The first-half of the season has officially come to a close. Somehow, someway, the Dodgers find themselves in first place. It seemed like just yesterday LA was 10 games back of first, with the whole city calling for the firing of everyone involved. One of those Dodgers fans voiced frustration in was Andrew Friedman, the President of Baseball Operations. Since then, things have turned around, and yet again, he’s looking like a genius.
Friedman joined David Vassegh on Dodger Talk to talk the latest Dodgers news heading into the All-Star break.
Thoughts on the First Half
What a strange half. The injuries, the up and down performances, especially early with how out of sync we were. In terms of offense, bullpen and starters. We had a hard time getting two of those to be clicking at the same time. That’s baseball. When we got through that Wednesday game in Miami, it was rock bottom. From that point forward, we’ve played significantly better. We’re too talented of a team not to. Getting contributions from 1 through 25 on our roster. Still went through a number of injury situations. We’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and getting a better sense of who we are as we head down the stretch in July.
What he’s seen from Max Muncy
First and foremost, the quality of at bat. It’s pretty obvious with him in terms of being really passive on pitches out of the strike zone, really aggressive on balls in. He’s always hit balls hard. Now with a little bit of a swing change he’s got a little more leverage in his swing, instead of splitting the outfielders in the gaps, these balls are leaving the park.
On if he’s surprised from Muncy’s breakout year
For sure. Very surprised. When you look at the back of the baseball card to see that, it’s definitely surprising. We get a chance to watch him everyday. When you watch the quality of at bats, even taking away the balls in play, good stuff usually happens when you work those types of AB’s.
Seeing players reach their full potential
I think the most gratifying part of those guys bursting onto the scene and contributing to our success is that it’s an organizational accomplishment. From our scouts, to our player development staff, to our major league staff, it’s a combination of everyone having their fingerprints on that. I think the environment that Doc and his coaches and our veteran players have created, makes it easier for guys to come up and have confidence. I think confidence is an extremely important thing in getting the most out of someone’s ability, and we have that culture and environment right now where it’s easy for guys to come up and play relaxed and with confidence, and when that happens, good things follow.
Relationship with Chase Utley over the years
He’s as good as it gets. My sons are tired of hearing me talk about him when I go to their games and point out what Chase would do. The affect he has had throughout. If you think back to 2015, to that point we were one of the worst base-running teams in baseball. We get Utley, and from that point through the end of the season on we were second. It speaks to the affect he can have. The success on the field as well. He has had as much and as lasting of an impact as I’ve ever seen a player have on an organization.
On hearing Utley is retiring
It’s funny, he’s had questions on whether that year was it, and having different conversations about it. I thought he was going to play till he was 45. We’re going to do everything we can to get him on our staff as a special assistant or whatever, doing stuff for us. He’s excited about that, but his focus is on right now.
On bringing back Utley in the future
I think him going through our minor league system would have an incredible impact. Getting him involved with the draft and exposing him to different aspects and getting his takes, his fresh perspective, I think will be really helpful, but that’s for another day.
On Ross Stripling being an All-Star
It’s a tremendous story. The work ethic, how much he cares and puts into it, everybody in that clubhouse was overjoyed when he got named to the all star team. He does it the right way. The amount that he cares is so evident in everything that he does. He’s done it in a great way. You come up and start, transition to the bullpen. He’s continued to work at his craft. He’s continued to grow in that role to take everything he had learned to apply it now. His ability to get ahead of hitters, to mix any pitch in any count. That combined with his level of preparedness, doesn’t shock us that he’s had the type of success he’s had.
How he sees rotation playing out in the future
Not sure. It’s one of those things where we went through a large chunk of the season where we were having a hard time getting five together. Until we actually get to the point where we get to that point and get to that problem, I walk on that problem. At least it’s better from a team perspective. We’ve got a number of guys who should be in a major league rotation. Assuming everyone is healthy, that’s not going to be the case. We’ve got some rest stuff to work in. We’ve got to be creative in how we think through it. I hope we get the opportunity to, because that means everyone is healthy.
On if the Dodgers will be active at the Trade Deadline
I think so. Our mindset is to be aggressive. I think when you look around our roster, we’ve got a pretty high floor everywhere. There’s not this acute need at such and such position. We have a lot of different ways we can improve the team. We’ve got a really deep farm system, which in part is to help supplement the major league team, and used to supplement in another way by trading them to a different organization for players that fit us. We do have the prospect capital to be at the table in different conversations. We’re definitely going to be there and we’re going to do everything we can to help this team. We believe this is a championship caliber team. We will do what we can to help supplement it. We’ve got some time here to work through it.
Although it wasn’t pretty, it’s great seeing the Dodgers in first place. It’s also great that Friedman has remained confident and optimistic in his ball club from day one. It will be exciting to see what moves if any, the Dodgers make at the trade deadline. As we’ve seen, Friedman wants this team to win, and he has made aggressive moves with hopes it would get this team over the edge. I know all of us fans are desperately coveting winning a World Series, but there’s no question few people want to win and see success more than this guy.
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