For the Dodgers, Dave Roberts cannot control the slump too much because realistically, managers can only do so much. But there is something he is doing that is hurting the team which needs to stop.
Dave Roberts has been one of the biggest scapegoats for this Dodgers slump. While it is hard to put all the blame on a guy who doesn’t play on the field, he does pull the strings, and some of those decisions have been very questionable over the past three weeks.
Some of them have to do with the bullpen, but his managing of it hasn’t changed all year. It’s just that some pitchers, such as Pedro Baez, are slumping and nothing more.
One area which is difficult to understand is his undying commitment to the Dodgers’ veterans. Loyalty is great, essential and hard to find in sports nowadays (cough…Kevin…cough…🐍…cough…Durant…cough) so it is refreshing to see his strong bonds with the older guys in the locker room. He is a players’ manager for a reason. And that’s why we love him.
But it’s to a fault. He has given Logan Forsythe, Adrian Gonzalez and Curtis Granderson a heavy dosage of the reps even though they have been bad this year. Chase Utley will be omitted because his value to the team goes beyond his production. But the other three guys? Well, they are getting playing time that they do not deserve.
This is not an article to bash them because they are classy and stand up guys, so it’s hard to hate on them. In fact, Curtis Granderson, for one, is one of the first athletes I’d love to meet in person. But as nice as someone is, that that should not outweigh production or lack thereof.
*As of Wednesday evening, September 13, before the Dodger game
Logan Forsythe: 394 PA, .227/.355/.320, five home runs and 1.5 WAR
Adrian Gonzalez: 243 PA, .242/.285/.341, two home runs and -1.5 WAR
Curtis Granderson: 485 PA, .206/.320/.442, 23 home runs and 1.3 WAR(Granderson with the Dodgers: 90 PA, .107/.256/.267 and four home runs)
Not pretty at all. They are weighing the offense down miserably and are the rally killers on the team, especially Forsythe and Granderson.
Roberts says that he keeps playing Granderson to “get him right” but how long will you let him struggle? He is taking playing time away from the likes of Alex Verdugo.
And ok, keep him out there until he gets right. Then why keep playing Gonzalez (who has returned from a minor break due to injury) at first base? Keep Cody Bellinger at first to open up a spot in the outfield for an Alex Verdugo. This scenario would also entail cutting down on Granderson’s playing time.
And why does Doc keep playing Forsythe at second? He who has struggled all season long. Why not put Chris Taylor at second and Verdugo in center? Or if you wanted to keep A-Gon in the lineup, Cody in center and Verdugo in left?
Or why not Austin Barnes at second? The proud owner of a .887 OPS in 195 plate appearances. He is younger, more athletic, clearly more productive and the better baserunner.
And if Barnes won’t get much playing time on the field then he needs to start getting more playing time behind the plate with Yasmani Grandal (another vet) struggling. Grandal has one hit in 30 at-bats this month along with 16 strikeouts. Sheesh, talk about ugly.
We all know Grandal hits right-handed pitchers better than he does lefties. But the fact is, Austin Barnes hits righties 111 points better than Grandal and his OPS of .818 against southpaws is much better than Grandal’s .677.
It’s time to give the versatile catcher more consistent playing time, and that starts with the Dodgers playing their best nine guys every night. Gone are the days of a comfortable lead over the rest of the MLB. The Washington Nationals and Cleveland Indians are on LA’s tails for the best record in baseball.
The best eight position players should be Yasmani at catcher, Bellinger at first, Barnes at second, Seager at short, JT at third, Puig in right, Taylor in center and Verdugo getting experience in left.
There is still a way to find playing time for the struggling veterans. It just should not be on a daily basis. Just mix them in a few times a week. September was supposed to be a playoff audition, and the trio of Grandy, A-Gon and Forsythe have given lousy ones.
And speaking of veterans and playoff auditions, if any vet should get consistent playing time, it should be Andre Ethier, who has actually contributed, unlike the others.
It’s like the front office told Roberts to keep playing Granderson and Forsythe (and to an extent Grandal) in hopes of validating the trades they made to get them. Well, it’s not helping, and not a great way to go into October. If they haven’t been able to get it right all season long, what makes you think they’ll start lighting it up all of a sudden right now, let alone the postseason?
Even if they continue to struggle for the rest of this month, they probably will still make the postseason roster (for some reason). But, it’s time to give the younger guys who are essential to the team’s future valuable experience.
Verdugo was considered an untouchable prospect. Give him the opportunity to get his feet wet a little more and start his development a little bit earlier. But if you don’t want to give him the majority of the playing time, then you can split it up. As long as no more than one of the struggling trio is playing, it’s fine. But two or all three of them? Absolutely not.
Just how long Roberts will let the struggling veterans play every day is anyone’s guess. It’s getting close to the point of stubbornness over loyalty. But what do we know?