As the offseason winds to a close, the LA Times’ Bill Plaschke talked with Dodgers part-owner Stan Kasten about the offseason. Here are the key takeaways.
Kasten immediately rebuked Plaschke for the LA Times’ overall take on the offseason.
I gave him an opportunity to address Dodgers fans’ concerns about ownership, and he emphatically embraced it.
“The L.A. Times’ characterization that everyone hates us has always been childish, superficial and wrong,” Kasten said of his ownership group.
While Kasten is right that many fans have been overly negative regarding the past half-decade of success, the LA Times itself has been on the side of the fans more when it comes to the 2019-20 offseason.
This offseason, many Dodgers fans were in lock-step with the Times, on and off of social media. Both have come off as frustrated and unhappy with the quietest offseason in recent memory. After missing out on the early stars in Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon to the rival New York Yankees and LA Angels of Anaheim, the front office has been heavily involved in rumors surrounding the three biggest stars of the trade market in Francisco Lindor, Mookie Betts, and Kris Bryant.
Kasten tries to provide a bright outlook regarding the offseason not being over, alluding to adding a star player via trade.
“There are guys that we think could be difference makers and we have pursued them, we are continuing to pursue them, when there is an opportunity we will certainly jump at it,” he said. “I like stars too … it’s cool, it’s fun, it’s fun for the team, it’s fun for the fans. But what’s most important is winning. And for the Dodgers, it’s winning year in and year out; that’s what I’m trying to build.”
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Even in this quote, Kasten comes off in a condescending way. The way he downplays the importance of stars to winning goes against everything baseball fans have seen over the last decade-plus. The teams that win the World Series are not always the division winners or the team with the best regular-season record; it’s the team with the star-power.
The Dodgers have seen this first hand over the past four seasons. Their stars, from Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen to Walker Buehler and Cody Bellinger, have struggled to maintain all of their regular-season success come October and November, especially when compared to the stars of the Astros, Red Sox, and Nationals.
Upon applying further pressure involving adding players with postseason success, Plaschke seems to crack Kasten, who begins to spiral into attacking the media and the fans.
“There are a lot of players who went to the World Series, weren’t successful, until the one time they finally were, it’s not a thing you can predict very easily,” Kasten said. “Last year you were all fixated on us getting Bryce Harper. … Not one of you were screaming, ‘You’ve got to re-sign Daniel Hudson’ [Washington’s postseason closer]. Two years ago, not one of you were saying, ‘You have to go out and make a trade for Steve Pearce’ [2017 World Series most valuable player with Boston].
In reality, the Dodgers have done a good job finding postseason performers that many would not predict (ie. Justin Turner, Brandon Morrow, Chris Taylor, and Max Muncy), but at the same time, the team’s stars are clearly not playoff performers compared to those of competing franchises.
That is the narrative that has been gaining momentum this offseason, that a veteran star needs to come in and anchor the young core of stars that can replace Kershaw and Turner over the next few seasons.
The former Atlanta Braves executive also pushes the “renewed pipeline” of “homegrown” stars as evidence that his front office has created as evidence that the owners are trying to win. While Friedman and company certainly have built something arguably even more sustainable than Ned Colletti’s farm system of the late-2000s, the same front office has chosen to pair these homegrown stars with injury-prone, expensive adds, like Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, and A.J. Pollock to name a few.
Ultimately, Kasten seems to be plugged into the concerns of fans but does not seem to be ready to address any of his own mistakes, or those of the ownership group in general. Instead, Kasten seems intent to distance himself from the fans, the media, and the “Twitterverse” (as he puts it).