The managerial search seems to finally come to a close. Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times reported on Sunday night the Dodgers are expected to hire Dave Roberts as their new manager. He’ll have some lofty shoes to fill with Don Mattingly off to Miami.
I wrote about Roberts, 43, being a leading candidate for the position on Nov. 11.
“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.”
That’s not the only reason. It’s obvious he’s open to new ways of thinking, even if he was a traditionalists’ favorite kind of player — a speedy, “true” leadoff hitter. The front office wouldn’t have pulled the trigger on Roberts if it didn’t think he’d be in lockstep with their thinking. And that isn’t to say he’d be a puppet. While some of the ideas that come from the front office would make their way onto the field, Roberts was probably hired because of his personality and ability to manage the clubhouse — similar to Mattingly, I suppose.
Source: Dave Roberts' deal with the Dodgers is for three years and will include an option for a fourth year.
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) November 23, 2015
He comes from San Diego, where he was the bench coach in 2014 and 2015. He’s a former Dodger, as you likely already know, and it’d be hard to find a person to say something bad about him.
It came down to Roberts and Gabe Kapler, and I absolutely believe Roberts is the correct call. That isn’t a slight on Kapler, but he has some unfinished business as the farm director. He started a plan last season when it came to fostering and shaping these minor-leaguers — on- and off-the-field — so it’d be nice for him to continue down that path. And I wouldn’t be worried about him being “slighted” or “upset” that he didn’t get the job. He’s an executive with one of the sport’s most valuable and rich teams. It’s a team that will be World Series contenders every season, and he’s probably making a pretty penny. In some aspects, a move to the dugout could have been seen as a downgrade.
It will be interesting to see how the players take to a younger manager. I’m guessing there won’t be much opposition or awkwardness. Roberts must now shape the clubhouse and do his best to put a competitive club out on the field every game.
Next up for Roberts (with the help of Friedman and Co.) is filling out his coaching staff. Rick Honeycutt is already entrenched as the pitching coach. I’m not sure who they Dodgers are looking at for bench and hitting coaches (as well as base coaches), but I’d be surprised if anyone from the staff of the previous few years returns. I liked Mark McGwire more than most, but he’s probably not coming back.
Roberts could very well have a long tenure as Dodger manager. But know if he and/or the club struggle — even just a little bit — A.J. Ellis is waiting in the wings. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing. Despite that, I have a good feeling about Roberts as the manager. The only other guy I really would have liked to have seen get the gig is Dave Martinez, but he was not a finalist.
This is Andrew Friedman’s first managerial hire as president of baseball operations for the Dodgers. He did pretty well last time when he tabbed Joe Maddon the manager of his Rays. Let’s hope this hire is as good as that one was.