The winds of change have already started to blow for the Dodgers after their crushing defeat in the NLDS. Today, President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman held his year end press conference.
The most immediate change is that Rick Honeycutt will not longer be the pitching coach for the organization, as he will be sliding into the role of special assistant to the team. This was definitely not a surprise, as Honey had spent most of this past season in a lot of pain, recovering from back surgery and dealing with continual back pain. Mark Prior is expected to be the next pitching coach for the Dodgers.
It was acknowledged that with so many other managerial openings around baseball, that bench coach Bob Geren could be drawing big interest among other clubs. If that happened, it would be a big loss to the team. However, with Honeycutt and Geren not on the bench anymore, maybe the Dodgers could get some fresh voices to have more discussions with manager Dave Roberts about what pinch hitters and bullpen pieces might be better options. Overall, the club has received “at least 13 requests on employees” to be interviewed by other clubs.
Friedman also mentioned that he is close to finalizing an extension as President of Baseball Operations. He definitely has an impressive resume, as under his direction over the past five seasons the Dodgers are first in MLB in regular season wins, postseason wins and divisional titles.
Of course, while all that may be impressive, he and his front office have yet to put together a team that actually got the ultimate job done. He did mention that this year’s bullpen would have been good enough to get it done in the World Series, but that will remain something we will never know. It also makes you wonder why it was used as it was in Game 5, if that actually was the case.
The other thing Friedman and Company have done is reduce payroll 38 percent. That’s great for the owner’s bottom line, as the Dodgers are always near the top in that respect, also. But that has hindered Friedman from perhaps getting the big, key piece or two that would make the Dodgers the team to beat, as opposed to one of the big two in the AL. That payroll reduction is probably more of a factor in why Friedman was retained, in addition to the regular season wins.
Andrew also mentioned that he goes into the offseason open to changing the complexity of the roster. While this team was an excellent regular season team, obviously they are still missing that ‘something’.
One thing that had worried me going into the playoffs was this years team was…too vanilla. Almost too business-like. There really wasn’t that spark plug that would be the one to put the team on his shoulders and get the whole team going. No crazy antics or incredible homeruns from Yasiel Puig, no chest thumping from Alex Verdugo￼, no crazy character ala Mickey Hatcher to fire up the team. I understand that Puig’s time in Los Angeles had run its course, and that sometimes the timing of an injury sucks, as was the case with Verdugo. But I would really love to see a player (or two) with a little bit more flair and and hype on the roster.
Friedman mentioned that he does see both Rich Hill and Russell Martin playing against next season, he is just unsure that it will be within the Dodgers organization. He also said that he believes that Kenta Maeda will return to the starting pitching role again in 2020.
Another stellar starter, a key bullpen piece, and a spark plug player are on my Holiday Wishlist for the Dodgers over the postseason. While I expect smaller, subtler moves to be the norm as the last few off seasons, a girl can dream. And hopefully be pleasantly surprised.