Andrew Friedman, the Head Scientist at Dodgers Labs, has concocted some of baseball's most impressive regular season rosters in recent years.
In 2022, the group congealed into a potential record-setter, only for another free spender in the San Diego Padres to reverse the course of the entire regular season during a best-of-five series. In the resulting season, Friedman listened to criticism. He upped the roster's xGRIT. He added a team-wide dance. It didn't matter much; three games again, and off you go.
At the heart of the Dodgers' recent playoff failures have sat their two offensive centerpieces; Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman opted out of the 2023 NLDS, helping to doom Los Angeles far too early. That does not seem like Friedman's fault. Any executive worth his salt would leap at the chance to acquire two MVP candidates. And any manager worth his salt would continue to play those MVP candidates in October.
The Dodgers players deserve blame here. So does Friedman, though, for shopping the trade deadline aisles and settling on a lightly-used Eduardo Rodriguez, who had zero interest in playing baseball for him in August, September or October. That left the Dodgers high and dry. As did Clayton Kershaw's injury. As did the incident that may keep Julio Urías out of baseball indefinitely. It was an odd season, packed with twists and turns. Blame falls at the feet of many parties. By the end, it all became too much for any sane and rational steward to bear.
But ... still. Still. After two consecutive years of this, something intrinsic needs to change. Or, at the very least, the fans need to be placated after the close of the season by the idea that something might change. Friedman did not provide that this week, instead showing faith in both his process and the personnel emboldened to execute it.
Dodgers' Andrew Friedman wants to bring everyone back for 2024
On Tuesday, Friedman called both of the team's most recent seasons "organizational failures," but opted not to address whatever the root cause of those failures might be.
That is not to point the finger at any one man or demand a Betts trade. That is just to say Friedman indicated there was "a lot to be proud of" about the Dodgers' regular season, and blamed some element of "October theater" for two consecutive NLDS flops that hung on limp arms and unused bats.
Now, per Friedman, it's on the Dodgers' brass to figure out what about their recent October exits was outright random and what was preventable. If he continues to believe in Dave Roberts, then he's running out of time to be proven right. But Roberts, while one of many common threads in recent years, is the most easily dismissible.
If Friedman's not even willing to entertain such a move, the change he seeks might be further than it should. This organizational failure might just persist after all.