A month ago, when the Dodgers fell to the Cardinals in the NLDS, here’s how the front office looked:
- GM: Ned Colletti
- AGM / Scouting Director: Logan White
- AGM / VP Player Dev.: De Jon Watson
- Pres. Baseball Ops: Andrew Friedman
- GM: Farhan Zaidi (MLB moves)
- SVP, Baseball Ops: Josh Byrnes (scouting and player development)
- Dir. of Player Dev.: Gabe Kapler
- Dir. of Amateur Scouting: Billy Gasparino
Obviously, a front office is larger than just this, with rumored roles for Red Sox scout Galen Carr and Padres scout Jeff Pickler still potentially coming, but you get the point. This has all happened so fast and furious that I’m not sure we’ve even truly appreciated the totality of this. A month ago, we weren’t even certain any changes would be made. If it had been Colletti out, White promoted, that probably would have been viewed favorably. If it had been Colletti out, someone external in, that probably would have been a win, too. If it had just been Friedman replacing Colletti, that alone would have been a massive achievement.
Instead: Wow. The Dodgers hired men who have run three teams (Rays, Padres, D-Backs). They’ve hired one of the brightest assistants in baseball, a guy with a Ph.D. who went to Berkeley & MIT and spent a decade learning from Billy Beane. They’ve added a long-time major league player with a unique outlook on nutrition, life, and statistics, and how to combine them all into something players can understand. They’ve added a highly respected scouting expert, with more to likely come.
It’s not just different people, either. It’s an entirely new structure, where the GM is no longer at the top (I’m not even certain the GM is above the SVP, come to think of it) and I think that’s going to be difficult for fans to grasp. Zaidi’s title might be “general manager,” but he’s not the head of his power structure. Friedman is. That means that certainly some of what Zaidi does would be traditionally considered the task of an “assistant general manager,” but really that’s from the old way of thinking, and to be honest, the titles don’t really matter. If Zaidi wouldn’t have left Oakland for an AGM title and required a GM title, great, so be it. He’s a brilliant guy with a great reputation, and you want him around.
“Both guys are going to touch everything. It’s a massive operation, and our vision is to be as good as we possibly can be in every facet. The development side, international, scouting, the way we use information, the way we prepare at the Major League level — all of those are incredibly important. To have all of touching those not only puts us in the best position we can be but allows us to do so as quickly as we can.
It’s a brand new world, and it’s exciting to see the Dodgers at the forefront of it. Of course, the obvious disclaimer here: Baseball. None of this guarantees anything, as you well know but will probably forget during the team’s first rough patch. Having smart people running the team doesn’t prevent fluke injuries to top players that can derail a season. Pushing all of the right buttons doesn’t prevent the best pitcher in the world from having the worst inning of his life at the worst possible time, or Yasiel Puig suddenly forgetting how to baseball in the playoffs, or a good veteran lefty reliever in J.P. Howell giving up a rare home run to another lefty in the biggest spot. Those things happen, unfortunately. It still comes down to the players on the field.
That said, I feel a whole lot better with this group picking those players, don’t you? I thought that short of seeing a World Series win, the day that the team was officially sold from McCourt to Guggenheim would be a really, really tough feeling to top as a Dodger fan. That might still be No. 1, if only because this has been a series of days rather than just one.
This is close, though. This is really, really close.