SAN DIEGO — Dodgers manager Dave Roberts spent the first part of his offseason touring Europe.
Maybe that’s what it takes to avoid thoughts about how his team went from a 111-win regular season to being so quickly dismissed from the postseason by the San Diego Padres.
“For me, for the organization, it took us a while to get over that one,” Roberts said. “You look back and you’re trying to figure out what you could have done potentially to affect the outcome.
“I’ve stopped playing that game and really sort of trying to be present and look towards ’23.”
Looking in the rear-view mirror, though, is unavoidable when last year’s first-round debacle is combined with other October disappointments – including another first-round loss just three years ago.
“I don’t think we have an October problem,” Roberts said Tuesday at the Winter Meetings.
What Roberts did question when prompted was whether the Dodgers might have lacked intensity appropriate for a playoff series.
“I think there’s some truth to that,” Roberts acknowledged. “As a manager, you never want to say that somebody wants it more than you because I think that speaks to the preparation part of it, the mental part of it.
“But I will say that you look at that dugout versus our dugout, there was more intensity there. … That sense of the ultimate sense of urgency each pitch, I think that we’re going to make sure that that’s noted, because I do think (in) the retrospect, the postmortem, kind of looking at it, I sensed it. I sensed it. So that part of it, I think that I’ve got to certainly take ownership of for sure.”
The Dodgers’ dominant regular season – they led the NL West by at least 10 games from mid-July on – combined with their 14-5 record against the Padres during that season could certainly have been factors in an overconfident attitude.
“Obviously he had a way better seat than I did for that,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “Was there a lack of intensity? If so, why? … All those things, I don’t really know the answer to. But obviously the mix of players in terms of veterans, in terms of younger players, in terms of how they go about their work, how they prepare – all those things are important. What you don’t know is how that all comes together until you see it play out.
“Last year, there were articles written in August and September about the dynamic with this group is the best ever. Then four games into October, it was ‘Oh, this group needs to change completely.’ It’s a tough question to answer.”
Friedman said it was “a chicken or the egg” question – did the Dodgers fail to hit in the clutch because they didn’t play with intensity or did they appear to lack intensity because they failed to hit in the clutch?
“I guess I just don’t know the answer,” Friedman said. “Getting a big hit – our dugout would have erupted. We just didn’t get that big hit and continuously didn’t get that big hit.”
Friedman was not willing to say a lack of intensity or overconfidence was the missing ingredient that makes him say, “‘Yeah, that’s what was missing. That’s the difference.’”
Roberts said “the mindset of do-or-die” was lacking.
“I don’t want to kind of speak specific to the pitching or the defense or the at-bat situationally,” he said. “But if you look back, if we had that sort of mindset, I think that results might have been a little bit different.”
That is not a personnel issue, Roberts said. He took responsibility for it.
“I think it’s more of bringing that message to light and that’s my job,” he said.