For quite some time, nobody really questioned the Los Angeles Dodgers' practices. They have been the best team in baseball for the last decade in terms of consistency, star power and regular season success. They even have the 2020 World Series title to reference, even though it's losing its luster a bit.
They've made blockbuster trades. They've made splashy free agent signings. They've won 10 division titles. They've made three World Series. With that track record, it's hard to complain or try to spot inconsistencies/failures.
But all it's taken was a few bad decisions and two early playoff exits for the full-court press to begin. After their NLDS loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks -- the first time the Dodgers were swept in a playoff series since 2006 -- fans (and the LA media) lost their minds.
Previously, nobody really concerned themselves with the machinations of the front office or ownership. Andrew Friedman was untouchable and the ownership group was regarded as the most benevolent in the league.
It doesn't take long for the mob to turn, though, and after Friedman's been questioned for the better part of a year now, controlling owner Mark Walter is in the crosshairs of the fanbase and media. Are we seeing a version of what the Red Sox have done? Walter is the co-owner of Chelsea F.C. in the English Premier League, which is drawing comparisons to the Fenway Sports Group's stake in Liverpool that has very much dictated their baseball operations.
LA media taking the next step and calling out Dodgers owner for team's shortcomings
This LA Times column, however, perhaps misses the point. Walter's presence surrounding the Dodgers hasn't been as frequent, so that's the problem? Don't you want an owner that isn't meddling too much in baseball operations, especially when said owner is believed to not know that much about baseball?
The trust displayed in Friedman is what you want from a high-profile ownership group. And Friedman certainly isn't doing a bad job. But he does need more financial resources, which is where Walter can help. Walter hawking over the baseball ops department, which writer Dylan Hernandez seems to suggest as a solution in his column, wouldn't do much. The Dodgers are perhaps a bit stuck in their ways with how they go about their baseball personnel decisions, but it's not like Walter's been around the game long enough to implement his perspective and feel for what's gone wrong.
The Dodgers need to insist on being less financially flexible. This is the second-biggest market in the country and they only have two long-term contracts on the payroll, if you even want to count Freddie Freeman's $162 million deal, which looks like pennies to them.
Ownership should fully be removed from the equation unless overarching changes are needed in terms of replacing a regime or if the checkbook needs to be dusted off and used more frequently. In the Dodgers' case, it's the latter.
Friedman has arguably gotten a little bit too fancy and pedantic with his acquisitions and decisions, which deserves criticism, but Walter can't fix that. He can, however, along with the board, urge the Dodgers to sign some expensive free agents and lessen the concerns around the finances -- something that will undoubtedly help the team turn things around and assist with their postseason shortcomings.