And it doesn’t look like he ever will. On Monday the Dodgers held their annual end of year press conference at Dodger Stadium. This year’s end of season presser would be even more contentious than ever before after another embarrassing playoff ouster. This season’s playoff loss to the San Diego Padres in the National League Division Series could probably be considered one of the worst out of the multitude of October defeats piled up by Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers over the last 8 years.
The Los Angeles press corp filed into the media room looking for answers but all they received were excuses. This year’s deserved explanations more than in year’s past after the Dodgers won 111 games during the regular season and posted one of the best records in National League history. When prodded for reasons why the Dodgers finished 60 games above .500 but couldn’t last more than a few days into the postseason, Dodger’s president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman was defensive and condescending. I wasn’t there of course, but it didn’t surprise me.
The reporters asked a lot of questions. Specifically about why game 4 starter Tyler Anderson was pulled after only five innings, and why the Dodgers winners of 111 games and could only muster one postseason win before crawling away to the golf courses this winter.
“Isn’t it just baseball?” Friedman posited while shrugging his shoulders. No Andrew, it isn’t baseball.
When pressed further about that and other topics, such as the miscommunication on the pick-off throw in the seventh inning and pulling Yency Almonte before bringing in Alex Vesia in the middle of an at-bat, Friedman refused to answer while giving misdirections and illogical ramblings. According to the LA times, he seemed defensive.
Friedman is echoing what a lot of analytics fans are these days. The claim is that the playoffs and World Series are all luck and hot streaks. The Dodgers have just been unlucky, in 7 of their 8 postseason appearances. They also cited the new expanded postseason format as another excuse for the Dodger’s losing and poor game strategies. To think anyone would consider the World Series champions as not legitimate is ludicrous to me. Tommy Lasorda would roll over in his grave.
To make matters worse, Friedman took no accountability at all for his October failures. Not only will Dave Roberts return as manager in 2023, but so will the entire coaching staff. On top of that, Friedman will not make any changes or adjustments. Why change? The broken system works every fall.
Not that I am in favor of replacing Roberts, (perhaps replacing the hitting coach would help) but to say nothing is wrong is like telling everyone that Kirk Gibson’s home run wasn’t important. It’s an insult to the fans and media, and anyone who isn’t obsessed with defending Friedman can see the path through the trees.
If the Dodgers are ever to win another World Series (in a non-Covid year) they have to change. It’s not a problem of talent. The Dodgers had one of the most talented rosters in baseball. The problem was their lack of leadership and weak game management. Building a pitching staff around middle relievers and scripted batter vs. pitcher matchups doesn’t work in the playoffs. It’s a predictable style that can easily be exposed in a playoff series.
Had the Dodgers allowed their starting pitchers to go deeper into games, and used the bullpen more sparingly perhaps they would have been able to avert another late inning disaster like the one in the seventh inning of game 4 against San Diego. In order to help do that they would have also had to have healthy and effective relievers, unlike the several injured relievers that were wasting roster spots due to being unable to pitch. They had months to prepare and replace those injured pitchers, and didn’t do so.
Having a plan at the plate would have helped as well. There was no situational hitting and no plan at all for the offense. They were already beaten and deflated by game 4. One person commented on their lack of passion by saying he expected them to carry briefcases to the plate. Like they were going into the office.
I think I can speak for a lot of Dodger fans that are getting sick and tired of seeing the club crushed into a million pieces every fall. What’s needed here is a change in Philosophy, game management and strategy. That would have to come from the top. Unfortunately one man’s ego is bigger than the Padre’s seventh inning scoring rally. Baseball is a game of adjustments. Pitcher, hitters, managers, are constantly making adjustments. This is what the Dodgers need to do, otherwise it will be the same old story next season.