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Dodgers Dugout: What is Andrew Friedman thinking? He finally tells us

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and I’m wondering when the majority of Southern Californians will learn how to drive in the rain.

Friedman speaks

Times baseball columnist Bill Shaikin conducted a lengthy Q&A with Dodgers President of Baseball Operation Andrew Friedman. You can read the entire interview here, but below are some things I found interesting:

When asked to explain to fans what the Dodgers’ main objective is:

“We’re going to do everything we can to compete as quickly as we can, and all the while build up our farm system as quickly and aggressively as we can. … I think large-revenue teams can sometimes fall into a trap of focusing too much on the current, and that is something that we have tried to be extremely mindful of. We certainly understand and respect the fans’ passion. It’s one of the things I like most about my job.

“We feel like our responsibility is to do everything we can to sustain a certain level of success — as you look at it over a five-year period, a seven-year period, a 10-year period, we’re able to play through that time period as an upper-echelon, elite-level team. And it’s not as easy as people think it is, especially if you devote a large percentage of your focus and resources on just the now.”

How does winning a World Series play into all that?

“It’s certainly the motivating factor for Mark Walter, our ownership group, Stan Kasten, myself, our baseball operations department, Dave Roberts, our new coaches. I think all of us are perfectly aligned in the sense of doing all that we can to bring a World Series back to Los Angeles. With that comes doing everything we can to not only put ourselves in a position to do that, but to be able to have a chance of doing it multiple times in future years.”

When asked why the team didn’t make a better effort to acquire David Price, Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto last season:

“I think it all gets back to acquisition cost. We were very much in play on a number of guys but deemed the acquisition cost to be too high, based on the fact that it certainly did not guarantee anything. Look at the teams that did acquire some of those guys. It does not guarantee that you are going to win a World Series. You have to appreciate what it means for your chances. I think human emotion takes over when you’re in July, and you’re even willing to give more than what rationally makes sense. But there has to be a level where you have the discipline to not overstate that value.”

Why didn’t they match Arizona’s offer for Zack Greinke?

“For the most part, almost any transaction we make at the major league level is not done in a vacuum. It has to be done within your current roster as well as future rosters. We’re fortunate to have a number of guys on the higher end of the salary scale. It’s important for large-revenue teams to space those out as much as you can. We’re afforded the luxury of having a number of them. It’s a great benefit. But, if you are too flippant about it, it can become a real liability.”

If fans understand you weren’t going to put all your eggs in one basket to try to win last year, that you weren’t going to give up what it would take to get Price or Hamels, then how many years are they supposed to give you to win a World Series?

“That’s just not a decision that I get to make. Every day, our focus is on how to make the Dodgers better. I will continue to do that as long as I’m in this position.”

If the Dodgers don’t win a World Series in the next, say, three to five years, has the mission not been accomplished?

“Certainly, my goals are to win as many championships as possible. I don’t define a season a failure if you don’t win a world championship. I just don’t subscribe to the notion that there’s one success story and 29 failures in any given season.”

How do you define a successful season?

“I think winning your division is a very successful regular season. I tend to try to look at it as two parts. It is more difficult to accomplish your ultimate goal without accomplishing your regular-season goal. So I think of winning your division as an accomplishment. To do it three years in a row, I think, is a great accomplishment. That being said, our postseason goals have not been met.”

Friedman also talks about the decision to part ways with Don Mattingly, whether he thinks the NL should use the designated hitter and many other things.

I have been highly critical of Friedman in the last year, and feel he has made a lot of bad deals. However, there is no denying that he has done an excellent job of building the farm system, which is ranked as the best in baseball by many experts. Friedman defends the infamous “Mat Latos trade” by pointing out that the Dodgers were able to acquire three top prospects. Maybe he’s right. Maybe in two years that trade will end up being a brilliant move. But it’s hard to judge deals on what might happen in two  years. Last season, that deal was a disaster. What Friedman and many in the Dodgers’ front office don’t seem to understand is that fans have been waiting 28 years for a World Series title, so saying “be patient” is easier said than done.

Spring training

Finally, it’s here. Here are some things to look for in spring training this season:

  1. Is Hyun-jin Ryu healthy? If Ryu is 100%, he gives a big lift to the rotation.
  2. Does Joc Pederson still have that big swing? If Pederson is still swinging for the fences on every pitch, then that’s not a good sign.
  3. Are Yasmani Grandal and Yasiel Puig playing well? Grandal is coming off shoulder surgery and Puig is coming off hamstring problems. If either of them is playing close to his potential, then that means the Dodgers offense will be running on all cylinders.
  4. Who’s going to bat leadoff on this team? Corey Seager, Howie Kendrick or someone else?
  5. Who will round out the bullpen? Kenley Jansen, Chris Hatcher, J.P. Howell and Joe Blanton are locks. Who will get the other two spots, and if Ryu is healthy, that puts Alex Wood in the bullpen, leaving only one spot.
  6. What about the TV deal? Is anyone going to act like they care that most Dodger fans won’t be able to hear Vin Scully in his final season? Will the Dodgers once again make a bad PR move by shrugging their shoulders and saying “Hey, it’s not our problem?” Will Time Warner Cable or the cable/satellite providers compromise a little?

And finally

The comparing of NL West teams continues in the next newsletter with a look at the starting pitching. Until then, here’s a great video you should watch.

Have a comment or something you'd like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston

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