Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Category: Managing (Page 2 of 3)

Dave Roberts talks bullpen management, state of the staff

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt visits Carlos Frias at the mound during a May 24 game. (Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt visits Carlos Frias at the mound during a May 24 game. (Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

As a rookie manager who neither pitched nor caught in his big-league career, Dave Roberts will be scrutinized for every move he makes with the Dodger pitching staff. (I know — I could have just begun, “As a manager.”)

Today, Roberts spoke about his approach will be, and how he will use pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and bench coach Bob Geren as resources.

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Dave Roberts discusses Kershaw, Greinke

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Dallas is a pretty convenient stop on the way from Los Angeles to Nashville, and Clayton Kershaw’s house is a pretty nice place for a layover.

So on his way to baseball’s annual Winter Meetings, new Dodger manager Dave Roberts spent several hours meeting with Kershaw, to discuss next year’s team in general and the departure of Zack Greinke in particular.

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Live-blog: Dave Roberts introductory press conference

By Jon Weisman

Dave Roberts is being introduced at Dodger Stadium shortly after 11 a.m. as the Dodgers’ manager. We’ll highlight some of the key quotes as they come here …

(Also, note that Roberts will be holding a live Q&A on Twitter this afternoon – check the hashtag #AskDave.)

Introducing Roberts is Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman: “We are highly confident that he is going to play a significant role in us shaping a culture of sustained success here. Magic Johnson then presents Roberts with his Dodger jersey, wearing No. 30.

Roberts begins with some introductory remarks:

  • “For me, this is obviously a huge day for me, speaking personally and on behalf of my family. … I think for me to have an opportunity to put the Dodger uniform on again, it’s come full circle.”
  • “People have asked me in passing about this opportunity. I look at it as a responsibility.”
  • “I see Don Newcombe. I see Maury Wills. I see Tommy Lasorda. I see Adrian Gonzalez. These are people, when they wear that Dodger uniform, they wear it the right way — they wear it with pride.”

https://twitter.com/Dodgers/status/671771309529939968/photo/1

Next, the Q&A begins:

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Dave Roberts and the Newlywed Game

Dave Roberts at a Dodger Stadium computer in 2004. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Dave Roberts at a Dodger Stadium computer in 2004. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Welcome to Dave Roberts’ honeymoon with Dodger fans and the media.

The new Dodger manager hasn’t been asked a question, hasn’t made a move. His rose is in full bloom.

But it takes two to be happy in a marriage, and let’s just say that Roberts’ collective new spouse — after 27 years of frustration — can be a bit challenging to keep satisfied.

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Deconstructing the departure of Don Mattingly

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Andrew Friedman at the televised press conference discussing Don Mattingly’s exit.

Don Mattingly and Andrew Friedman chat at an October 7 workout. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Don Mattingly and Andrew Friedman chat at an October 7 workout. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

This would have been a good day to own stock in the word “mutual.”

Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi — along with outgoing manager Don Mattingly — fought an uphill battle before a skeptical press corps this afternoon to emphasize that the decision for Mattingly to leave the Dodgers was a shared one.

“If there was a reason that this happened, we would share it,” Friedman said during a 45-minute session for him and Zaidi at Dodger Stadium. “There’s not. It was a collection of a lot of different conversations over many days that got us to this point. So it’s not so black and white here. There is a huge middle, and it’s gray, and that’s how everything played out.”

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Hatcher emerges as primary set-up man to Jansen

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Since he came off the disabled list in August, opponents are hitting .163/.239/.313/.551 against Chris Hatcher. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

No longer is there any doubt about who is the Dodgers’ primary eighth-inning reliever in the bullpen.

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How a manager battles the odds

Don Mattingly visits Clayton Kershaw at the mound before leaving him in to finish the Dodgers' September 2 victory over the Giants (Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Don Mattingly visits Clayton Kershaw at the mound before leaving him in to finish the Dodgers’ September 2 victory over the Giants. (Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

The other day on Twitter, I proposed a hypothetical that I think you could call a nice problem to have.

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Zaidi: Clubhouse key for managers

Dodger general manager Farhan Zaidi, speaking today on what’s most important for a manager today.

“I think the longer I’ve been in baseball, the more it’s tilted toward managing the clubhouse and the personalities and the egos,” Zaidi said. “I think from the outside, the average person watching the game just sees the Xs and Os, and whether you took a reliever out or left him in, but again, in my view, a lot of those are 52-48, 55-45 decisions. You get judged by the outcome rather than the process. But kind of being behind the scenes, (you realize) how important it is to manage personalities, get guys to buy into their roles, maintain the peace in the clubhouse.

“You know, it’s funny: The position is called ‘the manager,’ and in every other industry, being a manager means managing people. And in baseball, we think it’s just Xs and Os, but the reality is, this job is being a manager like it is being a manager of a business, except you also are making X and O moves out there in public. I think they’re both important, but I think from when I first got into baseball 10 years ago to now, I realize that managing down there in the clubhouse is more important than I realized.”

— Jon Weisman

Why Monday’s game took so long

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 8.49.52 AM

By Jon Weisman

Monday was Labor Day, and the Dodgers and Angels did their best to honor the working man through strife instead of taking a holiday.

The two teams spent three hours and 52 minutes playing their nine innings, and quickly, good men fair and true were quick to blame September roster expansion.

If only shortening the game were as simple as keeping September roster limits at 25 players instead of 40.

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Quotebook: Yimi Garcia targeted for ‘toughest part of the order’

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Source: Baseball-Reference.com

Hitters faced by Yimi Garcia in the eighth inning Monday (with their spot in the batting order and the result): Angel Pagan (3, strikeout), Buster Posey (4, single), Justin Maxwell (5, strikeout), Andrew Susac (6, flyout)

– Jon Weisman

Mattingly says analytics have yielded new insights

Angels at Dodgers, 6:10 p.m.
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, DH
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Scott Van Slyke, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Carl Crawford, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Joc Pederson, CF
(Brett Anderson, P)

By Jon Weisman

At the very end of a long exhibition season and before the beginning of an even longer regular season, Don Mattingly and the Dodgers have more information than you can imagine on their 2015 roster.

But in addition to what he has observed on the ballfields since pitchers and catchers reported to Camelback Ranch six weeks ago — and everything he already knew going in — Mattingly said that some of the new analytics he has seen have been revelatory.

“As we’re learning more about it, seeing a different set of numbers and ways to evaluate, it’s interesting to see how certain guys kind of fit in, where they’ve been really good and where their deficiencies are,” Mattingly said. “That’s been the most interesting part for me, going over player plans and things like that and seeing how different guys are really good at one thing — that you kind of noticed, but you didn’t really know to paint that picture — it’s been nice doing that.”

That data is another piece of the complex puzzle of player evaluation, ahead of Sunday’s deadline to finalize the Opening Day roster.

“It’s hard to totally look at Spring Training and just disregard (it), because you see it right in front of  you,” Mattingly said. “A lot of guys, their body of work, providing that they’re healthy, gives you a better indication of who they’re gonna be. So I think you kind of try to balance it.”

In the bullpen, for example, the distinctions might be quite fine.

“That’s been the hardest part for us,” Mattingly said. “We’ve had a number of guys who have thrown the ball well, a number of guys who we feel are in the same type of position in the bullpen — so those decisions are tough for us.”

In the time-honored tradition, Mattingly delivers the roster news, good or bad, to every player. But he’s not alone.

“I’m always a part of it,” Mattingly said, “and usually Andrew (Friedman) or Farhan (Zaidi) is in that meeting, just to make sure they’re hearing from everyone, if they have any questions about what we’re thinking. I think (because of) the conversations that we were able to have all through Spring Training … communication has been pretty good with guys knowing how we feel about ’em. You still never get away from knowing how hard it is to send a guy out, because everybody’s idea is to make the roster.”

Even after a set of relievers makes the team, their roles could be considered up for debate — especially given the effect not having Kenley Jansen for the first month. Mattingly and the front office have said since virtually the day of Jansen’s surgery that they’ll exploit matchups in deploying their relievers. Mattingly understands that the most crucial situation in a game might not be in the ninth inning, but he conceded that some pitchers don’t see it that way.

“It depends how you look at it,” Mattingly said. “The analytics look at high-leverage situations, and that may be in the seventh, may be in the eighth, where you’d want that guy pitching. But as far as (pitchers) are concerned, they look at it differently.”

Aside from the bullpen, one of the most closely watched decisions for Mattingly heading into the regular season is who the Dodgers’ starting center fielder will be. Joc Pederson has been the starter for all three games of the Freeway Series, but Mattingly stopped short of making it official.

“If you read between the lines, you see what we’re doing, but there are other conversations to have,” Mattingly said. “The way we want to frame it is maybe different than the way you want to.”

It’s your call

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

“Should I swing or should I bunt now?” (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

We’re trying out a new short Dodger Insider feature — also appearing in the print magazine — in which you’ll get to play manager each month and pick the move to make in a given situation.

The setup: Dodgers and Angels are tied, 1-1, with none out in the bottom of the seventh inning. Carl Crawford is on first base with a single. Juan Uribe is the batter against Angels righty Jered Weaver, who has thrown 92 pitches. On deck is A.J. Ellis, followed by Zack Greinke’s spot in the order.

The question: Do you have Uribe look to swing away or attempt to bunt?

Your call: Tweet your decision to @dodgerinsider with the hashtag #DIyourcall, or state it in the comments below.

Don Mattingly on what NLDS decision he would change

NLDS-Game Four-Los Angeles Dodgers against the St.Louis Cardinals

Don Mattingly addresses the Dodgers after the final game of the NLDS. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Immediately after an end-of-season meeting with his coaches, Don Mattingly sat down with Dodger beat writers this afternoon for a final, cover-the-bases interview before heading off to the offseason — and impending fatherhood. Mattingly’s fourth son (in addition to two stepsons) has a due date in early December.

Ken Gurnick of MLB.com will have a recap of the 40-minute session (update: here it is), so I’ll just focus on a few of the many topics that came up, including one of the questions I asked: What was the most difficult decision he had to make during the National League Division Series?

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Baseball’s Yeti: The multi-inning save

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For images from Saturday, visit LA Photog Blog.

By Jon Weisman

Dodger closer Steve Howe got the save in the final game of the 1981 World Series, but it was a save you have to rub your eyes and gawk at today.

The star-crossed lefty pitched the last 3 2/3 innings of the Dodgers’ 9-2 Game 6 victory over the Yankees. He threw 54 pitches, three nights after throwing 33 pitches in the final three innings of the Dodgers’ 8-7 Game 4 victory.

How Howe came to my mind today was simple: The Dodgers have a bonafide reliever supreme in Kenley Jansen, but he pitches in an era when it’s rare to see a closer get even four outs. Jansen hasn’t gone past that barrier since he pitched the final two innings of a 14-inning Dodger victory nearly 15 months ago, on July 10, 2013. He has pitched two innings 11 times in his career — never more than that, and none was a save opportunity.

Howlin’ Howe pitched at least two innings 11 times in the 1981 regular season alone, twice going three innings. Sometimes, he was rested, but in a week from May 9-15, for example, he pitched in five games, including a pair of two-inning saves in a three-day span.

However, Howe didn’t spend the entire ’81 postseason rattling off three-inning blitzes. He pitched exactly an inning four times in the first two rounds of the playoffs, then allowed two runs in a third of an inning in Game 2 of the 1981 World Series. The Dodgers basically cut loose on Howe when they knew there were few tomorrows remaining in the season.

Holistically, Howe represents not one but two aspects of a bygone era. One, of course, is the utter inattention to pitch counts. But another that’s more subtle but also extremely relevant is this: Perfection was not expected.

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Whoever’s pitching, Matt Carpenter is hammering

[mlbvideo id=”36752407″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]
By Jon Weisman

On Friday, Don Mattingly was hit hard for not replacing Clayton Kershaw with J.P. Howell in the seventh inning.

Tonight, in the Dodgers’ 3-2 victory over St. Louis in Game 2 of the National League Division Series, Mattingly got almost as much grief when he replaced Zack Greinke with Howell.

Howell, whom it seems safe to say is in a slump after being at the top of his game for nearly the entire regular season, gave up a game-tying two-run homer to Matt Carpenter, the batter he would have faced with the bases loaded if Kershaw had been pulled one batter sooner.

It showed pretty starkly why Mattingly was reluctant to give up on his best pitcher in Game  1.

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