The Los Angeles Dodgers have won the National League West seven consecutive times but Andrew Friedman and the front office still gets its fair share of criticism.
The Los Angeles Dodgers currently have the third-longest postseason streak in Major League Baseball history with no signs of it slowing down. While anything can happen, as long as the team stays healthy, the Dodgers’ young core is primed to win the division yet again in 2020 and for years to come.
The one thing that has alluded the Dodgers during this run is a World Series trophy, and because of that, fans are getting complacent. Seven division titles in a row don’t really matter if the team hasn’t won the World Series, right?
It depends on how you look at it. On one hand, the Dodgers have at least done enough to actually put themselves in a position to win the World Series every year since 2013, which in upon itself is very impressive.
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However, they have still failed every time the moment got bigger, which can be frustrating above all else.
Because of this, the Los Angeles Dodgers front office, lead by President of Baseball Operations, Andrew Friedman, has started to receive a lot of criticism from a big portion of the fanbase. This can be confusing for some on the outside, as Friedman’s regime has been in charge for five of the seven postseason years.
The biggest complaint is that Friedman runs the team like a small market team, which goes back to his time with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who play in the second-largest market and lead in attendance every season, have the money to spend, but have been going the other direction.
That’s not the problem. Quite frankly, the problem with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ front office and the dissatisfaction stems directly from the expectations of the fanbase, which are rather unfair. While not true of every dissatisfied fan, there are a lot of unreasonable expectations that naturally lead to disappointment.
Just put that into perspective: some fans want (and maybe expect) the Dodgers to sign the best two free agents this winter. How rare is that? The chances of getting one of them is already slim, but two? That is simply inconceivable.
Yes, the Dodgers have the money to throw at Cole and Rendon but that does not mean anything. Some people seem to forget that at the end of the day, it is Cole and Rendon’s choice where they go. They very well could prefer to sign elsewhere for similar money, and how is that the Dodgers’ fault?
It happens every offseason and it is quite funny as the narrative soon changes, proving time is a flat circle.
Last offseason it was Bryce Harper. Fans were upset when the Dodgers didn’t get him, but after seeing that he performed no better than a reserve all-star, it became clear why the Dodgers did not want to sign him to a 10-year deal.
What about Giancarlo Stanton? I even fell victim to wanting the reigning NL MVP but in hindsight, that contract was too much to take on. The team would have had to trade some prospects (some of which are now on the Dodgers) and restrict themselves financially for a decade. Stanton played 18 games this season and had a down year in his first year in pinstripes.
What about Zack Greinke? He left the team to sign with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who turned around and traded him before his contract ended to get rid of it. Now, the Houston Astros are bared with a back-loaded contract that is going to pay him well after he leaves the team.
Most of Friedman’s tenure has been trying to cost-manage the burden that the previous regime left on him. The previous regime fell victim of spending just to spend, and as a result, the Dodgers had to pay a lot of guys to play on other teams, and without doing that, we would not know some of our favorite Dodgers.
Heck, even the moves that I criticized, such as the Yasiel Puig trade last winter, have turned into gems for the team. The Dodgers traded one year of Puig, who they did not need with Alex Verdugo and the arrival of A.J. Pollock, for two prospects, Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray.
Downs and Gray are now both ranked in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100. One year of Puig for two top-100 prospects that they can now hold onto or flip themselves.
Not everything Friedman has done is a hit. Joe Kelly was poor in the beginning of the year and that contract feels to long and the Pollock contract, albeit he was good in the regular season, will probably not be too team-friendly towards the end.
But expecting a front office to be absolutely perfect is absurd. Hindsight is always 20/20 and if Friedman had just listened to the fans’ demands every single winter then the Dodgers would not be in the position they are in now. They would be in the position they were in when he took over the front office.
And the whole World Series argument to argue against Friedman—give it a break. You are arguing that Friedman has failed when the sample size is not yet complete. The Dodgers could very well win the World Series next season and then every Friedman naysayer would turn into Friedman fans.
Wait until this run is over. Wait until the Los Angeles Dodgers fall back out of contention (because they eventually will) and then we can look back at the entire run that Friedman’s core had and judge it then.
They could have multiple rings at that point, they could have zero. But don’t use an incomplete sample size when the team is still contending to call this regime a failure.