Andrew Friedman 5
To the casual Los Angeles Dodger fan this offseason has been quite frightening.

Hanley Ramirez was never really coming back to the Dodgers, the league leader in stolen bases, Dee Gordon, was traded for a pitching prospect who was then traded for a second baseman in the last year of his deal, and arguably the best hitter in the second half of 2014, Matt Kemp, was traded for a catcher with a suspension in his past. Also traded was the team’s fourth starter in Dan Haren and a defensive whiz in Miguel Rojas. Brian Wilson was released and the biggest acquisition for the bullpen came in a trade for 38-year-old Joel Peralta. Instead of big names like Max Scherzer, Russell Martin and Andrew Miller, the Dodgers have signed Brandon McCarthy, Juan Nicasio and Chin-hui Tsao among others.

So wait, this was the product of the brain team that the Dodgers assembled?

RELAX.

Everything is going to be okay.

While it looks like the Dodgers have disassembled their NL West champion team and are heading for mediocrity in 2015, it’s not that bad. Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins replace Gordon and Ramirez, and significantly improve the defense while maintaining some offense. While the new duo won’t steal 64 bases combined or hit 25+ home runs, they will drive the ball, bring leadership and prevent runs from scoring. Rollins finished 2014 with a higher WAR (3.9) than Ramirez (3.5) and made half as many errors in over 200 innings more at short. Kendrick is a .292 career hitter that hit .293 in 2014 and while he may lack the overall range of Gordon, is a better defender. Gordon and his speed were quite flashy, but his best season was last year and he hit .289, which is less than Kendrick’s career average. Gordon also faltered in the second half last year, hitting .275 after July 6 and stealing just 22 bases in that time. Much of his ballyhooed year came in the first half of the year, which is what made him an All-Star.

First things first, I was a Matt Kemp fan since Day 1 and never left his side. Despite his injuries, I knew once he was healthy that Kemp would return to the MVP-caliber numbers from 2011. So that impressive streak in the second half last season was no surprise. Well then, why trade him? Because of a few reasons and one is defense. Kemp has never been an impressive defender, even with his Gold Glove award in 2009. The only season he finished in positive for Defensive Runs Saved came in 2008 with his low point coming in 2010 when he was negative-35. Last year he played all three outfield spots, was negative in DRS at each spot and finished negative-23 on the year. Many expect Joc Pederson to take over in center and his defense has been praised by many, including manager Don Mattingly. Health is another reason and we learned that the slugger has arthritis in both his hips. The arthritis may not affect him for at least a few years, but it’s a scary thought to know that he can go down at any moment. Lastly, Kemp was never truly happy with his move from center. Although he got comfortable in right field, Kemp believed himself to be a center fielder and he just can’t man the position anymore. The Dodgers had to rid themselves of at least two outfielders this winter, and Kemp just happened to be the one that brought back some value and payroll relief.

Don’t forget, the Dodgers didn’t just give Kemp away. They got a piece that helped them land Rollins, a potential starter in Joe Wieland and a significant upgrade at catcher in Yasmani Grandal. A.J. Ellis struggled last year at the plate and on defense, but returned on his merit and deep friendship with Clayton Kershaw. Grandal is not a defensive-minded catcher, but he does excel at one thing: pitch framing. His ability to get extra strikes will help the staff and limit runs. Also, he adds some pop to the lineup and at 26, offers the Dodgers a catcher of the future.

The bullpen was the scapegoat of the NLDS and rightly so, as they allowed runs in three of the four games. Wilson, who was the late-season sensation in 2013, never got back into form last year and was relegated to light duty. J.P. Howell was the second-best reliever last year, but it appears that fatigue got the best of him later in the year. So with all the bullpen worries, the Dodgers were sure to jump in on Miller, David Robertson or others, right? Wrong. They traded for Peralta, acquired Chris Hatcher as a throw-in from the Marlins, claimed Nicasio off waivers and signed Tsao and Sergio Santos to minor-league deals. Bullpens are usually built, not bought and that’s the thinking of the front office. Howell, Peralta and Kenley Jansen are a solid base. Add youngsters Paco Rodriguez, Pedro Baez and Carlos Frias to that and there’s six relievers that can get outs. Nicasio may never become a starter again, but showed some promise out of the bullpen for the Rockies last season. Tsao recently hit 95 MPH in a workout, Santos is a career 3.89 reliever. Brandon League may get traded, but if he doesn’t, he had a solid year in 2014. While the bullpen won’t have the flashy names many wanted, the depth and options will give Mattingly some room to find his late-inning guys.

Finally, the flash of the Dodgers was gone from free agency this winter. Some of the big names on the market were outfielders, which they don’t need, they lost out on relievers, and the main starting pitchers are still out there. While I still support and advocate a Scherzer deal, the reality seems to be that the Dodgers aren’t that interested in him. They also lost out on Russell Martin, although it was reported that they were in the mix. What’s lost on some fans is that despite the flash and grandeur from past winters, Ned Colletti rarely put the big picture into play. The Dodgers were seemingly one-deep at most positions, and injuries caused them to panic and trade away prospects for quick help. Prospects, no matter the potential, were traded last season for a few months of Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Correia. Let me repeat, Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Correia. Now the Dodgers are picking up players all over, and setting themselves up for potential injuries. A pitcher goes down, the Dodgers have Nicasio, Tsao, Santos, Wieland or Mike Bolsinger. What’s lost from the big money is the small moves that will help keep the farm intact and potentially uncover a gem that can help.

So if you’ve thrown your Dodger hat down in disgust, vowed to stay away from Dodger Stadium or renounced your true fandom, just remember that In Friedman We Trust and the Dodgers will again be World Series contenders in 2015. They just look a bit different.

About The Author

Vince is currently the Associate Editor and Social Media Manager for Dodgers Nation. Hailing from San Pedro, CA and a student at Cal State Long Beach, Vince has previously written for the Daily 49er and LASF Magazine.

34 Responses

  1. Drizzle97

    Seriously? Kemp new it was coming sooner or later (the move from center) and this idea that he was soooo upset about that, is false. He was upset because initially he was replace by 2 people (Van slike and Eithier) who were NO better! Both run like they have a trailer hitched to them. So they weren’t getting to the balls “kemp” was expected to get to either and that’s why eventually Puig (who’s side to side speed made him more ideal). And hate this MEDIA DRIVEN narrative that some how Grandal and his .224 is a “MAJOR” upgrade. It’s not! Look at his Wild pitches and his lack of blocking the plate, smh. He has a water pistol arm and has been busted for PEDs, so yeah I’m sure he has “more pop”, smh..I’m “understand” everything else, but stop making it seem Kemp was the ONLY one that could be moved or that some how we “got better” with him gone. None of it is true. Just say, we WANTED TO MOVE KEMP and this was the best we going to get for KEMP! I trust Friedman, IF WE WERE A “budgeting” FRANCHISE (oak, tampa, etc), but this will initially bite and NO way are we a “contender” like last year! YET 😉

    Reply
    • TommyL

      NO way we are a “contender” like last year? Fangraphs begs to differ, as its early 2015 projections place LA number one in the National League.

      I wasn’t exactly thrilled with seeing Kemp go either. (Hanley wasn’t really a viable option at shortstop going forward.) But the vast improvement in outfield and middle infield defense could substantially offset any loss in offense. The new #4 and #5 pitchers certainly look to be better than who manned those positions at the end of last season. And the bullpen certainly looks better with Wilson, Perez and Wright replaced..

      I chose to trust that ownership knows what it is doing. I’m excited to see Rollins and Kendrick up the middle, whether Pederson is ready, whether Grandal lives up to his potential (and he’s a career .245 hitter with an OPS of .763, not a .224 hitter as you stated), and whether Anderson can actually stay healthy.

      Reply
      • Drizzle97

        As a true fan, i have NO other way to go BUT to trust owners, just not Friedman. Of course I think we are better definsively and I too am excited about kendrix and rolli. But with the moves, you don’t think we could have gotten rid of any of the other OFs? All I’m saying is tell the truth, HE wanted to get rid of KEMP! That’s why I think Friedman is a lil sleezy to me..And Grandal hit 225 LAST YEAR! He hit .291 his rookie, that’s the only reason his career is .242 (which is also laughable). AJ hit .271 3 consecutive years, also blocks the plate, calls the game better and a better throw out % on steals. Grandal is NOT a “major upgrade”. I just want the TRUTH told, not this bs.

        It’s not about “KEMP” trade or how weak we’ve gotten at the plate. I understand that for the future and I love our defense now. It’s about you are a new PREZ of Ops in the 2nd biggest media market and you trying to tell us that you “couldn’t have moved the 2 WEAKER Outfielders? Then why are you even in that role? I think he could have if he wanted, but I think he wanted to get rid of Kemp and because of his popularity, you claim this was the “only play”? really? come on man I’m not that stupid, as well as, this idea of “pitch framing” is a lot more important than holding runners on, calling a games and blocking breaking balls in the dirt? yeah right

        At the end of the day, Go Dodgers! Please surpass expectations.

      • Alex

        If Grandal threw out runners as well as Ellis (25%), he would have thrown out about 9 more runners in a full year. That’s really not that many when you consider how much more pop Grandal has than Ellis. Last year Grandal hit 1 home run per 25 at-bats, which is about the same as Hanley Ramirez’s career numbers. He hit a lot better the second half of the season as his knee got better. He’s also currently killing it in the Winter Leagues right now: 328/.469/.541

        Also, the big thing with Grandal is that he is a top 10 pitch-framer, while Ellis is consistently ranked below 100th place. You may not think it means much, but you can bet Kershaw and Greinke are going to love how many more corner strike calls they’ll get with Grandal behind the plate. Here’s an excellent article on the importance of pitch-framing and why other things like blocking the plate don’t make a big difference overall: http://www.hardballtimes.com/the-state-and-future-of-pitch-framing-research/

        Glad you still support the Dodgers through and through; that is the spirit!

      • paylly

        Oh yes, pitch framing, the newest saber- craze, is important. So is calling a game, and the importance Kershaw sees in that with AJ speaks more than any saber numbers could ever do!

        And glad even though you’re lost in the weeds, still support the Blue!

      • Michael N. Norris

        I agree with you totally….and if you trade Kemp, why did you settle for so little????? It is basically a 2 for 2 trade….and no way they got back what Matt was worth…..BUTTS in the seats! =MONEY……nobody is going to rush to Dodger Stadium to watch Yasmani Grandal frame a pitch….

      • TommyL

        Sure, he could have given away Ethier or Crawford. But Kemp got him Rollins and Grandal, who he obviously wanted, plus freed a lot of cash. The great thing about this is that in about 10 months we will be able to tell whether it was a smart move or not.

      • Herman

        A computer doesn’t factor injuries or guys not meshing together, lol he said that’s not what fangraphs says haha

      • TommyL

        Glad you found that so funny. Do you truly believe the new Dodger ownership simply throws numbers into a computer, it spits out results and they blindly act? Been watching too many episodes of Get Smart?
        As a baseball fan, you really should try reading Fangraphs some day if you haven’t already. They have some interesting analyses and projections, and good writers. Call me silly, but I tend to put more credence into well thought out projections based on some semblance of statistical data as opposed to the lol’s and haha’s of some guy named Herman on the Internet.

  2. Michael N. Norris

    Believe what you like…believe what you want….I believe this guy thinks he is still in Tampa.

    Reply
      • Michael N. Norris

        drink the cool aid bud……if I ran it, would have got more for Kemp than a druggie C and a rookie P…..and I would not have traded him inside my own division…..turned into a 2 for 2…not value for value….and when a pitch framing C is why you trade your 2nd best power hitter in your division , you are a moron…sorry…bad deal…..and this is LA not Tampa………Grandal dos not excite anybody……..except Freidman….

      • BleedBlue23

        Yes, please do reiterate to me more of the same negative and arrogent diatribe that I get to enjoy after every single article. I can’t wait to read what the expert Mike Norris has to say about ALL of the Dodgers transactions; what he’d do differently and how he’d spend their money.

      • Michael N. Norris

        don’t like it…don’t read it…my opinion, not yours..thats fine….and I have forgotten more about baseball than you will ever know…….seen better players too I will bet…..Been on the field at Dodger Stadium, which I would bet you never have done…..My friends call me Mike….you can call me sir……

      • BleedBlue23

        Are you a betting man? Thanks, Mike, for proving my point.

      • Michael N. Norris

        Kiss off jerk……I am not arrogant or negative. And as for proving your point, you have none. I know of not one baseball fan who goes to a game to watch a catcher frame pitches. I do know this…last years team was 9 1/2 games behind the Giants. They took off after 2 things happened,,,,,1 Matt Kemp got healthy and changed his batting stance and started hitting again, and AJ Ellis came off the DL and was the regular C….They won because they were playing better baseball, on the field, not on some stupid sabermetric guide. I have been a Dodger fan all my life…watched them before they got to LA and ever since. seen them play in the coliseum. But I will tell you this……Even though I am a fan, I do not have to agree with every move the front office makes. They have made plenty of mistakes over the years and Freidman will make some too. Matt Kemp was the whipping boy because he voiced his displeasure and was branded a cancer by the media and a lot of the fans. Then you have a guy come in and take over your team and make moves. He trades his 2nd best power hitter and his backup C for a C and 2 minor league P’s ….to me and to a lot of fans, he did not get enough. You do not care for what I say…..tough ..I earned the right to my opinion watching this team for over 60 years. You do not like it? Keep your mouth shut and do not read it…

      • Herman

        I love it! Keep preaching man im not even a dodger fan anymore after theses moves, friedman trying to save money in a big time market! Im just a baseball fan now with my new SD gear

      • Terry White

        how nice of you to do exactly do what a phila. fan would do. no loyalty

      • Michael N. Norris

        by the way…it takes a real coward to hide behind some nickname ..

  3. Mike

    The team fails, these guy go away to another team, make more millions and we get stuck with rebuilding a team for the next ten years.
    Is McCourt still looking for work?

    Reply
    • Michael N. Norris

      exactamundo! Bet Grandal is worth maybe 2 extra people in the stands,,,,his mom and dad…..

      Reply
      • Tmax

        Michael sometimes I do not agree with you but I do salute your baseball knowledge. I do agree with you in that I would not have traded Kemp and especially not in the division. I also agree that seeing Grandal frame pitchers is not putting butts in the seats. Any fan of baseball has to agree that hitters like Kemp when he is healthy are rare and should be held on to and coveted.
        Agree or disagree I do not think anyone that reads your posts can say you do not know what you are talking about. And I have watched a little baseball as my first game was one that my Dad took me in 1958 at the Coliseum, I still have the autographed ball. I fear you are right but hope you are mistaken and that they will be as good as I hope.

      • Michael N. Norris

        My first game was in June of 58 at the Coliseum…Dodgers-Cardinals….Big D was pitching…..I had seen the old LA Angels and Hollywood Stars play at Wrigley and Gilmore fields. I sincerely hope the trade does not come back to haunt them…but history says it will. Garvey killed the Dodgers as a Padre. Even though he was not traded..Karros and Cey as members of the Cubs. The point is, they did not get quality back…..the kid they traded after they got him had more upside than Grandal….good power arm…..same with the kid they sent to the Angels for Kendrick, and it kind of shows you how little faith there is in Guererro becoming a everyday 2nd baseman….Rollins is a 1 year stop gap waiting for Seager deal……..But throwing all the pressure of being a starting CF in LA on a 23 year old rookie who looked totally overmatched when I saw him….that is really taking a chance……I hope Joc does well….but like I said….He hits .200 in spring he is on his way to Okie City and your starting CF’s will be Ethier and Heisey..

      • Tmax

        Michael you have a better memory than I do. I remember it was before my birthday and I was 6 I do not remember the team it was my first sporting event attending the game was a very big deal. I remember in later years going to games and watching the Garvey, Lopes, Russel and Cey infield. I started watching the Angels when a Dodger catcher was named Mgr and crazy people started to run the Dodgers. I like the way Scioscia manages stressing pitching, defense, aggression in taking the extra base and situational hitting. If the idiot owner had not stuck him with the bloated contracts of Pujos and Hamilton and spent the money on pitching he would have been deep in the playoffs the last couple of years. I also like the way Scioscia brings along young talent and develops it with Trumbo, Calhoun, Cron Shoemaker etc. I hope the Dodgers will do the same. I am not fond of Mattingly’s style of management or sure if he has one. I hope after this year to get an aggressive National League style manager stressing Pitching, defense and aggressive hard nose baseball.
        I agree with putting too much pressure on Pederson that cold set him back. I am a big Kendrick fan. And why OK City why not a city closer to LA I had business trips and stopped in ABQ once or twice but NOT going to OKC YUCK.

      • Michael N. Norris

        Well it fits in with moving the AA team to Tulsa…now they will be only a little over an hour apart….I was 10 in 58..so I remember a lot from those days….the one thing Mattingly does well is handle ego’s…probably got that from Torre.. But as a strategist, he is not strong. I sang the national anthem at Dodger Stadium in 81…..I knew Wes Parker and he helped me get the spot. Lost the game though to the Giants…. 6-3 in 10 innings….even though Garvey hit a HR to tie it in the ninth….but I sang it for a WS Champion and that is what I remember….shook Fernando’s hand as he came in from the dugout….Got a ball autographed by Parker, 6 time gold glover, Reuss, no hit pitcher, Sax, and Sutcliffe…..rookies of the year, Danny Ozark, Mota, Rick Monday…I missed a few , but was only in the dugout for about 10 minutes…..53,000 in the stands….it was pretty cool……and Frances Freidman ran up to me after I was done and said I was the best she ever heard….that was cool….she went to every game…sat in the pavilion and whenever the opponent would get a rally going…..she would twirl a bag of garlic to cast off the evil spell! what a character she was….

      • Tmax

        I appreciate your insights do you still go to games? I think I am changing to Time Warner so at least I can watch at home. Thanks for the memories Michael. I am getting ready to go to a New Year gathering with my wife and drinking a bourbon and feeling melancholy just had news a business associate passed last night after a fight with Prostate Cancer, sad. Pauper or King none of us know how much time we have. Enjoy life and be well. Happy New year… Michael Tmax is short for my name Tom Maxey many people through the years have called me Tmax hopefully affectionately! So it stuck.

      • Michael N. Norris

        When they come to Denver I usually go and when I am out in LA visiting my sis I try to get to a couple of games., I lived in Phoenix and went to spring games after they moved there

      • Tmax

        Well from Tmax to Bear Happy New Year! you must have an amazing voice to sing at the stadium. I sing a lot in the morning and around the house just fun lines and my family all beg me to stop. I have a very average voice. I have worked for a company for 20plus years and have covered the Southwest use to cover CO beautiful country now cover CA, AZ.NV and NM. Denver had nice people, amazing scenery and great steaks especially buffalo steaks. Well I hope the boys in Blue do well this year. I like the infield and starting pitching but concerned about scoring enough runs. If you step back and look at the infield it is really good. Has anyone seen Seager play? You hear the Hyperbole but how good is he? Do you think he will be a great short or 3rd baseman like his brother? Happy New Year to all….

      • Michael N. Norris

        Oh…my nickname is Bear…got that while I was in the Army,,,and it stuck too

  4. Pete Jacob

    I was born in Long Beach went to High School in Bellflower Bucks. 63 years old never felt more secure then I do now with these guys running the SHOW. I’m Dodgerspete In Medford Ore. Giant Land.
    . The one thing the Giants didn’t want to do is play the Dodgers. Or we’d be wearing the ring. We can beat the Giants and the now it. The team lowered it’s payroll a bit, not much but we’re set up for next year. With flexiablitly. Bring on the 2015 Dodgers. And years to come.

    Reply
    • Terry White

      It can’t be about$$$$. I .agree we gave away a lot of great guys, who deserved every $ in contract. for a bunch of maybe’s. who most likely, will not play their best for L.A..especially Rollins.,I have to believe management knows what their doing, Dodger fan since 1968, born in Phila. Live in Jersey.The looks I get when wearing Dodger, Raider and Kings gear, makes me LMAO. They can barely spell, loyalty, or get the meaning.

      Reply
  5. Terry White

    My Son should be in management with the Dodgers.Genius with stats and plays definitely $$$$$ management, 1 hell of an asset he would be.

    Reply

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