What’s Next For The New Look Dodgers?
By Scott Andes
It’s done. The first major move of the Dodger’s off season happened Tuesday, and it will be a tough one to top. With the announcement of Andrew Friedman as the new President of Baseball Operations, Los Angeles vastly upgraded their front office. What that means for the team going forward is yet to be seen, but there are a few prominent areas that seem like obvious areas of concern for the new regime to prepare for 2015.
Perhaps most pressing is the bullpen. Outside of Kenley Jansen, the relievers on this team were an untrustworthy mess, perhaps best evidenced by Don Mattingly‘s decision to let a struggling Clayton Kershaw remain on the hill in Game One of the NLDS instead of turning to the bullpen. That decision led to eight runs in the seventh inning and a 10-9 loss in a game the Dodgers led 6-2 after six innings. A similar result for Kershaw and the Dodgers in game four could have been avoided with established arms responsible for innings 7-9, while reliever Scott Elbert got the loss in game three when Mattingly actually DID pull his starter after six, promptly allowing two runs in relief of Hyun-jin Ryu.
So yeah, bullpen needs to be addressed. Over ten years in Tampa Bay, Friedman proved adept at piecing together quality bullpens with bargain-value players like JP Howell, Troy Percival, Joel Peralta, and Kyle Farnsworth. Players like Fernando Rodney and Rafael Soriano has parlayed stellar performances with the Rays into major paydays elsewhere, while Tampa Bay simply found their next value reliever and kept on chugging along.
It seems likely that Friedman will continue with that philosophy, although going from the team with the fewest resources in baseball to the one with the most may do funny things to a man. If he decides to make a run at big-name free agent relievers, there are some intriguing names out there, including a trio of players Friedman’s Rays got to see up close in the AL East this season in Dave Robertson, Koji Uehara and Andrew Miller. Those names are exciting, and one of them landing in LA wouldn’t be the biggest surprise. Still, look for Friedman to seek out undervalued players both inside and outside of the organization to rebuild the pen, and remember how much success he’s had doing that in the past.
Another area of the roster that isn’t necessarily a concern but does need addressing is the outfield. It was crowded last year. Joc Pederson is about to make it even more so. With six quality outfielders on the roster and only three outfield spots to go around, something has to give. If the Dodgers make any trades this off season (most likely for starting pitching), it shouldn’t surprise anyone if an outfielder or two make up a major part of the deal. Ideally they would find a way to unload one or both of Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford‘s huge contracts. Expect to hear rumblings all off season around the outfielders as Friedman attempts to use his surplus of talent there to address needs elsewhere.
The Dodgers are a good team. They were a good team last year. Before the season started you could have gone to any number of bookmakers listed on www.gambling.com and found them listed as the World Series favorite. There were some ups and downs throughout the year, but by and large they stayed among Major League Baseball’s favorites from start to finish, and looked like a good bet going into the playoffs.
Unfortunately, the team’s most notable weakness (the bullpen) reared it’s ugly head against St. Louis. It was disappointing, to be sure. But the core of that playoff team is coming back, and now Andrew Friedman is in charge, and he has a payroll to play with that is unlike anything he ever had in his incredible decade in Tampa Bay. Expect him to start putting his stamp on this team right away, and expect them to be a favorite once more heading in to 2015.