Failing to resign Zack Greinke hurt. Losing him to the division foe Diamondbacks — who reportedly significantly outbid the Dodgers after fans were told that they “certainly won’t be outbid” — hurts more. More noteworthy than the hurt, however, is an apparent unrest amongst Dodgers fans that have quickly developed a sense of entitlement and are struggling to follow Mark Walter and associates’ vision.
Much of fan frustration has been directed toward the Dodgers’ two-year-old front office team led by Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi, whose small-market pedigrees earn them scant favor in big, mean Los Angeles. After all, why should Dodgers fans be impressed by the Wall-Street-derived “Extra 2%” business model that earned Friedman Sporting News Executive of the Year honors in 2008 when L.A.’s cable deal pays them 440% more per year than the new deal that has the Diamondbacks making it rain?
With Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy recovering from shoulder and Tommy John surgeries, respectively, and with Alex Wood inconsistent at best, the Dodgers’ front office didn’t pretend resigning Greinke or a suitable runner-up was not a top priority this offseason. When David Price — long-rumored to be a favorite to wear Dodger Blue given Andrew Friedman’s affinity toward him from his time in Tampa Bay – signed with the Red Sox, it seemed unfathomable the Dodgers’ front office would let Greinke slip to the Giants, let alone the Diamondbacks who would shock everyone and enter the fray at the eleventh hour. With Greinke gone, Friedman and team reportedly set their sights on the next best arm available, Johnny Cueto; alas, Cueto too would be wooed by more money from the archrival Giants. Fans are understandably shocked that the deep-pocketed Dodgers have now not once, but twice allowed a targeted ace to sign with a divisional opponent due to a reluctance to commit long-term financial resources.
The 2014 season ushered in phase 2 of Dodgers ownership’s vision, which calls for more sensible and tempered spending following phase one’s shock-and-awe campaign which was characterized by unabashed overspending and designed to reassure weary fans their new ownership group was committed to leading the iconic Dodgers brand back to glory. Few believed this was truly the case, however, when one of the first moves made during this new phase was to give $62.5 million to 30-year-old, injury-prone Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, whom had not played professional baseball for two years due to a blood clot condition and whom was quickly traded to the distant second-place bidding Braves before ever suiting up and after nearly all of Olivera’s $28MM bonus was paid. Restraint? Pshhh.
The question, then, for Dodgers fans who appear to agree that Greinke’s contract probably won’t be worth it toward its tail end, is how can money alone be the sticking point that allows the best free agent pitcher available coming off a Cy-Young–caliber season to leave for a detested divisional opponent?
One thing fans have learned in two years, however, is to expect the unexpected from this front office. While the offseason is still young, the sting of losing the right hook component of the best one-two punch in baseball is nevertheless testing the patience of a passionate fan base that didn’t know the word “internet” when their team last played for a World Series title.