I’ll admit I didn’t know too much about Dodgers‘ new manager Dave Roberts when he was hired. I had a vague recollection of his steal in the ’04 ALCS that helped propel the Red Sox past the Yankees and into the World Series, and also that he had previously played for the Dodgers (’02-’04).
The first thing that I notice about him is his smile. Such a girly thing to notice, right? But from my armchair psychologist view, it says a lot. Sure, we saw Don Mattingly smile a lot during his time with the Dodgers. But in retrospect it always seemed strained to some degree. Maybe that’s just Mattingly’s nature. Roberts’ smile is huge and genuine. Being genuine surely can only help being a first time manager of an iconic baseball team.
Much of Roberts’ playing career was marred by injury. But he was excellent at manufacturing runs, which is something this Dodgers team can only benefit from after ranking 19th in the Majors in runs scored last year. More offensive output can only bolster the confidence of a pitching staff many have questions about, after Clayton Kershaw.
Roberts started out the season by reaching out to Yasiel Puig, and saying that they were starting with a fresh slate. He met with each player one-on-one at the beginning of spring training. Brandon McCarthy had some great things to say, according to Eric Stephen via Twitter
Roberts even joined in the annual ping pong tournament, partnered with Joc Pederson
Maybe the most important aspect, though, is that he buys into and is aligned with the thinking of this front office. Roberts, along with new bench coach Bob Geren who previously was with the NL champion New York Mets, take into account the analytics and stats along with the old school thought. Mattingly never seemed to be comfortable with all of that.
Dave Roberts nickname is ‘Doc’, a play on his initials DR. Maybe he is just what the doctor ordered to finally get the Dodgers into the World Series.