LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers have been extremely busy in the last month, rebuilding the front office after the 2014 season ended much earlier than expected, in the NLDS. But one thing that remains on the minds of some is the Giants, winners of three World Series in the last five years.
"It still sits with us. At least with me it still sits. It's not something that you just say, 'Okay, I'm over it.' You have that feeling that we should have done more," first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said last week. "I know it sounds cliched, but until you win the World Series you're not satisfied."
The Dodgers won 94 games, winning the National League West for a second consecutive season, six games ahead of the Giants. But after losing the NLDS in four games, the Dodgers sat and watched their rivals win it all.
Well, some watched. Gonzalez said after the Dodgers lost he watched maybe five innings of the playoffs. The loss still stuck in his craw, Gonzalez internalized his feelings.
"It doesn't bother me that the Giants won it. Somebody's got to win it. It actually makes me feel like we were a great team. Obviously we didn't get it done in the playoffs and they did. But to be able to win the division showed that we were the better team. They just played better in the playoffs, which is really what matters," Gonzalez said. "It just shows that we have a really good team, and we have the ability to go all the way, but once again we didn't play up to our abilities in the playoffs."
Trying to advance in the playoffs is something the new Dodgers front office is trying to solve, not that the puzzle has an easy solution, or even one solution.
"When you look at the universe of teams that have gotten beat or that have succeeded in the playoffs, there is so much variance in the kind of teams they are, what strengths and weaknesses they have," new general manager Farhan Zaidi said on Friday. "When you look at that, it's really hard to say this is what works in the playoffs."
In his 10 years with the Athletics, Zaidi shared a market with the Giants, and is intimately familiar with their recent success.
"I have seen a lot of that team. There are some common threads between those three teams, but there are also some differences," he said. "Any time a team has that kind of success, you have to study them hard.
"Maybe they have the answers."
If the Giants did in face have the answers, they surely didn't apply them in 2011 or 2013, when the team missed the playoffs entirely, including 76 wins in 2013.
But when San Francisco has gotten into the playoffs, they have won. Nine straight postseason series they have won, dating back to 2010, plus one Wild Card Game. Zaidi was asked if the Giants were simply lucky in the craps shoot of the playoffs, an idea he quickly dismissed.
"I don't think you can win three World Series in five years just by being lucky. That may be stating the obvious There is no doubt that in the postseason, with a single-elimination game, or playing in a best-of-five or best-of-seven series, there are certainly times you need the ball to bounce your way," Zaidi said. "Luck is not a sufficient characteristic for a team to win. You've got to be really good, and have the ball bounce your way too."
The Giants won this year with homegrown players at each starting infield position, plus catcher Buster Posey, too. But what is remarkable to me about their five-year run is that in each of the three title years they have had a different ace starting pitcher, with Tim Lincecum in 2010, Matt Cain in 2012 and Madison Bumgarner in 2014. All three pitchers were drafted by San Francisco, and all are still around.
The Dodgers are starting what CEO Stan Kasten calls Phase II of the rebuilding of the franchise, trying to build an infrastructure that is sustainable for the long term, with the continued infusion of homegrown talent to an already-robust roster. Like their rivals up north.