Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Category: Front office (Page 1 of 3)

Why ‘Dodger for life’ looks good for Clayton Kershaw

Addressing the strong possibility that Clayton Kershaw will opt out of his contract with the Dodgers after the 2018 season, Dodger owner and chairman Mark Walter told Jon Heyman of FanRag (I still can’t believe that’s the name) Sports that the future Hall of Famer “should be a Dodger for life.”

Walter’s waxings are warmly welcome but shouldn’t be shocking. Short of seeing the front office and the pitcher side-by-side at a press conference, nearly every sign you might observe points to the Dodgers and Kershaw forming a more perfect union.

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Success and shortcomings alike fuel Dodgers’ 2017 World Series bid

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

When you fall short of a championship, as the Dodgers did this year, there’s a certain game face you’re required to display — a certain stoicism or even gravity.

Show any pride in partial achievement, and you risk conveying that you aren’t committed to the larger goal, that you don’t understand how important a title is, that you just don’t get it.

The reality is, yes, you can feel good about the positives from a season without diminishing the craving — the gut-wrenching craving — for ultimate greatness. Pride and desire aren’t opposites.

Think of your team as you would your child. To want anything less than the best for your kin would be negligent. To dismiss your children’s smaller accomplishments wholesale when they aren’t the best — that’s negligent, too.

You learn from failure, but you can also feed off success.

When Andrew Friedman and Dave Roberts met reporters this afternoon to bring closure to the Dodgers’ season, the different threads were front and center. No one felt ashamed of the effort or the intermediate achievements, even if no one was satisfied with the final result.

In other words, there was no mistaking the determination to go farther. Pride and desire.

“Obviously, the No. 1 goal is to play in the World Series, and we came up short,” said Roberts, who was named Sporting News NL Manager of the Year today. “I think a lot of good things are in place to bring a championship back here to Los Angeles. Since last December, the process of how we go about things as an organization, how the guys on the field play the game … I think we did a lot of good things.

“You can look back at this past series (against Chicago), and we didn’t play our best baseball and certain things could have changed that would have affected the outcome. You can talk about that forever. But I think the time we put into creating an environment, syncing it with the ownership, front office, coaching staff, players, training staff — those are things that are really tangible I think. I think that is something we’re going to hang our hats on, and we’ll be ready to go next spring.”

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Andrew Friedman, Dave Roberts explain Dodgers’ NLDS roster choices

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

The Dodgers faced several hard choices in coming up with their 25-man roster for the National League Division Series — and to some extent, the specific matchup with the Washington Nationals served as a tiebreaker.

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One celebration down, ‘three more celebrations’ to go for NL West champion Dodgers


By Jon Weisman

One of these years, it wasn’t going to happen. One of these years, the National League West title would go to someone else.

Three months ago, 2016 looked dangerously like it would be that year. The Dodgers began the season in pursuit of their fourth straight division championship, but on June 26, eight games down in the division, one ace down on the disabled list — it was a feeding frenzy for those looking to bury Los Angeles.

Exactly three months later, on September 26, the Dodgers will wake up not eight games down in the NL West, but eight games up — and playoff bound.

Instead of surrendering with Clayton Kershaw out, the Dodgers found a deep resolve. Not coincidentally, it came from a deep roster.

“We talked a lot at Spring Training about depth in the organization,” president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said, in the bombastic clubhouse after today’s clinching victory over Colorado. “It wasn’t something that we were necessarily eager to showcase, as early as we did and as often as we did. But it’s an incredible organization. The number of fingerprints on this division title spans so many different players and so many different departments in our organization. So many people can be proud of it.

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Andrew Friedman discusses Urias, Wood, Ryu, Bolsinger

[milbvideo id=”657718883″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

By Jon Weisman

Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman fielded questions on a conference call from New York late today, mainly on Julio Urias but also on the status of Mike Bolsinger, Alex Wood and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Here are Friedman’s comments (the questions are paraphrased):

When was the decision to promote Urias made?

We’ve had a lot of conversations in the last month about Julio, thinking through different ideas in terms how he can help us win games. It’s not just a case of assessing his talent and seeing if he could help us, it’s also about finishing off some development — also the workload and how to manage that going forward. When this (left triceps soreness) came up with Woody, it made it obviously much easier in that we needed someone who’d be able to go Friday.

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Interview: Forging a career in baseball operations

Emilee Fragapane 2015 012815js279

Emilee Fragapane

Megan Schroeder 2016 011316js088

Megan Schroeder

Providing an enlightening window into the evolving Dodger front office, senior research and development analyst Megan Schroeder and baseball operations coordinator Emilee Fragapane spoke to Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller on Baseball Prospectus’ “Effectively Wild” podcast about what they do, the impressive level of study that prepared them, and their rare gender status in their roles.  Give it a listen

— Jon Weisman

View from the top: Andrew Friedman analyzes three keys to the Dodgers’ future

Roberts Friedman

Andrew Friedman and Dave Roberts before a rain delay April 9 at San Francisco. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Taking a break from the standing desk in his office overlooking left field at Dodger Stadium, 18 months into his tenure as Dodger president of baseball operations, Andrew Friedman was asked to reflect.

In the brief pause that followed, you could feel the sheer volume of all the moves and maneuvering roll through his brain like a freight train.

“It’s been such a frenetic pace,” Friedman said, “I feel like I’ve been drinking out of a firehose for the past year and a half.”

But the moment did provide an opportunity for Friedman to assess the state of the squad and look ahead toward a future filled with potential — all in pursuit of the unquestioned grand prize of a World Series title.

What follows are Friedman’s thoughts on three areas critical to that pursuit …

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Howie Kendrick and the long Dodger lineup

By Jon Weisman

The Dodgers’ lineup might be defined less by the absence of a traditional leadoff hitter than by the absence of a traditional No. 8 hitter.

Of their eight most likely 2016 position-player starters — and we’ll count newly resigned second baseman Howie Kendrick among them — none has a projected on-base percentage below .311, nor a weighted on-base average below .319.

In 2016, according to Fangraphs, the average No. 8 hitter in the National League had a .302 OBP and .283 wOBA.

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Greg Maddux, Raul Ibanez join Dodger front office

Greg Maddux finished off the Dodgers NLDS Game 1 victory at Chicago on October 1, 2008. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Greg Maddux finished off the Dodgers NLDS Game 1 victory at Chicago on October 1, 2008. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Raul Ibanez finished his MLB career with Kansas City in 2014. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Raul Ibanez wrapped up his MLB career with Kansas City in 2014. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

By Jon Weisman

For the third time, Greg Maddux is a Dodger.

The Hall of Famer and two-time Dodger pitcher, as well as 19-year MLB veteran Raul Ibanez, have been hired as special assistants to president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and the entire department.

In their roles, Maddux and Ibañez will assist in all aspects of baseball operations, including scouting, player development and working with the club’s players, both at the Major and minor league levels.

For the past four seasons, Maddux has been a special assistant to Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, after having been in a similar role for the Cubs and GM Jim Hendry. He was also pitching coach for Team USA during the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

Maddux, who unbelievably turns 50 in April, pitched 114 1/3 of his 5,008 1/3 career innings with the Dodgers, combining 2006 and 2008 stints into a 3.94 ERA. As an Atlanta Brave, he was the last pitcher to win four National League ERA titles (1993-95, 1998) until Clayton Kershaw matched him from 2011-14.

The 43-year-old Ibanez played his final big-league game in September 2014, completing his 2,161-game MLB career with 305 home runs, hitting as many as 34 in 2009 for Philadelphia.

Alex Anthopoulos takes long view of Dodger tenure

Alex Anthopoulos at Spring Training in Dunedin, Florida last year. (Nathan Denette/AP/The Canadian Press)

Alex Anthopoulos at Spring Training in Dunedin, Florida in 2015. (Nathan Denette/AP/The Canadian Press)

By Jon Weisman

As word spread of Alex Anthopoulos joining the Dodgers as vice president of baseball operations, one big question naturally followed. How long would a lead actor (just named 2015 Sporting News MLB Executive of the Year) want to take on a supporting part in another organization?

But Anthopoulos worried about the spotlight, nor is he putting a time limit on his move to Los Angeles. In fact, he’s doubling down on his commitment by moving his family to Southern California after school lets out in Toronto this year.

“That came up with a few of the clubs that I spoke to,” the former Blue Jays senior vice president and general manager said in a conference call with reporters today. “A few of them said, ‘You’re probably only going to be here for a year.’ It was flattering to hear that, but at the same time, we know that there’s only 28 of these jobs with other teams. I wouldn’t move my family out here if I felt this was going to be a quick stay.”

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Alex Anthopoulos joins Dodger front office

Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images

By Jon Weisman

Alex Anthopoulos, named the 2015 MLB Executive of the Year by The Sporting News, has been hired by the Dodgers as vice president of baseball operations.

During the 2010-15 seasons, Anthopoulos was senior vice president and general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, who went to the American League Championship Series last year and won the AL East title.

The 38-year-old Anthopoulos will assist in all aspects of baseball operations, working with president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, general manager Farhan Zaidi and senior vice president of baseball operations Josh Byrnes.

“We are thrilled to be bringing Alex on board,” Friedman said. “Farhan (Zaidi, Josh, and myself all have longstanding relationships with him and believe his experience and perspective will be a tremendous asset to our organization.”

Anthopoulos began his baseball career with the Expos as a media relations intern in 2000 before transitioning to scouting for the club for the next three seasons. He joined Toronto following the 2003 season as a scouting coordinator and earned a promotion to vice president of baseball operations and assistant general manager in 2006, before taking over as general manager in October 2009.

Why Kenta Maeda offers high upside

Maeda headshotBy Jon Weisman

Twice during his introductory press conference today, speaking through a translator, new Dodger righty Kenta Maeda said he really looked forward to being in a “champagne fight” at the end of the season.

That Maeda acknowledged reported “irregularities” in the physical that was submitted to Major League teams pursuing the Japanese baseball star certainly affected the structure of the eight-year, incentive-laden deal he signed, but did not diminish the confidence that he or the Dodgers have that he’ll be in the thick of the championship bubbly.

“Obviously, we spent a lot of time evaluating and scouting Kenta over his very successful career in Japan,” Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “We feel like the pitch mix will play here — obviously the fastball, slider is kind of his out pitch, his changeup has really come on, very good feel for a curveball. The ability to show so many different pitches and command them, coupled with the kind of athlete he is — he’s a tremendous athlete, fields his position well, holds runners well, can hit — obviously helps in the National League.”

No one today would talk in specifics about what cropped up in Maeda’s physical, but Friedman said that he is “totally asymptomatic.”

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Dodgers are all right with lefty Kazmir

The Dodgers are Scott Kazmir's sixth team. Here are three of them (Getty Images)

Scott Kazmir is joining his sixth MLB team. Above are three of them. (Getty Images)

leftoriumBy Jon Weisman

Though Scott Kazmir potentially gives the Dodgers an all-lefty starting rotation, the newest Dodger isn’t your usual southpaw.

Over the past two seasons, right-handed batters have a .643 OPS against Kazmir. That’s the seventh-best figure in baseball for lefties, just ahead of Madison Bumgarner. (Clayton Kershaw, not surprisingly, is No. 1, while Alex Wood and Brett Anderson are in the top 15.)

“Kaz is a guy who’s got a very balanced split,” Dodger general manager Farhan Zaidi said in a conference call with reporters today, shortly after the Dodgers announced the acquisition of the soon-to-be 32-year-old. “His best pitch is his changeup, which really neutralizes righties. He’s not a lefty in the conventional sense.”

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Farhan Zaidi comments briefly on Aroldis Chapman

During a conference call with reporters today about the Scott Kazmir signing, Dodger general manager Farhan Zaidi was asked about Aroldis Chapman, who was traded by the Reds this week to the Yankees. Here was his reply …

“We obviously, around the time when this down around the winter meetings, didn’t want to comment, and even now I’ll keep my words fairly brief,” Zaidi said. “This is the one time I’m going to comment on it, because we’re talking about a player on another team’s roster. We did come to an agreement in principle (to acquire Chapman), but as (additional) details came to light, we just weren’t comfortable making the move. Every situation is different, every organization has to make their own decision about it. We made the decision based on the information that (was) at hand, we stand by it and we move on.”

— Jon Weisman

Dodger exec Erik Braverman becomes role model for LGBT youth


Erik Braverman has been out in his private life for years, but has kept his sexual orientation from many in baseball. With MLB’s very public embrace of the LGBT community, Braverman wants youth to know they can be out in pro sports.

So reads the subhead from Cyd Ziegler’s story at Outsports about Dodger vice president of marketing and broadcasting Erik Braverman. Here’s an excerpt:

… Inside baseball — even within Dodger Stadium — Braverman held back his private life, his truth, his identity.

“I didn’t want anyone to, in any way, not view me for the quality of my work,” Braverman told Outsports. “I don’t want to be know as the gay executive who happens to run marketing and broadcasting for the Dodgers. I want my accomplishments and my job to be first and foremost and speak for themselves.”

Since starting Outsports in 1999, I had from time to time asked Braverman if it was time yet to share his story. I had met him playing in the L.A. gay basketball league before Jim Buzinski and I had started Outsports, and long before Braverman was working in Major League Baseball. As he ascended the ranks at ESPN Radio and then the Dodgers, I kept on him, a gnat that buzzed in his ear once every couple of years.

It was only minutes before he replied: “I think the time is right.”

There are lots of reasons people in sports come out publicly. Braverman isn’t remotely doing this for himself, content with living his lifelong dream in baseball even if it’s meant some people may ask the occasional question about a missing girlfriend.

For him this is the last step to burying his fears as a kid and helping other LGBT people interested in a career in baseball take the leap. …

It’s a terrific story and one I’m really pleased to share. Read the whole story here.

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