After another early playoff exit, Los Angeles Dodgers fans are down bad, and it's hard to blame them. Their team was an absolute wagon during the regular season for the last three years and failed to make the World Series once (or get past the NLDS twice). You can't ask for multiple championships, but you can request to not have constant postseason malfeasance.
Who's to blame? Depends who you ask. The players need to shoulder a good amount of this because various iterations of the roster have failed on the same stage. The front office can certainly enjoy vitriol thrown their way because of countless head-scratching personnel decisions and an unwillingness to invest long-term in the game's best players.
And then there's manager Dave Roberts, who is typically a point of contention among Dodgers fans. He's the winningest manager in franchise history among those with 700+ games on their ledger ... but many still debate whether he's the right on-field general.
Roberts has typically been pegged as a puppet by the front office. His bullpen decisions are almost always a topic of debate. Some wonder if he's an adequate motivator because of so many postseason shortcomings. At times, he provides some questionable commentary (like how he claimed he was going to manage NLDS Game 3 like it was Game 5, and he very much didn't).
But is Roberts returning for 2024 -- which the Dodgers announced this week -- a reason for fans to be up in arms?
Are upset Dodgers fans overreacting to announcement of Dave Roberts returning?
The question is, how much of a difference would replacing Roberts make? What better options are you bringing aboard? Is it his fault if he's employed to execute the front office's directives? Isn't that a front office problem and not a manager problem?
There are only a handful of managers from the old guard that remain -- the guys who tell the front office they'll be doing things their own way in the dugout. For most organizations in the modern era, that doesn't seem to fly, as per this insightful discussion on "Foul Territory." And by "doesn't seem to fly," we mean we've watched the game long enough to know that's the reality.
If the Dodgers wanted a rogue skipper, they would've gotten one. Or they would've searched for the next up-and-coming young gun when they had the chance. Roberts' contract was set to expire after the 2022 season, but he got a three-year extension.
Roberts is 753-442 as a manager and the players have had nothing but good things to say about him. He has a ton of experience around the game with his 10 years as a player and helped navigate this team to three World Series appearances. He's largely done his job.
Any fan anger should be directed at the front office. Andrew Friedman and Co. have, more times than not, betrayed this organization with ill-fated moves, lack of aggression, or outright inactivity when the Dodgers needed it. And they're the ones that have opted to bring Roberts back for his ninth season. And they're the ones probably telling Roberts what to do.
If anything, Roberts' return is a symptom of a larger problem, so there's little reason for him to be catching the endless criticism when he's just a piece of the puzzle.