Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Andrew Friedman (Page 1 of 2)

The Dodgers, Dave Roberts and the human element

Dave Roberts (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

In front of an emotionally eviscerated Dodger fan base, in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 2018 World Series on October 27, Kiké Hernández came to the plate at Dodger Stadium.

Only an hour earlier, a thrilling glow suffused Chavez Ravine. Having survived an 18-inning Game 3 marathon, Los Angeles had taken a 4-0 lead into the seventh inning against the Boston Red Sox. The Dodgers were eight outs away from evening the Fall Classic at two games apiece.

Then their world collapsed around them like a dream in Inception. Nine Boston baserunners crossed the plate, the final four in the top of the ninth, obliterating a beautiful consciousness.

In that soul-darkening ninth inning, Hernández stood at the plate as a symbol of star-crossed Octobers. Coming off the most successful regular season of his major-league career, Hernández homered in his 2018 playoff debut, the Dodgers’ 6-0 trouncing of Atlanta in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. The multiposition master, baseball’s Swiss Army knife, then went 12 consecutive games without a single extra-base hit or RBI.

Hernández couldn’t hit right-handed pitching. He couldn’t hit left-handed pitching. He couldn’t hit, period. Entering the gloom of Game 4’s waning moments, Hernández had made 30 outs in his past 33 at-bats.

As another fallen hope stood on first base in the person of Brian Dozier, Hernández took two fastballs from Boston closer Craig Kimbrel, then let rip at a knuckle-curve and launched a fly ball to deep left-center for a two-run home run. Except for the fleeting sliver of hope it kindled in those who could conceive the greatest miracle postseason comeback in Dodger history, it was a footnote. The Dodgers lost the game by the score of 9-6 instead of 9-4.

The next day, in a game the Dodgers could not spare, Hernández was in the starting lineup against Boston lefty David Price, batting third.

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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

dsc_0679

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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Why the Dodgers pursued Carlos Ruiz

(Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

(Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Andrew Friedman, on the decision to trade A.J. Ellis to Philadelphia in a deal for Carlos Ruiz (via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com):

“It was a tough decision on a personal level,” Friedman said. “From a baseball standpoint, we felt Carlos fit our team extremely well. I can go on and on about A.J. and his attributes and what he brings to a team, and if Carlos didn’t possess similar things, we wouldn’t have made the move. In terms of leadership ability, ability to call a game and run a pitching staff, Carlos rates extremely well in those things and has experience in what he brings to the lineup against left-handed pitching, which (we) focused on as an area we wanted to improve.”

Read the entire story here.

— Jon Weisman

Andrew Friedman discusses Urias, Wood, Ryu, Bolsinger

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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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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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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 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: Andrew Friedman discusses today’s deals

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is speaking to reporters this evening about today’s three-team trade and other developments. Here’s a live-blog of his comments:

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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.

Dodgers make difficult cuts to set 25-man roster

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs Los Angeles Dodgers

For more photos from Saturday, visit LA Photog Blog.

By Jon Weisman

Here it is: the Dodgers’ Opening Day 25-man roster …

Starting pitchers (4): Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson

Relief pitchers (7): Pedro Baez, Yimi Garcia, Chris Hatcher, J.P. Howell, Juan Nicasio, Joel Peralta, Paco Rodriguez

Catchers (2): A.J. Ellis, Yasmani Grandal

Infielders (7): Adrian Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick, Jimmy Rollins, Juan Uribe, Darwin Barney, Alex Guerrero, Justin Turner

Outfielders (5): Carl Crawford, Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, Scott Van Slyke

Disabled list (4): Brandon Beachy, Kenley Jansen, Brandon League, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Chris Withrow

As evidenced by the ninth-inning homer that Kiké Hernandez hit tonight, giving the Dodgers an unreal eighth tie of Spring Training, the Dodgers are sending a lot of talent back to the minors. Hernandez alone hit six home runs during Spring Training.

Chris Heisey, David Aardsma, David Huff, Adam Liberatore and Sergio Santos were also among the last cuts.

“We feel very strongly we sent down some Major League players,” Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told reporters after the game. “To have that depth is key.”

In the bullpen, the Dodgers kept three relievers who had options remaining — Baez, Garcia and Rodriguez — at the expense of others with more big-league experience, giving them five relievers age 30 or under. Though they released Dustin McGowan earlier this week, the Dodgers lost no other talent at the roster deadline, so their stockpile of relievers remains — and that’s with Jansen, League and Withrow potentially returning at various times later this year.

Liberatore, who struck out nine in 10 1/3 scoreless innings this spring while allowing seven baserunners, was a particularly close call, but as with so many of these players, he’ll likely have his chance. That the 27-year-old hasn’t made his MLB debut yet worked against him for Opening Day, said Friedman, who valued the younger Rodriguez’s experience for the start of the season.

Rodriguez not only matched Liberatore’s scoreless spring, he struck out 13 in 10 2/3 innings. But as the Dodgers have maintained all along, it’s about more than just numbers.

“Paco probably generated some of the worst swings out of hitters this camp,” said Friedman.  “Lib will get his chance.”

Mike Adams, who appears to be contemplating retirement, is technically reassigned to minor-league camp, according to Friedman.

Left unsaid for now is who will be the Dodgers’ fifth starter come April 14. Because that date comes less than 10 days after the start of the season — and the start of his option this year to the minors — Joe Wieland could fill that role only if he replaces a player who goes on the disabled list. A player not currently on the 40-man roster, such as Huff, could have his contract purchased for a spot start if the Dodgers make room for him.

Also delayed: Paring the Dodger bench. The Dodgers will begin the season with 11 pitchers and 14 position players, but by mid-April, the Dodgers figure to go with a 12-man pitching staff. Barney, who has done nothing but impress since becoming a Dodger last year, nevertheless stands as a player who could spend time in the minors, however briefly, if no other moves are made.

In my 14 seasons blogging about the Dodgers (I’m staring at that “14” in disbelief), this is the deepest team they have brought to Opening Day. Not every question has been answered, but no team has ever been bulletproof.  The bench and farm system are as rich as they’ve been since, well, the 1900s. Even starting the season with their No. 3 starter and No. 1 reliever on the disabled list, it’s striking how much talent the 2015 Dodgers have to draw from up and down the line.

In case you missed it: Blowin’ in the wind

[mlbvideo id=”48562483″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

Cubs at Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Carl Crawford, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Andre Ethier, DH
Juan Uribe, 3B
Joc Pederson, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
(Brandon McCarthy, P)

By Jon Weisman

How many steps must a man run down
Before he realizes he’s not going to catch that home run by Howie Kendrick?

The answer, my friend, is 11. That’s about how many footprints Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin made before he watched forlornly as Kendrick’s homer sailed about a first down or two beyond the outfield fence.

Here is some postgame reaction, from Pedro Moura of the Register:

It was 11 a.m. Tuesday, two hours before the Dodgers were to play the Texas Rangers here, 20 minutes away from their spring-training home, and Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins had made plans to carpool.

Kendrick was dressed and ready to go; Rollins was still in his workout gear, needing to shower. They chided each other in the clubhouse, Rollins telling Kendrick to slow down, Kendrick telling Rollins to speed up. That’s the relationship the two men have developed in three weeks as teammates after almost a decade of mutual, cross-league admiration.

So, after Kendrick smashed perhaps the longest homer of his pro career Tuesday, at least 440 feet to dead center off Rangers left-hander Joe Beimel, no one in the Dodgers clubhouse was better suited than Rollins to provide perspective.

“Actually, I kind of thought I missed it a little bit,” Kendrick tried to say. “I guess the wind was blowing today.”

Rollins interjected: “In other words, I’ve never hit one that well.” …


Click here to read the entire article.
And now, here are some more morning links …

  • Baseball Prospectus gives the Dodgers an 89.7 percent chance of making the playoffs and 17.6 percent for winning the World Series, significantly higher than the other 29 teams. Will Leitch writes about the playoff odds today at Sports on Earth.
  • MLB.com offers a sortable Milestone Tracker (link via Openers), putting the spotlight on future achievements great and small. Here are the lists for Dodger hitters and for Dodger pitchers. Now you know when Jimmy Rollins will enter MLB’s all-time top 50 in steals.
  • J.P. Howell warmed up too long during the Dodgers’ seven-run fifth inning, the pitcher and Don Mattingly told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. On the bright side, Howell a) learned his lesson and b) doesn’t figure to make many appearances after the Dodgers score seven runs in an inning.
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu’s fluctuating velocity (well, the fluctuating velocity of Ryu’s pitches, not Ryu himself) is the subject of this piece by Eric Stephen at True Blue L.A.
  • Andrew Friedman on meeting Sandy Koufax, via J.P. Hoornstra of the Daily News:

    “It’s very rare in life where you have incredibly high expectations for someone and they actually exceed them,” Friedman said. “It’s really all encompassing — the type of person he is, the way he articulates his points, the knowledge he has, the way he’s able to question things in a very thoughtful way. I had so many different conversations over the span of that week that were incredibly thought-provoking and got me thinking.”

  • Today is the 60th anniversary of Koufax’s first game at Spring Training in Vero Beach, we were told by Historic Dodgertown in a press release. At age 19, he faced seven batters, walking two and striking out five. In the same game, 18-year-old Don Drysdale pitched four innings and struck out eight.
  • Brandon Beachy threw off a mound Tuesday for the first time since his second Tommy John operation, reports Gurnick, who adds that Beachy was both excited but keeping his enthusiasm in check.
  • Director of player development Gabe Kapler is a big booster of social media for athletes. At his blog Kaplifestyle, he explains why.
  • No more hanging chads at the ballpark: All-Star Game balloting is going all digital, notes Mike Oz at Big League Stew. End of an era …
  • Finally, we’re looking ahead to today’s biggest contest …

Update:

More from Hoornstra here.

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