Happy post Easter hangover to you. I thought I’d write a short article since the whole 140 character thing doesn’t really work all the time. In general I seem to get a lot of followers who follow anything with the word “Dodger” in the name (“Tax Dodger”? Reserved for the Commander in Chief, I guess). Once I tweet a few cynical (honest) comments, they quickly unfollow. Such is life.
Anyway, I thought I’d comment on the topic everyone is talking about – Rich Hill’s 2nd DL stint in as many starts. How is this a surprise to anyone? Andrew Friedman, trying to save face, is making the rounds, saying he’s not worried. No, front offices love when their expensive new toys end up chronically injured. Who are you trying to fool, Andy? Sure, you might feel you have “depth” (I call ’em semi warm bodies), but it couldn’t have been in the plans to have your #2 behind Clayton Kershaw saying it would take a “medical miracle” to get him on the mound again. And now talk of his going to the pen to save the boo boo finger? Really, you signed a 37 year old pitcher to a $48M deal with the intention of him being just another bullpen guy, next to your AAAA retreads? Sorry, not buying that.
I know the beat writers and local radio guys won’t question the genius of the front office as they don’t dare lose access to the clubhouse – and the free meals. I on the other hand have nothing to lose. I write what is very apparent – hardly genius at all. It just so happens in today’s world, if you exhibit a decent amount of common sense, you look intelligent. Who woulda thunk?
As I have tweeted many times, all you have to do is go to this blog and comb through the old articles and see my take on everything Dodgers. All the injuries discussed in advance, all the bad deals commented on as they were made, the mediocre or worse players the Moneyball minded acquire, debunked early on. Again, it’s not being super smart, it’s using basic intelligence. And yes, just having seen a lot of baseball in my life. It’s the same thing Saber guys (I don’t think women are stupid enough to be Saber) dislike traditional minded scouting and managing for. It’s too simple. You watch, you gauge it on lots and lots of similar circumstances (100+ years of MLB, pretty much) and you can therefore make semi logical assumptions. One might call it “data”, but I hear that term has been trademarked.
Here we are 13 games into the 2017 season and the Dodgers are in third place, 1 game over .500. The fans, as always, are up and down like the temperature. If they beat the Padres, whose entire payroll is less than what Kershaw makes alone, they talk shit and boast, gearing up for the World Series appearance. If they lose to a better Western foe, they panic.
The season is long and I will go on a limb and say the type of front office work the Friedman/Zaidi and assorted Dream Team collection of overpaid executives are doing could work as well in 2017 as it did in 2016. I think I figured it out, though, like a bad detective show, my answer was right in front of me the whole time.
While I think the West should certainly be better than it was last year (Giants will wake up, Rox seem improved and only getting better, Arizona perhaps better under their new Moneyball-type front office), I can see the Dodgers making the playoffs. Before you get too excited, I can also see them missing the playoffs. Somewhere between winning the West, getting the wild card and losing out in the playoff round robin, is where they will be. I am not one to predict outcomes of divisions so much as a lot of things happen.
I will say that unless changes are made (and why would they be?), it’s unlikely the Dodgers, as constructed now, will advance to the World Series, should they get anywhere near. My reason is I look at tonight’s tragic lineup and I just don’t see where $230M was spent. Any given night the lineup, starter and/or bullpen participants might be aged journeymen or AAAA castoffs. Friedman calls it “depth” – Paul DePodesta didn’t even call it that, but maybe he should have. His roster was the same littering of nobodies and never weres.
With Hill having recurring blister problems, it makes me wonder why Friedman would take a chance on him again. Last July, Friedman waited till the 11th hour before the trade deadline to move three prospects for Hill and Josh Reddick, who apparently Friedman didn’t realize hadn’t done anything since May. Ok, I’ll make excuses and say Friedman thought he could wait everyone out and find lightning in a bottle – after all, Moneyball centerfold Billy Beane snatched Hill up during the off-season after seeing him throw a few good games in unimportant late season starts for Boston. If Hill was good enough for Beane…
Hill, of course, came over hurt, spent a long time on the DL and then made some useful starts in September and October for the Dodgers. But facts are facts and Hill was an aging player, not long out of independent league ball (like Scott Kazmir, who Friedman admitted was a poor signing just a year before as he shopped him this winter, with no takers). But with the free-agent and trade markets thin (the time to shop was the winter before when names like Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, J.A. Happ, etc. were available), Friedman doubled down on Hill. After all, he just dealt three prospects to get him, so to walk away empty handed, and still have a gaping hole in the rotation, seemed unacceptable, even to him. So as is his custom, an identical $48M deal went to Hill – like it had to Brandon McCarthy and then Kazmir. I guess that’s the cap where a Moneyballer feels comfortable “wasting” on starting pitching.
I would say $48M is an ok figure, if you got something out of it. So far, the amount is cursed for Friedman and his little troll Zaidi – all three of the guys acquired have trouble staying healthy. In case you wondered, 3 x 48M = $144M, which is a lot of money and should mean something more capable for your rotation than what Friedman’s guys have shown – at least so far (this being written on April 17, 2017, for historical purposes).
My biggest problem with Friedman and his building of a roster isn’t necessarily the players he selects – ok, it’s a large part about that – but what the ultimate toll it takes on the team in general. As I’ve said before, a rotation is not just the quality of your 5 starters (not 16 starters, as Friedman would have you believe), though that should be top of mind, but it’s the innings. I understand the game is changing and either change with it or die but I can’t believe it’s optimal to have 16 guys tossing 3-5 innings commonly, as opposed to 5-6 guys capable of going 6-8 more frequently.
I know it’s ancient history, but I vividly remember Dodger teams with an ace, 2 or 3 very good pitchers and then 1-2 either called “innings eaters” or perhaps 1 of those and a kid, hoping to stick in the rotation. It wasn’t long ago that Friedman so hated this that he chased Dan Haren out of town, paying his salary to go to Miami. Really, how is Haren at any point much different than Hill, McCarthy or Kazmir? I guess you could argue, he was healthier.
Innings are important because it’s something you can hang your hat on. You can assume your starting pitcher is not only capable of going deeper into games, but taking the ball every 5th day without drama. You don’t need to call a collection of junk, and terrible contracts, “depth”. Your depth is your minor league system, as it always has been and is for every team in the major leagues. If you have 4-5 credible starters who are likely to stay healthy, you can make a phone call should someone get hurt. That “data” is based on 100+ years of the game’s history. Trite, boring, but honest and true.
I think like DePodesta, the Moneyball way Friedman and Zaidi play is merely about looking more clever and smarter than your average baseball guy – folks like myself included. Naive? Giggle inducing ideas such as going with known commodities, staying away from continually injured players – absurd! It’s far more fun to tinker like a very bored fantasy baseball general manager and make things happen. Oh, in the end it could work but all the “wasted movement” isn’t beneficial to anyone. When your new $48M contract is already looking vomit-inducing and you are talking about putting this #2 starter into your bullpen, it’s not good. Not on this Earth, not on any world.
Like I said, it’s possible the Dodgers can win the West – who knows if the Giants, Rox and Diamondbacks might stumble? Plus, the Dodgers have spent a lot more than anyone else, not only in the West, or the National League, or MLB, but in professional sports. That “depth” allows you at least a chance to win, even if your front office is run by overzealous micro-managers with too much time on their hands.
On the other hand, this Moneyball style always proves to address the regular season. Remember, before these guys arrived, the Dodgers were doing well in that respect. More often than not the Dodgers are near the top of the division, even when mere mortals are calling the shots. Moneyball is usually employed when a team does not have the financial wherewithal to compete any other way. It’s odd when it’s employed with deep pockets and a monster payroll.
The team tinkers and scratches to get to the post-season, celebrates this accomplishment but doesn’t win. Don’t feel too bad for Friedman, no Moneyball team ever wins. Or hasn’t yet. It’s because, in the paraphrased words of Billy Beane, the post-season is too unpredictable, the “data” doesn’t work there. Luck is involved, he says. No, I don’t think that’s quite true.
While maybe “data” can predict X number of runs an ever-changing lineup should produce, and how many runs an ever-changing rotation should allow, it doesn’t account for quality. Quantity, oh sure, plenty of that. Proudly Friedman sycophants will point to how quantity is as important as quality. This is said to praise the “depth” – which is actually just less talented players than what otherwise could be assembled. More means more, to them. But in the post-season, Billy Beane might say it’s harder to predict and luck, whereas I would say it’s quality. Here the quantity means less, and that’s why Freidman’s subpar independent league and career minor league players have problems.
It’s not genius to discover independent league and career minor leaguers – why, they’re right there in independent leagues and minor leagues all across the country. It’s not genius to pluck them from obscurity and then sign them to contracts of their dreams. It’s curious, weird even and clogs your roster full of guys that more than likely are not going to hold up and win in October.
It’s early – just the middle of April – but we are seeing the “depth” put to use as the players were never capable in the first place. While anyone can get hurt at any time and certainly bad breaks happen, it is not dumb luck when it happens to players who have a track record (data!) of this happening to them. Only Friedman and his people didn’t understand Hill would be hurt. As his players fall like dominoes, Friedman and his followers say, “Who could have known?” Well, we all knew and continue to scratch our heads in astonishment.
I think the appeal here is painting themselves into a corner and trying to get out. Houdini did it to show his superiority and fantasy baseball managers do it when they are bored out of their minds. Make dumb moves, drop better players, constantly swap our anyone with a pulse and hope it works. If it does, you can puff out your chest and claim superiority. Again, it’s “wasted movement” and unnecessary.
It’s an outdated way of thinking, sure, but would it be so terrible to have a rotation with at least 3-4 very solid guys you had a pretty safe expectation for making it through the season unscathed? Would it be ludicrous to assume your bullpen could be 3-4 men deep? Even 2 deep? Would it be insane to think if you had a payroll larger than anyone else’s your roster would likely have more great players than other teams?
All out of touch, old school ways of thinking, I realize. What do I know? I’m just a guy who has watched a lot of baseball for a lot of years. I sometimes write baseball articles, all archived here, with dates, and I seem to somehow do a remarkable job calling a lot of the “unforeseen events” that befall Friedman and his think tank, before they happen. I don’t call it “data” – just common sense and reasonable intelligence. Enjoy the ride and remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Have the Pepto-Bismol and Prilosec at your side; nothing is easy in a Friedman universe.
Well, I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.
The 2015 Dodgers season fooled a lot of people – either casual fans, Moneyball lovers or the just delusional. The season went exactly as it had to, given the mismanagement of new genius Andrew Friedman. In case you hadn’t noticed, Friedman’s team of consultants fielded a less competitive team than stocky Ewok lookalike Ned Colletti did. Some have deluded themselves into thinking this year was better… newsflash: it was not.
The Dodgers have A LOT of work to do to get this 30-year drought off their back. As I noted in previous articles, I see them going backward, not forward. There isn’t a single area of the team that doesn’t need fixing. The front office through the field coaches to the lineup and pitching. The fans too could use some self-improvement – read the article I posted last night about the decline of twitter and social media as a whole due to mean-spirited mob mentality.
Very few good things happened this year and for anyone who bought a ticket, paid too much for parking, overpriced beer, food and gear, I sympathize with you. Your hearts are in the right place, but you were all duped. The Guggenheim ownership group has done very little right since coming in, while somehow making in-stadium fans feel things are markedly better than they used to be. Perhaps in terms of massive brain trauma they are, but the team itself, the brand, has almost never been lower in all the years I’ve followed the Dodgers. Let us begin…
I would say the good is very little. The only things I can see Friedman and his suits did well were obvious things I noted as must-haves in 2014. They focused on defense (even this tarnished with the poor trade of Juan Uribe to Atlanta) and got rid of clubhouse distractions Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez. They missed one however in believing Yasiel Puig could be transformed without his enablers around – he couldn’t. Puig regressed across the board and for those who used to criticize me for saying Puig would be lucky to have a career like Raul Mondesi’s (assuming his ceiling was far above Mondy’s), you were wrong. Puig was a trouble spot, loafer and unhelpful (while necessary) part of the team all season long.
So defense for a team built around pitching is good, even though outside of two great starters, I would argue they didn’t build around pitching. And as noted, the chemistry fix was smart, but they didn’t complete the job. So all in all the good is at best a B-.
The Dodgers fault from the get-go was allowing Friedman total control of every aspect of the team. He doesn’t seem to be Theo Epstein smart, and even Theo has enough humility to hire good people around him (Joe Maddon, etc.). Friedman, like most egotistical executives in all walks of life, clearly dictated how the Dodgers would play baseball in 2015. I can’t point blame at Don Mattingly or his coaches nearly as much as I can at Friedman. The buck stops with him.
Starting with devaluing Dee Gordon and causing a void of speed and leadoff presence atop the lineup to blowing out players and paying their salaries to play elsewhere (sometimes within the division), to trying to prove his superior intelligence by cherry picking disastrous players either with injury histories or no histories (like Paul DePodesta, Friedman loves AAAA nobodies that prove time and again to be nobodies for a reason), 2015’s shortcomings should rest squarely in the hands of the architect. Friedman WANTED this team the way it was constructed and way it played, so I’m giving him full credit.
Anyone who knows baseball understands pitching wins. The Dodgers pitching – save for the two aces – was always going to be a question mark. Brett Anderson was better than expected in terms of health, but that was always a risky pick up given his physical track record. Brandon McCarthy has always been marginal and also a physical nightmare. The slew of arms Friedman had coming and going on a near daily basis were a who’s who of baseball trivia, none of them making an impact.
A team without a full rotation and very thin bullpen has no place in October, so another first round ouster is no surprise to me. And now one of the aces is leaving, or could be signed at a greater price, for more years, and entering his middle 30s with a lot of mileage on his golden arm, so how the 2016 Dodgers pitching staff will look is anyone’s guess. I will say it has to be better thought out and deeper. There’s something to be said for adding known commodities with a history of health. Not knowing who will pitch a given day, who can come out of the pen, etc. is not a way a front running team should operate. Friedman’s lack of understanding, or brash egotism, sunk the 2015 Dodgers from the start.
But the troubles go deeper than the pitching. The offense, except when clicking in spurts against very bad NL West competition, was a strangely crafted bunch with a failing philosophy of swinging for the fences – the more pull hitting, the better. For the majority of 2015 you saw very little going with the pitch, hitting strategically with runners on base, etc. Friedman, like other Moneyballers before him, wanted a lot of homeruns and to his credit, and Big Mac’s excitement to preach this principle, it worked. The Dodgers hit a lot of homeruns with at face value a not very homerun-friendly lineup. Needless to say it didn’t impress me because swinging for the fences isn’t a great hitting philosophy for an entire team.
The offense worked, except when it didn’t. It didn’t, for example, against good teams, in any month, let alone October. If you look at the 2015 Dodgers record vs. each team, they fattened up against patsies in the West – San Diego, Colorado and Arizona, and had a losing record vs. most good teams – for example, EVERY team that played in this year’s post-season. For good measure, the hated Giants even beat the crap out of the Dodgers.
If you can’t beat good teams, you shouldn’t consider yourself a serious threat to win the World Series. Fans believe with their heart, and are drunk half the game anyway, so to truly feel the Dodgers were a good team this year was ignoring the truth. I’m sure Friedman, a man who relishes data, had to be concerned with the fact his team only could beat bad teams. I think that became apparent with desperate lineup switches in September and October and suddenly leaning heavily on Corey Seager, who wasn’t even deemed promotion-worthy till late in the year.
Friedman needs to stop being Al Davis and hire the right people on the field to make the moves. His baseball philosophy isn’t based in reality. Perhaps he subscribes to Billy Beane’s idea that it’s his job to get the team to October based on statistical probability of what players reasonably should do over the course of the year – once there, it’s impossible to predict. That works fine in Oakland, perhaps, but with a $300M payroll and ability to absorb any amount of contracts or luxury tax penalty? Does. Not. Compute.
While Friedman should be held most responsible for this year’s team, I am not giving a pass to Donnie and his staff. I think, as I said earlier, top to bottom there are problems with the team – from deficiencies to bloat, poor philosophy and unfounded ego.
Donnie is not the great thinker you’d want to manage a top ball club. Luckily for the Dodgers, this isn’t a top ball club. Donnie got the job by being a good soldier under Joe Torre and was a good hitting coach. He apparently is in demand for some reason in Miami, so likely Friedman will toss him out as his scapegoat and Donnie will bask in the Florida sun. That’s okay with me because while a great former player and a decent guy, he’s not a terrific X’s and O’s kind of guy.
I’m not sure who should manage the Dodgers next and it really doesn’t matter what you or I think anyway. Friedman will do what Friedman does and do what he wants. Personally, I’d love to see Friedman sent packing and Dan Evans brought back to construct the team, and Alex Cora hired to manage. The team needs an influx of smarts and not the kind data loving pundits fantasize about either, but actual baseball IQ.
So Donnie will go, the fans will be happy, and neglect the fact that the house is rotten from the inside out. Moving Donnie out will NOT make the Dodgers suddenly a great team, maybe not even a really good team. Donnie and his coaches – all could go in my opinion, especially useless Mac – are all tired and had difficulty getting the most out of the botched collection of players Friedman handed them. I really can’t blame them. When Justin Turner, a former waiver wire bench player, is your big threat, you have trouble. When Kike Hernandez is the best thing you got in a trade for NL batting champ and stolen base leader Dee Gordon, you have trouble. When you’re leaning on journeymen outfielders in a pennant race, guys who weren’t even in the big leagues until they arrived in LA, you have trouble. THIS is a $300M team? Friedman spends as much and as inefficiently as George W. Bush.
Turn over the entire coaching staff and perhaps with Friedman letting HIS staff (he inherited the current group) handle the on-field action, things will improve. It couldn’t get much worse.
The Dodgers won the West in a down year for the Giants and with three other dogs in the race. Beating up on bad teams and losing to anyone with a pulse isn’t “winning” – not with a payroll and expectations the Dodgers had going into this season.
Let’s face it; it’s been over three decades since the Dodgers were a dominating team so humility should be practiced by everyone. When I read tweets from Dodgers fans talking shit to the Giants fans, I chuckle. The Giants have won 3 titles recently, so winning the West – with triple the payroll of the enemies from up north, should not be setting you off into a victory lap.
To get back – if even possible – to the Dodgers way, the Dodgers – Guggenheim – need to get smarter. Hiring “smart guys” (walking around referring to yourselves as smart makes me wonder how smart you are anyway) isn’t enough. The smart guys may ultimately “get it” and create a winning formula, but let’s face it, Friedman’s whirlwind of suspect trades and bad signings were his attempt to “get it” for 2015. The end result, as noted, is less satisfying than Ned Colletti teams under evil Frank McCourt, which at least made it to the NLCS.
I think A LOT of work needs to be done. It’s frightening to think how poorly the team played, how bad the hitting philosophy is, the station to station base running, lack of team speed, strikeouts, 3/5 of a bad rotation, soon to perhaps be 4/5, a terrible bullpen, and now no Nancy Bea Hefley and soon, no Vin Scully. Not to mention no TV for the majority of people living in Los Angeles.
While thugs beating the crap out of fans aren’t happening as much, the dark embarrassment of the Dodgers is still alive and well. I would love to say, sign Zack Greinke, that will fix everything, or hire this guy, sign this FA, etc. The truth is there are many, many issues here and it starts with the ownership group, the front office and as they say, the shit rolls downhill. Simply blaming Don Mattingly would be oversimplifying the problem. Mattingly didn’t deal Dee Gordon, didn’t sign Brandon McCarthy, admire Yasmani Grandal for his pitch framing or Kike Hernandez for his tight fitting pants. The team played as well as they could given what they are. Losing a 5 game series to the Mets when you have Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke going 4 of the 5 is pretty god awful. All that was missing was Scott Van Slyke trying to out freeze Joe Kelly in a human statue standoff.
The Dodgers need to get A LOT better. It’s up to Guggenheim to figure out how to do that. Calling Dan Evans. Dan Evans to the Dodgers front office please.
The Dodgers will win the West. This will cause many to celebrate and talk shit to Giants fans who can take the high road and just point to the only scoreboard that matters – three WS rings while the Dodgers have chased their tail for three decades.
Winning the division means something if you’re a good team, but the Dodgers are a Jekyll and Hyde team that is only good when their two other-worldly aces start, or if they’re playing incredibly bad clubs. When the other three starters go, or they play teams that are actually good, they convulse and collapse in a heap.
The Dodgers have a few things to consider as they wrap up this relatively easy Sept and head to the post-season. The knee-jerk dreamers in #DodgerFam will curse and throw tantrums at the ideas but here they are…
– The Dodgers post-season success will depend entirely on Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke continuing their Cy Young/MVP pace. Any slip up will cost the Dodgers dearly. Even with the team’s anemic offense and terrible approach to scoring runs, a 1-0 victory is possible any time the two aces take the hill.
– That said, the post-season success really depends on Kershaw. Greinke’s less likely to fold when it counts but let’s face it, after two embarrassing Octobers, if Kershaw makes it three, the Dodgers division win won’t mean much as they’ll all be back home on the couch listening to FOX blowhards call the action when it should be Vin Scully. Kershaw needs to dig deep and win meaningful games, not regular season games that look nice on the stat sheet but ultimately are less pressure-packed. Get that monkey off your back, Clayton or the Dodgers are done. It will especially be interesting if/when Greinke opts out and decides to go to a real team. Then what? Kershaw and Mat Latos vs. the world? 😮
– Is winning the West all that Dodgers fans – and the organization – care about? After last year’s drubbing, many Dodgers fans were laughing at the Giants as they didn’t win the West. No, they just won the WS. In this day and age of baseball, winning the division isn’t that terribly important. If you’re a great team like the Royals or Cardinals, it’s a nice thing to hang your hat on. The Dodgers? Not so much. Let’s see what 2015’s team is all about and what a division win amounts to.
I could go into the offense, the pen, the on field coaches, the front office, etc., but why bother? I’ve had my say about that. All of it is bad, but true. We can reconvene when the Dodgers season ends to see if two incredible aces were enough to win the team a title. If so, it’s $300M+ well spent. I just believe you could get two aces for 1/3 that price and probably a better offensive approach, coaches, front office and of course bullpen. Oh, that bullpen. Rocking gently as if I’ve seen a ghost.
Fans are still saying the bullpen will be fine and the Dodgers are doing great. I guess 15 or so games over .500 is pretty good, but it’s an interesting team that has that record and is in complete disarray at the same time. The curiosity makes you wonder what might be if management actually fielded better relief pitchers and addressed other needs. Well, the recent Dodgers have not been short on talent, just misguided by too many cooks in the kitchen – and cooks that couldn’t get their own show on the Food Network.
With this current collection of players, or maybe the ones they had before the winter shopping and suspect trades occurred, I daydream what a “real baseball guy” could have done. I see Dave Dombrowski going to reinvent the dismal Red Sox and think, “My, Dombrowski in charge of the Dodgers would have been nice.” I would prefer Dan Evans, or even accept Ned Colletti back – anyone not Friedman and Friends, essentially.
Facts are facts – the Dodgers relief pitching, which has been shaky at best for two years, is the worst in baseball since July 1st – pretty much across the board. Even Clayton Kershaw can’t help if he doesn’t go 9 – the pen can blow any game. This won’t play in October, but as it is now its no shoo in the Dodgers will be playing in October anyway.
The Giants, as they tend to be, are within striking distance with head to head games against the Dodgers still to be played (adding Marlon Byrd today, a nice pickup). If the Dodgers don’t win the West, they likely will not get a wild card berth unless the Cubs, who are surging, should collapse. The pathway to the post-season is winning the West – for both LA and SF.
With a porous bullpen, questionable 3-5 starting rotation, and anemic offense, Friedman decided the best thing to do was trade for aged UCLA alum Chase Utley. Utley, as always, is a fragile mess but has hit since coming off the DL. Can he, teamed with geriatric former teammate Jimmy Rollins provide the AARP boost that championship caliber middle infielders are known for? Perhaps his leadership and offensive upside will be an improvement but one has to wonder what the front office is thinking. Is Utley the key to turning around the .500 play the Dodgers have put forward for the past 3 months? Can he pitch? Will he increase the slow foot speed the team suffers from?
This week Farhan Zaidi said the team’s bad base running and slow team speed is troubling. Have to wonder if he had anything to do with trading Dee Gordon away if he feels this way. Dee is hitting .337 with 40 steals and Utley .217.
Abruptly the Dodgers “fired” Lorenzo Bundy (well, moved him out of his job – no one gets fired by the Dodgers; paychecks keep flowing) for no specified reason and brought in former MLB manager Ron Roenicke to coach 3rd and presumably be on hand for the inevitable termination of Donnie Baseball. I guess if Donnie is canned at season’s end he could reinvent himself as the hitting coach (something he’s better suited for anyway) or do odd jobs at Friedman’s mansion to pay off the debt. Anyway, with Zaidi’s comment and Bundy’s ouster, makes you wonder if there’s a split on base running philosophy between Friedman and Zaidi.
Some developments this season that are concerning…
- Moving Dee Gordon due to the Moneyball philosophy base stealing isn’t important, even though it created a void atop the lineup. Again, whether you value base stealing or not, there’s something to be said for speed in your lineup, disruption of pitchers’ focus and defense, as well as a consistent presence at the top of your order. The Dodgers haven’t had that, meantime Dee is having a second straight great season, proving he is not a fluke at second base.
- Moving team leader and defensive wizard Juan Uribe – along with solid relief pitcher Chris Withrow (hurt this year) for Alberto Callaspo, who was released yesterday. Uribe has been a shot in the arm for the Mets and could see October play in the Big Apple, while third base – and leadership/morale – have been issues for the Dodgers.
- The Joc/Kike/Utley thing. So apparently the Utley trade was to get a stop gap second baseman into the fold while Kendrick mends from his hamstring issue, and it would free up Kike Hernandez to play CF and allow for Joc Pederson to either go back to AAA to figure out his swing (sure won’t happen here under Big Mac) or rot away on the bench. I don’t love the deal but its possible Utley can hit for a short time, before ultimately sitting behind Kendrick. And Kike should do more on the offensive side than Joc. I just wonder why Friedman acquired the Braves best prospect – Jose Peraza, who happens to play second – and decide to keep him at AAA and get Utley instead. Wouldn’t a top prospect with speed be an answer to several problems? Is Peraza only a Dodger because he allows a blue chip for winter dealing? After all, if Friedman didn’t love Dee, why would he love Peraza, who seems to be Dee light? I also wonder why Peraza doesn’t get a chance but other contenders call up and play their top kids. To me it would be more interesting to have kept the pitching prospect and Darnell Sweeney (nice power and speed guy) and play Peraza than turn the Dodgers double play combo into extras from the movie “Cocoon.”
- Puig. Beloved by fans when he hits a homer, is he really the guy the Dodgers want to build around? Now he’s a trade-low candidate. One has to wonder what they might have gotten for Puig this off-season. Perhaps a less volatile outfielder, or an important pitcher? The former glut of Dodgers outfielders now has me wondering, “Just who should be in the Dodgers outfield in 2016?” Personally I might go with Andre Ethier and Joc (if he is able to figure out what’s gone terribly wrong with his hitting) and find a new outfielder, and move Puig and Crawford out. Should be interesting, since I don’t think you can say the outfield right now is a strength.
- What is Friedman’s philosophy on pitching? Is he “too Tampa?” It seems evident he has the feeling pitching doesn’t matter and anyone can do the job. The neglect of the pen and odd approach to the rotation are the biggest flaws of the 2015 Dodgers. With Zack Greinke certain to test the market for a large extension, what happens next? You’ll have Kershaw plus…? And a pen that is in dire need of a facelift. One has to ask a) if it will be done and b) if Friedman even understands good teams have strong pitching staffs. So far both are debatable.
- Vin Scully not sure if he’s going to come back. Personally, I feel very bad for Vin. He’s been treated poorly for quite some time – since McCourt owned the team and bounced his checks. Now a botched TV deal where fans can barely hear or see him. I think Vin should hang them up and enjoy his family. It would be interesting to see what he thinks of how the Dodgers have been run/misrun, but of course he’s too much a gentleman to ever vent. I love Vin but honestly, the “fans” nowadays don’t deserve him, nor do they care about him. They claim to love Vin but stand for everything Vin would be against. Loving executives over proven baseball traditions would not be something Vin would endorse. I think the nouveau fans would also appreciate a younger voice, perhaps someone with gauges, sleeves and a vape device. Vin, you’re the best, and always have been. It’s sad that the Dodgers have run aground and you’ve waited patiently for the blue ship to right itself. Go spend time with the grandchildren, we can suffer without you.
That’s pretty much it. Since I got lambasted for my last honest opinion, I’m sure the malcontents will heckle this article as well. That’s ok. While we claim we’re all Dodgers fans, clearly there is a divide between those who truly understand the rich tradition dating back to Brooklyn, and the young and uninformed riff raff who rose to prominence via social media bullying and fantasy baseball brainwashing.
The reality is that the Dodgers have not gotten better under the “geniuses” – Stan Kasten or Friedman. The team is not built for post-season success and unless a miracle happens, 2015 should be a repeat of the past 2 seasons. Whenever you have Kershaw and Greinke you have the “slugger’s chance” for a knockout, but as I said last time, I look around and I see problems in most every possible area of the team and don’t see any reason to believe Friedman and Friends know how to fix it. I’ll happily admit I was wrong if things should change the last handful of weeks of the season, and I hope the “haters” can do the same if they do not. As I’ve said many times, I’ve called these things well in advance, so I’m not in the least bit surprised how things have unfolded. As a lifelong fan of the Dodgers, it’s been very frustrating and quite sad.
Hello, TV-less Dodgers fans throughout the Southland. A little, premature, post-trade talk since that’s what baseball fans do this time of year. Random thoughts, if you will. And on with our program…
A couple quick points:
– Overall I like what Andrew Friedman and his team of numbers crunchers did. I like what they did simply because the price wasn’t great (outside of our future short-term and long-term big bat, Hector Olivera, going to Atlanta – not to mention $30M or so for having him sit in the minors since signing). There were no familiar names dealt and major league players coming back the blue’s way. Of course, one could say the haul wasn’t that great either (no David Price, no Johnny Cueto, no Cole Hamels), save for Jose Peraza, the young middle infield prospect formerly of the Braves. Peraza is curious as… well, I’ll get to that later. Anyway, not bad, not bad at all.
– On the flip side of that, all of the moves only served to address deficiencies that never should have been left alone this long. Again, my many, many comments about the winter shopping and lack of quality, reliability and depth in the rotation and pen have been partially/largely addressed, but why did it take until August’s eve to happen? Shouldn’t a reliable pitching staff have always been part of a team rebuilt on defense? Boggles the mind.
– There’s the new outlook, assuming Alex Wood or Mat Latos isn’t quickly flipped for Rangers pitcher Yovani Gallardo, as is the latest buzz. I think 1-5 the Dodgers are in fine shape now since mostly they have a 1-5, and not a 1-2 or 1-3 + rotating AAAA junk. If the playoffs started today, I’d be fine with Brett Anderson being the #3 (the way he’s pitching now, and as long as he doesn’t break down as is his custom), and think that 1-2 + Anderson is as good as anything out there they might face. I also like the addition of Jim Johnson, who isn’t outstanding, but adds a good back of the pen option to bridge to Kenley Jansen. Again, why didn’t all these rocket scientists get a strong bullpen wins championships before the tail end of July?
– As good as the belated address of pitching is, I have been watching curiously a tepid and inconsistent offense flounder. Let’s be real – the Dodgers have trouble facing good teams, and they have real trouble facing good pitchers. In October, that’s what you face. If the Dodgers struggle against Oakland, how can they do well against St. Louis, San Francisco, Washington and even Pittsburgh? The Dodgers have interesting parts, but while I look at Toronto’s left side of the infield with Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki, I wince at the combo of Justin Turner and Jimmy Rollins. Outside of Andre Ethier, the outfield doesn’t supply that much consistent offense either. Of course things can start firing on all cylinders, Corey Seager could come riding in on a white horse to save the day, or maybe there’s another trade coming, but I don’t like the station-to-station, pray for the three-run home run approach the team lives on. I blame Mark McGwire whose hitting expertise isn’t much, and Donnie’s unimaginative approach – not to mention Andrew Friedman’s mandate no one move on the bases. I think, and thought, the Dodgers are a small ball team, yet they play long ball. It’s not working and will not work in October. If this year’s team is ousted in the first round, I hope a housecleaning comes and Donnie and his coaches are sent packing. Donnie’s expertise is apparently dealing with massive egos. Nowadays there is only one – Yasiel Puig. i.e. Donnie’s greatest skill is not worth keeping – find a manager, and coaches, who can get more out of this team. Not that the current player personnel will be back in 2016 anyway.
– The Ned bashing by idiots on social media is sad and misguided. I know it became trendy to bash Ned Colletti but the truth is, he field competitive teams even while working under a penny pinching white collar thief. It’s funny how folks give data-driven Friedman and team blind kudos for any move they make (every failed minor leaguer is a hero in the eyes of “DodgerFam” for some inexplicable reason – reality check… AAAA “prospects” are available for nothing because no one wants them, not because Friedman is a genius for finding them) while taking the opportunity to slam Ned, who is no longer doing anything anyway. If Ned did indeed suck (he didn’t), who cares? He’s no longer a decision maker anyway. Besides, last year Ned was Stan Kasten’s human target. Ned did not make boneheaded moves in 2014, Kasten did. But more, as I said, Ned was at worst, competent. He would not, for example, have left a rotation up in the air and pen paper thin. Ned always found ways to add decent players that he could afford within the constraints of the then-reasonable budget. If Ned were given endless resources like Kevin Malone was back in the day, or Friedman and friends are now, he would not have left the pitching staff in such disarray. Also, if he went out and had the chance to build the back of the rotation, he would not have opted for 4 years of Brandon McCarthy. Of course there’s no way to prove this, but take my word for it. In other words, stop slamming Ned. He’s not the enemy; he’s not even making decisions. Bash a GM on a team that’s actually making mistakes currently, or more, be realistic about what Friedman and team have done this first year in charge. I would say it’s not markedly better than last year’s team, save for addition by subtraction of ego maniacs Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez.
– I noted Peraza’s acquisition earlier, who I think, along with Wood, are the more interesting parts acquired in yesterday’s deals. I’m not sure what will become of the Dodgers infield the last 60 days of this year, or next year, but perhaps the plan is Peraza moving back to shortstop and Seager to third, and resigning Howie Kendrick or finding another second baseman (or shortstop, if Peraza plays second). Peraza seems like a very exciting young player and was labeled the Braves #1 prospect, and already is being called the Dodgers #4. I think the idea of a good average hitter who has speed is exciting. Hmm, kind of reminds me of a watered down Dee somebody or other. At any rate, that’s my point. If Friedman didn’t value Dee, now a 2-time all-star who can run like the wind, and has kept his current roster from stealing or even apparently taking extra bases, why Peraza? If Peraza is told not to run, he’s a decent average hitter with little power and then no speed game. It just seems like an odd Friedman addition, unless the point is adding another sexy prospect he can later deal.
– The Olivera thing is of course the most curious part of the trade whirlwind since he was looked at all year as the offensive shot in the arm the Dodgers desperately needed. We were told reliable, clutch, defensive whiz Juan Uribe was needless since Olivera would be playing third soon anyhow. Then Olivera is dealt and the logjam at third is now utility men Justin Turner and Alberto Callaspo, plus lead glove Alex Guerrero. I don’t know, makes you wonder. I guess they can move Seager over, since many say he’s tall and should play third anyhow, but that’s no given. The kid will be adjusting to big league hitting and suddenly asked to crash course learn third base? Perhaps the answer is trading troublemaker Puig and getting a good third baseman in return. Who knows? I just question what the plan is but am not necessarily complaining. I always questioned giving $70M to a 30 year old Cuban who never played in the bigs and always was hurt. His short tenure in blue ($30M, must be nice!) was one sprinkled with the injuries one could only envision for years to come. It may be a good riddance, but it does make me wonder where the “pure hitter” the Dodgers were so looking forward to might be coming from. Seager? Maybe, but it could have been Seager + another bat, now it’s left to a young kid to save the day. Well, unless some of the treading water guys suddenly perk up.
That’s all for now. It’s too early to say as by the time you read this, the Dodgers might have added some other parts and dealt the names noted here. This is as of July 30th, 2015 and having not watched all season – I can’t do that, due to Guggenheim’s idiotic TV deal – but following, from afar. Like a baseball stalker, I’ve become. Glimpsing through the window at what could be and probably never was.
I hope all of you are well and are more honest with yourself. You bleed blue, but let’s face it, the AL is stacked, the good NL teams are too, and the Dodgers do not perform well against good teams and good pitching. They have 50+ games to turn the tide or it will be an off-season gutting, I hope.
Once again the Pete Rose Hall of Fame topic has raised its dirty face. I drive along, tuned into MLB Network Radio, and listen to the hosts – usually company men, shills for the organization – and callers, rant about how Pete knew what he was doing, committed the Cardinal Sin of baseball and therefore should not ever be allowed into the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.
Sometimes I feel compelled to call in, but think better of it. What’s the use? Argue with a host that already has pat answers, refer to calls from raving mental patients? There’s better ways to spend one’s time; so I flip the station to something else and continue on my merry way.
The reason, however, I think Pete deserves to be in the Hall is pretty basic. The argument for anyone saying he shouldn’t be in is that he bet on baseball, so the integrity of the games – the most sacred of sacreds – is on the line. After all, if the outcome might be affected – such as the Black Sox scandal of yore – who gives a crap about baseball?
I would facetiously argue that “reality TV” is drawing pretty well, as does professional wrestling, and perhaps other fixed sports such as boxing, the NBA and NFL (no proof on the latter, but it’s always fishy the way things go down, especially when the games matter). This is my light, cynical reasoning, but the biggest reason I would argue on Pete’s behalf is what integrity of the game?
Pete’s gambling occurred as a manager, so his playing days might be considered separate altogether. Apparently they’re not, so lumped together, Pete is seen as a gambler who while there’s no proof he affected games at all, may have had some hand in outcomes. Anyone who understands Pete knows he is such a competitor it’s completely unreasonable to assume he threw games. That leaves potentially damaging pitchers’ arms to ensure winning them. Well, there’s no proof of that, and in a country that maintains proof to convict, it’s a bit sketchy at best.
The only thing that matters to me though is that assuming Pete affected games’ outcomes, or not, and just placed bets on his team to win, is that more of an affront to the integrity of the game than Bud Selig either incompetently allowing big leaguers to rewrite the (just as sacred) big league record book by not knowing their “too good to be true” numbers were chemically enhanced, or perhaps more obvious – happy it was going on?
Either way the “integrity” aspect was and continues to be shot to hell to me. Baseball – from Bud on to broadcasters, managers, players and fans, were and are involved in deception. The numbers were heavily padded for an entire era, and continue to be padded. PED cheats still pop up, many are allowed to cash in on the next large contract, and younger stars are passed off as the next Mantle, Mays and Aaron. Until they’re caught – if they’re caught.
Players bulking up to the size of NFL linebackers and being judged not on baseball skills but “tools” – earning contracts through football-style combines where they pull or push cars, lift weights, drag cement blocks, etc., as opposed to traditional baseball skills.
Bud is gone, but it’s yet to be determined how different the new commish, Rob Manfred, is. After all, MLB wants viewers, wants asses in the seats and knows it must compete with the NBA and NFL for those who require superhuman achievements and action – action – and more action! The modern fan is deficient of mental skills required to appreciate what makes baseball the best game, and what put it atop all other sports and called the National Pastime. The time of a game was never in question as fans understood the nuances of the “game”, not necessarily the “sport.”
Today we are supposed to buy massive bodybuilder type players gaining weight over the few month off-season and when an older player improves in his advanced years, hitting everything in sight in a red hot post-season run, we’re supposed to assume it’s legit. We know in the very recent past the players were all doped up and cheating, but now – well, it’s different. It is, it really is!
Then some busts happen or someone is outed and we’re told it’s an isolated incident, not to worry. The commish will handle it. Whatever – it’s an insult to fans’ intelligence and speaks volumes to me that there is very little “integrity” left in the game. If the 100+ year record book is peppered with trickery, why do we draw a line in the sand where baseball’s all-time hit king can’t cross?
All I know is Pete played the game like all of us would want any player on our town’s team to play the game. When Steve Sax came up from AA ball to play second for the Dodgers, it was like watching our own blue Pete Rose. He ran to first base when he walked, he hustled non-stop – it was fun, it was energy. Pete played that way every game of a very long career. He amassed, legitimately, more hits than anyone who ever played the game. If sportswriters mull over whether Bonds, Clemens, A-Rod, Palmiero, Big Mac, Piazza, Sosa, etc. – even nice guy Andy Pettitte – deserve to be in the Hall – eventually – then Pete should get that level of respect. More. Pete didn’t do anything unethical as a player – unless you count overly enthusiastically bowling over a catcher in the All-Star game.
Yet I see many baseball writers in my Twitter feed saying they voted for PED-era users or suspects and feel they should be in. I will say Bud and MLB created a very messy problem for the writers to figure out. In reality, if Pete is not allowed to be in the Hall, none of the PED users should either. And I would argue perhaps even if Pete is allowed in, the PED users shouldn’t (plenty of old-timers they could allow in first – Gil Hodges, for one). What the dopers did was affect outcomes of games and took away a large part of the mystique of baseball’s record book. No other sport considers its record book as gospel as much as baseball – a game built on its past and its statistics. Pete gambled, but he didn’t do it as a player, and there’s no proof his gambling affected games. We KNOW all those extra home runs, RBI and pitching accomplishments did.
I don’t get the dislike of Pete. I see him in interviews and he seems very genuine in his lifelong love of baseball and regrets what he did. Some punishments cannot be lifted – this I get – but it seems once Bud touted “Chicks Love the Long Ball” as MLB’s post-strike mantra and advertising campaign, all bets were off the table. There has been no “integrity” so to speak in over 20 years. No one can look at Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Papi, Yasiel Puig, etc., etc. and know for sure that what they’re doing, that seems so incredible, is in fact all-natural. That is the legacy of Bud and why the game’s morals are damaged.
I don’t see the talking heads on MLB Network Radio or the TV side, MLB Network, or during games, on the radio, in columns, etc., saying this. Baseball writers, ex-jocks and pundits don’t want to be the one caught calling out the game or the commish. They don’t want to be blackballed – like that reporter in San Francisco was when he went after Melky Cabrera – and they certainly don’t want to lose access to the locker room, or free food. So they talk up the incredible achievements happening on the field and never do their duty as reporters and ask – “Do we know for sure that this is real?”
I am suspicious immediately when anything looks too good to be true. The old adage is that if it looks too good to be true, it usually is. We certainly learned Bud’s heralded home run chase of Roger Maris by pumped up buddies Big Mac and Sammy Sosa was. The aging Roger Clemens pitching as good as he did when he was a young man, etc., etc. Baseball has a past steeped in dirty behavior – racists, drunks, abusers, drug addicts, etc. In that way, unfortunately, it is like any walk of American life. The Hall is full of bad eggs, but as MLB Network Radio hosts says, what Pete did goes beyond being a bad boy – he made us call into question the scores themselves. Ok, if that’s true (again, no proof that it is), how are Bonds fantastic accomplishments at age 40, Clemens, and all those hits, homers and RBI by the rest of them any less? You’re going to tell me that in those record-breaking stats, no achievement directly affected the outcome of a game? There was no walk-off homer, no 15 K pitching win, no 4-5 RBI night that helped a team win? Please… it’s offensive to anyone with a brain in their head.
Baseball and the writers not having the balls to bring any of this up are sickening. Listening to them continue to paint Pete as something akin to a Nazi because he bet on games as a manager is pathetic. I don’t know how the old or new commish sleep at night, nor the guys who know more than they’ll ever tell. Managers, former and current players, announcers, beat reporters, etc.
There is no baseball Hall of Fame without the all-time hit leader in it. And if you’re going to ban him from having a plaque next to violent racists and other offenders, fine, just don’t ever cast a vote – or even put on the ballot – a whole generation of players we know either did performance enhancing drugs, or whose numbers suggest they likely did. They do not belong as they hurt the “integrity” of the game. As a fan, I find this inexcusable – but more than just blame the players, who wanted accolades and tens of millions of dollars – I point the finger at those who allowed, and even promoted, their offenses.
In the end, Pete deserves to be a Hall of Famer – with a comment or two on his plaque how after he retired, he admitted to gambling on baseball when he managed. I am not sure it will ever happen, or most certainly not sure it will happen in his life – which is just sad. On a bright note, Pete won on the field and continues to win in life. Kiana Kim? Once more – please – the man is a genius. And certainly the textbook description of how a person is supposed to play the game of baseball.