So, how’s it going?
In October of 2014, the Los Angeles Dodgers spent $35 million to bring in Andrew Friedman as their new president of baseball operations. Almost immediately, Friedman went about tearing up a team that had just won 94 games.
Broadly speaking, the results have been great. The Dodgers are, at worst, the second-best team in the National League right now. They’ve built up a nice little cushion on the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants, the only teams in the West capable of pushing them for a division title.
The pitching is good. The hitting has been better than anticipated. As a team, they’re catching the ball. But are they succeeding because of, or in spite of, all that activity?
Good a time as any to check the early returns of Friedman’s busy winter.
The deal: The Dodgers trade Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, and Miguel Rojas to Miami for Andrew Heaney, Chris Hatcher, Kike Hernandez, and Austin Barnes… then flipped Heaney to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for Howie Kendrick.
The logic: “Gordon had his best season in the Majors last season — All Star! — but faded badly in the second half, making him a perfect sell-high candidate. Haren was solid last season pitching at the bottom of the rotation, but not irreplaceable.
Hatcher posted sneaky good numbers out of Miami’s pen last year. Hernandez is a young, live bat capable of playing multiple positions. Kendrick, most importantly, represents an upgrade offensively and defensively over Gordon.”
How’s it going? Raise your hand if you picked Gordon as your 2015 batting champ? Put your hand down, you liar. Tom Gordon didn’t pick Dee Gordon to win a batting title. But here we are.
Gordon leads the Majors by a mile in batting average and hits. He’s fourth in the National League in stolen bases. He’s quickly become a huge favorite among the 48 people regularly showing up for Marlins games.
Gordon has also made a significant improvement defensively, going from a minus at second to a plus, early though it may be. In short, he’s been great. On the other hand, Gordon’s BABIP is a wildly unsustainable at .479 and he still doesn’t walk much.
Saying Gordon’s numbers will level out isn’t exactly spouting haterade, but it’s reasonable to believe he can do a better job maintaining an elevated level of play this year relative to last.
Natural growth and improvement, and all that. I hope so. Gordon is a really good dude, and as easy to pull for as any athlete in sports.
Haren, his recent outing at Dodger Stadium notwithstanding, has been typically solid. On the Dodgers side of things, Kendrick has been almost exactly as advertised. Were Gordon not posting video game numbers, nobody would even think to complain.
He’s shown some pop, driven in some runs, reached base at a typically Kendrickian clip, and so on. (With a little more pop than normal, actually.)
Kendrick’s defensive metrics are below career norms — disappointing — but he’s not been a butcher and it’s reasonable to believe those numbers will trend up. In short, Howie Kendrick is set to post a Howie Kendrick season. That’s a good thing.
As for the other chips, Hatcher has been a roller coaster. The stuff is there — 11.25 K/9 — but the consistency isn’t, with too few clean innings on his game log. It’s easy to see why the Dodgers wanted him, but he’s not exactly inspired great confidence.
Hernandez has already played five positions in very limited duty, spending much of the season in Triple-A Oklahoma City. Overall, the Marlins are ahead in this one, thanks to Gordon’s eyepopping start.
CONTINUE READING: Reviewing The Trade With The Rays And More