Dave Roberts could turn out to be the perfect manager for this iteration of the Los Angeles Dodgers. His first year will be, in large part, graded on how he and Yasiel Puig connect — on- and off-the-field.
Roberts had his first sit-down with Puig over the weekend.
“‘I just had a good sit-down with him. It was refreshing for me to have a good face-to-face with him, to talk about our vision, and it’s more of, ‘Let’s wipe the slate clean’ and everything’s new. There’s the same core of players but a completely new coaching staff, and we just want him to be himself and let’s start fresh.'”
This is absolutely the right approach for Roberts, Puig and the Dodgers to take. There is no doubt the question of Puig came up during Roberts’ interviews with the higher-ups. He, obviously, answered the question satisfactorily, otherwise he either wouldn’t have been named manager or Puig would have been traded.
The Dodgers’ vision of getting younger, more athletic, etc., doesn’t really work if they had traded Puig — even for a guy like Carlos Carrasco, which could have been mutually beneficial for both sides. The front office sees Puig as a player with cornerstone potential. If Roberts (as well as hitting coach Turner Ward and the rest of the coaching staff) can help to get Puig back to the 2013-14 levels of production, then the Dodgers will absolutely have a cornerstone.
This is a make-or-break year for Puig with the Dodgers. He was hampered by injuries last season and never really got on track. Wiping the slate clean is the best possible thing for him.
No one wants to hear from a new boss about all the bad things you’ve done. Roberts is firm, but he also seems to be able to foster relationships with players, as he did with the Padres as a coach and as he did during his playing career.
There was absolutely tension between Don Mattingly and Puig. That isn’t to say it was a bad thing. The last thing anyone would ever think of Mattingly of is an aggressive, egotistical guy. But for whatever reason, Mattingly and Puig didn’t mesh well. Roberts and Puig have the potential to mesh well — and if they do, then we might be using the term “MAXIMUM PUIG” in an entirely different way.