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Sports Medley 16 Dec 14: Dodgers Front Office Most Inept in Los Angeles Sports History

by Tony Medley

Not the Worst: Contrary to what might be thought (and hard as it is to believe), the current “whatever Kobe wants, Kobe gets” Lakers’ front office is not the most inept in Los Angeles sports history. That distinction goes, hands down, to the Los Angeles Dodgers, circa 1987 –2010. In 1987 the Dodgers fired Al Campanis in a cowardly move dictated by fear of political correctness that need not be detailed here. Since then they have been subject to the “Campanis Curse.” While they won the pennant and World Series in 1988 using the team put together by Campanis, since then they have been in the wasteland achieving a record of incompetence that boggles the mind. Here is a list of players that they discarded for basically nothing in return:

John Wetteland, Traded in 1991 for Eric Davis and Kip Gross. Davis hit around .230 in two Dodgers years and Gross pitched 38.2 innings for the Dodgers in two years. After the trade Wetteland was a 3-time All Star becoming the best closer in baseball during the ‘90s with 329 saves through 2000.

Pedro Martinez, Used primarily in relief by the Dodgers, traded in his second season in 1993 for weak-hitting second baseman Delino DeShields. Smarter people made Pedro a starter who became a 3-time Cy Young Award Winner and an eight time All Star.

Paul Konerko, Traded in 1998 after only 151 at bats in two years for pitcher Jeff Shaw who won 9 games for the Dodgers in four years, Konerko became a six time All Star with a .279 lifetime batting average and 439 home runs.

Adrian Beltre, Granted free agency in 2005 after hitting .334 with 48 home runs, for nothing. After leaving the Dodgers he has had a lifetime batting average of .322 with 248 home runs, is a 4-time All Star, and is a 4-time Platinum Glove winner at third base.

Russell Martin, a 3-time All Star granted free agency in 2010 for nothing, was just signed by Toronto to a 5-year, $82 million contract.

Mike Piazza, Traded in 1998 to the Florida Marlins for a bunch of has-beens, Piazza is a 12-time All Star with a .308 lifetime batting average and 427 home runs (his record after the trade was a.293 batting average and 250 home runs). His trade was “engineered” by a guy named Chase Carey, a Fox executive who ran the Dodgers and who thought he knew more than the General Manager, Fred Claire, who opposed the deal (Carey is presently President and CEO of 21st Century Fox). That even Claire, the guy who unceremoniously dumped Martinez and Wetteland, thought this was a bad idea, tells a lot about Carey’s baseball ineptitude.

Jason Werth, Released as a free agent for nothing in 2006, he became an All Star who hit for a .282 lifetime batting average and 161 home runs after the trade.

How many pennants and World Series would the Dodgers have won with all these guys playing on the same team at the same time? What a lineup!

So how about the new guy, a young turk in from Florida, Andrew Friedman? He hasn’t started out auspiciously, either, retaining inept Don Mattingly as manager. Mattingly has great starting pitchers and a bullpen full of minor leaguers, but he refuses to allow Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke to pitch complete games, preferring to allow inept pitchers to “close.” What kind of genius would rather have some dolt from the bullpen pitch the ninth inning of a close game instead of Kershaw or Greinke? Worse, they retained hitting coach Mark McGuire (whose only fame is breaking Babe Ruth’s and Roger Maris’s home run records on steroids and then refusing to admit it before Congress) despite the facts that (1) the Dodgers swing at more pitches in the dirt than players on all other major league teams combined, and (2) he’s turned Yasiel Puig from a free-swinging .400 hitter into a strikeout king who, after two years of McGuire’s tutelage, now can’t even hit a fastball thrown down the middle.

Then Friedman dumped Hanley Ramirez (31) and Matt Kemp (30), both in the prime of their careers, along with young Dee Gordon (.289 in 2014), last year's stolen base champion, in return for a bunch of has-beens, never-was’s, and nobodys (one of the guys is a catcher with “potential,” and two others are quality pitchers who have a history of crippling injuries). The “Big Name” shortstop is Jimmy Rollins, an over the hill 36 year old who is described as “making up for a lost step by his experience.” Oh boy. Rollins is no longer a hitter (.246 in 2014). The other “Big Name” is second baseman Howie Kendrick, a .290 hitter.

Friedman has already penciled rookie Joc Pederson in as centerfielder. In his short stint last year Pederson had 28 at bats and struck out 11 times for a strikeout average of .392. He clearly fits in as McGuire’s kind of hitter. And all the while nobody in the Dodgers’ hierarchy mentions Justin Turner, who only led all of baseball in batting average last year, but wasn’t good enough for Mattingly to put in the lineup in the playoffs.

If Kemp and Ramirez are .300 hitters for the next five years (not to mention what stolen base king Gordon might do), Friedman can take his place with the people who made the decisions listed at the top of this article, and long-suffering Dodgers fans can continue to suffer. Friedman would do well to remember the old baseball adage, "Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make."