For a team that’s coming off a 94-win season and a second consecutive NL West title, the 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers will look markedly different than the group of players that took the field over the last two seasons.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi have showed little, if any hesitation in trading productivity, popularity and in Dee Gordon’s case, years of team control, for players that may be one-year rentals.
Shortly after the Dodgers formally introduced Howie Kendrick, Friedman offered insight into his objective. “Our overarching goal coming into the offseason was to take a very strong collective group of players and do our best to mold it into a highly functioning baseball team,” Friedman said.
Along with Gordon and Matt Kemp being dealt, both of whom were catalysts last season, also gone are Hanley Ramirez via free agency and Brian Wilson by virtue of being released. While Gordon was still coming into his own, Kemp, Ramirez and Wilson are big personalities that are certain to leave a void in the Dodgers’ makeup.
As for the new-look Dodgers that are certain to be tinkered with even further, Friedman spoke highly of the current players. “We’re excited about the way our position-player group fits together, how they compliment one another,” he said. “We feel like we’ve got great length to our lineup with great balance as well.”
Given that Gordon is no longer with the team, the Dodgers will likely turn to Jimmy Rollins to hit from the leadoff spot with questions marks throughout the rest of the batting order, despite the depth Friedman speaks of.
Yasmani Grandal conceivably should bolster the lower half of the order, but where he’ll bat may largely be dependent on Kendrick, which in turn will likely be impacted by where manager Don Mattingly writes Yasiel Puig’s name in the lineup.
Whether Friedman and Zaidi stand pat until April 6 or continue to work at morphing the roster so that it better fits their vision, Opening Day will mark the start of another year with World Series aspirations.