Connect with us

Los Angeles Dodgers

Heyman | Dodgers president Friedman defends Roberts during struggles

Jon Heyman



Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Dodgers president Andrew Friedman expressed faith in manager Dave Roberts following a start no one could have figured they could possibly have.

It’s hard to believe this is even necessary now, as Roberts entered the year with a pristine reputation off a World Series appearance, but it is. L.A. is a much tougher town than its rep would suggest, and questions are being asked.

But Friedman said in a phone interview that “it’s very fair to say” they maintain confidence in Roberts, who was being hailed as a genius only a year ago and who has an option for next year that hasn’t been acted upon yet.

Said Friedman, “Our mindset is, we expect to work together for as long as we can see into the future.”

Friedman went a step further in his statement of faith regarding the manager in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, saying that if anyone should be blamed, it’s not Roberts, but him. It was the right thing to say. And, in regard to Roberts, it is also right.

The Dodgers did nothing of note but get themselves under the $197 million luxury tax threshold this winter (that was quite a neat trick, by the way), and they are paying for that right now. They also are having some amazingly bad fortune, with superstar pitcher Clayton Kershaw out (“it shouldn’t be a significant amount of time, but we’re not going to rush him back,” Friedman said), Corey Seager out for the year and Justin Turner just back.

Meanwhile, the top players who have maintained health have slipped in performance. Friedman called it “an imperfect storm on a number of fronts.”

They have started preliminary trade talks, but before diving into anything, they have to assess their needs; at present, it could be almost anything, though shortstop, the rotation, a corner outfield spot and especially the bullpen leap to mind.

For today, though, they are hoping they can revert to the form that’s led to perennial division championships and took them to the seventh game of the World Series only a year ago.

“We’re optimistic we have the talent in the clubhouse … I’ll bet on them and their track records,” Friedman said. “But it rings hollow until we go out and do it.” 

Their main thoughts, for the moment, are “internally based” Friedman said.

That’s the way it’ll have to be, because there is just too much to think about. Manny Machado would be an enormous get for shortstop, but the Orioles have said they are waiting until around Memorial Day to assess their own sorry situation, and it’s hard to say now what the Dodgers may need most, anyway.

The bullpen looks like a particular point of interest, with even the vaunted Kenley Jansen struggling, along with most of the rest of a pen that was about the best in the league last year. Pen-building is a Friedman specialty going back to his days with the Rays, but the small moves to add Scott Alexander (currently in the minors) and Tom Koehler (on the crowded DL) haven’t worked to this point.

While their run differential is a very reasonable negative-three despite all the injuries and underperformance, all their narrow defeats threaten to bury them. On the plus side, the division also looks imperfect at the moment, with the first-place Diamondbacks going on a losing streak and the second-place Rockies having trouble scoring runs.

Turner just got back, and that’s big because he’s seen as the heart of the team. They believe they will get back not only Kershaw but Hyun-Jin Ryu and Julio Urias, who shouldn’t be forgotten. And they left a few dollars under the cap via the clever Matt Kemp trade that will allow them to reset their tax and play big this winter, when franchise pitcher Kershaw is one of the headliners in one of the most star-studded free-agent classes in years, and maybe ever.

And perhaps things will get so bad they need to look to the future. But considering how far below expectations they are performing, there’s no surprise there’s word of at least a small bit of discontent bubbling up in a disappointed clubhouse.

But, as Friedman said, “There’s no finger-pointing here.”

Jon Heyman is an MLB Insider for FanRag Sports, featuring breaking news, information and his Inside Baseball column, which appears on every Thursday. Heyman also has been an insider at MLB Network since the channel launched in 2009 and is a regular contributor to WFAN in New York, where he appears weekly on the Joe and Evan Show and previously appeared on the Mike and the Mad Dog Show. He also appears on WSCR in Chicago, WBZ-FM in Boston and the Petros and Money Show on Fox in Los Angeles. Heyman comes to FanRag Sports from, where he worked for five years and wrote the popular Inside Baseball notes column. Before going to CBS, Heyman worked for five years at Sports Illustrated and, where he was a senior writer and started an Inside Baseball Column. Heyman worked for 16 years at Newsday in New York, where he was the Yankees beat writer, a baseball columnist and finally a general sports columnist. Heyman started his career at the Moline (Ill.) Daily Dispatch, then moved to the Los Angeles Copley Newspapers (Torrance Daily Breeze and Santa Monica Outlook) before going to Newsday. Heyman at one time also served as a national baseball writer for The Sporting News. Heyman is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. The Santa Fe, N.M. native grew up in Cedarhurst, N.Y., on Long Island.

scores by the Score
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.