I’ve been thinking a lot about Andrew Friedman’s arrival with the Dodgers, and one of the things that really keeps coming up for me is simply that he’s an outsider to the organization. Ned Colletti had been in charge for so, so long, to the point that not a single current member of the Dodgers played for the team before he arrived. (Although several had been drafted and were in the low minors.) Remember the lineup from Colletti’s first game as Dodgers GM? Of course not. Olmedo Saenz, Ricky Ledee, Sandy Alomar, Bill Mueller, Jose Cruz, and Jason Repko were all starting that day. It was a long time ago.
Since then, for better or worse, this has been the team that Colletti has put together, and understandably, he’s got his guys, the guys he traded for or signed or extended, and it’s simple human nature to figure that there’s some amount of ego involved in moving them. I’m not trying to throw shade on Colletti here, because this is probably true of most executives. It happens.
Friedman, however, comes in with no ties. He didn’t sign anyone. He didn’t trade for anyone, and while there’s certain respect that must be paid to the fact that Stan Kasten probably did have a hand in some of these moves, I don’t imagine Friedman made this move without the understanding that he could do more or less what he wants.
Remember, really, what the goal seems to be here: efficiency. For all the flaws of the Colletti Dodgers, this is a team that just won two consecutive division titles. But for a few bounces and a better relief pitcher, they might have won the NLDS. It’s a good team, and a good core. It’s just that Colletti got to that point with so, so much waste and overhead, particularly in the bullpen and the outfield. While I still don’t believe that the Dodgers are going to undergo a shocking drop in payroll, it’s fair to think that it will come down somewhat, and that Friedman’s job is really to maintain that regular season effectiveness (and improve prospects for the postseason) while spending less to do it, which is not at all unfair.
But, as I detailed the other day, it’s not all that easy to see that happening. It’s either going to require packaging someone valuable and inexpensive along with a terrible contract to clear some room, or it’s going to be moving someone with a big contract that we won’t want to see go. Either way, it won’t be painless, but it seems to be the only possible route if payroll is dropping at all.
I’m not saying I know what or when, because I don’t. It’s just that neither route comes without pain, and these aren’t Friedman’s guys. He traded David Price and James Shields because he had to, and those were players he’d had at his disposal for years. Do I think he’d hesitate for a second to trade a Matt Kemp, if he thought the move made sense for the Dodgers? I do not. He — and his unknown future GM — didn’t come to Los Angeles to maintain the status quo. However it happens, a bloated contract or two is likely to move. It might not be easy to watch.