Dodgers stay busy revamping front office
LOS ANGELES (AP) The Dodgers are busy revamping their front office, adding general manager Farhan Zaidi and three more hires in just more than three weeks since Andrew Friedman took over as president of baseball operations.
Friedman was eager to fill several positions ahead of the GM meetings in Arizona next week.
Zaidi was introduced at Dodger Stadium on Friday after 10 seasons as assistant GM of the Oakland Athletics. The 37-year-old, who holds bachelor's and doctorate degrees in economics, said he will have greater hands-on management of the Dodgers than he did in Oakland, where he was more of a sounding board to GM Billy Beane.
''There's such a great amount of potential, that's what excited me,'' Zaidi said.
Joining him in the Los Angeles front office is Josh Byrnes, a former GM for Arizona and San Diego who will supervise scouting and player development while Zaidi focuses on the major league roster.
''Both guys are going to touch everything,'' Friedman said by phone from the Dodgers' spring training facility in Arizona. ''We're adding an incredibly talented group.''
Zaidi is a proponent of advanced analytics, which makes him a solid fit with Friedman's reputation for building a roster by crunching numbers.
''Farhan has an incredible mind for the game,'' Friedman said. ''For us, information is king and it's about having people who appreciate that.''
In leaving Oakland, where Beane's use of statistical analysis was portrayed in the book and movie ''Moneyball,'' Zaidi joked: ''They actually cut out part of my brain on that and kept it there.''
Zaidi stressed that the Dodgers will seek a balanced approach between old-school scouting and modern-day analytics.
''I view any new stat or metric with an inherent skepticism,'' he said. ''There's always something that is missing.''
Team President and CEO Stan Kasten agreed, adding that the Dodgers will always need ''wise old owls'' to make decisions in addition to statistics.
Zaidi joins a franchise that boasts a collection of former GMs, including Friedman, Byrnes and Ned Colletti.
''I think that's a great thing,'' he said. ''Having other people around not just to share responsibility, but to serve as a sounding board, will be great. You can't have too much experience on a baseball staff.''
Zaidi grew up in the Philippines, where he played first base in Little League, and is one of the few Muslims in the major leagues.
''I'm a big proponent of diversity in our game, so from that standpoint, I'm proud of it,'' he said.
Friedman has acted decisively since arriving from Tampa Bay in mid-October, presiding over the biggest makeover of the front office since Guggenheim Baseball Management bought the Dodgers 2 1/2 years ago.
The flurry of moves include Colletti being reassigned as senior adviser to Kasten, and the departures of vice president of player development De Jon Watson and vice president of scouting Logan White.
On Friday, Gabe Kapler was hired as player development director and Billy Gasparino as amateur scouting director.
Kapler had been working as a baseball analyst for Fox Sports 1 after playing 12 seasons in the majors. Gasparino spent the last four years with San Diego in a similar position.
In other news:
- The Dodgers have not yet heard from shortstop Hanley Ramirez about the $15.3 million qualifying offer they extended to him this week. Ramirez can accept the offer by Monday and sign for next season or he can decline and remain a free agent.
- Manager Don Mattingly's coaching staff will return intact next season after the Dodgers were eliminated from the playoffs by St. Louis last month. The staff is comprised of bench coach Tim Wallach, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, hitting coach Mark McGwire, third base coach Lorenzo Bundy, first base coach Davey Lopes, assistant hitting coach John Valentin, assistant pitching coach Ken Howell and bullpen coach Chuck Crim.