The Dodgers had their annual end-of-season press conference at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, much sooner than they planned for, which drove most of the questioning.
Andrew Friedman, the president of baseball operations, said manager Dave Roberts, who is under contract through 2025, would “100 percent” be back next year, and that he doesn’t expect changes to the coaching staff.
“I feel the expectations here are incredibly high, and that’s awesome. I love how passionate our fans are. Those expectations are shared by everyone that works here, in the front office, the coaches room, Dave, and our players,” Friedman said. “I personally don’t think the criticism that Dave has received has been fair. I think it’s human nature to want to point the finger at someone, and I feel like this was an organizational failure in the postseason.
“I feel like our regular season goal, we accomplished. We put ourselves in the very best position you can to go out and win 11 games in October. We didn’t come close to doing that.”
Full disclosure: I did not attend this press conference. On day six of a nasty cough and flu, I watched from home on television. Here are some other highlights.
Friedman said a big reason for the Dodgers’ failure in the NLDS was poor hitting with runners in scoring position. LA had just five hits in 34 at-bats, hitting .147/.262/.235.
He noted the Dodgers led baseball in “every statistical category with runners in scoring position” during the regular season, which is mostly true. They hit .270/.365/.459 with a 130 wRC+, leading the majors in batting average, on-base percentage, OPS (.825), wRC+, and plate appearances (1,709) with RISP, finishing a close second in slugging percentage (.459) to Atlanta (.463).
“During the course of the season we had peaks and valleys with runners in scoring position, and this was a valley,” Friedman said. “The question is, is it baseball? Or are there things we can do to improve upon that?”
The Dodgers had more chances with runners in scoring position (42 plate appearances) than the Padres (38 PA), but San Diego’s hits were more timely even while hitting .206/.263/.265 in those situations.
“We had more opportunities than they did,” Friedman said. “They cashed in at a higher efficiency, and that’s why they’re playing tonight and why we’re sitting here today.”
The runners in scoring position woes in the NLDS turned back to Roberts and the coaching staff.
“If we felt like a different voice was going to help us cash in on those situations, than maybe we would [make a change at manager],” Friedman said. “I feel like Dave and his coaching staff did an incredible job to lead this team to 111 wins. I don’t feel like it was a switch they then turned off, or that the players needed a different voice in those games.”
As expected, things were kept mostly vague on the roster, with both Friedman and general manager Brandon Gomes noting they were not expecting to delve so deeply into the 2023 team so soon in October.
But one could glean a few things from their answers.
Last year, the Dodgers did not offer Clayton Kershaw a qualifying offer, not wanting to accelerate his decision, especially with Kershaw facing so much uncertainty coming off an elbow injury. But this year, Kershaw is healthy, and is choice is basically whether he wants to continue pitching or stay home with his family.
“From our standpoint, nothing has changed. My strong hope is that Clayton Kershaw is pitching here next year,” Friedman said. “But like I said last year, for him to take the time and put his head together with Ellen and figure out what makes the most sense for their family is what we’re going to afford them the time to do.
“Whether it’s a decision they make quickly, or it takes some time, I’m not sure of that right now.”
On the possibility of non-tendering Cody Bellinger, who has one more year of salary arbitration and made $17 million in 2022 while hitting .210//265/.389 with an 83 wRC+, Gomes said, “Belli’s had spurts of being really successful throughout the season. His elite defense had continued to be there. We still think there’s upside, so those are discussions we’re going to have moving forward.”
Justin Turner has a $16-million team option with a $2-million buyout, which the team will have to make a decision on within five days after the World Series ends. The team did not tip its hand here.
“He’s been a huge part of our success, and has been right in the thick of everything for as long as I’ve been here,” Friedman said. “But answering definitively about what next year’s team is gonna look like it’s just really difficult right now.”