Change is good, although sometimes it’s hard to accept. I’m still reeling over losing Matt Kemp, Dee Gordon and Hanley Ramirez this winter. The departure of Matt Kemp has definitely made me feel a bit depressed since he had been a long-time favorite along with Andre Ethier. The days of Kemp and Dre hitting back-to-back in the lineup and manning the Dodger outfield are long gone. With Andre Ethier on the chopping block next, it is apparent that Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi have no emotional connection or allegiance to any of the Dodgers. Sweeping reform has taken our Hanley, Kemp and Gordon away from Dodger Stadium, but it doesn’t mean the team won’t win next year.
While I am a fan at heart, and the flurry of trades hit me hard, I realize that what is important is winning. Winning it all. If we have to trade away Matt Kemp’s bat, Dee Gordon’s speed and let go Hanley’s smile, then the Dodgers better be on their way to a championship. Soon.
Losing favorite players to free agency and trades is par for the course in professional sports. Yet the sad sting of watching Matt Kemp hit Bison Blasts against the
Andrew Friedman has not been shy when it comes to making sweeping changes. Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Dodgers next season for San Diego doesn’t get any easier even after experiencing the heartbreak of losing Dodger greats like Mike Piazza. Even though Piazza was different, because he was one of the best hitting catchers of all-time and in his prime when he was traded away, the Kemp trade is going to take awhile for me to accept.
The new front office executives came from financial backgrounds. Like stock trading, they have sold high on Kemp and Gordon before their value declined. They are investing in the minor league system in order to create long-term viability for the franchise while at the same time remaining competitive in the present. While I think Friedman and Zaidi have done a good job in replenishing some of the farm system while strengthening the defense at the Major League level, I still feel like there is a disconnection between their process and the discontent felt by the fans after the overhaul.
Dodger baseball is a billion dollar business. I’m glad I’m not the one stressing out about a $200 million payroll and trying to improve upon the past two seasons and the disappointment of failing to get to the World Series with such an expensive group of players. I understand the logistics and statistical reasons why Gordon and Kemp were shipped off to Miami and San Diego, yet I’m having trouble balancing my emotional connectedness to the players and my hopefulness for the future of the franchise behind the moves made by the new regime.
It’s all about balance, and right now I feel somewhat torn between my heart and my brain when it comes to the roster revamp made by FriedZaidi. Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles times continues to stir up controversy by questioning the moves the “number crunchers” have made during the winter meetings. He even goes on to say that “I fear for their future.” Bill Plaschke goes a bit further by bashing Andrew Friedman, and he even feels that Friedman is “intent on blowing them up.” While I can understand the shock of losing Matt Kemp and the major trades which went down this week, there’s no reason to think that Andrew Friedman is doing anything but trying to field the best team he can while setting the Dodgers up for continued success beyond 2015.
When Frank McCourt’s reigns were finally taken away from him as owner of the Dodgers, I think we all knew that there needed to be sweeping reform. Let’s not forget that once the Guggenheim group took over, the Dodgers won the N.L. West in two consecutive years, and they made it to the precipice of the World Series in 2013. So close, yet so far.
Call to the Pen
Even before the disaster of the 2014 NLDS, changes were beginning to take shape in the front office. It was only a matter of time before Mark Walter and company brought their own General Manager and personnel in. The Dodgers are no longer in transition between the dark ages of McCourt and the new money of Guggenheim. The climatic move which would begin to shape the Friedman/Zaidi era would be the Matt Kemp trade. McCourt’s final signing before he left was of Matt Kemp, and now with Kemp gone, the Dodgers are being reinvented by Friedman as he boldly takes charge.
Matt Kemp, Dee Gordon and Hanley Ramirez were extremely popular amongst fans. I’m sure many will still be donning their Ramirez shirts (both Manny and Hanley) next season and beyond. Once a Dodger, always a Dodger. With a very supportive and involved fan base, the front office should take the fans’ perspectives into account, at least a little. The Dodgers continue to lead the league in attendance, and I doubt that Matt Kemp’s departure will put a kink into the ticket sales that much. After all, the Dodger fans have been through it all. We have endured through the best and worst times. We will get through this. We just love the Dodgers.
Balancing the expectations from the fans and the analysis they do with statistics is a tough job for outsiders to accomplish when taking over the decision making from long-time executives who know the organization inside and out. Ned Colletti loves Juan Uribe, but Andrew Friedman hasn’t yet gained a personal connection with most of the Dodgers. I’d like to see Friedman and Zaidi consider the ramifications of upending the entire roster through the eyes of the fans as well as what looks good on paper.
There has been a lot of talk about going back to the Dodger traditions. A part of the Dodger legacy is the storied history of the franchise along with the relationship the team has with the fans not only in Los Angeles, but also Brooklyn, Cuba, Korea, and the rest of the world. I think a part of the backlash Friedman is experiencing from some is because the Dodgers feel like a family to us, and it seems as though the players are just a list of numbers to him much like stocks are to brokers. Are KMP and KRSH the new stock symbols for the Dodgers?
We won’t know the success of these recent moves right away. It’s still a work in progress. I’m very excited to see some of the new Dodgers like Howie Kendrick and Brandon McCarthy (the deal is yet to be officially announced). I feel as though the Dodgers’ roster did need a shake up, and the new executives aren’t looking to upset fans on purpose. They want the same thing we do. They are on our side. I’d like just a bit more of a human element considered. Dan Haren thinks so too.
What’s the best remedy for a broken Dodger heart? Lots of winning.