In the Midst of a Dodgers’ Upheaval

When the Dodgers hired Andrew Friedman to run baseball operations, it seemed like they had brought in just the right guy to fine tune the best team money can buy, and get them on the right track toward the success that had eluded them for so long now, through the end of the O’Malley years, the horrible Fox episode, and the tumultuous McCourt era. Many observers saw a talent-laden team, that suffered first and foremost from the lack of a major-league caliber and knowledgeable manager, and from a need for bullpen help and improved defense. Rumors have been rampant that, in fact, Friedman wants to do much more than that, and if some were to be believed, it seemed that he was about to rip apart the fabric of the team. With what appears to be going on today, it seems like that ripping and shredding asunder is in progress.

For three years, the Dodgers waited for Dee Gordon to get his game together. They moved him from shortstop, where he had deficiencies, to second base, where he prospered. With his great speed and athletic ability, they knew they had a potential gem, and this past season he blossomed into an All-Star as the regular second baseman, hitting .289 and leading all of baseball with 64 stolen bases. His great season looked like the first of many, with him becoming a fixture at second
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for years to come.

Andrew had other idea, and in a deal that defies reason, Gordon was today traded to the Miami Marlins, along with starter Dan Haren, for young lefty pitching prospect Andrew Heaney, plus Enrique “Kike” Hernandez, a 23-year-old minor league infielder-outfielder who hit .319 with three minor league teams last season, after hitting only .236 in 2013, Austin Barnes, a 24-year-old catcher-infielder who has hit pretty well and shown some power in the low minors over four season, and 29-year-old righty reliever Chris Hatcher, who appeared in 56 games for the Marlins last season, with a 3.38 ERA and 60 strikeouts and 12 walks over 56 innings, but who had a 7.30 ERA over three prior seasons and 29 appearances.

This trade goes against every aspect of the Dodgers being a contender for the World Series next season. While the team could still use some help behind the plate, there is little chance that the inexperienced Barnes would be ready to assume a major league role this season, and while Hatcher could be a good addition to the questionable bullpen, it would be a major long shot to think that Heaney could step into the team’s now three-person-stong rotation. But, the bigger question is, who is going to play second base? Not too long ago, I discussed the candidates for shortstop, and while a couple of those fellows, most notably Alexander Guerrero, would be more suited to second base, none of them,

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including Guerrero, is the all-around player they gave away in Gordon, especially Guerrero who, while considered a potential decent or better major league hitter, is far from a being major-league caliber defensive player.

And that leads to the other trade Andrew pulled off today, acquiring 36-year-old Jimmy Rollins from the Phillies to play shortstop next season. Standing alone,
that appeared to be a good deal, a veteran with a couple of good years left, and signed for next season to a reasonable contract, to fill a void on a pennant contender, while super prospect Corey Seager gets closer to major-league readiness. No word has been released, however, as to who the Dodgers are giving up for Rollins, except for the fact that it is said to be two young pitching prospects.

For a couple of hours, it seemed like a good deal, having Rollins playing next to Gordon on the infield, bringing solid defense, power and speed, not to mention great baseball sense and savvy to a team sorely lacking in much of that. But then the Gordon trade came down, and more and intensive rumors that a deal sending away Matt Kemp, likely for a pile of crap from San Diego, could be imminent.

What is going on here? Friedman was hired to improve the Dodgers, not to rip the team apart, keeping the empty uniform non-manager and handing him a team full of holes and question marks, not to mention the possibility of having a second-rate catcher like Yasmani Grandal handling the pitching staff and hitting .225. Other rumors have the deal being a second transaction with the Phillies, and on a much bigger scale, possibly bringing Chase Utley to LA,
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along with Cole Hamels. I would have loved to have seen UCLA Bruin Utley a member of the Dodgers – five or six or seven years ago. But, at 36 (in a week), he’s coming off his first full season in five years, after missing substantial time due to injuries in four consecutive seasons. Long gone are his days of 30 home runs and one hundred RBI each season.

As we wait for the other shoe(s) to drop, the feeling is that major mistakes are being made, and the best team money can buy will soon become an even more expensive but far less talented group, with even less chance of post-season success.

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