Home > Uncategorized > “The bullpen depth that we have right now is the best I’ve ever been around.” – Andrew Friedman

“The bullpen depth that we have right now is the best I’ve ever been around.” – Andrew Friedman

October 10, 2019

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I hate to tell you I told you so but…

 

I actually don’t, as you know. The finish of the Dodgers season was predicted – by me! (and many of you). It was the inevitable conclusion of another Andrew Friedman debacle. If you are a disciple of guys wearing polo shirts, this infuriates you but I’m sorry to say, it’s true. The analytics revolution has ruined baseball, most particularly, Dodgers baseball. The cult of ignorance, supported by the local media, would argue this. Better to celebrate geeky executives than players and 100+ years of tradition. Sorry, this is not progress, and the ghosts of 1988 past agree with me.

 

I’m hoping the latest failure sends Friedman out of town. He’s not a large market general manager (or whatever his title is). His small minded tactics that worked in Tampa (maybe it wasn’t him, Tampa has done fine without him), do not play in Los Angeles. But he won all these division titles and got the team to the World Series – twice! – his fans would argue. My rebuttal is a simple one – so?

 

The Dodgers, loaded with talent from Ned Colletti and his scouts, would have been successful if a Macy’s mannequin was in charge. Friedman’s repeated arrogance and failure to take an already great situation and improve upon it is what stands out. Time after time he failed to go after available relief pitching – and starting pitching! – that other, smarter baseball minds went after. His thinking, every time, is “I’m too clever. I find diamonds in the rough. Only a fool would go after proven (star) players.” This is Los Angeles, not Peoria. When you have the stadium full, setting attendance records and the resources (perhaps debatable, the Guggenheim Baseball Group is all about making themselves rich, not putting a championship team on the field for the fans), you don’t mess around. When you come close, you don’t mess around. Friedman always messes around.

 

This past off-season, like the one before that, was obscene. No sense of urgency, no thought into improving the obvious flaws in the bullpen. Joe Kelly? If Joe Kelly is your answer, you’re an idiot. He had a great October (last year!) but his career line is that of mediocrity. His implosion, perhaps feeling the pressure of a contract he didn’t deserve, was perhaps greater than anticipated but not at all surprising. I mocked the signing at the time and I do now. Joe Kelly is a decent enough addition to any bullpen, but by no means should he be your big acquisition. Maybe your third or fourth pick up.

 

With Kenley Jansen’s overuse aging him before our eyes, to not fix that pen was a crime. Cruising the waiver wire while your post-season competition signs and trades for players is the height of egotism. Two years in a row (or is it three, I’ve lost track), Friedman sits on his hands in the winter and again at the trading deadline in July, as pundits and hopeful fans waste time calculating which stars he will acquire. His genius, after all, is unprecedented. THIS year will be different. It’s the same logic Charlie Brown had when approaching that football, only to have Lucy pull it away at the last minute, sending poor ol’ Charlie Brown hurtling through space.

 

Lost in Friedman’s mistakes is his equal neglect for the rotation. If your idea is to shorten games by not having your starter go through a lineup three times, it would make sense to have a lights out bullpen. No. If you don’t have a reliable pen, perhaps your idea would be to have starters who are a) healthy and b) good. Every time an impact starting pitcher came available, Friedman did nothing. Justin Verlander? Too expensive. Gerrit Cole? Not good. Zack Greinke? A bum. On and on. When your best pitcher is a young Walker Buehler and you then count on a jittery someday Hall of Famer, a tired Ryu and a spent Hill, you’re fooling yourself to keep using the word “depth.”

 

The reliance on throwing kids into the deep end of the pool is also a small market approach that hurt the Dodgers. Gavin Lux needed to be starting in October? Maybe in Octobers of the future, sure, he’s a very good young player, but he was obviously challenged and probably tired from his first long season to do anything this post-season. Will Smith? He was exposed after his hot start.

 

The revolving door at second base could have been temporarily plugged by using Muncy at second and Freese at first in this series but that wouldn’t be clever enough or gratifying to Friedman’s ego, who had to show his kids were important too. Sorry, while there are a few good ones on his side of the ledger, most of the core of homegrown Dodgers that matter came in the Ned Colletti era. Nothing against young Lux, but witnessing Howie Kendrick hit .344 for the Nationals during the regular season and bury the Dodgers was appropriate.

 

It’s one of the best parts of laughing at Andrew Friedman. He might get a piece but then he lets it go. He’s the guy who keeps hitting in blackjack when he should have stopped. On the flip side, he also never takes a card. He’s both cheap and wasteful. He won’t shop when good players are available but will overpay for mediocre or often injured ones. He’s an enigma wrapped up in a riddle. And he should go.

 

Everyone is blaming Dave Roberts and while I love Dave (the player and the person), he isn’t much of a manager. That isn’t exactly fair, who knows if he’s a good manager? He takes orders and flashes that warm smile. He wants to be a big league manager and who can blame him? He follows orders. If anyone believes Dave Roberts prefers a “launch angle” approach to offense and doesn’t believe in base stealing, you’re fooling yourself. If you believe he thinks a pitching staff can have a starter relieve as a plan – a day or more before – and not consider his entire pen, or wants better relievers to have at his disposal, you’re delusional.

 

The Dodgers 2019 backslide is a good thing. Perhaps it will pressure the selfish money-hoarding Guggenheim mob to make changes. Perhaps Friedman will leave in embarrassment or not be asked back. Maybe Dave Roberts becomes the sacrificial lamb and is blamed for all this. I’m fine if he’s fired, but he shouldn’t be the only one leaving town.

 

My feeling is ANY competent baseball guy could have done more with what he or she was given than what Andrew Friedman did. After coming so close – more than 3 decades! of waiting – this genius did nothing. If you think Joe Kelly and snapping up AJ Pollock in the 11th hour of winter shopping was vast improvement, you don’t know baseball. Joe Kelly is Joe Kelly and AJ Pollock (always hurt) is AJ Pollock. They were cursory moves to say they tried.

 

My hope is the Dodgers get back to being the Dodgers again. It is fun mocking this data geek but not heartwarming. I have loved the Dodgers since childhood and the thing masquerading as Dodgers baseball is not what I have loved. I’d be thrilled to see a more “conventional” baseball guy take over, and see what happens. Why not? We’ve seen what Friedman can do. A window of opportunity a mile wide has been squandered. The Dodgers should have won MULTIPLE championships since the McCourt era, given the players produced and resources. To be saying 32 years (as next season begins) is ridiculous.

 

There were no surprises here, people. Maybe that the media and many casual fans believed. I feel bad for all the good folks who just follow the local team and don’t look closer how the sausage is made. I am frustrated with our local media and even the national pundits who laud this brand of leadership as something superior. The 2019 season ended the only way it could. A well written movie – the mild mild West glory was overstated and the inevitable conclusion played out. It’s time for change. It’s time for the Dodgers to get back to being the Dodgers.

 

 

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