Dodgers win, and they’re still looking for pitching
A six-week offensive slump hasn’t changed the Dodgers’ priorities heading into the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the team’s president of baseball operations said Wednesday.
Speaking before the Dodgers’ 5-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, Andrew Friedman said his front office remains focused on bolstering a starting rotation that has lost Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy to season-ending operations.
Adding an offensive reinforcement is “a lower priority,” Friedman said.
The Dodgers have scored two or fewer runs in 21 of their last 38 games, but Friedman said he was confident the first-place team would start hitting again.
“As we assess things and look under the hood and dig on things, you’re evaluating the quality of at-bats, the quality of contact, the work ethic, how guys are getting after it,” Friedman said. “All of it suggests our guys are going to get going again and this will be kind of a small blip on the radar.”
Friedman described the Dodgers’ first 35 games as something of an anomaly, as they averaged a league-high 5.3 runs per game in that period. But if that wasn’t an accurate measure of their ability, neither are the most recent 38 games, he said.
“In the first six weeks we were fortunate in that, one through eight, our bats were performing really well,” he said. “They were all kind of hot at the same time. In this last little mini-funk, a number of guys have been struggling relative to themselves all at the same time. Usually, you have two, three guys who are hot; two, three guys who are performing at expectation; and a few guys who are struggling. It’s not usually that high of a high or that low of a low, and, so, I kind of expect that to smooth out and be more normal going forward.”
So Friedman wasn’t ready to concede he did a bad job of constructing this team?
“Not yet,” he said in jest.
The Dodgers won for only the third time in 10 games Wednesday, as Adrian Gonzalez launched a solo home run in the second inning and Justin Turner added a three-run blast in the third.
Starting pitcher Mike Bolsinger lasted only 4 2/3 innings, but five relievers combined to pitch 4 1/3 scoreless innings.
Friedman said he was comfortable with whom the Dodgers have in the bullpen, especially with Pedro Baez, Paco Rodriguez and Brandon League close to returning from the disabled list.
As for the Dodgers’ trade talks involving starting pitchers, Friedman said they were still in preliminary stages.
The upcoming free-agent class will include some starters on non-contending teams, including Johnny Cueto of the Cincinnati Reds and Scott Kazmir of the Oakland Athletics. But Friedman said the Dodgers have also explored potential deals for pitchers with multiple seasons remaining on their contracts. The team is known to have scouted Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies, who has three years and $70.5 million remaining on his contract after this season.
Offensive additions probably will come from triple-A Oklahoma City, which is where Cuban infielder Hector Olivera and top prospect Corey Seager are playing.
Olivera is on the disabled list with a strained hamstring and is expected to be sidelined for two or three weeks.
Friedman implied he wouldn’t promote either one of them for the sake of making a change.
“It’s just never going to be something knee-jerk,” Friedman said.
Friedman also touched on the mounting criticism directed at Manager Don Mattingly from fans on social media.
“First and foremost, this mini-funk we’re in is all our faults — front office, coaching staff, players,” Friedman said. “But there’s no finger pointing. We’re all trying to figure out the best way we can get out of this as quickly as we can. There’s absolutely no panic in our group because we appreciate how talented our roster is.
“And by our group, I mean everyone — the front office, the coaching staff, the players. Everyone appreciates how much talent is in that room and how much guys care. And by caring, I mean their work ethic and focus on how to improve.
“Again, I think it’s all of our faults. I don’t think it’s fair to put it on any one person.”
Follow Dylan Hernandez on Twitter @dylanohernandez
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