Farhan Zaidi to the Giants Sounds Fantastic!

It arose just days ago in the post-World Series hot takes of Twitter. Today, the biggest Dodgers story around jumped the rumor mills when it was reported by Jon Morosi that the San Francisco Giants are prepared to offer a front-office job to current Dodgers General Manager, Farhan Zaidi.

There’s a fair amount of teeth gnashing going on over the question of how badly the Dodgers organization would be damaged if Zaidi actually jumped ship and joined the enemy. I’m sure a percentage of Friscans will jump into McCovey Cove with excitement over the hiring of Zaidi, something that they would see as a major coup. The Giants organization and plenty of their fans would see the hiring as stealing The Blue Diamond of Chavez Ravine from their  Southern California rivals.

I”m here today to let you know that I don’t see that potential move as disastrous as all that. In fact, I’m taking the position that Zaidi moving on would be a good thing for the Dodgers. This could be the addition (by subtraction) that leads the team to finally find a way to strike a balance between analytics and data-driven personnel decisions and using the gut feeling of a smart field general in the heat of in-game battle – which I see as the final piece of the puzzle that will bring the World Series trophy to Los Angeles.

You may find yourself asking, “Why would Oscar take such a ridiculous stance as ‘The Dodgers can afford to lose the talents of Farhan Zaidi?” I base this on the fact that Zaidi has gone about as far with the Dodgers as his talents can take him. He’s fired off his spitball. The kid is done.

Let’s begin with the point that many overestimate the impact that Zaidi had during his tenure with the Dodgers. Zaidi supporters would have you think that when he replaced Ned Colletti as General Manager in 2015, the Dodgers organization was in a shambles and undergoing a postseason drought as had never been seen before. One would think Zaidi resurrected a dead franchise. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Two seasons before Zaidi rode into town, the Dodgers’ 2013 and 2014 campaigns brought back-to-back National League West championships to Chavez Ravine. While Colletti’s teams fizzled in both National League Championship Series (which was a major factor in his being shown the door), it’s important to note these were also the years that Clayton Kershaw established the foundation for his reputation as a postseason choke artist. 

Despite those playoff failures, Ned Colletti planted the seeds of Zaidi’s Dodgers, and those young Dodgers were already showing dividends. Zaidi had enough common sense to recognize the level of talent that he inherited in the farm system. He was partly forced into using those farmhands quickly by the Dodgers’ mandate that he get Colletti’s high player salaries under control and the team out from the grips of the MLB Luxury Tax.

Make no mistake, Zaidi carried out the initial parts of the new Dodgers’ program with unexpected success levels. The Dodgers continued their streak of NL West championships, and at times looked like a Blue powerhouse doing so. Zaidi benefited from young players having career years upon their bursting onto the diamond. This painted the misleading portrait of a homegrown steamroller that Zaidi created and was now being skillfully driven with his genius analytical baseball philosophies.

Despite his successes, Farhan Zaidi has two major shortcomings. One is his subpar assessment of a team as a whole –  in terms of what holes exist on the field, and which players to grab from the outside in the hopes of plugging them up. To be fair, Zaidi’s hand was limited by Dodger ownership’s insistence upon bargain-basement replacements, which resulted in player reclamation projects that more often than not fizzled out. When Zaidi did make grabs of big names, he chose Yu Darvish in 2017 and this season, Manny Machado. At best, his record with that market remains murky.

Zaidi failed to recognize and act on what many observers, including myself, saw as the 2018 Dodgers’ weakest link – the bullpen. That failure to address the bullpen’s liabilities directly led to starting pitchers Kenta Maeda and Alex Wood being pushed into roles they neither wanted, nor were very much good at over the long haul.

Perhaps Farhan Zaidi’s biggest shortcoming is the heavy hand that he seems to use with his field managers. Shortly after Don Mattingly left the Dodgers for the Miami coast, he revealed his hands were tied at times, with Zaidi controlling  some of the most questionable and costly decisions made during the Dodgers’ 2015 NLDS loss. 2016 saw Mattingly out and new manager Dave Roberts. The team won its fourth consecutive NL West championship, but was stopped short of the World Series when they were beat in the NLCS by the Chicago Cubs.  They finally made it into the Fall Classic last season, but lost to the Houston Astros in seven games. There weren’t any Mattingly-like rumblings from Dave Roberts following any of those losses.

That said, after Game 4, one of the most heartbreaking defeats for the Dodgers in the 2018 World Series, Dave Roberts was raked over the coals for his decision to use Ryan Madsen in a high leverage situation, despite Madsen’s previous record of allowing every one of his prior inherited runners to score. Roberts was peppered with questions over why the Dodgers’ most effective relievers, Julio Urias and Javier Baez, were not used in that game. After first insisting that he felt Madsen was the best man for the job at the time, Roberts later revealed that he had been told “by the organization” that neither Baez nor Urias was available to pitch. That smelled to the top of Dick Mountain like Farhan Zaidi’s aforementioned, postseason heavy hand.

Zaidi’s baseball formula, while successful, is just that – a formula. Furthermore, it’s one the Dodgers organization should have learned deeply enough by now to employ without him. I’ll admit baseball analytics is numbers crunching that I don’t fully understand, but it’s been around Major League Baseball long enough to be employed by any number of qualified stat-readers who have long enough track records to show they know the proper sequencing for entering baseball numbers into a computer.

Farhan Zaidi isn’t the only guy in town with a slide rule, but he is that guy who will insist on blind adherence to analytics when the eye test of a game in progress should take priority. That’s a problem. One that the Giants can unwittingly fix.

It’s a fairly safe bet the Dodgers are going to re-sign Dave Roberts. I’m willing to give the man the benefit of the doubt that he understands the game well enough to be given a freer hand in in-game, decision-making. Roberts clearly bought into the idea of baseball analytics, otherwise the Dodgers would never have hired him in the first place. He’s been around the organization long enough to see the value of 21st century, numbers-driven baseball, but he’s also been around the game long enough to know it’s played by men, not algorithms. It’s time for the Dodgers to evolve past Farhan Zaidi and advance to the next level – World Series Champions. 

Oscar Martinez

Oscar Martinez

I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

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14 thoughts on “Farhan Zaidi to the Giants Sounds Fantastic!

  1. His job in SF would be the same job Friedman has in LA. I have no doubt that he is easily replaceable. They have guys with GM experience in the front office so they are not really losing anything. Personally, I have nothing against Farhan. But I do think that the band aid fixes and his poking his nose where he has no real expertise, has just become worrisome and makes for boring baseball. But the biggest thing they need to do is change the culture of the hitters. This all or nothing stuff, and not thinking strikeouts are a bad thing has made this offense weak.

    1. Hey Mex
      I would be willing to throw in a couple of bucks for gas money for him. No need in wasting your valuable time to take him anywhere.

  2. Wish this column was better. I bet there’s somewhere an argument that Zaidi isn’t a loss, but it’s not in what’s written here.

    Good for Farhan.

    Hope he does great with San Fran.

    Dodgers have a lot of talent in the front office. I think Byrnes moves up a peg?

    1. I could see Byrnes moving up. Just the fact that he is giving Roberts little leeway in the use of his bullpen is enough for me. Make personnel decisions and maybe even advise on player use as to lineups, but leave the in game decisions to the manager. Keep your nose in the analytics and off the field. I think Roberts knows a little more about strategy than he does. Oh yeah, get your bald assed head out of Dodge.

  3. I agree with Oscar. I don’t think Zaidi moved the needle (getting rid of Mattingly was the big deal).

    I have nothing against Zaidi. I just think I could have done better than him when it came to trade deadline signings and we would have won it all at least once. Maybe I’m just better at this baseball thing. I bet I’m better at the Wall Street thing too.

  4. I hope you all saw Zaidi interviewed by MLB Network the following afternoon after the marathon game. In a nutshell, when I heard his answer to a question posed to him, I immediately told my wife that the Dodgers were done. Zaidi was asked about coming back to the WS following the blown WS the season before, his answer “Going to the World Series two years in a row is a great accomplishment”. That said it all for me, going to the WS two years in a row ain’t shit! Now, going to a WS and winning a Championship is a great accomplishment, anything short of that is only losing a championship. (Brutus, you won’t understand this so please refrain from looking stupid with a stupid response).

    There is a major problem with the culture in this FO. I hope Zaidi leaves for SF and takes the others with him.

    1. Going to the WS two years in a row ain’t shit.

      That’s a compliment right? Because the opposite would be “… is shit.”

      I totally agree if this is the case.

      I LOL if not.

      1. back in the 80s you probably had no idea what “being bad” meant either. However, you did surprise me in the stupid comment you made to make yourself look stupid. Either way, your comment had the same effect of making you look stupid, nice job Brutus.

  5. Get rid of all these clowns. Zaidi was probably responsible for bargain basement trash like Brett Anderson and McCarthy who he had familiarity with.

    1. The same could be said of Freidman. The first major trade made by this front office was on November 17th 2014. They traded Jose Dominguez, and Greg Harris to the Rays for Adam Liberatore and Joel Peralta. Friedman had just left Tampa to take over. 7 days later they made a trade with the Rockies for Juan Nicasio. The guy they traded, Noel Cuevas is still with the Rockies. Nicasio is long gone. Liberatore has been with the organization longer than any of their other free agents or trades. Anderson and McCarthy were both signed that December as free agents. Zaidi had McCarthy in Oakland and Anderson too. McCarthy though was coming off of a pretty decent rebound season with the Yankees. But, like a lot of their pick ups, he got injured in May, and pretty much was done for the year.

  6. Roberts and Dodgers close to an extension per ESPN and other outlets. Turner Ward leaves Dodgers for the Reds to be David Bells hitting coach. Guess he got tired of Puig’s kisses. So now they need a 3rd base coach and a hitting coach.

  7. Roberts extended for 4 years. Zaidi musing Giants offer. Friedman is at the GM meetings alone. Zaidi is not there. He also dodged questions about Zaidi.

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