The Los Angeles Dodgers and their fans have been without a World Championship since 1988 when the greatest event ever in the history of baseball occurred “In a season that has been so improbable, the impossible just happened!” Since then, the brand has eroded to some degree, but that has changed over the past three years and is about to change even more.
Al Campanis wrote the book on The Dodger’s Way to Play Baseball. That was the Dodger’s Brand. Another part of their brand was the heritage of their players – it seems there has been a long line of players from the Dominican Republic… until recently. The Dodgers presence in the Dominican has waned over time and other teams have asserted their superiority. This started back in the O’Malley years as they neglected the team, followed by more neglect by FOX and finally, the pillaging by the McCourt’s. That is changing.
The Dodgers have recently invested heavily into their facility in the Dominican Republic. According to Doug Padilla of ESPN.com the Dodgers have poured $8 million dollars into and rebuilt their Dominican Complex. I could summarize this, but you would do well to just read it yourself. Give it another year or two and you will see the Dominicans come back to the Dodgers. It’s about time!
Another way to re-build the brand is by developing pitching, but these guys are doing it in a way that has never been done. Bill Plunkett of Baseball America wrote this about the new Dodgers Minor League Pitching Development Program:
The Dodgers’ forward-thinking front office is not necessarily trying to re-invent the way things are done—but they’re open to it.
“We view part of our responsibility running baseball operations is to evaluate how the game and the industry has changed and adapt our own organization…to how the game has changed,” general manager Farhan Zaidi said of the decision to restructure the organization’s player development side to include a ‘Pitching Department.’
Following last season, minor league pitching coordinator Rick Knapp left for a job with Major League Baseball. Rather than hire a replacement for Knapp, the Dodgers hired former Rays reliever Brandon Gomes and former Angels scout and Ball State pitching coach Chris Fetter. They joined four others to form the Dodgers’ pitching department, dividing up the various duties a single pitching coordinator often handles.
“Particularly with pitching, there’s so much more information out there, so many more tools at our disposal that the traditional developmental pitching model of having one pitching coordinator who is in charge of everything didn’t make sense for bandwidth usage and really getting the most out of our players,” Zaidi said. “I mean, if every organization was scrapped and started from scratch in building it up, I think you’d see bigger pitching departments than exist today.”
Under the new structure, for example, Gomes’ expertise will be put to use in analyzing data and analytics available on young pitchers and using it to provide better developmental plans for those pitchers.
“Just think about all the pitchers a pitching department is in charge of in the organization,” Zaidi said. “All the factors that they’re in charge of—their development, what’s their arsenal, how many pitches are they throwing, what pitches are they throwing well, what is their pitching mechanics—it’s just hard to imagine it’s a job for one guy.”
The Dodgers Front Office led by Andrew Friedman is breaking the mold and you will see the astounding results as soon as THIS season. You are witnessing a paradigm shift and the Dodgers are leading the charge.
ESPN INSIDER picks some Breakout Hitters No One Else Is Expecting. On the list are Francisco Lindor, Kevin Kiermaier, Ender Inciarte, Cole Calhoun, Mitch Haniger, Ryon Healy and … Joc Pederson. Here’s what they said about Joc:
2016 indicator: Batted-ball authority, improved swing-and-miss rate
Few players hit the ball as hard as Pederson, who ranked 11th in the majors in average exit velocity. His swing is tailor-made to launch balls over the fence. It’s just a matter of making enough contact. And hitting left-handers. And maybe not trying to jack every pitch 500 feet.
Pederson has a lot of marks in his favor, including youth. He turns 25 in April, and he did improve last season, raising his OPS from .763 as a rookie to .847, even though he hit just .125 against southpaws in 77 plate appearances. It’s way too early in Pederson’s career to declare that he can’t hit lefties. In fact, I’d suggest it would be fairly unprecedented to turn a hitter of Pederson’s ability into a platoon guy so early in his career. This isn’t Seth Smith we’re talking about. Part of the problem last year was that nobody on the Dodgers was hitting lefties, so Dave Roberts was constantly tinkering with the lineup. As a result, Pederson ended up on the bench more often than not in the second half.
This year, Pederson should be in center field every day. Yes, he strikes out a lot, totaling 300 in the past two season, but note that his overall swing-and-miss rate fell from 35.9 percent to 26.5 percent. He strikes out, in part, because he works the count, waiting for a pitch to drive, but that leads to a high walk rate. We know he can mash righties (.269/.371/.547). If everything comes together in the rest of his game, he could hit 40 home runs and lead the National League.
I think there is a pretty good chance another Dodger could have a Breakout Year – One Yasiel Puig! Maybe I am just mentally weak and giving in to wishful thinking. It could happen… and if both Joc and Yasiel had breakout years… man-o-man!
Does anyone really want TODAY’S MUSIC or any wise sayings? No one says anything about them, so I assume no!