It’s been 13 days since the Los Angeles Dodgers announced a mutual parting with Don Mattingly. The separation has afforded team president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman to hand-pick his manager, which many believed was a power Friedman would exert last year after taking the helm in an overhauled Dodgers front office.
Friedman instead publicly supported and stuck with Mattingly, giving him another opportunity to guide the Dodgers to their first World Series since 1988. Since determining now was the best time to go their separate ways, Friedman’s search for Mattingly’s replacement has been far and wide.
The early list of candidates included Dodgers coaches Ron Roenicke and Tim Wallach, Chicago Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez and former San Diego Padres manager Bud Black. It appeared Black was bound for Washington, but has since re-entered the picture in Los Angeles in the wake of the Nationals hiring Dusty Baker.
Also involved in the Dodgers search is Padres bench coach Dave Roberts. The 43 year old interviewed for the vacant manager’s position last week and according to Bill Plaschke of the LA Times, has vaulted to the top of the list:
He showed up last week to interview for the Dodgers’ managerial vacancy, he aced the interview, and he’s now apparently the favorite.
Up to this point, Dodgers director of player development Gabe Kapler has been viewed as the favorite to replace Mattingly. Kapler enjoys a longstanding relationship with Friedman and his philosophies align with front office.
Dating back to 2010, Roberts has five years of coaching experience; three as Padres first base coach and the last two seasons as Black’s bench coach. Roberts managed the Padres for one game after Black’s firing. San Diego then promoted Pat Murphy from the Minors to serve as interim manager.
Roberts played parts of 10 seasons in the Majors with the Cleveland Indians (1999-2001), Dodgers (2002-04), Boston Red Sox (2004), Padres (2005-06) and San Francisco Giants (2007-08).
He won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2004 and is most known for stealing second base in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series. The Red Sox were trailing the New York Yankees three games to none and down 4-3 in the ninth with famed closer Mariano Rivera on the hill.
Roberts wound up scoring the tying run, the Red Sox won Game 4 in 12 innings and proceeded to overcome their series deficit en route to a World Series title. Roberts worked under Dodgers vice president of baseball operations Josh Byrnes when Byrnes was general manager of the Padres.
Not that it would be a deterrent given Friedman’s remarks on Oct. 22, Roberts, like Kapler, does not have managerial experience in the Majors.