October 14, 2014

#Dodgers make big move with Friedman; Mattingly firing talk heats up

Andrew Friedman, Dollars-bound / Photo via CBS Sports
After a week or so of rumors, the Los Angeles Dollars, as Ken Rosenthal has called them, have swept in and gotten their hoped-for baseball genius.
(Tampa Bay) Rays executive vice president of baseball operations and GM Andrew Friedman has left the team to join the Dodgers, both teams have announced. Friedman takes over as the Dodgers president of baseball operations and (will?) be allowed to hire his own GM. …
 Friedman's role will presumably be similar to Theo Epstein's with the Cubs. Epstein is the team's president of baseball operations and Jed Hoyer is the GM. Ned Colletti, who had been the Dodgers GM since 2005, will remain with the team as a senior advisor to Kasten.

Very interesting. Of course, a guy named Ned Colletti was holding that position. Kasten and company booted him upstairs to a yet-undefined senior management position. 

Is manager Don Mattingly next? Analysts say that he doesn't fit Friedman's style, whatever that may be. And let's not forget that Magic Johnson is a part owner of the Dodgers. That's the Magic who, as a Lakers player, got Paul Westhead fired as head coach AFTER he'd won an NBA title, in favor of Pat Riley. And, of course, Riley turned out better. So, don't tell me Magic isn't tempted. Semi-jokingly, the #grit-laden hero of the Dollars' last World Series, Kirk Gibson, is available.

And, the Dollars' loss of the National League Division Series this year was capped with a managerial decision that drew plenty of head-scratching, namely,  the benching of Yasiel Puig, still arguably the team's best everyday player despite being in a slump.

I don't know if Mattingly is gone. But, when your managerial decisions make Mike Matheny look brilliant and even Ned Yost above average?

Joe Maddon, your new LA Dollars manager in waiting?
(Reinhold Matay / Associated Press)
The Rays' current manager, Joe Maddon, is getting some speculation, of course. He's under contract for another year, though. A low-market team like the Rays would charge a high price to trade him. Does Friedman want to wait a year? Would Mattingly want to wait a year with the feeling that, short of winning a World Series, he's a very lame duck? If he asked for a buyout, would anybody else want to come in as a full-season interim?

Also, does anybody know if Maddon wants to live in LA half the year (or more) or not? I think that’s the first question newly-elated Dodger fans should be asking; and Tampa fans shouldn’t totally lose heart. OTOH, he was a protege of Mike Scioscia, so he's been in SoCal before.

Maddon, meanwhile, is saying the right things for Tampa fans right now.
Maddon said he and his wife recently moved into a Tampa home once owned by former USC and Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coach John McKay. 
 "I'm really embedded here pretty well," he said. "The roots are pretty strong. We have a great infrastructure here. We have a great operation. We have great people. 
"There's so much to like. There's only one negative. That's the ballpark. It's a big negative. But that's about it." 
That said, how could he do otherwise? If he said "I love LA," then Bud Selig's kicking him, Friedman, or both, in the ass for tampering.

And, per this 2013 ESPN story, he sure seems to be happy where he is now, not just as a manager, but in general.

On the third hand? He can name his price on a new contract. Would it be the moon? Would Tampa pay? Surely not, on the second rhetorical.

My thought? If Friedman really wants him, and he really wants to move, if the price is mainly money (to the degree Rob Manfred will allow) and draft choices, pull that trigger.

Next question is, will Friedman get the Dollars over the National League playoffs hump and into the World Series, whoever his manager is, where they've not been since 1988? In the last decade, their traditional rivals, the Giants, sport two WS wins, and old-time NL foe Cardinals have two wins and two other appearances.

It's not guaranteed. With a Dollars-sized payroll come Dollars-sized expectations to show how "Moneyball" performs on financial steroids. It's my contention that the alleged father of "Moneyball," Billy Beane, turned down the chance to be Theo Epstein in Boston before the Sawks hired the real Theo, for precisely that reason. (Sandy Alderson is as much the actual father of "Moneyball" as Beane.)

And, with a payroll that could approach $250M next year, especially with dead-armed middle reliever Brian Wilson exercising his $9.5M player option, and semi-dead-armed starter Dan Haren an idiot if he doesn't do the same with his $10M player option, that's a lot of lux tax money to pay in Los Angeles. That's not to mention the retirement, and pitching hole that needs filling, of Josh Beckett, and the free agency of Hanley Ramirez, either.

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