Dave Roberts and Logan Forsythe stand on the side of the Dodgers‘ practice field in Glendale chatting. “You know what makes this a championship club?” Logan asked his new manager. “I do,” Roberts said while nodded vigorously. He turned from watching the players to look his new second baseman in the eye. “This, it’s the veteran guys that talk about winning. And, other teams that I’ve been on, it’s been a handful,” Forsythe continued. “Last year, we were tough, man. Our team is tough,” Roberts said. “And it’s like…” “You got the right guys to be that way,” Forsythe continued for him. “We do, we do, man,” said Roberts.
Now, Forsythe has only been with the team a week, but that’s all the time he needed to see what a special team this is. So much has been made in the past about the chemistry issues in this clubhouse. That does not seem to be an issue anymore. And a lot of that has to do with Roberts. Sure, the front office has done their part in moving players to other teams. But there’s a reason Roberts won Manager of the Year in his first season as a major league skipper. He gets the players — and he gives them every bit off attention they deserve.
For those who had issues in the past and still remain, it seems as though those issues aren’t as big of a deal. Puig being in Triple-A last year seems to have done him a heck of a lot of good, so much so that Roberts came out at the beginning of the season to say that right field was his to lose. I don’t know how many of us would have foreseen that in the middle of last season.
It showed in the offseason with the highly sought after free agent taking a little less money to stay with LA. Kenley Jansen could have moved on to a number of teams, but realize that his wedding but this is where you wanted to stay. Chase Utley could’ve had a starting role with another team, but he also realized that this was the place to be.
Sure, that could be because the Dodgers are so close to being the team that could win the World Series. But if there were a lot of in-house issues, players might feel that it would be in their best interest to move on to another team. But that’s not the case — they wanted to come back.
The biggest issue I see with this team this year is that there are too many players for not enough spots. The outfield is incredibly loaded, and Roberts and the front office will have a lot of careful considerations ahead of them. Right now, that’s in stark contrast to last year when every time you turned around a player was injured. But they’ve handled that situation with aplomb, getting people playing time when he could, and getting the players who had to move up feel at home. Managing players’ time playing might be Roberts’ biggest hurdle this season. But what a happy problem to have, too many good players and not enough spots. Roberts has created an incredible culture in the clubhouse. Recently signed relief pitcher Sergio Romo has stated that he was apprehensive when he was first heading into the clubhouse initially. But, he was greeted warmly by the players. In fact, Adrian Gonzalez was said to have called the front office several times to read the fact he thought it would be in their best interest to sign Romo. So now the focus turns to finally getting to the World Series. Roberts spoke to the club about that last Tuesday in a team meeting. “There are a lot of unfulfilled people in that room,” he later stated. “We have one goal, and that is to win the World Series. I have no doubt in my mind.”
What a fun team this is going to be watch. At the risk of being hyperbolic, it does harken back to those World Series winning teams that we love to watch. Right mix of veteran leadership, like Utley, Adrian Gonzalez, and Justin Turner. A once in a lifetime pitcher in Clayton Kershaw. Players with Incredible backstories like Rich Hill, Andrew Toles and Sergio Romo. The fun antics and cannon arm of a guy like Yasiel Puig.
Sure, a lot of things have to be sorted out in the next month leading up to Opening Day. But the hype around this team is real. I’ve even seen some old curmudgeons on Twitter who aren’t often prone to it, be excited about what this team could be. Time will tell, but this is really feeling like it will finally be our year.
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