The Dodger Doctrine: The Youth Movement
Much like The Monroe Doctrine of the early 1800’s, The Dodger Doctrine seeks to dominate the landscape for the betterment of the club. For a history refresher and comparison sake, let us take look at what History.com says about The Monroe Doctrine, the time period and the doctrine itself, and how it relates to the Dodgers Youth Movement, which we are officially naming The Dodger Doctrine.
The best description we found goes as follows:
“On December 2, 1823, President James Monroe used his annual message to Congress for a bold assertion: ‘The American continents … are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.’”
Similarly, the Dodgers want to control their Manifest Destiny through its farm system of talent.
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In case you were sleeping on the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Dodgers youth movement has already begun. We are witness to an exciting time in the game of baseball and specifically for the Dodgers club. The Dodgers age-old playbook of developing young and less expensive talent invented by former general manager Branch Rickey is in its second stage as outlined by Dodgers President and CEO Stan Kasten.
Kasten explained the vision when hired by Dodgers Owner Mark Walter with Guggenheim Baseball Management. We wrote about that and Andrew Friedman, Dodgers President of Baseball Operations. He is a brief synopsis of that analysis:
“Walter is not much different from Dodgers legend and Hall of Fame inductee Branch Rickey in one very important sense–bringing together a lot of talent. If Branch Rickey started the farm system of player talent, then the modern day experiment is front office farm systems of executive talent.
Check out some additional great reads on the subject here, here, and here. Here is a list of all current General Managers, with bios, which is interesting.”
Back in December 2015, Kasten was interviewed by ESPN Staff Writer Mark Saxon. Saxon began the interview by asking “It has been a quiet offseason thus far for the Dodgers. Can you explain the lack of activity?” Here is how Kasten responded:
“Fans look at the short-term snapshot and maybe don’t have enough time to reflect on what we have been spending a lot of our time and energy and money building here in L.A. We all know the next wave of players is very close to getting to the majors this coming year. Behind them, we think two to three years from now we have a very, very deep roster of other prospects highlighted by the investments we’ve made internationally. There are two movements on the way and that’s what we said we were trying to do from the day we arrived.”
Kasten’s response is telling in that the Dodgers have a plan and we are seeing that plan play out before our very eyes. It is The Dodger Doctrine.
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What is The Dodger Doctrine?
For one, it is about smart money.
“They [the Dodgers] want to get the most wins for the best price. This does not mean the Dodgers will be cheap, but it does mean they will be smart . . . [The Dodgers Ownership became successful in business] by making smart decisions and hiring smart people to help make those decisions. Those facts and lessons of life do not go out the window because he [Dodgers Owner Mark Walter now] owns a baseball team.”
Second, the Dodgers will continue to sign and develop talent that is young, trainable, and less expensive than free-agent talent, which makes their moves more valuable in the short and long term.
“The Dodgers have options [and have showed] restraint, [which] is admirable and good for the Organization’s future. It is also why Walter hired Friedman, a former Bear Stearns Wall Street and private equity executive. He knows how to find value and retain it.”
Third, it is about retaining and acquiring talent (e.g., roster and farm system depth).
“Since Andrew Friedman was hired as the President of Baseball Operations, his most common phrase has been to say that “this move augments our depth.” Friedman, since his days in Tampa Bay, has done at least one thing consistently well: build division winners and playoff teams through depth, one through twenty-five, and twenty-six through forty. The 2016 version of the Dodgers is no different and actually has more depth, while shaving $70 million dollars from the 2015 payroll . . .
With the above being said, we have not mentioned that the Dodgers have the top ranked Farm System in Major League Baseball according to Baseball America. Pretty impressive considering the Dodgers Organization had neglected and some would say abandoned their domestic and overseas scouting and player development under former owner Frank McCourt.”
Fourth, diversity is good: recognize it, accept it, and work with it. For example, the Los Angeles Dodgers current forty-man roster has eleven (11) different countries represented. Dodger personnel include the likes of Farhan Zaidi, a Canadian-American of Pakistani descent, and Dave Roberts an African-Asian-American manager with varying talents and experiences on Wall Street and the base paths in playoff games. Talent can come from anywhere, as we wrote about previously:
“Throughout their history, the Dodgers Organization has changed culture through their choice of players, managers, and front office personnel. Starting with former General Manager Branch Rickey and Owner Walter O’Malley, more than any other professional sports franchise, the Dodgers have the led the way in cultural diversity and player development. The Dodgers realized early on that accepting cultures and individual people and players was the best way to success in terms of community progress, on-the-field performance, and financial growth of the franchise.
O’Malley and Rickey were smart businessmen as well as culturally aware of the times when Jackie Robinson made his way through the farm system and eventually onto the roster. They knew Robinson could perform and effect change. They also knew he would fill the stands with new fans.”
Diversity opens up the talent pool and increases your odds for success. The Dodgers have bought into this wholeheartedly for a long time.
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When we look at the Dodgers 2011 roster compared to 2016, we also notice two very important changes. (Note: 2011 is a significant year because it the last season of former owner Frank McCourt and the old guard; it was before the Stan Kasten, Mark Walter, and Andrew Friedman era, which began in 2012 (Friedman was hired in 2014)).
First, the roster is younger, becoming less costly, and more controllable in terms of years.
Second, it is becoming more and more developed from within through the farm system, trades (e.g., Trayce Thompson), or in signing international talent. For example, in 2011, the Dodgers had two players (Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen) on the twenty-five man roster at or under the age of twenty-five (25) who played the entire season at the big league level. In 2016, the list is well over ten (10) players and growing. Not a math major, but that is an eight-hundred percent increase in seeing younger talent on the Dodgers roster in less than four year’s time.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Dodgers Youth Movement Has Already Begun and has been the case for some time. Corey Seager, Trayce Thompson, Joc Pederson, Alex Wood, and Julio Urias for 2.2 innings before being sent back to Triple A for development, is just the beginning. It also helps that Seager, Thompson, and Pederson are leading the team or near the top in home runs and runs batted in as of Sunday this week. Sit back and enjoy the show.
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Yes Jeremy I agree. The future outfield of Pederson, Thompson, Puig and SVS is very exciting. It has power and may be the best defensive outfield in baseball. Verdugo is scheduled for around 2018 or so. and I am sure there are others. The infield has Seager now with Kike on the bubble. Bellinger is set for around 2018 at first and Segedin is tearing up OKC at third. Although the way Utley is playing I am OK with some old guys especially for cheap like Utley. Culberson proved he could be a very strong utility guy also.
The pitching is where the Dodgers of 17 or 18 should shine. Urias, Holmes, DeLeon, DeChong, Cotton, Buehler, Stripling and others are coming. Montas might make it this year along with reliever Anderson next. The Dodgers should have some young pitchers to evaluate and trade as they do not have enough rotation slots.
They will be able to trade young pitchers for starting players where they have gaps. And with Crawford, Etheir and Gonzalez’s contracts dropping off they will have even more budget room to pick a few player free agents to fill the roster where the Farm cannot supply talent.
The Jansen contract will cost them though. And Kershaw will opt out in 18 and hopefully they sign him. That will be a record breaking contract but the Dodgers have the money.
Making your point that the team will be younger and more cost controlled in the future. As a fan since the Dodgers moved to LA I hope that Kasten did not bring his LUCK from Atlanta. All those division titles and only ONE WS championship is not OK…
And on these notes, Crawford’s days here are numbered and not a moment too soon. I have seen enough of his noodle act!
pauldodgerfan1965 It is sad that his body has broken down as it has. He was one of the most dynamic offensive threats in baseball for several years. He says it was the turf that got him. As his legs have been the issue he is probably right. Although he was out for awhile last year with a strained Oblique.
It is a lesson teams do not seem to learn as they sign guys in the second half of their careers for HUGE money based on what they have done not necessarily what they will do,
There are not a lot of Gonzo’s that are worth the huge contract.
Are you kidding me? How can you even compare these guys to Branch Ricky’s vision, the man whom integrated baseball, whom started the modern minor league system, the man who built the Championship Cardinals even before he was a minority owner of the Dodgers, a man whom there after help build the 1960 World Series Champions Pittsburgh Pirates , in which he stole Robero Clemente from OMalley and the Dodgers. You should think long and hard before you compare this group to a legendary figure as he. Tell me how many more years like now, will Kershaw be dominant. I guess you just use him to feel the stands while we are mediocre. Comparing Ricky to someone who has done nothing but make promises.
So they hired Andrew so then he can Brandon McCarthy a career dl player with 4 era and 1/2 a decent season 4 years 45 Milllion?? Oh yeah and trade for mat Latos ?? Wow I guess any body can be considered a genius
Unfortunately nobody had told our genius front office cause they to put his .100 batting avg and great defense in the line up at least 2x a week
And this article sucks balls. This is trash LETS WAIT FOUR MORE YEARS TO WIN A F$&#% Championship. Eat a dick with trash article
Rube247 I think they feel they do not have anyone that is better right now on the Farm that does not need to play everyday to improve. I look at Crawford as a place holder for Etheir. The real test will be when Etheir is ready to come off of the DL. But they say he hasn’t started serious rehabbing so he might be late July or August.
I am curious to see what they do when Scott VanSmack is ready to return who gets sent down or DFA’d?? I would think they would drop a pitcher but if Wood is out who knows??
The problem with this post is that it confuses “getting younger” with “getting better.” One does not necessarily follow on the other.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy the Dodgers have the top-rated farm system. But that does not mean that the players who emerge from that system will be major league stars. Do you remember Joel Guzman, Billy Ashley, Bob Miller, Andy LaRoche, Jerry Sands, Greg Brock by any chance? They all were Dodger minor league sensations who never had much of a career in the big leagues. As we have seen with Urias, the leap from minor league dominance to major league competence is a big one. Urias may still develop into a star, but it’s going to take time. Even Kershaw needed a couple years of apprenticeship in the majors before he blossomed. Cody Bellinger, to pick one touted name, may develop into a big league first baseman, but is it realistic to expect him to be the RBI machine that Adrian Gonzalez is?
The point of running a major league organization is not to have the best rated minor league system or a team that is considered “good value for the money.” The point is to win the World Series. The Giants have not had a highly regarded minor league system in recent years, but they managed to develop Madison Bumgarner, Joe Panik and Matt Duffy and win three World Series. The Houston Astros have had a top-rated minor league system for years and after flaming out in the playoffs last year they are wallowing near the bottom of their division.
So while I commend Andrew Friedman and his front office for building a good minor league system, I would argue he has his priorities wrong. When he took over baseball operations for the Dodgers he inherited a major league team that had the best pitcher in baseball, the second or third best starter, a star closer, a perennial All Star at first base, and young players on the rise like Puig, Pederson, Seager and Urias.
The logical move would have been to build on that core and try to push the major league team over the top. But Friedman set his priorities elsewhere. At the top of his list has been finding jobs in his front office for every crony who ever has crossed paths with him, Zaidi or Byrnes. There are seven former general managers in the over-stuffed multimillion-dollar front office at Dodger Stadium. IF you know what all of them actually do, please enlighten us.
Friedman’s second priority has been to spend the team’s money on prospects and second and third tier free agents. He’s thrown tens of millions of dollars at untested Latin American teenagers and injury-prone pitchers like Brandon McCarthy while declining to invest in proven major league stars like Max Scherzer, Andrew Miller, Jordan Zimmerman and Ben Zobrist. To use a Wall Street metaphor, that’s like dumping all your money in penny stocks hoping one of them pays off instead of investing in proven companies like Apple and General Electric.
Meanwhile, the major league team has drifted downward. Last year they won fewer games that the year before that this season they are struggling to stay above .500 are are very long shots to even make the playoffs. You can imagine how much better this team would be if in his first year Friedman had signed Scherzer and Miller instead of McCarthy, Anderson, Wood, Latos and, God help us, Chris Hatcher. They likely would have been in last year’s World Series.
So, it’s great to see young players like Seager and Thompson develop (the jury is still out on Puig, Pederson, Grandal and Urias), but that’s not how Dodger management should be judged. They should be judged on how many championship trophies they bring home.
Blue58 Well Blue I agree. But i believe that they will have enough “young arms” to be able to fill other everyday positions through trade. There are only so many rotation and BP slots. After that you have to trade them.
I am not concerned about Urias he is 19 years old. When he first came up to Okie City he was hit pretty hard but then he pitched 27 shutout innings in a row. It takes time to adjust sometimes. Even Kershaw took a couple of years as you said.
I thought Stripling pitched very well and will improve from the Major League outings. He now understands better how any mistake or pattern will be hit by the very profession hitters in the Show.
I want the Dodgers to bring up DeLeon, Cotton and others to get Major League time.
This year is in the dumper. As soon as Ryu could not come back and Anderson went down I figured it was a throw away year as they are not going to take on a huge free agent salary. They feel they will build a home grown team and reap huge returns on their investment. That is what Kasten has sold Guggenheim. The plan to make a huge return on their money. And it is working.
Will we ever see a World Series I do not know. Kasten only won one in Atlanta. If he still has his Luck we are hosed.
But I like Thompson. Not certain Puig can pull his head out. This is his final year to evaluate which way he goes. Pederson still a swing and miss guy. While Thompson has learned to shorten his swing but not lose power Pederson still swings hard enough tho throw his back out, very stupid thing to do.
Pederson get better for awhile and then regresses.
I am not sold on Grandal> A catcher that always get hurt is not a good investment and Grandal is always hurt and it seems he cannot play well hurt unlike most Major League catchers.
Seager is the real deal. I like Barnes I would dump Grandal in a trade or some how and bring up Barnes.
Bellinger may or may not work we shall see. Scott Van Slyke plays a very credible first base and has terrific power he is a younger guy we can use at first. Segedin seems to be playing very well in Okie City. There are a couple of others. We shall see that is what part of baseball is about seeing who is coming out of the Farm and how they play.
Tmaxster Blue58 I generally agree with your analysis. This strategy is about making money, not winning. By 2019 they could have one of the lowest payrolls in baseball.
But permit me a couple observations.
True, they can and will make trades, but this front office group has not shown much ability to judge talent, so I fear they will get the worst of them.
I don’t believe the front office ever intended to compete for a championship this year, though of course they lied about that to the fans. As you note, this is a year they planned to evaluate many of the young players and try to con the fans into thinking its a competitive team. It will be similar next year, because there are no free agents worth signing and they almost certainly will let Jansen walk rather than re-sign him to a big multi year deal. The team could be worse next year, but we’ll see more of the young players.
I suspect they hope to have a competitive team in 2018, when the younger players mature, Gonzalez is in his last year and Kershaw is in his opt-out season. We’ll see. It will be make or break for Friedman by then because Kershaw likely will go elsewhere if he loses confidence in this group’s ability to put together a winner.
They have one big problem, however. They have seriously misjudged the Dodger fan base. None of these front office types previously has worked in a city where the fans were as rabid and knowledgeable about their team. Even Friedman has acknowledged being surprised by the “passionate” fan base.
If the Dodgers finish the season with something like 85 wins and no playoff berth, with little hope for improvement next year, there will be open rebellion. With Jim Buss likely to soon pass from the scene, Friedman will become the most unpopular figure in Southern California sports, and the only person standing between Kasden and the angry fans. As we saw with McCourt, angry fans quickly turn into empty seats. Already there are lots of unused tickets at some games. The Rams, at least for a time, also will steal some season ticket holders who don’t want to spring for two sets of tickets.
Also, if the Dodgers fail to make the playoffs this season, Friedman’s fan boys among baseball writers will find it harder to defend him and some inevitably will turn on him.
Kasden and Friedman don’t understand that L.A. likes winners and it likes stars. Right now the Dodgers aren’t winners and they have only one bona fide star, and he only plays once every five days. And speaking of Kershaw, he could sink Friedman and Co. with a single interview expressing no confidence, just as Magic Johnson sank Paul Westhead in the ’80s.
Friedman and Kasden’s weakness is their arrogance and smugness and their confidence that the Guggenheim people will stand behind them. But the Guggenheim people are ruthless capitalists and they will throw overboard anybody any time if they feel their investment is threatened.