One thing that’s started to happen in sports for whatever reason is the complete and utter disappearance of patience. Charlie Strong was supposedly on the hot seat after only a couple season in Texas. Mike D’Antoni was given only a couple injury-riddled years as Lakers coach before he was fired. The list goes on.
Now, in only his second season as Dodgers President of Baseball Operations, ESPN’s Buster Olney is listing him as the person entering 2016 under the second-most pressure in the entire sport.
Here’s how Olney explains it.
He is in his second full season of running the Dodgers’ baseball operations, and already his work is under enormous scrutiny because of how the team bought for the highest price and operating with a record payroll has been outbid repeatedly in the past six months. The Rangers boxed out the Dodgers for Cole Hamels in July, and then the Diamondbacks jumped into the bidding late for Zack Greinke; reportedly, the Dodgers were also in on the conversations for Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, and didn’t land either.
That’s a whole bunch of narrative. We’ve been through how the contracts given out this season are gambles for all the teams who handed them out. Bringing up Cole Hamels is an interesting move when you consider the team who did trade for him went just about as far in the playoffs as the Dodgers and Hamels was the losing pitcher in their deciding fifth game.
In time, Friedman’s decision to veer around the bloated contracts may well turn out to be justified. But in the interim, the Dodgers have to try to continue the business of trying to extend the record of success established under former GM Ned Colletti and manager Don Mattingly, who won the NL West repeatedly — in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Friedman actually gets credit for the 2015 division title, but whatever. Olney also mentions the financial flexibility the Dodgers get to work with as a result of not handing out huge contracts, and when you consider they’re still mathematically considered the favorites to win the division this year without spending big, the future looks all the brighter.
Friedman is probably under immense pressure, but I don’t believe it’s a direct result of the moves the Dodgers have made and passed up on this offseason.
Working at that level in one of the most competitive industries in the world involves incredible pressure inherently.