LOS ANGELES – Dave Roberts recognizes your right to boo whenever – and whoever – you want.
But just as you criticize the timing of his pitching changes, the Dodgers manager thinks he can criticize the timing – and direction – of those boos. And “in my opinion,” Roberts said, fans at Dodger Stadium were wrong for booing Pedro Baez when he entered the game in the sixth inning Friday night (and more loudly after he walked the first batter he faced).
After the game, Roberts called the booing “ridiculous,” using that word three separate times, and added that it “really pissed me off” to hear a player booed at home. Saturday afternoon, Roberts might have been less angry but no less critical.
“I said what I felt in support of not only Pedro but our guys and my thoughts on how home players should be received at home,” Roberts said. “I didn’t tell them (fans) how they should act. I said in my opinion as a Dodger fan – and I’m a Dodger fan – when a guy has had a tremendous year and he’s had a few tough outings, to show support is more of a solution than to voice your displeasure.”
Roberts said he was not saying players should never be booed at home. A lack of hustle or poor performance is fair game for fans to express their displeasure, he said. But he didn’t agree Baez’s string of poor outings in the second half of the season rose to that level.
“If you’re not performing, you should be booed. Absolutely,” he said. “Every fan has their opinion on what that amount is, of performance. In some people’s mind, if you give up a run you should be booed. They expect players to be perfect. And some people, they give their home team more leash.”
Roberts’ cites Baez’s 2.53 ERA despite frequent use against the toughest parts of opposing lineups as evidence he deserves a longer leash from fans. But Baez also has career highs in some more disturbing areas — ERA-plus (166), FIP (4.63), WHIP (1.26), walk rate (3.9 per nine innings) and home run rate (nine in 57 innings). All of those numbers are trending upward since the All-Star break and Baez has filled the time-honored role of reliever who causes the team’s fans to groan when he enters a game.
“I think it’s just the fastball command, getting behind hitters and not getting that fastball where he needs it,” Roberts said. “I think if you look at essentially all pitchers when they struggle the fastball command leaves them a little bit. When you can throw the…