be the San Diego’s first base coach at age 38. This was also less than a year after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He is cancer-free and has been with the Padres since 2010. He was named Bud Black‘s bench coach in 2014 and was, briefly, named interim manager when Black was fired midway through the 2015 season. He managed all of one game before the Padres hired Pat Murphy to be interim manager.
San Diego is going a different direction with their managerial search, making Roberts available. There’s no telling what his management style will be, but if the front office thinks enough of him to have him be a serious candidate, it has to be good. Roberts also, reportedly, came in second in the Mariners’ managerial search. New GM Jerry DiPoto is a saber guy, so that also lends a little credibility to Roberts’ candidacy in Los Angelels. Ken Rosenthal had this to say about Roberts and Gabe Kapler.
“Roberts, like Kapler, is energetic and full of personality. He also is respected, even beloved, by many in the industry. If the Dodgers choose to hire a manager with no previous experience, he would appear to be as logical a choice as Kapler, perhaps even more logical.
The Dodgers also could hire both candidates, with Roberts serving as Kapler’s bench coach or Kapler serving as a first-time coach under Roberts.”
That clearly would not suck. I’d even flip-flop it and have Roberts be the manager and Kapler be the bench coach. Roberts would be the first minority manager in the Dodgers’ history. When 42 years of managing comes from two sources (Walter Alston and Tommy Lasorda), I suppose it isn’t as surprising as it seems on the surface. But having a minority manager lead the club that helped to break the color barrier in professional sports would be pretty cool.
And make no mistake, the Dodgers’ front office will hire the person they deem best to do the job. Dave Martinez is interviewing with them this week. He’s my No. 1 candidate. I like what Roberts brings to the table, though. He’s probably not that dissimilar to Martinez. Josh Byrnes has the Roberts connection, while Martinez has the Andrew Friedman connection.
Here’s how I’d rank the nine candidates interviewed:
- Dave Martinez
- Dave Roberts
- Bud Black
- Gabe Kapler
- Tim Wallach
- Ron Roenicke
- Bob Geren
- Darin Erstad
- Kirk Gibson (a distant ninth)
I honestly think this comes down to Kapler, Martinez and Roberts. I’m not sure Martinez leaves the Cubs for anything but the managerial job. If he is named manager, Roberts or Kapler would be fine bench coaches. I kind of want Kapler to remain in his current position, so having a Martinez-Roberts manager-bench coach duo might be for the best.