Should The Dodgers Act Like a Large Market Franchise?

Whenever I hear people talking about the Dodgers signing Bryce Harper, it normally goes in a couple of directions. Most people would love for the Dodgers to ink the superstar outfielder. There are others who are not for this. I usually ask why and sometimes I get a very humorous response. Why shouldn’t they add Harper? That’s what I ask. The response I get is something like “Because he’s too expensive!”, Or “They would have to spend money!” God forbid a large market team with the deepest pockets in the game, the most resources and largest payroll spend money and act like a large market franchise.

For the record Harper is still a free agent, and the mystery of where he’ll be playing in 2019 rolls on as the calendar turns to January. Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times has an interesting article about this topic. I always found it funny that people think the Dodgers should spend less money. As if the team’s finances are their own personal finances.

Look if the Dodgers payroll ends up being 800 million dollars in 2019, I wouldn’t care. As a matter of fact the Dodgers finances have absolutely zero effect on my life. And they have no effect on yours as well. The money is not ours. So why should we care if the team spends or doesn’t spend?

The reason we care if the team doesn’t spend is because as Hernandez posited in his latest piece, we want the Dodgers to acquire the best players on the open market. We want the Dodgers to bring in the top players. Certainly they’ve brought in good players, but they haven’t signed a marquee free agent since Andrew Friedman and his band of small market men rode into town. It’s been somewhat frustrating.

Will the Dodgers continue to operate like a small market franchise? Will they continue to scrimp and save and cut costs, reducing payroll every year. Meanwhile the rumors of them being in on every major free agent infiltrate the headlines. The informed fans know the real story. We know how the Dodgers really operate and we know by now that the Dodgers won’t be adding any major free agents. The fact the Dodgers even spent 25 million dollars on reliever Joe Kelly was a surprise.

I could end up being wrong and the Dodgers end up signing Harper. I don’t mind eating some crow. Friedman’s first marquee free agent signing being Harper would be a PR bonanza for the club. Everyone including myself would love it. I would rather be wrong and see Harper wearing Dodger blue in 2019 then be right and not see the Dodgers go after the top players.

Whether they sign Harper or not, they have other problems to figure out. They still don’t have a starting catcher, second baseman and right fielder. Spring training is now about five weeks away from camps breaking. How long are the Dodgers going to wait to address those issues on the position player roster? The start of the 2019 season is looming. The clock is ticking.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda's Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic Cheap MLB Tickets

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35 thoughts on “Should The Dodgers Act Like a Large Market Franchise?

  1. Not my money, so I do not care how much they spend, BUT THEY DO. Ownership is as much responsible for the way the Dodgers are as Friedman is. They mandated staying below the CBT, and that seems to be the plan. Look, personally, I do not think there is an athlete, actor or entertainer on the planet worth what these guys ask. But that is the way the game is now. The days of one year contracts and cutting a players pay are long gone. LA and NY are supposed to be the glamor towns of sports. So it is expected that those teams have star players. But here is another question for you. How many marquee players signed by the Dodgers as free agents have actually performed up to their contracts for the length of the contract? Now free agency did not rear it’s head until the 70’s. Go back and check. The most notable are Darryl Strawberry and Kirk Gibson. But there was also, Dave Goltz, Andrew Jones, Jason Schmidt and the big mistake, Don Stanhouse. Gibson played part of 3 seasons with the Dodgers, but 88 was his only productive year. Injuries took their toll and he was a free agent in 1990. He never again approached his 1988 numbers although his next to last year in Detroit when he was 37, he came close. Strawberry was 29 when he signed in LA. 5 years 22 million. They got 1 good year out of him. Injuries in 91 and 92 limited him to 75 games total over those 2 years. He was released when it was discovered he was addicted to cocaine. He played over 100 games only once more in his career. 1998 when he played in 101 games for the Yankees, which was also the first time in 6 years and the last time he hit 20 plus homers. Andrew Jones has to be the worst Dodger free agent ever. 21 million dollars and he played a total of 75 games. Jason Schmidt spent most of his time with LA on the DL. Dodgers got 3 wins and 6 losses for their 45 million dollars. Honorable mention would go to Brandon McCarthy, Stanhouse, who really was lousy and was released after 1 year. And also on the list would be Manny Ramirez. Although Manny was great after his trade, when the Dodgers gave him 2 years and 45 million after that season it turned out to be a huge blunder. Manny was suspended for PED use. He had a decent season, but no where near what he was being paid to do. He barely matched over a full season what he had done in 57 games the year before. So, the track record with free agents is not really that good. My personal thought is that you sign free agents who make your team better, or who fill a glaring hole in the lineup. So, it would make sense that if they want to make the team better, they fix the holes first. Harper is like that luxury car you want to buy. You know it’s reputation, and because of that you spend the money. Sometimes though, you experience buyers remorse when the car has problems from day one. Harper is a relatively new model. A superstar? I question that. He is a very good player. He is streaky. His glamor is his power, his overall game is decent, but not great, he is no Mike Trout. Ken Griffey Jr., was a super star. Those 2 are 5 tool players, something Harper is not. But like I said, if the owners really want the guy they can have him, and could have most likely had him already since most people think he really wants to play in LA. But they are balking at the cost of the new car, who can blame them given the track record of most glamor free agents. You can pretty much count the successes on one hand.

  2. Scott, I think you misunderstand what people mean when they say don’t spend money on so&so. People don’t want to much money spent on one individual if it means they will not spend money on other needs. Every organization has some budget or goal on which to operate, it isn’t a bottomless pit (like democrats believe), there is a limit to everything. So spend away but don’t neglect the totality of needs by throwing $3oo M on one player.

  3. Too expensive.

    Why throw all that money to one ballplayer? That lone millionaire will not singlehandedly bring a championship to LA. Harper will end up being another payroll burden, as Kemp was.

    Look what happens…

    Kemp was overpaid, Dodgers ended up scrambling to dump his salary, and attitude to the Padres, and then again this year to the Reds.

    Kershaw is overpaid. Tons of money for a dead arm.

    Jansen is overpaid. Last two years have been fruitless.

    Homer Bailey was overpaid, yet The Dodgers accept him in trade, and dump him, and his salary.

    What did this get the Dodgers? Nothing!
    What do the Fans get? Taken to the bank!

    The whole problem boils down to the greed of these agents like Boros, and idiot Owners who agree to pay these ridiculous, guaranteed salaries.

    Do these players really need $20-$40 Million a year to live comfortably? Do they deserve a long term, guaranteed salary, with absolutely no accountability? Nobody is worth that much. Teachers are more important to society than an overpaid athelete, yet they must struggle to make a living, while babysitting our spoiled, ungrateful youth.

    Fans have to set their priorities. It is OK to be a fan of the game, but don’t be victims and throw away your hard earned money, especially if Dodger ownership will not put a winning team on the field.

  4. As bad as Kemp’s contract was. they did get production from Matt the last year he was here before he was traded. As a matter of fact, Kemp was their best hitter in 2014 down the stretch, the reason? He was finally close to being 100% after 1 1/2 years of recovering from his injury to his shoulder and his ankle. The bad contract? Ethier. Of the 6 years after he signed his new contract, he only hit HR’s in double figures 3 times. He only hit 30 once in his entire career. Kemp was a much better player than Ethier when he signed his deal. Coming off of what should have been an MVP year and then getting injured after starting the season off in the same way he played in 2011. But Ethier was a panic signing. Kemp was worth the money. At least he was until the injuries hit. But Blue is definitely right about the fans footing the bill, and lets look at it this way also. Ownership made close to 500 million in profits THIS YEAR! And yet a majority of Dodger fans still cannot watch their team on TV.

  5. Ethier, like Kemp was a victim of Dodger platooning practices. Which is why I do not understand why owners pay out all that money, if they are not going to let these guys go out on the field and earn it? Why commit to a 10 year, guaranteed contract, if you know darn well this player does not have the ability or age to give you 10 strong years, or you plan to platoon him? Kershaw? Jansen?… prime examples of too long a contract for their abilities to produce effectively, and bring you that golden ring.

    And yup, you are right Michael, the owners rake in the millions year after year, while they rob the fans at the parking gate, turnstile, concession stand, souvenier stand, and watching on the tube. G-R-E-E-D. Owners do not pay the salaries, the hard working fans do. F-R-A-U-D… Highway Robbery.

    1. Hey Bluefan4Life. spot on about the problems of player’s performance due to the excessive compulsive platooning practices. I am indifferent to be honest about Harper and it’s basically for 1 reason…HE IS JUST ANOTHER LHB that we have way way too much of as it is. whatever happens, Dodgers need to deal or spend that $$ on a RH impact bat for the middle of the order. And trust me, we for now anyway will be seeing a multitude of LHP in 2019 unless Dodgers somehow show some improvement against them. We would be better off if this potential lineup was not so LH heavy.

      1. I agree. All the obsession with Harper joining the Dodgers is nuts. Left hand pitching was the Dodger’s nemesis during the season last year and their bane in the World Series. And yet they traded away some of their better weapons against the Lefty for the sake of financial “flexibility”! As the team is constituted, right now, it is an inferior team to last year. It’s sad that the Dodgers didn’t have the supporting organization when Kershaw was the most dominant pitcher in baseball. But now, though there are glimpses of that pitcher, the truth is less than that. So you have a promising ace in Buehler, and a near ace in Kershaw, and a pretty good #3 in Ryu, the rotation is not as good as some of the other leading contenders. And it needs a solid righty. Kluber seems now out of reach, as is Realmuto. Harper is the best position player available but too costly and NOT the right fit for the Dodger lineup. I’m sorry but I don’t see Kike or Taylor filling the void. There are lots of holes and time is running out.

        1. Frank A. you’re 1,000% correct about this you posted here. right now this is an inferior team to last year but it mainly is from the position player side now and not necessarily the SP or relievers here. If Dodgers think Toles and or Verdugo will replace the offense received from Puig and Kemp they are highly mistaken. And unfortunately, as of now anyway I don’t see any other legit moves being made either. perhaps being under that CBT now is their # 1 priority.

  6. Scott
    The only thing better than getting Harper is getting rid of Friedman and ownership and this also includes Dummy. I have been saying what you said since year 2 but every year I just hope they get somebody. Never happens.

  7. Shouldn’t the question be, should the Dodgers be a well run team? Would fans feel better if their payroll were $900mm and they made it to the World Series back to back years?

    I doubt it.

    To me, the better run clubs (better run defined as long term consistent success) don’t waste money and constantly seek value.

    Interesting bit from Rosenthal:

    MLBPipeline.com lists outfielder Alex Verdugo and catcher Keibert Ruiz as the Dodgers’ two top prospects, but a rival executive says the team’s most desirable trade assets are the players ranked third and fourth, right-hander Dustin May and infielder Gavin Lux.

    The Orioles targeted both players in the Manny Machado discussions last summer, to no avail. May and Lux are both 21, and both reached Double-A last season.

    1. Bluto: How about gaining back to back World Series Championships before paring the payroll? Also why should we care how big the payroll is? They are making big bucks and we field losers. That does not sound like big fun to me and if you spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars supporting your team you do not want to lose or be a Kasten team every year like the Braves. If I was making what they are making I would think I was doing great too. Always remember, Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

      1. This isn’t a major thing. It’s what you want.

        I prefer investing in, and rooting for, well run organizations.

        Package, you like rooting for teams that, I guess (and am not trying to start something), do whatever it takes to win in the short term and don’t employ analytics.

        It’s not a big difference, nor should lead to much debate because we both are rooting for the same team to win one more round of games.

        1. Bluto
          OK you like well run baseball teams. Isn’t the point to win baseball games or do you prefer just pulling for the FO? I prefer teams that do want to win short term but also I like to sustain it with a good farm and I think analytics are fine but should not be the all important factor, just a tool to use or not. I just have trouble understanding why anyone would not want some of the stars that have come the Dodgers way and the FO refused to obtain them when money is not an object. They are not a small market team. Thanks for listening.

          1. It’s not binary. I like the front office, I like the team winning.

            It’s been a run of very happy times recently for me.

            I always like to listen.

    2. Your point has merit Bluto. The Dodgers are well run. They are competitive. They have won their division 6 years in a row, they have been to the World Series 2 years in a row. The Championship has evaded them. They are the reincarnation of the Braves from the early 1990’s to the early 2000’s. They pack the stadium year after year and yet, they lack star power. They have managed to keep their best prospects. They have ROY’s 2 of the last 3 years, and they have no real superstars. Kershaw was that, but no more. Bellinger and Seager have the chops to be that kind of player. Turner is merely a very good player, he is no superstar. Fans crave that more than the owners do. That’s why all the clamor to sign Harper. But do they act like a big market team? No. Friedman has not acted like that since he got here. Because of the way the team operated prior to his arrival, they expect them to be big spenders. They are hungry for the big prize, not the bridesmaid role again. The frustration level has risen. Especially the last 2 years. You are close to ending the drought, and you cannot close the deal, so fans get fed up. But they still flock to the ballpark because they love the team and they love the game. But some where down the road, this might not be the case anymore. They might never sink to the depths of say the Marlins or the Rays, but the attendance drop will come. It did when McCrappy was the owner. The need to win now is actually a reality to the fans. So, spending money to get the job done makes sense to the average fan. Being well run, well, that is not the concern of the average fan. They want the ring. They want it now, and they are getting tired of close, no cigar. It is not the satisfying ending they want. In other words, division titles and being well run does not float their boat.

  8. I hear you Paul, but you cannot show improvement if you never give these guys a chance to hit lefties…. end of story.

    Platooning cools off a hot bat…. Platooning pulls a cold bat off the bench, and expects them to be game ready…. Platooning destroys the batter’s confidence, soon believing that he himself cannot hit lefties… Platooning and stacking the lineup with right handed hitters makes it easier for the opposing pitcher to get into a groove, rather than having to make adjustments from batter to batter… Platooning plays right into the opposing manager’s stategy, as he does not have to depend on the bullpen to get him out of a jam., knowing that another r/h hitter (who cannot hit) is coming up.

    I can go on, and on….

    1. My thoughts on platooning…

      In ’88 AFTER World Series Game 1, I thought to myself: This series is OVER!

      I never thought I would have a feeling even similar to that regarding the Dodgers in my lifetime.

      In ’18 BEFORE World Series Game 1, I thought to myself: This series is OVER!
      (After I saw the lineup for Game 1, my rage level reached an all time high. About as high as whoever thought that lineup would be a good idea. )

      Funny how the world works…

      1. Not even close. Most of those guys did hit lefty’s in the minors and you do not platoon someone purely on their minor league numbers because that has no bearing on what they do at the major league level. They might show a tendency maybe, but are not used to determine playing time. Take Joc. In the minors Pederson was a 30-30 guy. He has never even stole 10 bases in the bigs. So that stat means nothing. Puig hit everybody when he came up. He did not platoon at all. Over the last couple of years that has not been the case.

    2. Bluefan, correct about platooning and a huge reason I don’t care for it. That’s just it as well, players never getting a chance to hit LHP and a big reason why we seem to have a roster of so many players only competitive against one side of a pitcher. Let just say again that what ya indicated about how platooning destroying many a player’s confidence is right on the money! Well said post by you!

  9. A well run team is a winning team…. something, unfortunately the Dodgers are not.

    The Dodgers are strickly a business, and all they worry about is how much money ends up in their pocket, regardless of how much they spend on salaries, or how many fans they disappoint. The Dodgers are a well run, profitable “Business”. They are not a winning “Team”

    1. Spot on! all one has to do is recall how poorly they ‘managed’ the team in the WS. It’s also on the players as well, but a big reason for their poor performance is exactly what we have been talking about all along.

  10. Well, I guess the Dodgers undoubtedly chose to stick to the low road…. the “small market” Doyers have picked up another “Blewlight Special” DFA from Walmart, this time from the Rays. A rubber arm named Shultz?… and they give up on one of their young draft picks. Definitely a risky move from the ex-Ray, Friedman.

    As they continue to say that their stock of prospects are not ready for the “Big Show”, they continue to scrape the bottom of the barrel and would rather stack their 40-man roster with a bunch of “has beens”, instead of letting the kids play.

    Nothing they do surprises me anymore.

    1. Bluefan4Life, you certainly are not alone on that point of nothing they do surprises anymore. and you probably can figure that it does not surprise me anymore either. Bottom of that barrel cannot possibly be scraped anymore than it already has been….

  11. I do not want the Dodgers to start being a big market team. They do not have the FO talent to do that. For one thing, their view of production is biased and myopic. A man has to know his limits, and a group of men has to know their collective limits as well. If this FO starts signing “stars”, most likely they will end up signing the wrong stars. It will be like that guy who went on tilt in Molly’s Game and they will hamstring the franchise for years. So I’d much rather they just keep away from trouble. If they ever want to push in their chips for a vet they should just read this blog first and heed our advice.

  12. Another brilliant trade by the fearless Dodger FO. Bravo Andy! Your penchant for finding mediocrity is the best in the league, and you did not give up much. You even duped your former employers, the Rays , in to believing this is a great trade. You have the undying gratitude of Dodger fans everywhere for not cluttering the Dodger roster with players that will actually bring Los Angeles a World Series title this year. Bravo, you trade Kemp, Puig, Farmer, and Wood for a broken down arm getting 25 million and release that guy and neither of the 2 prospects you got are anywhere close to MLB ready. You are a frippen genius.

    1. Michael, I don’t think there is a reporter, fan or anyone else with even a small amount of baseball knowledge that can say it any better than you just did. right on point! I am finding hard to believe Freidman can be this inept.

  13. Paul, Michael,

    What I cannot believe, is that what was the top baseball franchise in MLB, sold out to a bunch of money mongers, who hired Andy and Farhan to drive then into the ground with their ANAL-ytics.

    Now, Farhan has cut ties to the Doyers, and Andy is alone, flopping around like a “phish out of water”, trying to make multi-million dollar deals in a business he has absolutely no clue on how to run.

    Walter O’Malley is flipping is his grave, watching the Dodger Empire he built, fall. His son Peter sold out, instead of keeping his family’s legacy alive.

    1. Remember the movie For Love of the Game? The owner sold the team because of free agency and all the non loyalty, but mainly because his kids did not even like baseball and neither wanted the team. Peter had the same problem. Family ownership of a team in this day and age is damn near impossible. It takes a corporation to really be able to afford what it costs to run a franchise. Peter only got his money from baseball. Just look how bad off McCourt was. I am sure if Peter had the resources that FOX had when he sold them the team, that he would have kept with it. But neither of his kids wanted anything to do with it. And the longer he held it, the worse the estate taxes would be. Here is another little tidbit. As loved as the O’Malley’s were in LA, they are despised in Brooklyn. My best friend is from Brooklyn and to this day he hates O’Malley’s guts. Our gain was their loss, and that legacy was what O’Malley ripped from them. Not all his fault for sure, but to them, he is the devil reincarnate. By the way, being the business man he was O’Malley is more like applauding the fact that those guys made close to 1/2 billion in profits last year. The O’Malley’s were more fan friendly and kept the prices reasonable, but that was a different era. Oh, and they are not the top franchise. The Yankees are worth more money than the Dodgers are.

  14. Yeah, I understand that family ownership is a thing of the past. Really sad.

    At least the O’Malleys were, as you stated, Fan Friendly. That is what I miss the most. These owners now days only care about what goes in the pockets at the end of the season…. screw the fans. Same goes, with the players and their agents.

    Well, I guess we don’t have to worry about Grandmal. $18.25M for one year in Milwaukee, is being reported. He’s lucky he got that offer.

  15. My last comment on this subject. Expecting Friedman to act like a large market GM and go after quality instead of quantity is like expecting McDonalds to make a hamburger for a buck that actually has some meat on it. Not happening my friend. His last 2 transactions should tell you that plus the fact that last year, he signed exactly 1 free agent who even had a shot at making the team, Tom Koehler, and look what happened to him. DL all year, never threw a single inning during the season. He gets lucky sometimes, like with Taylor, Muncy, and bringing Morrow up just before he could opt out. But he has had some epic fails. McCarthy, Anderson, Kazmir, the Darvish trade, Josh Reddick, Granderson, who totally disappeared in the playoffs. Last year, Kemp was actually one of his wins, and he tried like hell to get rid of the guy pretty much from the moment he got him. Hill has performed well as a free agent signee, but he is the exception rather than the rule. That’s why this team is loaded with for the most part utility players. The only real everyday guys are Seager, Turner and Belli. At least Belli should be out there every day this year. The rest are all moveable parts. With some luck, Verdugo could become an everyday guy, but he is going to need early success and not to struggle against lefty’s or he will be a platoon player too. Just who he will platoon with is up in the air because they have so few RH outfield options. The signed another no name today who was playing in Canada. And Ol Andy’s dumpster diving spree goes on and on. One more thing. Expecting Muncy to repeat last years numbers, that’s wishful thinking. He surprised the league in 2018. They will be ready for him this go-around.

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