Home > Uncategorized > A Pox that Has Spread Across the Southland

A Pox that Has Spread Across the Southland

December 9, 2016


I don’t want to get ahead of myself and have intentionally not written any articles since the playoff ouster, but like Donald Trump – the best predictor of what will happen is by what has happened. So far, contenders made deals at the Winter Meetings to shore up needs, trading away top prospects, opening up the checkbook and ensuring their fans 2017 will be a fun season with a retooled team to enjoy. The Dodgers? As is the custom in the Andrew Friedman era, unconventional non-moves, overpaying for inferior quality and PR-machine generated rumors to get fans excited enough to attend games next season – at increased ticket and parking prices. TV? No such luck, you can hear about how great the all Dodgers network is, but likely never see it for yourself. This is the way the latest negligent owner – the wealthy investment capital firm called the Guggenheim Group, runs business. Fans are just customers to pay higher rates and buy concessions and merchandise – the checks are already in the bank. Sadly, a new generation of fans are more loyal to trillionaire finance companies and overpaid executives than to themselves. Being guardians of these people’s wallets vs. their own self-interests as baseball fans. “Greinke was greedy!” “Kenley doesn’t deserve that!” “We got a bargain with Kazmir!” It’s a mental illness tide that has swept across Los Angeles like herpes, and where once Angelenos wore Fernando jerseys and rooted Garvey, Cey, Orel, Sax, Yeager, Gibson, etc., they now put their loyalties out to Friedman, his pet troll Farhan Zaidi, gym rat Gabe Kapler, Josh Byrnes, and their ilk. I am embarrassed by what the Dodgers have become, but more, what the fans have become.

Turned to bickering, if you point this out, the Twitter trolls will attack. How dare you question the genius of giving $16M to Brent Anderson? You’re too naive to see why Brandon McCarthy was a far smarter signing than keeping Greinke. If you had half a brain, you’d know trading away Dee Gordon for closer of the future Chris Hatcher was a master stroke. Oh, you don’t see the value in signing and then paying Cubans to leave? You idiot! Kiké Hernández, Austin Barnes, Josh Ravin, Luis Avilan – oh, you’re too ignorant to see greatness! All hail the small market executives who make us all better by allowing us to witness their brilliance! It’s a pox that has spread across the Southland and is fueled by the Internet bullying compulsion.

I am a grounded person living in a real world. I have the common sense to not vote for reality show billionaires for President of the United States or believe a second round of Moneyball in the country’s 2nd largest market will succeed after the 1st failed miserably. I have waited and watched and believe me, all the way up until Paul DePodesta blew up a highly competitive, fun Dodgers roster in 2004, I NEVER bashed the Dodgers front office. I understood that occasionally a deal didn’t work out but by and large knew the gatekeepers of my team had our best interests and knew what they were doing. Again, common sense told me what DePodesta did to the Dodgers roster was not in anyone’s best interest but his own. The Moneyball mentality, as shown by DePodesta and now this gang of rats, is about their own self-interest. To be smarter, look more clever, cute, as unconventional as possible to stick their middle fingers up at the fans and traditional baseball principles to be superior. What worked in part in Oakland out of necessity, is not made for the richest team in the sport. Small minded, small market narcissists should not be allowed the keys to the Dodgers kingdom. Like DePodesta, ultimately this will be figured out and the current crop shown the door. But in the meantime, fans, real fans who grew up loving the Dodgers, listening to stories their parents and uncles and aunts and cousins – and Vin Scully! – told them, are left to twist in the wind, paying higher prices, cheering on – what? A collection of bodies, intermingled with a few actual stars, when so much more could be delivered – if only ego maniacs were not calling the shots.

The fan boys and Sabermetrics sickos applaud every bad move and non-move. It empowers them, as they grew up playing too much fantasy baseball and paying too much attention to bloggers’ love of obscure statistics. They never admit that after tens of millions are squandered on career injury cases, the elderly, the never were’s – and said players are paid off to leave – that they were wrong. When Friedman loads his rotation with McCarthy, Anderson and Kazmir, and looks for a team foolish (desperate) enough to take on their deals, or has to juggle more roster moves than anyone in the history of the game to compensate for his short-sightedness, the cultists pretend it’s not happening and puff out their chest for the latest $48M deal given to an old pitcher with a history of injuries – someone, like the other, was out of baseball and trying to catch on with independent league teams. If Friedman and Zaidi signed the guy, they reason, it must be a masterful move. Until it’s not, and you’ll never hear from them that day.

All I know is what I know. I look at what has happened and what is happening. I use that reality to gauge the future. I see the mistakes from the past repeating themselves. Wait for 2018. 2018! 2018! Ok – in 2018 magic potion will sprinkle from the skies over Chavez Ravine and every prospect in the system will be a superstar. Payroll will be low, homegrown talent will rule Blue Heaven on Earth. Never will a prospect bust, or just be a bench player. In this utopia, every player under the age of 22 will be a superstar. Never mind Clayton Kershaw will have an opt out; never mind generally most prospects do not become superstars; never mind the clear majority of the prospects were handed to Friedman from Ned Colletti and Logan White. 2018 is the year. The year. So why should fans spend hard earned money in 2017? Why not wait?

I see the reality of good teams getting the pieces they need to remain good, or get better. I see deals happening where the Giants addressed their main deficiency – a closer. I see the Red Sox being bold enough to deal a Cuban (egad!) to acquire an ace starter. I see the Cubs lose their closer and quickly acquire another – plus a setup man, so they can return for another World Series title. I see the White Sox inexplicably give up when they had most of the pieces, but reload with other teams blue chips. I see the Yankees, who came close after a bold youth movement mid-season, reacquire their closer. I watch the Cardinals add a great defender, offensive player and leader in center field. On it goes. I see the Dodgers talk about players they are “in” on – or more accurately, I see baseball writers say they probably are, but of course time and time and time again they are beat to the punch. The fan boys remain hopeful. They scoff, “Anyone can shop at the Winter Meetings. Anyone can make deals in late July.” They are convinced every absurd move, every lack of action, is right. It must be. If the actions of Friedman and Zaidi are not, everything the fan boys believe in is false. The prospect of this is dizzying, so they act superior, bully online and disappear when “ringers” fail and are paid off to leave town.

As I said at the top, it’s “still early” – though I would also argue not shopping, not dealing, when others are is a big disadvantage, and an unnecessary one. Since cult members are obsessed with owners saving money, shouldn’t the Dodgers save on airfare and hotel by leaving their genius brain trust at home and not attend the Winter Meetings at all? Imagine how all powerful and magnificent they would look if they snubbed their nose at baseball convention and sat it out altogether? Wouldn’t they be awesome?

It is possible the Dodgers make moves – and they will, some – and it’s also possible that in the course of doing this they surprise somehow and do something unprecedented in the Friedman regime and do something right. But that wouldn’t erase all the mistakes – the dumb trades, the unnecessary holes they create, the unrealistic, small time thinking that you must keep EVERY prospect and can never deal some for what you need at the big-league level. It will not change the fact that 2016 was a rather lucky year where the entire division took a nap and repeating that luck statistically (they will like that term) isn’t likely.

When the Guggenheim conglomerate hired Moneyballers to run the Dodgers, it was in large part to reduce payroll and hand over control to a “new” philosophy they’d heard about in Brad Pitt movies. The investment firm honchos do not know or care about baseball – the Dodgers are another piece of the portfolio. You pay $2B to a Botox’d dandy and immediately get an $8B TV deal – plus the gate, MLB revenues, merchandise, etc., etc. If a bunch of kangaroo and monkeys could run out onto the field at 7:10 to play the games, that would be fine with the owners. As long as 40K+ paying customers showed up to watch.

I hope for a few things. I hope first that fans fight back and boycott the games, leaving Guggenheim to look at balance sheets and scratch their heads. The plan worked with Frank McCourt – stop attending games, hitting ownership in the wallet, works. I hope the Moneyballers are shown the door so the few great pieces like Kershaw and Corey Seager, Joc Pederson and Adrian Gonzalez, aren’t left out to dry. I hope Los Angeles baseball fans stop rooting for rich executives and start believing as fans of the game and team, that they deserve better. I hope fans who bicker and snipe at one another realize we’re all supposed to be in it together and quarreling is what we are supposed to do with Giants fans, Padres fans, Diamondbacks fans and Rockies fans – all in a respectful, decent way that doesn’t turn us into ugly animals like Twitter trolls and an orange president-elect. I hope for these things, and mostly for the young, naive or continually let down to wise up and see the truth. As the X-Files TV show famously stated, “The truth is out there.” It really is, you just must open your eyes and see it.

  1. Jim
    December 9, 2016 at 5:21 am

    Yeah we bicker,boycott the games and what will happen guggs @ Co will sell the team, new owners will move our Beloved Dodgers.

    • Freudy
      December 9, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      I doubt any future ownership group would move a team out of the country’s 2nd largest market – where 3M people come to games even if bench players are on the field. I predict owners will sell in awhile – they got the quick $6B profit from the TV deal ($8B less $2B price for buying the team). I seriously doubt Guggenheim investors want their fund managers running baseball teams. This was a ripe business move and Guggenheim cleaned up.

  2. Steamed Gravy
    December 9, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    I’m with you, man. You’re absolutely, positively, freaking damn right on practically every point brought up in the post, and yet it’s unfortunately true that the Andrew Friedman/Farhan Zaidi sycophants and apologists will blindly counter-argue everything, despite the Moneyball emperors having no clothes.

    “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”
    And how.

    It’s just so infuriating that Friedman/Zaidi have predictably come up empty-handed (again), now that the Winter Meetings have concluded, while coveted pitchers like Sale and Wade are now off the board. It’s deja vu all over again, where Friedman sat idly by last year, while players like Johnny Cueto, Ben Zobrist, etc. end up elsewhere.

    I guess I won’t be too surprised when this front office announces the latest signing/trade for a pitcher/reliever/infielder/outfielder/wherever with a history of injury.

    The Dodgers fans damn well deserve better than the bungle-fest from Friedman and Co.

    • Freudy
      December 9, 2016 at 11:32 pm

      Thanks. It’s a depressing situation for any baseball fan older than 35, i.e. anyone who knows better. For the younger, baseball in LA has always been mediocre to toxic. This situation now should never have happened – LAST winter is when the pitching had to be addressed, keeping Greinke, adding a third strong arm and then tinkering with the bottom of the rotation on foreign signings and kids. The Dodgers trouble in 2015’s post season wasn’t Kershaw or Greinke, it was Anderson as the third wheel. So rather than address that, Friedman sent his other ace away and added crap to replace him and the lower half of the rotation. Pitching rotations are all about innings. If you can log innings, from very good to even pretty good, you’re halfway to the promised land. Then your bullpen doesn’t get taxed and you have a good shot of winning any given night. Loading up on old and injured arms is flirting with disaster. Asking your pen to pitch almost as many innings as your rotation – which was the case last season – is a recipe for doom. Oh well, we lived through McCourt and we will live through this. I just don’t get why people cheer this madness on or worse, defend the idiots who are making it difficult to watch. Or – not watch at all, since the greedy owners won’t let most of the city get the team on TV. Fun times.

  3. December 10, 2016 at 3:14 am

    Again, an outstanding article. Everything right on target. Thanks! The part I just don’t get is why fans do not see that the likes of Friedman and his soldiers are not just late getting players and making correct moves. They lie and don;t make any meaningful moves. They never intended to make any moves, they don’t have to. They will make enough money not making moves. They just let you think that they will make any number of changes. I don’t think they will resign Jansen or Turner. They don’t give big contracts! They just don’t want the fans to quit coming and make things ugly. The LA press seems to also be in the tank with them. I just hate that I have been a fan for so many years and now that I am in my 70s I will probably never see my beloved team in the World Series again. Some fans condemned Colletti but at least he made an effort to get available free agents who could contribute.

  4. Snider Fan
    December 12, 2016 at 3:27 am

    I was hoping that once Mark Walter’s beloved Cubs broke the curse he might loosen up a little on the purse strings, but no. This front office is overflowing with failed baseball execs, led by the over-hyped genius Fraudman. The Winter Meetings are like going to Costco: the smart GMs have done their homework and come with shopping lists. Guys like Andy just wander the aisles pretending to be interested while looking for free samples.

    • Freudy
      December 12, 2016 at 5:41 pm

      By virtue they need so many geniuses to do nothing should cause any Dodgers fan pause. Why would you need more than 1 baseball executive making decisions on not making moves? What a colossal waste of money. Just like I don’t root on rich guys and CEOs, or vote for them, I don’t celebrate executives. Especially dumb ones.

  5. badger3
    December 12, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Once again you demonstrate unparalleled analysis of the ongoing zoological baseball processes called the Los Angeles Dodgers. My only disappointment with your takes here is the fact I don’t see them often enough. It’s just too long between posts.

    I’ve been saying for some time now the projected completion date of this FAZ project is 2018 and beyond. I came to this conclusion after the first deadline hairball coughed up in ’15. But then I watch as top prospects are moved for iffy rentals and wonder wtf? Maybe 2019 and beyond? If the idea is to build from within and add the right FA, and a ton of them will become available after ’17-’18, then why give up top prospects now chasing the obviously better teams in our league? We are going to need all of them, either on the field or used in the right moves to make that push to catch the Cubs, and keep up with the Nats, Cards and giants.

    My confidence is sputtering at this point. Until something really excite actually happens here, I see the win totals continuing a downward trend.

    • Freudy
      December 12, 2016 at 5:39 pm

      Thank you for the kind words. I’d write more frequently but not much happens with this front office and ownership group. I enjoy watching their arrogance and favortism to their own acquisitions vs Ned and Kasten’s players. Ethier comes back from a season long injury, homers in playoffs and is immediately benched so Kike can play more. Ned prospects dealt for marginal players and his guy Cahoun fast tracked to the bigs. I’m surprised they didn’t get rid of Seager, Joc, Urias and DeLeon – all from the previous admin. 2018 won’t be a success as these guys are small market dummies who don’t think big. Kershaw’s prime being wasted and he will surely take the opportunity to look at bigger paydays as any player would. If they keep Kershaw, how is that situation different than Greinke’s? About the same age, no doubt the same contract length. If they want to wait until 2018 or later, they should not be increasing ticket prices and should have already looked into moving Kershaw. The White Sox are being lauded for stocking the farm after moving Sale, why should the Dodgers hold Kershaw? The team is a rudderless barge going nowhere. Fans lapping up the Sabermetrics greatness and lining up to pay more money. If you’re a real Dodgers fan, you should feel nauseated.

  6. badger3
    December 12, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    Do you think maybe they feel an obligation to MLB’s leading attendance to field something that looks to be competitive while inching toward their goals? The team certainly played well enough to win the Division after the Giants overdosed on Ambien. It is true that IF McCarthy, and IF Kazmir, and IF – fill in your own names – the Dodgers have enough here to beat most in the West. Like I said, I see the wins continuing to trend down, and that’s even IF Turner and Jansen return. I think both Colorado and Arizona will be better, and if so that could mean fewer wins for LA.

    • Freudy
      December 12, 2016 at 6:09 pm

      Well, I’m sure it’s their belief that they are fielding a great team capable of winning while preparing for the real team that is here in 2018. BTW, there is almost 0 chance 2018 will be much different than the past few years. To assume all the big free-agents will be in blue and every prospect will hit is absurd. The West was very winnable since the only team capable of competing was the Giants, and they had the worst record of any team in baseball the second half. So having half your games vs. bad competition is a gift, no? Anyway, the idea to shoot for the division and not build for the post-season is precisely why Moneyball is for small markets and not large. No Moneyball team has won. The Dodgers indeed build their roster to compete for the West – which they were winning before Friedman arrived. The problem to fix was the Oct part, which the geniuses have not addressed. They were close with teams in the past – having two aces, for example, is more a guarantee of Oct success than aged independent league pitchers, Tommy John cases, etc. The Dodgers a few years ago needed a 3rd pitcher behind Kershaw and Greinke and had only Anderson. Instead of finding that 3rd pitcher – Price, Cueto, Zimmerman, Hamels, whomever, they let Greinke go. A step backwards. The Moneyball view per Billy Beane is Oct is a crapshoot, so just try to get there an hope for luck. A $250M team shouldn’t be looking for luck. Ask this – were the Cubs or Indians lucky teams, or teams that were successful all season and one could reasonably predict they’d be there at or near the end?

  7. badger3
    December 12, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    Not assuming all the big name free agents would want to come to LA. But I can think of a couple I would like to see here – Machado and Harper. Mix one or both of those with our best young controllable players and you have the Los Angeles Cubs. I want stars here in LA. Give me the excitement of “Harperwood”. But, does that happen with sabermetrical Moneypinchers? Not likely. If their goal is to continue platooning position players and sign injured 5 inning or DL’d starters, I’m not interested.

    • Freudy
      December 12, 2016 at 7:19 pm

      I think the Yankees have every intention of landing Machado, which is why they have been frugal lately. Harper is grossly overrated imo. The Dodgers don’t need hot dogs, they need more hard nosed players. I’d rather see Moustakas in LA – he’s a Chatsworth High kid and a free-agent after this year, I believe.

  8. badger3
    December 12, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    Bryce Harper put up 9.9 WAR as a 22 year old. Yep, something happened this year, but by 2019 he will be 26, hopefully matured and perhaps back on track. If not, screw him. There will be others out there that could be available then that would love to play in LA. I don’t care about hot dog. Most of those guys have egos the size of Texas and wouldn’t piss on us if we were on fire. As long as they back it up with production on the field and stay out of trouble I don’t give a damn if they are cocky.

    • Freudy
      December 12, 2016 at 8:52 pm

      Well, he also wants $400M and is a Boras client, so… I’d pass on that. Not just the money, but the ego. I understand many like him, so it’s just my personal opinion.

  9. badger3
    December 14, 2016 at 12:03 am

    Yeah, I heard the $400 million too. Who knows. If he puts up 9.9 WAR the next two years he might get close to it. There is evidently enough money in the game to do it.

    • Freudy
      December 14, 2016 at 12:59 am

      Yep, they wouldn’t pay if there wasn’t money. I wouldn’t pay it, but what do I know? I still think you need a great rotation, killer pen, speed, defense and timely hitting.

  10. badger3
    December 14, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    You’re old school. Young guys appear to prefer platoons, 4 inning bullpens and high risk $16 million pitchers.

    • Freudy
      December 14, 2016 at 9:06 pm

      Young guys also think they look cool with their pants down around their thighs and sucking in toxic chemicals and blowing out “vape” clouds like smoke stacks at a power plant. i.e. they don’t know very much.

  11. CTDodgerFan
    December 14, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    Great column as usual. I really enjoy your writing and I agree with you.

    I have a theory on why some people blindly support the Dodger front office without questioning any of their most questionable moves (Reddick? McCarthy? etc.). My theory has to do with authority figures and how different people view them. Some people, probably a lot of younger people who didn’t grow up in the 60s but also lots of older people show should know better, were raised to obey authority. Either they had an authoritarian father or father figure, were raised to be religious from an early age (and what is religion except worship of authority), or whatever. These are the people who never question the boss, voted for Trump because he presented himself as a strongman authoritarian, never criticize greedy corporations and their CEOs, and believe everything an authority figure tells them. The other group of people worship ideals before authority and reject authority if that authority violates those ideals. A lot of older folk in this second group grew up in the 1960s, a time when questioning authority finally became acceptable (and half the country has been trying to get revenge for this ever since, but I digress). This second group is more likely to see through the bullshit spin of people like the Dodger front office or the current President-Elect. Basically it comes down to this, according to sociologists who have studied such matters – some people need a strong daddy and others prefer a nurturing mommy. The second group is more likely to question authority; the first group will never question authority. I find it fascinating that a lot of people who support every move the Dodger front office make seem to be Trump supporters.

    • Freudy
      December 14, 2016 at 9:05 pm

      That’s an interesting take, worthy of an essay. I have noticed a parallel to that that baseball, football, NASCAR (not to much NBA, I wonder why? haha) fans tend to be “conservatives” – religious, Republican, pro gun, etc. At least that’s the perception as players in baseball themselves are often white men, often from flyover states or rural backgrounds, love to hunt in the off-season, drive trucks, etc. The national anthem and God bless America, all very tied to patriotism and of course Karl Rove told us you can’t love your country, or the troops, unless you’re a Christian Republican. I say all this tongue in cheek, but baseball fans and many football fans, are very right wing. That ties in with your political thought and Trump, CEOs and authority figures. You’re right – Trump came out and said I know everything, no one can fix this but me! So, either a sheep minded person or just a lazy one, would say, ok, let him handle it, he seems to know what he’s talking about. I often hear Saber nerds saying, you think you know more than these geniuses?! Well, I never assumed I knew more than any baseball executive, until Moneyball came to LA, twice. I do know I wouldn’t deal Dee for scraps, I wouldn’t sign mediocre and injured pitchers, every Cuban that defected, etc. There are definitely many things I know that this front office doesn’t. I predict the outcome of their moves before they happen. If you scroll back through my articles, you see a trend – me noting the mistakes well before they prove to be true. Am I a genius? No, just a longtime fan with good common sense. I do know that these dummies aren’t very bright and have made tons of mistakes Ned or anyone else would be crucified for. We still hear about Jason Schmidt, but Friedman’s collection of $48M broken arms all are fine. Sigh. BTW, never worship rich guys. Always question authority. These folks have to earn our respect, they shouldn’t be handed it. Trump and Friedman both.

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