As much as I want to I will not regale you with another anti-Andrew Friedman diatribe. I’m simply spinning my wheels at this point. But I do have some thoughts regarding his newest acquisitions and whether the Dodgers are better for it.
I was not a fan of the Rich Hill/Josh Reddick deal that sent three power arms to the Oakland Athletics. But now that they are here I want them to do well. Hill looked great against the Giants on Wednesday. Six shut-out innings with a nasty curveball and a ton of first pitch strikes. For a team that needs innings from their starting rotation, Hill is a welcome addition.
Josh Reddick on the other hand has had a disastrous start to his Dodger career. It seems big moments are finding him and he is not coming through. Dodger Nation is turning on him and it reminds me a lot of the venom much beloved Juan Uribe faced. Of course Uribe spent the first two years of his Dodger career languishing on the bench before turning things around and becoming a fan favorite. I believe in Reddick. I fully expect him to start playing better. Change of scenery is easy for some guys, and not easy for others. It’s clear Reddick is having a tough time. I don’t have any empirical evidence that guarantees Reddick will perform at a high level, but I have a “feeling.” He is too good a ball-player to be playing this poorly. It’s tough to be patient during a pennant race. It’s easier to bury a guy who is stinking up the joint. Give Reddick a break. I have a feeling he is going to come through in a big spot for the Dodgers. It’s a gut feeling.
GM Andrew Friedman pissed off the natives once again with a head-scratching move on Thursday afternoon. He traded the longest tenured and much beloved teammate AJ Ellis for Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz. On the surface it appears to be a trade for one aging catcher for another, but when you dig deeper it was much more than that.
Ellis was the most beloved Dodger in the locker room. He is Clayton Kershaw’s best friend. He was the undeniable leader in the clubhouse and the Dodgers trade him for a small upgrade at back-up catcher ? Yep, that is what sabermetricians do. They de-value chemistry and simply plug-in players like robots. While Ruiz is a better right-handed bat in this left-handed hitting heavy line-up, he is not so much of an upgrade that it warranted trading a much beloved figure.
Ruiz will help so we don’t have to watch Yasmani Grandal not shift his weight on a ball in the dirt and let it get by him for the tying or winning run to score. Ironically, in Ruiz’s first game who let two Kenley Jansen balls get by him in the 9th inning of a one-run game that allowed the Chicago Cubs to tie and eventually beat the Dodgers in 10 innings. An auspicious start for sure, but certainly not indicative of the type of player I expect Ruiz to be. I think he will do well. He will help, but it was another in a series of peculiar Friedman moves.
I will leave you with this. Baseball is played by human beings who battle for 162 games in a foxhole. When you haphazardly throw away one of the soldiers disrupting the continuity of the “team” you are flirting with danger. Chemistry in baseball matters. Winning teams have it, losing teams search for it. The Dodgers had won the first two games of their pivotal series with the Giants and Friedman sent shock waves through his own team by trading away a guy who meant so much to them from a personal perspective. This is not being “soft” or too sentimental. Winning is fragile. When you don’t respect the process, when you meddle when it’s not needed, you can disrupt this fragile concoction. Friedman and company are unconventional. They believe in a baseball process that has only really been mastered at the World Championship level by Theo Epstein. By not valuing chemistry and camaraderie, Friedman has served notice, this is his franchise and chemistry be damned. He will do things as his eminence sees fit, regardless if whether it makes any baseball sense.
As always Bleeding Dodger Blue…….