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.”
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.
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.
By Cary Osborne
There were revelations on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium at the Dodgers All-Access event — a benefit for the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Council. Joc Pederson said he and roommates Trayce Thompson, Alex Wood and Corey Seager watch the shows “New Girl” and “The Bachelor.” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman revealed that Clayton Kershaw will pitch a rehab game this weekend in Rancho Cucamonga. And Chase Utley revealed his sense of humor when asked by Orel Hershiser about growing up a Dodger fan and how special it would be to bring a World Series championship to Los Angeles.
“Winning a championship in L.A. would be super special,” Utley began. “Being a Dodger fan growing up, 5 or 6 years old, watching Eric Karros …”
Fans who paid to be part of this experience cracked up with Karros sitting in the front row laughing himself. Karros is only 11 years older than Utley.
The event featured exciting experiences for all fans — from hitting in the Dodgers’ underground batting cage off Mickey Hatcher and Reggie Smith, to taking a photo with Tommy Lasorda and the 1981 and 1988 World Series trophies to pitching in the Dodger Stadium bullpen with legendary Dodger scout Mike Brito taking radar-gun readings. But the main event was Dodgers Chase Utley, Pederson and Justin Turner and the Dodger management trio of Dave Roberts, Friedman and Farhan Zaidi answering questions on stage from SportsNet LA’s John Hartung and Hershiser while fans dined in the infield.
A lot of the talk centered on all the adversity this team has had to go through to land in first place in the National League West. Utley and Zaidi had thoughts on the topic.
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.
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
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 …
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.
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.
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.”