By Jon Weisman
OK, so the Dodgers have no new manager or head trainer yet, no new free-agent signings or trades to announce, nothing locked down for the coaching staff.
But with the MLB General Managers meetings underway today through Thursday, Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman spoke to reporters to provide an offseason update. Here’s a sample of what was said …
On the Hot Stove market: “It’s obviously early in the process. … Right now, I think teams and players are in a fact-finding mode, and trying to get as good a sense as they can of what’s available and what’s possible. … For the most part, we’re going to be focused on pitching.”
What about the pitching staff: “This offseason is different than last in that going into next year, we feel much better about our pitching depth that will be in Oklahoma City. Obviously, (Hyun-Jin) Ryu is a big wild card. (Brandon) McCarthy will get back at some point in the 2016 season. And then you have (Mike) Bolsinger, (Carlos) Frias, Jose De Leon, (Julio) Urias, (Jharel) Cotton, Zach Lee, Joe Wieland. We have a number of guys we like that will be there, and that is a big difference for us just in terms of the depth that we’ll have on hand.
“That being said, we still need to round out our Opening Day pitching staff, and fortunately there are a lot of pitchers on the market, both the free-agent market and some trade conversations we’ve already had, which is a good thing. Really focusing on rounding out our rotation and being opportunistic in the pen is a large part of our focus.”
On talks with Zack Greinke: “Consistent with our policy, we’re not going to address specific conversations we’re having with free-agent players. Obviously, when the opt-out happened, we had conversations, and after that we’re going to leave it up to peoples’ imaginations.”
On the prospects for Ryu in 2016: “Every checkpoint has been incredibly optimistic, and if success were dictated by how hard he has attacked this rehab process, then I’m 100 percent convinced that he’ll be back by Opening Day. But you never really know. Each day, each week, each month gives us more clarity, so I don’t know yet whether we can fully count on him or not. … It is a little bit of a wild card, and we’ll just continue to assess it as regularly as we can.”
Could a young pitcher break into the starting rotation? “A lot of it is going to depend on what our roster looks like at the end of the winter. We have a lot of interesting guys that we like that at this moment are slated to open the year in Triple-A. If we get to the end of the winter and for whatever reason we have potentially have a rotation spot available, it’ll be a really interesting competition among a group of really talented pitchers to figure out what makes the most sense for Opening Day. But I think a number of these guys will impact us at some point in the 2016 season.”
On augmenting the bullpen: “If we can add someone that we can throw into the mix that can get high-leverage outs late in the game, that’s great. But, unfortunately, 29 other teams have the exact same mindset, so we’ll see how this winter shakes out. There are some guys on the free-agent market as well as the trade market that we’ll have on our radar and on our target list that we’ll see if we can figure out a way to acquire.”
On J.P. Howell declining to become a free agent: “I had some conversations. I know he loves it in L.A. — I know he and his wife are really happy. I know that he’s really happy with the team. I was not shocked, but I was certainly curious when the season ended, and during conversations leading up to it, it became more clear that he was going to stay.”
On how to build a championship team: “I don’t think we have a hard and fast rule on that. You look at four teams in the championship series, and all were constructed very differently, and it’s just another illustration of the fact that you can get there in different ways.”
On the nature of the offense: “Again, I don’t do well with hard and fast rules. I would like hitters that are really passive out of the strike zone, and really aggressive inside the strike zone and can hit the ball into the seats. I think there are players who accrue their value in different ways, that we are open-minded to. As a unit we need to do a better job situationally — some of that is personnel-driven, and some of that is a mindset, just continuing to talk to it and reinforce the team offense approach. The Cubs could have gotten to the World Series in theory, and they swung and missed a lot. There’s just a lot of ways to build a championship team. For the most part our core is in place, and we’re excited about that core.”
More on the core: “We’re pretty locked in offensively except for what we’re going to do at second base, whether that’s stay internal or go external. For the most part, our position group is pretty locked down.”
What about second base? “It’s somewhere in between. I think we’re fortunate to have Kiké (Hernandez) and (Jose) Peraza and their ability to bounce around and play different spots or play one spot more often. but we’ll also go out to market and look at the free-agent market as well as trades to see if we can augment our group and add someone who fits really well.”
More on Hernandez: “His track record (has shown) he handled right-handed pitching much better than he did last year. Obviously, he was tremendous against lefties. It was basically his first full season in the Major Leagues, and we’re very optimistic about what he can do going forward. Whether that’s playing second base or continuing to get a lot of at-bats and bouncing around different positions, I’m not sure yet.”
What needs to happen with Yasiel Puig next year: “Putting his body in the best position to play 150-plus games. He has continued to get bigger and stronger each year, and it may not be the optimal size for him to play 150-plus games. So that’s a focus. He’s been getting after it this winter. (Strength and conditioning coach) Brandon McDaniel has talked to him regularly, and the reports have been great. And then also mechanically, when he had the blister issue, he formed some bad habits out of muscle memory trying to overcompensate for the hand, so it’s just getting him back to what he was mechanically.”
On Joc Pederson and Yasmani Grandal, after their second-half struggles: “I expect that both of them will be one of 13 on the position-player group. … We’ll see how what our roster looks like at the end of the winter and as we head into Spring Training, but I’m incredibly optimistic about what those guys can accomplish, and we’ll include Puig in that as well. Those are three big wild cards heading into the 2016 season, that we’ll do everything we can for them to be as good as they can in 2016. If that happens I think we can have a chance to be one of the more dynamic offenses in the National League. … Being around them for a year and seeing their work ethic and what they put into it gives me a lot of optimism that they will be significant contributors for us next year.”
More on Pederson: “He talked about it over the weekend. I just think mechanically, slowly over time, he got into some bad habits. Nobody wanted to correct that as badly as he did. It’s just a really difficult thing to do this season. He’s really focused on it this winter and will work incredibly hard to get back to where he was. You’re not asking them to change and become someone that they’re not. It’s much easier when you’re trying to figure out a way to get someone back to where they were, as opposed to something completely new to him. … I think when Joc’s right, he can hit left-hand pitching. It’s the benefit of having versatility.”
On A.J. Ellis: “We haven’t really gotten to our existing guys in great detail yet, with everything else we’ve had going on, as well as the personnel hirings that we’re doing, so we have not spent a lot of time talking through our existing group that is under control. I’m guessing that in the next few weeks we’ll really bear down on the guys that we have now and what makes the most sense going forward. Obviously A.J. was a large part of our success last year. Both what he contributes on and off the field is certainly not lost on us.”
Something that can be said about the next manager: “We’ll be looking for a manager who can adapt different personnel, and someone who can appreciate the strengths of the guys on our roster at any given time and put them in the best position to succeed.”
The Dodgers just signed international scouting executive Ismael Cruz away from the Blue Jays. Cruz was prominent figure in Mets’ signings of Jeurys Familia and Wilmore Flores, plus, was heavily involved in Blue Jays signing Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. and finding Roberto Osuna. Toronto traded both Chase Dejong and Tim Locastro to the Dodgers in order to have enough slot money to sign Vlad Jr.
Eder Paz (@Eder_Cheddar)
Can we go ahead and look for a replacement hitting coach? Mark McGwire handled that situation horribly.
People should have been more outraged about him than Don Mattingly who did his best with what he had.
Should get a replacement before all of social media jumps on the #FireMcGwire band wagon.
I think that Dodger management needs to note what McGuire did and did not do this season. I would think that his job was to help those players that needed hitting help get all that he has. In looking at the hitting problems, I do not think he did anything to help the dodgers. Management needs to hire someone who can do the job. I would think anyone other than McGuire could do a better job. Even you ! ! ! One last comment………Management needs to re-sign Greinke no matter what it takes. Trade Puig for another starter before his worth declines further than it already has. Whats wrong in getting Mike Scoisa to manage the Dodgers? I think he is one of the best mangers in baseball and definitely would put more butts in seats next year.
As far as Scioscia, First he’s under contract with the Angels, so a deal would need to be made to get him. Second, considering he didn’t get along with DiPoto and basically had him ran out of town, probably would be hard to get along with this FO. So really he’s not a good fit for this FO to get him as the manager.
Phil K McLeod III
All the thing the Freeman says are very good. I been a Dodger Fan over 57 years. Freeman talk about on the hot stove market and what about pitching staff, on talk with Zack Greinke and on the prospect for Ryu in 2016 and the reporter ask Could a young Pitcher break in to the starting rotation and on augmenten the bullpen. On JP Howell is staying with the Dodger he love being a Dodger. Also he talk about how to built a championship team and on the nature of the offense.. More on the core of the Dodger how they operate, talk about Hernendez Puig and Peterson this are young and talented youngsters More developement over the winner ball, moof them will travel and play ball all year round to get better, Lets see what develops with all this, I thank he is in the right with all this. I hope we keep Zack Greinke we must pay what I thank he is worth, Pay him the same money you paid Clayton less year. I thank you would sign with us again. Good luck with all this. First Hand Scoop.
Al Kenderes (@Coach__K)
I learned more from the comments than Friedman! I thought McQwire was gone…weren’t all coaches free to look for new jobs. If he isn’t gone he should be!! I agree with Eder and Arnie.
Correct, no coach has been hired or re-hired for next year yet. Honeycutt looks to be back, but it’s not official yet. I would think the manager will be hired first, and then the coaches with the new manager having a say in the decisions. I would be shocked if McGwire is brought back, however I thought he would go to the Angels, but they hired Dave Hansen last week, so that move is out.
jerry ozmon (@jozmon)
I think the Dodgers are in trouble with this front office. They appear to be totally ok to just be good enough to win the lousy weak west division of the N.L. Bonehead Friedman thinks Grandal, Pederson, and Puig can do an about face and have great years. It has been painfully obvious that the Dodgers do fine in their division but when they face good pitching they fold every time and he keeps saying we are fine offensively and that the four teams remaining to enter the World Series were equally matched. But all four teams would have no problem with the light hitting Dodgers. We couldnt hit the Mets pitching but the Royals could but they are a much superior hitting team then the Dodgers for sure. How can he say we are pretty much set offensively? This F.O . also detests taking on a contract for a pitcher into year 35 so dont count on getting Greinke back into the fold with these fools running the show. Friedman clams we need pitching same as we did in July when Cueto and Price were available and he went out and retained Matt Latos Great Moves F.O. Give me back the old F.O that signed and brought in the good players we still have like A. Gon and Turner, and signed Kershaw and brought in Ryu, Not these fools who traded away D. Gordon and signed losers like McCarthy and Andersen and are now in charge of bringing in a puppet Manager like Kapler.
The manager should have fired the front office , a poor bunch of baseball brains ( see Dee Gordon) and now they don’t know what to do about second base , give me a break !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
They best not get Utley again. What a waste of money. Cant hit more than 200. Why get him? Cheep maybe.