Too smart for the room; the fundamental flaw with the Dodgers

Typically on Thursdays, I like to give a roundup of all the Los Angeles pro sports teams to spark chit-chat with my pals back home. After yesterday, though, I can’t contain my disgust with the Dodgers to a tweet.

Yesterday, we learned that starting pitcher Alex Wood needed surgery and was likely done for the season. About an hour later, even worse news: three-time Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw might also need back surgery and if so, is likely done for the year.

If that comes to pass, it is likely the Dodgers themselves are done for the year.

Because don’t let the hype surrounding the alleged “smartest front office in the history of sports” fool you. The rest of the Dodgers are a hapless team. Since much of this team was assembled by a group I have little appreciation for, it is my hope that the owners of the team — who shelled out $2 billion for the franchise in the first place — realize their mistake and cut bait with almost all of the six general managers currently on the payroll.

Let that sink in: the Dodgers have six current and former general managers on the payroll. Your team should only have one with an assistant. Consider your own job. How would you function with six managers and their spreadsheets standing over you with their suggestions on how to increase output?

Is this not a recipe for micromanagement?

As such, it’s become apparent to me that the Dodgers front office, for all of their alleged brain power, are simply too smart for their own good. It’s all theory, no action. It’s trying to talk quantum physics in a game played by cavemen.

It’s all in the abstract, when the reality is the franchise the team hasn’t been to the World Series in 28 years.

This is not an argument in favor of “old school baseball.” There are benefits to what people call analytics. I read “Moneyball” and appreciated it. It can help a cash-strapped team become competitive. Only problem is, the Dodgers are not cash-strapped. When you have money — and with a multi-billion dollar television deal and almost 4 million fans filling the stands every year, they have money — you don’t need to make deals on the cheap.

And yet, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, general manager Farhan Zaidi and Vice President of baseball operations Josh Byrnes did. Because Friedman comes from Tampa Bay, Zaidi from Oakland and Byrnes from San Diego, all franchises with histories of miserly transactions. And I might add, lengthier histories of losing.

To save money, the smart guys let two-time Cy Young award winner Zack Greinke leave the team with the idea of patching together a rotation from cheaper alternatives. They are the ones who chose to pass on other elite free agent starting pitchers such as David Price and Johnny Cueto, the latter signing with the rival Giants, who currently lead the division. Instead, the Dodgers signed starting pitchers Brandon Beachy, Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy. The catch of investing in these cheaper alternatives is they had a lengthy history of injuries.

Surprise, they all spent a lot of time on the disabled list.

They also traded for Wood, who has a painful-to-watch windup that looks like he’s trying to amputate his own throwing arm. He finally succeeded.

The Dodgers are 14-2 in games that Kershaw starts and below .500 in games where he does not. 

Only now Kershaw is gone. Perhaps for the year.

Friedman, by the way, is getting paid. He signed a record $35 million contract and has a potential below .500 record to show for this pointless meddling. 

It’s becoming painfully obvious you can’t teach a cheapskate GM how to act when he finally has a payroll to use. These three pauper GMs, it seems to me, are so bogged down with impressing each other over the most cost-efficient deal that they simply won’t make a championship-winning deal. 

It’s a lesson the franchise should have already learned. The Dodgers tried the “smart guy/value over talent” approach before, heavy on the analytics and not on star power. Paul DePodesta’s creation led to the Dodgers losing 91 games in 2005.

The Major League Baseball trading deadline is Aug. 1. Rumors are swirling of big deals for the Dodgers. I’ll believe it when I see it. The gut feeling is the only way the Dodgers act like the big market team they are is if Magic Johnson storms into Friedman’s office and slaps him silly.

Because the team can’t hit or pitch.

The team doesn’t need any more mental masturbation. The Dodgers need men of action.

Because sports are games of action. And champions are the ones who act.

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