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Editor’s note: This is the Oct. 10, 2019 edition of the Inside the Dodgers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.A few hours before Game 5 of the NLDS, a Los Angeles television reporter stopped me in the hallway leading to the Dodgers’ clubhouse. “If the Dodgers lose this game,” he asked, “would you expect there to be changes in the offseason?” Talk about speaking a powerful thought into the universe.My response went something like this: Some people, maybe most, begin every discussion about “offseason changes” with the manager and the general manager. There are eight managerial vacancies as of today, in the wake of Gabe Kapler’s firing in Philadelphia. There is one vacant general manager job. There are many more 25-man roster spots that will change between now and the beginning of next season, but this newsletter is about their bosses. (I’ll dive into my thoughts about the Dodgers players tomorrow.)Andrew Friedman did more to give his team a chance to win it all in 2019 than the four seasons before it. The one reliever Friedman acquired at the deadline (Adam Kolarek) was a good call. The reliever he didn’t acquire at the deadline (Felipe Vazquez) was a good non-call. He bet on his own knowledge of Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling, Julio Urías, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, and others to form a competent bullpen. From Aug. 1 onward, the Dodgers had arguably the best bullpen in baseball. The roster’s other weak points had already been addressed internally before the trade deadline. Their rotation, bench and starting lineup were all relative strengths – at least on paper. In reality – and remember, this was a couple of hours before Game 5 – Dave Roberts had managed his personnel well to that point in the series. He inserted enigmatic utility player Kiké Hernandez into the Game 5 lineup for his glove and his bat. Hernandez made a twisting catch in left field in the top of the second inning, then homered a few minutes later. Roberts would even trust his 25-year-old starting pitcher to throw more pitches in the winner-take-all game than he ever had, and Walker Buehler rewarded him with 6-2/3 innings of one-run ball. The onus, it seemed, was on the players.Then the final three innings happened. A 3-1 lead became a 7-3 deficit. Mark Whicker, Jeff Passan and Andy McCullough delivered the necessary blow-by-blows. Feel free to dive in if you want to relive the unraveling of a 106-win regular season.Several of the questions lobbied during Roberts’ postgame press conference focused on the role of “analytics” in his late-game bullpen maneuvers. I did not ask any of these questions. Asking a manager to explain the role of analytics in his process – particularly in the minutes after a devastating loss – is a fool’s errand. Analytics is merely information. This information is complex enough that a manager needs a bench coach and a cheat sheet to sort through it in real time. But Bob Geren and the cheat sheet don’t share a podium with the manager after the game. It’s just Roberts out there on his lonely island, trying to interpret numerical data into words for some people who might not understand any of it. Often, the question itself reveals this lack of understanding. The media’s puerile fascination with “analytics” sometimes resembles that of performance-enhancing drugs a generation ago. (I’ve written about this before.) In short, the decision to pitch Clayton Kershaw in the eighth inning, and Joe Kelly in the ninth and (especially) the 10th innings, demanded a sophisticated answer. We never got that answer from Roberts, and maybe we shouldn’t be surprised.If we’re looking solely at the final three innings of Game 5, the moment in which the Dodgers’ season unraveled, a couple things stood out to me about the process.1. There was nothing analytical about it. Roberts was in a difficult position a year ago. Brian Dozier, Matt Kemp and Cody Bellinger had never been part of a platoon arrangement in their baseball lives until late in the 2018 season. Roberts had to sign off on lineup cards that changed by the day, then explain to these players why their names weren’t on it. Then he had to explain this to the media. “This is the lineup that gives us the best chance to win” sounded an awful lot like “this is the roster I was handed” by the end of the World Series.This time, the Dodgers’ bench was more clearly defined. Hernandez, Chris Taylor, Matt Beaty, Russell Martin and David Freese knew their roles. They had time to perfect their individual process on days when their name wasn’t on the lineup card. That process, I think, is underrated outside a clubhouse. It exists in an analytical black hole. The same process that works for one player might not work for another, so there is no formula that even the brightest R&D department can provide, say, Freese to tell him how to get ready for a late-inning at-bat against Patrick Corbin. Each player has to figure out how to maximize the hours after the first pitch to get himself ready. It’s the rare trial-and-error process that is integral to the way baseball is played in 2019.Throw in a strong, established starting rotation, and a bullpen that performed admirably in August and September (with ample time to tinker), and Roberts couldn’t be confused about how to put any of his players in their best position to succeed. They had succeeded from April to September more than any other Dodgers team collectively, and with relatively few personnel changes along the way. That’s why you were justified in feeling better about the 2019 Dodgers than their 2018 counterparts.So, what happened in the final three innings on Wednesday?Kershaw appeared out of the bullpen for just the fifth time in four seasons. Joe Kelly was asked to pitch multiple innings, something he had not done since Aug. 24, and only twice in the three months before that. Kolarek was warm when his personal hitter, Juan Soto, stepped to the plate with runners on second and third in the 10th inning. He was still in the bullpen when Soto was intentionally walked to load the bases for Kelly to face Howie Kendrick – who was a combined 0 for 12 in his career against Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, Ross Stripling and Dustin May. How did any of these decisions give the Dodgers the best chance to win? All of it defied the very analytical mantra Roberts has offered so many times before.2. “But Roberts doesn’t make the decisions! The front office does!!”I’ve heard fans express this thought many times before. The reality is that the public has little to no insight into where the manager’s personnel decisions begin and the front office’s end. I think the Dodgers like it that way – not so much to intentionally obfuscate, but to ensure everyone who holds executive power within the organization is on the same page. If there are points of disagreement between the scouts, the coaches, the manager, and the President Of Baseball Operations (POBO), they aren’t obligated to share those points with the media. That’s OK. However, I can’t be expected to report “but Roberts didn’t make that decision!” as fact, if it’s only presented as opinion.Here’s one opinion about the Dodgers’ end-game bullpen strategy yesterday. It came from Kevin Kennedy, a former manager who has broadcasted several Dodgers games the past few years. Spelling out the specifics: Kershaw made $34 million this year (including his performance bonuses for games started). He is the team’s highest-paid player – maybe its highest-paid employee, period. Regardless of how many pitchers Roberts liked more than Kershaw to record any or all of the game’s final seven outs, Kershaw’s combination of salary and status mandated he get into Game 5 at some point. If you accept that premise as true, blame the front office for Kershaw attempting something he’s rarely succeeded at before. Asking Kershaw to retire Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto, arguably the Nationals’ two best hitters in a 3-1 game in the eighth inning? That decision lay with the manager. Again, if the initial premise is true.It’s only a theory, albeit a plausible one. If you accept it in its entirety, you must also accept that blaming either the front office or the manager is a false choice. More than one party can be responsible for the same event.3. In a rational world, this shouldn’t cost Roberts his job. But …No manager had guided his team to four first-place finishes in his first four full seasons before Roberts. (Larry Dierker came close.) If you’re firmly in the “division titles mean nothing” camp, Roberts’ case does not rest on his regular season. Again, he appeared to be out-managing his counterpart until the eighth inning of Game 5. The final three innings Wednesday cannot make the first 43 innings of the series disappear.They can, however, conjure memories of Game 4 of last year’s World Series. The Dodgers were nine outs away from a win, and tying the series 2-2, when Roberts made the highly criticized decision to remove Rich Hill. The circumstances were different then, but the outcome looks the same on paper. Writing today for The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal said he was reminded of Grady Little: “Roberts made a series of head-scratching pitching decisions, not just one. His history of stumbles in October includes prominent missteps in the 2017 and ’18 World Series. He also worked with far more information than Little did.”Rosenthal goes on to suggest that, like Little, Roberts’ issue is now one of trust. Can the front office trust him to manage the Dodgers to a championship? What about the relievers he shunned in Game 5, like Jansen, Baez, Stripling and Urías? Can they trust him? What about the fans? Can you trust him?— J.P.Editor’s note: Thanks for reading the Inside the Dodgers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.MORE READINGThis is Howie did it – For one former Dodger, the NLDS ended much better than it began.He voted for Kodos – Congratulations if you picked Kenta Maeda finishing the season as the Dodgers’ best reliever.All ball – Two articles today, from FanGraphs’ Jay Jaffe and Baseball Prospectus’ Rob Arthur, explore the possibility that MLB introduced a dramatically different batch of baseballs in October.Manfred’s real problem – This one thing is changing how baseball, and sports, are consumed in 2019.A solution – Postseason baseball drama sure beats the regular season, so why not expand the former and contract the latter?Chicanoball – The author of a new book about Mexican American baseball in Los Angeles is giving a talk Oct. 19 at L.A.’s Central Library. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error
“For me, Lewandowski is one of the best and most complete strikers of the past decade and currently the best attacker. He has exceptional skills,” added Muller.After having secured their eight consecutive Bundesliga title, Bayern are turning their attentions to the fight for a treble, as they have advanced to the final of the German Cup and are close to reaching the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, after defeating Chelsea away in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie.“Hansi Flick has done a really great job so far, he has given the team confidence. I trust Flick and the players”, concluded Muller.****XINHUAShare on: WhatsApp Kampala, Uganda | XINHUA | Former Germany international Dieter Muller described Robert Lewandowski as the best striker in the world, but says the Pole will never break the record set by Gerd Muller, who scored 40 goals in the 1971/72 Bundesliga season.Poland’s captain has found the net 33 times this season and looks set to be crowned the Bundesliga’s top scorer for the fifth time in his career, as he has scored seven more goals than second-placed Timo Werner with just one game left to play. There had been speculation that “Lewy” would be able to break Muller’s record, but his namesake Dieter expressed his doubts.“It’s incredibly difficult to reach that result. You may have an injury and the season is over for you. I think no one will beat Muller’s 40 goals in the future, this record is unthreatened,” Muller told Germany’s Abendzeitung newspaper on Tuesday.However, the two-time Bundesliga top scorer praised Lewandowski as a complete striker. “He shoots equally well on the left and on the right, he is strong at heading and can use his teammates well,” said the German.