I was one of the first ones’ on the Andrew Friedman bandwagon when the Guggenheim Group brought him in. “In Friedman I trust” was the mantra as a new in organizational structure was about to take hold. What has followed have been some glaring mis-steps and a lack of attention to detail that have this life-long Bleeding Bluer a tad confused and disappointed.
To be clear, I am not saying or professing that the Friedman/Zaidi/Byrnes/(insert name here) era has been or will be a failure. That is where I think many of the front office defenders get their panties in a bunch. I am still glad that Friedman is running the show. In a recent LA Times interview the man in charge finally gave us a detailed look behind the curtain.
He laid bare the baseball-side philosophy of where this organization is going, wants to go and expects to go. I could hardly find much to argue with philosophically in his statements. I respect the fact they don’t want to overpay players that could hurt them on the back-ends of deals. I respect and LOVE their desire to build a minor league juggernaut. I respect the fact they wouldn’t give up the farm for a rental in their starting rotation that they knew they weren’t going to over-spend for anyway.
There is crazy spending and there is essential and necessary spending. This is where my biggest beef emanates from. Friedman tells us every transaction goes through the cost-benefit analysis. If that’s the case then why did they think it was wise to give oft-injured Brandon McCarthy 4 years and 48 million dollars and even more oft-injured Brett Anderson 2 years and 28 million. They have spent 76 million dollar on two pitchers that many of us (raises hand) predicted would go down like the Hindenburg. This isn’t a strong cost-benefit analysis. The signs were all there that not only would these two pitchers struggle to stay healthy, but they were also grossly over-paid. How does this front office rationalize overpaying some pitchers, yet letting others walk ?
Let me put it in bold print, I did not want the Dodgers to overspend for Zack Greinke. More power to the Diamondbacks in the 3rd and 4th year of that deal when Zack is decimating their books and going 12-13 with an ERA north of 4. The Dodgers were wise to pass on injury risk Johnny Cueto and on Jeff Samardjiza. Let the Giants deal with those long-term ramifications. I believe Friedman and company deserve credit for showing restraint there. But, what are the analytics that actually showed these guys that McCarthy and Anderson were good acquisitions. Wouldn’t it have been better to solidify the bullpen and hand the back-end of the rotation to the Mike Bolsinger’s of the world ?
Friedman’s “idea” of a strong bullpen is odd. He actually believed that Chris Hatcher, Joel Peralta, Juan Nicasio and Pedro Baez comprised a strong bullpen. In this case it has nothing to do with analytics. Judgements like these makes me question his baseball acumen. Baez has one pitch and has done his best Broxton versus Matt Stairs impersonation in back-to-back post-seasons. He needs a second pitch and should not pitch in leveraged situations with the game on the line if he doesn’t have one. Hatcher spent much of the summer with only one pitch. He certainly has a future and an electric arm, but he wasn’t ready for big spots last year. Peralta lost about 5 miles per hour from his fast ball yet Friedman thought he was the best answer to shore up those late innings. Nicasio was eventually released, primarily because of free passes.
This is the second straight season where the Dodgers enter the year with an average bullpen at best in front of lights out closer Kenley Jansen.
Many Friedman defenders will point out, rightfully so, that the front office tried to overpay for Luke Gregerson and he took less money to play for the Astros. They will point out that the Dodgers tried to lure Darren O’Day from the Orioles and he took less money to stay in Baltimore and the Dodgers had a trade in place for Aroldis Chapman before details of his garage gun-play/domestic violence case emerged. This is bad luck. I do recognize Friedman has tried. A lot of the Dodgers problems would have been solved by simply paying Andrew Miller and let him carve up lefties and righties up. It would have taken 4 years and 40 million. A little more than half what you have given to two injury-riddled pitchers to man the back-end of your rotation.
The Dave Roberts choice was a good one. I think he will hold this team accountable and make them, force them to manufacture some runs. Friedman and staff deserve credit for recognizing that Roberts may be just what the team and organization needed. I am still a fan of Friedman. I want him to succeed. I want the Dodgers to win. I love there is going to be an influx of kids that can come help within the next season or two. I see the sustainability model and I like it. I think his philosophy can work, but I do have some serious questions on the value he places on essential pieces to the puzzle, and how that value equates to wins.