Andrew Friedman and company. These are the gentlemen that everyone loves to hate. Certainly it has always been the case to give the front office zero credit when teams are successful, yet rake them over the coals when they are not successful. Because of this, the Dodgers’ front office is no exception to this rule. Despite what many would consider overwhelming success since he began his tenure, many Dodger fans still begrudge Friedman, and the rest of the front office, for not bringing home a World Series trophy yet.
Keep in mind that Friedman has only been president of baseball operations since October 2014. The same goes for the General Manager, Farhan Zaidi. So what then is the beef with this front office? The Dodgers’ success is easy to point to, but what exactly are the typical complaints of fans? In the following points we will discuss these points of contention, and why or why not they may have merit. And in conclusion we will circle back to the reality. That this front office is actually quite brilliant.
Grievance Number One: No World Series Trophies
Our first grievance is actually a fair one, but it is unfair to merely pin the failure to bring home a World Series title on the front office. First, consider what most teams would consider a successful season. About half the league would consider finishing with a winning record a success. Since the Guggenheim group acquired the Dodgers in 2012, the Dodgers have had a 559-413 record. That’s good for a .575 winning percentage and tops in the league during that time. It’s even better since 2015 when Friedman and company took over: 287-199. An excellent .590 winning percentage.
Next, many teams would consider making the playoffs a successful season. Considering only 8 teams make it every year, this makes sense as well. Guess what? Since 2012 the Dodgers have made the postseason every year. Again, the Dodgers are the only team to have done this in that time frame. And lastly, division titles. Yes, I can hear it already from naysayers. “But it isn’t about the division titles!” Sure, ultimately it is not. However, if one only measured success by World Series titles in baseball, or a championship in any sport, 99% of teams are complete failures every season. The Dodgers have won 5 straight division titles since 2013.
So yes, the Dodgers have had a lack of World Series hardware, but every year we seem to inch closer and closer. You cannot deny that we have been given the best chance to win by a front office that has put a winning team on the field every year since it took over. However, when a team makes the playoffs every year, there are high expectations that come with that. Dodger fans are justified in being hungry for a WS Title. Just make sure you don’t write off the whole season when it doesn’t happen.
Grievance Number Two: This Front Office is Cheap
This grievance honestly has zero merit. I suppose when your team has eclipsed the $250 million payroll mark, some people expect it to stay there. We’ve seen the starkest example of that this off-season. Countless fans are left wondering why we didn’t trade for Giancarlo Stanton. Or why we aren’t signing Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow, and Jake Arrieta. The simple answer is that the Dodgers had a goal of getting under the luxury tax threshold this off-season.
#Dodgers have paid approx $148m for exceeding luxury tax threshold each of past 5 years inc. estimated $34m this year. Already in 50 pct penalty bracket, will incur draft pick penalties if they exceed 2018 threshold (guesstimate $197m). Current '18 payroll projects to about $220m
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) December 9, 2017
The main reason was clearly because of the luxury tax penalties they have been incurring. This is a model that is unsustainable and hurts the Dodgers long-term. We covered in detail this week the luxury tax penalties the Dodgers have incurred.
But this is just relating to this off-season. In general fans seem to believe the Dodgers brass has been cheap since Friedman and company took over. This is flat out not the case. Just look at the 2016 off-season. In a year where many expected the Dodgers to lose one or both of Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen, they brought both of them back. Not only this, but both players had larger offers than the Dodgers on the table:
Sources: The Marlins have made a monster offer for Kenley Jansen — almost at the level of Aroldis Chapman. Five years, more than $80M.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 8, 2016
Additionally, the front office re-signed Rich Hill to a 3 year, $48 million deal after trading for him. Much of what the front office has done in the last 4 or so years has been to create long-term success for the club. Part of that is showing fiscal restraint when it comes to signing free agents. Especially with harsher penalties for busting the luxury tax threshold now under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). In 2014 and 2015 there wasn’t much in the way of major free agent additions. Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir were the biggest names to be signed during these years. Many more of the moves were via trade. Players like Wood, Grandal, Barnes, Taylor, Hernandez, and Forsythe have all arrived via trade. That’s a solid track record.
Also, fans need to bear in mind that the impending free agency class of 2018 will have much better options than have been on the table the last few years. Namely Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. There is also the consideration that Clayton Kershaw is expected to opt out. With all that in mind, the Dodgers needed to reset the luxury tax this off-season so they could have the chance to spend next off-season.
Grievance Number Three: They Are Unwilling to Trade Prospects
Once again a grievance that misunderstands the reasoning behind it. Even then, it ignores the fact that this front office hasn’t been shy about trading top talent. Grant Holmes, Frankie Montas, and Jharrel Cotton were all top 10 pitchers in 2016 when the front office traded them for Rich Hill and Josh Reddick. Jose DeLeon was a top 3 prospect when he was traded for Logan Forsythe. Willie Calhoun was a top 5 prospect when he was traded for Yu Darvish. Clearly this front office has no issues trading prospects to acquire talent. Interestingly so, many fans who say the front office doesn’t trade prospects, also say they feel the front office trades away too much talent when they do make trades.
Ultimately the goal of the Dodgers’ brass has been to create a sustainable farm system to bring long-term success. Shrewd drafting, and even shrewder trades, have made the Dodgers’ farm system the envy of the league. They have done all this without going the route of a full tear-down rebuild like the Cubs, Astros, Braves, or Phillies. They also haven’t done the partial rebuild route like the Yankees did. Remember when some fans were beside themselves that the Dodgers did not meet the Phillies asking price for Hamels in 2014? Who did they want again? Oh just three fairly insignificant players: Joc Pederson, Julio Urias, and Corey Seager.
This continued even through last year’s off-season when the Dodgers would not trade Cody Bellinger for Brian Dozier despite the clamoring of some to make that trade. I think our own Hunter Thompson’s response on May 5th speaks for itself:
Shoutout to everyone who crucified the Dodgers FO for not getting Dozier because they refused to include Bellinger in the deal pic.twitter.com/Y4p8OmDGvm
— Hunter Thompson (@Officialism27) May 6, 2017
The bottom-line is that this front office has been quite brilliant in the last 4 years since they took over. They’ve brought in key talent that has contributed to the team’s success and they’ve built a glorious farm system that is churning out talent on a yearly basis. Without the restraint of this front office there is a good chance we wouldn’t be watching guys like Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger driving this team’s success. Also, so-called “bargain hunting” has brought us Chris Taylor and Brandon Morrow over the years. It is every fan’s right to question their team’s management and the moves they do or do not make. But this needs to be tempered with an acknowledgment of their successes as well.
Hopefully this trend of success and brilliance will continue this off-season. The Dodgers have already added Tom Koehler and Henry Owens to the team. Both have shown high ceilings in the past, but have not lived up to them. Koehler has that Brandon Morrow, mediocre starter turned dynamite reliever, look about him. And Henry Owens is that classic buy-low on a once top-prospect move. Both of which could reap huge rewards for the front office, and credit should be given where credit is due. Do you agree or disagree? Let us know your thoughts!
[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”newwindow” url=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/the-dodgers-claim-henry-owens-off-waivers-from-diamondbacks-ht0696/2017/12/22/”]The Dodgers Claim Henry Owens Off Waivers From Diamondbacks[/button]