Dodger Thoughts

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

Category: Front office (Page 2 of 4)

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

Braverman

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.

Winter Meetings update from Kasten, Friedman

Rizzo Kasten

By Jon Weisman

It’s hard to have settled feelings about a team that’s in flux. And perhaps it’s an indulgence to ask for patience.

While unable to discuss any pending transactions until they are official — sorry about that, but that’s how MLB rolls — Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman did advocate for the long view in speaking Tuesday with SportsNet LA’s Alanna Rizzo from this week’s Winter Meetings in Nashville.

Suffice it to say, today’s Chase Utley announcement won’t be the last the Dodgers make this offseason.

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Dave Roberts discusses Kershaw, Greinke

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Dallas is a pretty convenient stop on the way from Los Angeles to Nashville, and Clayton Kershaw’s house is a pretty nice place for a layover.

So on his way to baseball’s annual Winter Meetings, new Dodger manager Dave Roberts spent several hours meeting with Kershaw, to discuss next year’s team in general and the departure of Zack Greinke in particular.

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Live-blog: Dave Roberts introductory press conference

By Jon Weisman

Dave Roberts is being introduced at Dodger Stadium shortly after 11 a.m. as the Dodgers’ manager. We’ll highlight some of the key quotes as they come here …

(Also, note that Roberts will be holding a live Q&A on Twitter this afternoon – check the hashtag #AskDave.)

Introducing Roberts is Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman: “We are highly confident that he is going to play a significant role in us shaping a culture of sustained success here. Magic Johnson then presents Roberts with his Dodger jersey, wearing No. 30.

Roberts begins with some introductory remarks:

  • “For me, this is obviously a huge day for me, speaking personally and on behalf of my family. … I think for me to have an opportunity to put the Dodger uniform on again, it’s come full circle.”
  • “People have asked me in passing about this opportunity. I look at it as a responsibility.”
  • “I see Don Newcombe. I see Maury Wills. I see Tommy Lasorda. I see Adrian Gonzalez. These are people, when they wear that Dodger uniform, they wear it the right way — they wear it with pride.”

https://twitter.com/Dodgers/status/671771309529939968/photo/1

Next, the Q&A begins:

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Dodgers offseason update from Andrew Friedman

Tommy Lasorda, one of the people not interviewing for the Dodger managerial opening, with Andrew Friedman. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Tommy Lasorda, who is not interviewing for the Dodger managerial opening, speaks with Andrew Friedman in August. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

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 …

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Deconstructing the departure of Don Mattingly

Friedman IMG_2246

Andrew Friedman at the televised press conference discussing Don Mattingly’s exit.

Don Mattingly and Andrew Friedman chat at an October 7 workout. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Don Mattingly and Andrew Friedman chat at an October 7 workout. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

This would have been a good day to own stock in the word “mutual.”

Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi — along with outgoing manager Don Mattingly — fought an uphill battle before a skeptical press corps this afternoon to emphasize that the decision for Mattingly to leave the Dodgers was a shared one.

“If there was a reason that this happened, we would share it,” Friedman said during a 45-minute session for him and Zaidi at Dodger Stadium. “There’s not. It was a collection of a lot of different conversations over many days that got us to this point. So it’s not so black and white here. There is a huge middle, and it’s gray, and that’s how everything played out.”

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Live-blog: Farhan Zaidi speaks about Chase Utley trade and state of the Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

In the wake of tonight’s acquisition of Chase Utley, Dodger general manager Farhan Zaidi spoke on a conference call with reporters. Here are some selected quotes …

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Live-blog: Andrew Friedman on Hector Olivera acquisition, Dodger health concerns

Andrew Friedman with Dodger clubhouse manager Mitch Poole in April (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Andrew Friedman with Dodger clubhouse manager Mitch Poole in April (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman chatted with reporters beginning at 5 p.m. about the Hector Olivera and Pablo Fernandez signings (and presumably other Dodger-related matters). What follows is a live-blog of some of his remarks.

  • In the near term, we’re going to send (Olivera) to Arizona, get in game shape, work out for a few days and reassess from there. He’ll be there for a week or so, then head to Rancho for a few games … then get him to Oklahoma City and play there for a little while and reassess.
  • Having as many as good players as possible not only helps you in constructing your own roster but also allows you the opportunity to have more good players to talk about with other teams. If we’re ever complaining about having too much depth, that’s certainly a good problem to have. … Having a player who can impact the game offensively like Hector can is obviously a good thing.
  • We did a thorough medical review and feel good about where he is … he takes care of himself really well. We’ve had him at our academy in the Dominican for a month … seen how he bounces back day after day.
  • Versatility on the defensive side – he’ll tell you he’s most comfortable at second, but he’s had no problems moving around the infield. The reports (at second and third) are both good.
  • At this point it’s premature to speculate (how fast he’ll impact at the Major Leagues). We’ve seen with guys in the past that it’s hard to miss Spring Training and hit the ground running, but everybody’s different.
  • We feel at this point and time offense is at a premium in the game … his bat can have an impact.
  • We feel very confident he’s going to come up at some point this year and help us win games.
  • His hands play (defensively). … He’s a big physical guy and probably bigger than most people think of when they think of a Major League second baseman, but his hands work really well and his footwork is very good.
  • We’re going to stretch (Fernandez) out as a starter. We’ve talked to him about it and he’s excited about it. He’s got a five-pitch mix … and has had really good command throughout his career. (Friedman compared him to Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez.)
  • We’re very mindful of how difficult it is (to transition). … We’re going to do everything we can to help both guys navigate through.
  • (There might be new information on injured Dodger pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu on Wednesday.)
  • (Surgery discussion for Julio Urias) came up at the end of spring. … (goal for us) is doing what’s right by Julio.
  • (Concern over Ryu) is similar to what it’s been for a few weeks, that it hasn’t progressed as we hoped. … It’s not a black-and-white issue, but fortunately we have a tremendous doctor in (Neal) ElAttrache, and we’re putting our heads together to determine what makes sense.
  • Mentally, I’ve been thinking (Ryu might be lost for season) for a little while, because it’s better to err on that side. … Our mindset has been to treat it as if he’s not (coming back this year), because it’s easier to react the other way.
  • Both (Carlos Frias and Mike Bolsinger) have pitched really well. Any time you lose two starters, you’re always mindful of your depth. … We’re never going to be comfortable with our starting pitching depth. From where we’re sitting right now, if we can add an arm, it would certainly be helpful.

That’s the summary of the Friedman interview. Hector Olivera is scheduled to speak to beat writers (through a translator) later this evening.

In case you missed it: Dodgers make a trade

San Diego Padres vs Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Today, the Dodgers acquired a Rule 4 competitive balance round B draft pick (No. 74 overall this June), right-handed reliever Ryan Webb and minor league catcher Brian Ward from the Orioles in exchange for catcher Chris O’Brien and pitcher Ben Rowen.

Ken Gurnick of MLB.com has more on the deal. The 29-year-old Webb had a 2.95 FIP with Baltimore last year and 37 strikeouts in 49 1/3 innings against 63 baserunners. Ward had a .641 OPS in a season spent mostly at Triple-A Norfolk.

And now, to fill the rest of your off day, more notes …

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This year’s mission: Don’t panic about injuries

Brett Anderson, Clayton Kershaw, Brandon McCarthy and A.J. Ellis at Camelback Ranch on Monday.

Brett Anderson, Clayton Kershaw, Brandon McCarthy and A.J. Ellis stroll through Camelback Ranch on Monday.

By Jon Weisman

We have grown accustomed to tearing our hair out every time a Dodger gets hurt, crying out “Why does this keep happening?”

It’s time for an attitude adjustment.

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