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The Dodgers Front Office Needs to Have a Big Off-Season

The franchise is already operating past a “three strikes and you’re out” philosophy.

After a stunning first-round exit in 2019, it’s clear the Los Angeles Dodgers need to retool many facets of their organizational philosophy. While Dave Roberts was quickly assured of his job, one major change may come in Andrew Friedman being courted by the Boston Red Sox

I’ll be honest: I don’t think this franchise is bringing home that flagged trophy with Dave Roberts at the managerial helm. I said just as much within hours of the season’s end. A true change in philosophy would have to start with that, but it won’t happen. 

Still, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other changes that can be made. Whether it’s Friedman or someone else in charge this off-season, one thing’s for sure: it’s time to finally make big moves to seriously upgrade the team. Ones that are a clear departure from the frugality of recent winters. 

The pickings of these past two hot stove seasons were miniscule. After building a perfect bullpen in 2017, the front office has since opted for the likes of Scott Alexander and Joe Kelly. A.J. Pollock’s contract last off-season now looks like a potential albatross after a historic disaster of an NLDS. 

The biggest gets were arguably reunion projects Matt Kemp and Russell Martin, which while a boon for their respective squads (moreso Kemp in 2018) don’t exactly set the imagination on fire. On the other hand, the addition-by-subtraction Yasiel Puig trade proved a triumph on every level

Looking back, this approach didn’t make sense other than to adhere to the luxury tax, an ownership concern few fans share. The team still won another pennant in 2018, and set the franchise record for wins in 2019, so they haven’t necessarily regressed from 2017. Yet those successes only further consideration of how much better the team could have been with more ambitious acquisitions.   

This isn’t a retroactive lament of not getting Giancarlo Stanton or Bryce Harper, as passing on both was the right move. But it’s not like those were the only big transactions that could have been made. 

For a sobering contrast, consider how the Houston Astros have operated in the same span of time. Fresh off winning a World Series, they acquired Gerrit Cole by trade for 2018, then stealthily picked up Michael Brantley this past off-season. Even if you take away trade pickups like Ryan Pressly and Zack Greinke, those two alone made a champion team even more supreme. 

Now, more than ever, the Dodgers should make similar moves. To be clear, this also is not clamoring for a big move for the sake of it. The marquee names slated to be on the market in the coming months would stand to be enormous potential moves for the Dodgers, ones that could even put them over the top in 2020. 

Most eminent is Gerrit Cole, currently in the midst of a world-conquering postseason. Cole is the perfect prospective Dodger: a Newport Beach native, a UCLA alumnus, and a record-setting machine on the mound. He’s also practical, as it would make parting with Hyun-Jin Ryu that much easier. Imagine a rotation of Cole/Buehler/Kershaw/May/Urias. That could prove unbeatable in October. 

Next is Anthony Rendon, fresh off adding his name to the Clayton Kershaw October nightmare brigade. Especially as insurance for Justin Turner, it would make for perhaps the best infield in baseball, at least one of them. If the Dodgers were willing to pony up a plump contract to Joe Kelly for incinerating them in the playoffs last year, it makes infinitely more sense to do the same for an MVP candidate. 

Free agency isn’t the only avenue by which Los Angeles can radically change. With layers of depth and young players, they also have surplus trade chips. One trade proposal that caught my attention is a package based around Corey Seager for Francisco Lindor. 

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost five whole years since Friedman’s ambitious winter overhaul in 2014, when he took a cluttered roster and almost instantly reshaped it into something more functional and coherent. It’s now time for a similar shakeup in 2019, one that signifies the team’s willingness to acknowledge their current formula isn’t working and upgrade it accordingly. 

The alternative is to continue the painfully demure approach of the past two off-seasons. An approach that, in retrospect, was truly unbecoming of a team coming off a tough World Series loss both times. 

Now, following a playoff loss that is an unqualified failure and step back, it would make even less sense to continue in that vein. It’s time for an impact move or two to signify that the Los Angeles Dodgers mean business now more than ever.

Written by Marshall Garvey

24 Comments

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  1. Marshall, how was the Puig trade “proved a triumph on every level?” Pollock was 0-13 with 11 K’s in the playoffs! He was injured for a good portion of the year. And, he was only productive for about a 2 week period of the season. Furthermore he proved incapable of playing center field and had to be moved to left field.

    Puig May not have been a good “clubhouse “ guy but he certainly would have been a more effective player than Pollock!

    All that being said I agree whole heartedly with your editorial premise. The Dodgers won’t listen to you of course because they are “smarter” than everyone else

    • Pollock wasn’t acquired in the Puig trade, Tim. The minor league pieces LA got back from CIN for Puig, Wood, etc re-stocked the farm with two top-10 prospects.

      But def agree that ultimately ending up with Pollock didn’t make sense.

      • I never said he was part of the trade. My point was he was signed to replace Puig’s bat. The Dodgers wanted Puig gone because he wasn’t a good clubhouse guy. But, Puig is a lifetime .280 hitter with 5 homers in the postseason. And he probably would have been a much better weapon for Dodgers than Pollock.

  2. Love your idea Marshal about the Seager package especially. It’s really going to be interesting this time to hear Friedman’s excuse for not signing either Cole or Rendon. I would think if Rendon ‘s Nats win the series he stays in D.C. Same with Cole, if the stro’s win Cole signs in Houston. The media has all fallen for the moneyball philosophy as well. Reading in the past that the majority all believed Friedman and his Analytics roster and game plan was the NEW normal, they sided with being successful by platooning and lefty righty,shifts, and NO small ball but rather solo homers. We can all now watch as the Nats stick with their core roster the entire season with exception of injuries. Same with the Astros, Yankees Cards. Isn’t it amazing how those clubs stick with the same lineups, everyone knows their roles including pinch hitters. The teams all have cohesion and it shows. Hate to say this, but it’s almost a good thing that the Dodgers and their fans will sit and watch these other teams that follow a little different philosophy regarding lineups and situational hitting, and All of them have signed big time free agents to fill out their rosters. Cards=Goldsmidt Yankees= Lemahiew,Stanton,Chapman etc Astro’s=Brantley-Pressly.Greinke etc. Nats=Sherzer,Corbin Howie Kendrick etc. That’s who they sign, Friedman get’s Pollock,Kelly Martin etc. No disrespect to these players as we know they were giving their best but NOT signing Machado to a long term was the epitome of Friedman’s failures to bring in the right players to win it all. This organization annually draws 4 million fans, has the largest T.V.contract, merchandise etc etc. And all they want to do is Save money. Then, they announce they will spend 40 million on stadium renovations as players like Machado go to a division rival for example. By always being the seller instead of the buyer, these guys now have a reputation amonst the league and also the players as being stingy, or let’s say cheap. There have been numerous quotes from the Verlander types that prove this is the case. The Dodgers need to prove myself, the fanbase, and the free agent world that they mean business this off season and spend that 400,000,000 ticket sales and get us some damn players for once!!! Go Dodgers!!

  3. Marshall, I wholeheartedly agree with your editorial premise about the need for change within the Dodger organization, but I’m trying to understand how you can call the Puig trade “a triumph on every level?” His replacement Pollock (and yes he was Puig’s replacement no matter what Dodgers say) was a complete bust. He was 0-13 with 11 K’s in Division Series. He was hurt and unavailable for a large chunk of the season. He was only productive for a couple of weeks the whole season. He proved that he couldn’t play centerfield any longer so they had to move him to left.

    Ask yourself who you’d rather have had in left for the division series, Puig or Pollock?

    One of the Dodgers failings has been their incessant organizational mandate to get “good clubhouse” players. Lots of championships have been won by teams that barely spoke to each other. All the great clubhouse guys thing has done is allow them to cry on each other’s shoulders when they fail!

    • You know those Giants teams had good chemistry right? I think you meant to say the right clubhouse guys. Not soft guys

    • The Puig move was a success on its own. The problem was, after that, Pollock was not the answer. Dodgers got good prospects in return for Puig, et al. But Pollock? I never thought that was a good FA signing. He was hurt a good portion of the season, and as we know, grossly under performed in the post season. The FO could have done better on that FA signing….I think we all can agree on that

  4. Unfortunately, we already heard Stan Kasten say what defines a successful
    Season, making the playoffs and filling the stadium. No point in spending any more money if they are already doing that, right? On the other hand, they seemed willing to break the bank short term for Harper, so maybe there is hope they recognize that winning the WS should be the goal. There is no question that something has to give because lack of production is killing them when it counts and it is no longer small sample size. Rendon has to be an improvement, although you have to believe the Nats will resign him. Cole would be nice, but – except for Kershaw – the Dodger starters have been okay in the post season (Darvish was an aberration). The bullpen will remain a problem because the current FO continues to push all the wrong buttons in that area and clearly has a blind spot assessing it. Would love to say they could fix everything with a simple managerial change, but Roberts doesn’t give up home runs or strike out with the bases loaded. Without changes, it will be more of the same next year,

    • “Filling the stadium…” Three words that are of upmost priority to this FO. Actually, it’s about selling tickets. Whether people actually go, matters not. Add that TV deal for $8 BILLION for a market that only reaches a fraction of Los Angeles. Can’t beat that. McCourt didn’t care and neither does Guggenheim. Both of those see the Dodgers as an investment. It’s about the money. Friedman is their hero. Highest attendance, and record profits and lower payroll.

  5. It’s not about baseball with them. It’s about making the most money possible it’s about the investment that’s why a billion dollar ownership group has a small market money ball guy running the team. It’s so obvious

  6. Dodgers been needing a solid #1 pitcher regardless of price tag, for years! We lack that 1-2 or ever 1-2-3 punch of good pitching some of these playoff teams have such as the nationals! Dodgers will get some hits. And score here and there! But pitching mainly looses our games!

  7. Being a loyal Dodger fan since a kid. It boggles my mind how the Dodgers reached the decision of retaining Dave Roberts as the manager after unable to bring a World Series to Los Angeles the last three season. One must wonder if management somehow felt partially responsible g G or the Dodgers demise and unable to get over the hump of bringing the Los Angeles Fans a World Series since 1988. I was never thrilled when Roberts was originally hired as the manager. I am dumbfounded and frustrated with his inconsistent lineup changes, poor game strategies and replacing a pitcher either too earlier or too late. I would rather management replace him with a proven winner at all cost preferably Bruce Bochy. I understand that Roberts can’t be blame for the failure of the Dodgers. The players and coaches are also held accountable for the quick playoff exist. Hardly anyone showed up against the Nationals. Cody Bellinger for one, Pollock, Seager, Smith, Pederson to name a few. Having the most run batted in and most home runs in the regular season and having won 106 games does not. Ring the fans any solace.

  8. Keep in mind that because of how the FO and Roberts ‘run’ things on this team,(game management, lineups, shuffling lefty/righty and all) players like Rendon and Cole may just not want to be a part of that here and will sign elsewhere or re-sign with their respective teams.

    • Pretty sure if Rendon was to sign with the Dodgers, he would be written into the lineup every day in indelible ink, playing 3B (JT moves to 1B) and hitting in the 3 or 4 hole.

    • I don’t see teams like the Astros and Yankees depending on guys off the bench that are hitting 230 to 240 as the saving pinch hitters because a game or 2 they did well. They are both solid with their decisions and clearly don’t fall in love with players like Roberts. Just now Boone pulled Paxton after only 2 innings and inserted Green to pitch to Bregman who just clobbered Paxton in the first inning. There was no I need to get my guy to the 5th inning because his name is Kershaw or Ryu. He just did it and the Yankees got out of the inning because it gave Bregman another look and broke some of his confidence. If this team was managed right the Dodgers would have no problem getting to the series. It was uncalled for for Kershaw to continue after the first home run. For the Dodgers there’s not much they really need to do other than push the right buttons. Roberts is killing the lineup especially with a guy like Beaty never allowing him to hit lefties. Rios is looking real good but I fear they will keep on burying the guy behind Taylor, Kiki and Pederson. This is the Dodger Way. Win 100 games and bail in the playoffs or series. Some fans fall into the trap of they won 108 games so Roberts was good. Winning 108 games is the same as the Padres winning 70 it’s for losers unless you win it all.

  9. Please, stop waiting for Kiki, Taylor and Pederson to bat 300 and just get rid of them. Develop some young players in their place. And also if a guy is really bad stop with waiting on them. Both Kelly and Pollock need to go.

  10. These bucket lists would be great for Cubs fans, Yankees, Red Sox, Houson- but the Dodgers have bean counting in their DNA. O malley fielded “competitive” teams- because they were the most profitable. The Dodgers have the most money in sports but they will not go all in because it puts them over the cap and costs money in the short term and long term. Anyone who thinks the Dodger investors will hike the payroll to win a championship are ignoring history. Look at Kasten’s history at Atlanta- tons of division titles and one championship. There’s a reason the Guggenheim millionaires selected him to be CEO.

  11. The real problem with this team is that it’s biggest stars in the regular season are not producing in the post season plain and simple.

    Kershaw is a terrible post season performer and lost two games by himself. You can’t have your cleanup hitter striking out and producing zero RBI.

    They where horrible with runners in scoring position and couldn’t get the insurance runs.

    If you really want to look honestly at this team it’s time to trade Kershaw for someone who can produce into he post season. 30 mil and not producing in the playoffs is killing them.

    Also they need another closer, as much as I love Jansen, he is not the man anymore.

    Against the Astros if Jansen or Kershaw step up they win the world series. Everyone blames darvish, but let’s not forget that Kershaw blew a 4 run lead in game 5, the blew a 3 run lead in the same game! And Jansen blew saves. Again the biggest stars not producing that is the problem. One I’m not sure there is an easy fix for considering those two account for 45 mil a year or so.

    At the end of the day though you have to give credit to the Nats, they basically had 3 guys pitch the whole series annd except for one bad inning Strasbourg, Corbin, and scherzher steped up. So did the heart of the order in Rendon and Soto.

    That is the formula for success in today’s baseball. 3 stud arms and the heart of your order producing.

    I don’t blame Roberts and I definitely don’t blame Friedman. Let’s be honest, while every move hasn’t worked out, he still has 1)built a team that won 7 straight nl west titles, 2) creating a minor league pipeline that keeps producing major talent each year, 3) mastered the art of reclamation project, 4) helped the team break numerous records each year and 5) has
    given them a window of opportunity that seems to have no end in sight.

    At the end of the day players won games and the Dodgers stars are not winning games in the post season.

  12. Simple question, why on October 2nd were we having dress up day and post season tryouts instead of honing our best 8 to a knifes edge.

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