Kendrick intrigued by Dodgers' offseason overhaul
LOS ANGELES (AP) As a baseball fan, Howie Kendrick is impressed and intrigued by the Los Angeles Dodgers' offseason overhaul.
As the Dodgers' new second baseman, Kendrick is grateful he only has to drive a few more miles up the I-5 freeway to be a part of it all.
The club welcomed Kendrick to Dodger Stadium on Friday, putting a blue cap on the longtime Angels infielder. Kendrick is just one element of a thorough makeover for the Dodgers under new top executive Andrew Friedman, and the former All-Star second baseman is eager to play a part in Friedman's vision.
''They're always moving forward, trying to get better,'' Kendrick said. ''There's always ways you can get better. That's been very cool to come into an organization that wants to improve their game. They've been division champion (two) years in a row, so hopefully we can win another one.''
The big-budget Dodgers will have major differences in 2015 from last season's NL West champions, who won 94 games before flopping in the playoffs amid a handful of glaring weaknesses and perceived chemistry issues in the clubhouse.
Since Friedman took over from Ned Colletti, Los Angeles has parted ways with slugger Matt Kemp, speedster Dee Gordon, Hanley Ramirez, Dan Haren and expensive reliever Brian Wilson. The Dodgers have acquired Kendrick, Jimmy Rollins, catcher Yasmani Grandal and Brandon McCarthy in their place, stabilizing their defense and addressing several possible problems areas from the plate to the clubhouse.
''Our overarching goal coming into the offseason was to take a very strong collective of players and do our best to mold them into a highly functioning baseball team,'' Friedman said in reference to the disparate roster with baseball's highest payroll. ''We feel like these moves speak to that, and we're excited about the way our position group fits together, how they complement one another.''
Friedman laughed Friday when he was told that Dodgers fans will hate him if the club doesn't win big after deconstructing much of last season's popular team - and particularly getting rid of Kemp, the popular slugger.
''Not any more than we'll hate ourselves,'' Friedman replied.
''He was a really popular player because of how gifted he is offensively,'' Friedman said of Kemp. ''We get it. I have a lot of respect for what he can do in the batter's box. You have to give up talent to get talent, and we felt this put us in a position to be a better baseball team. Nothing we've done in the last two months have we done lightly.''
The 31-year-old Kendrick is eager to get to work with the 36-year-old Rollins as the Dodgers' new double-play combination. Both players are coming from the two longest-tenured double-play combinations in the majors: Rollins and Chase Utley in Philadelphia, and Kendrick with Erick Aybar in Anaheim.
The Dodgers got Rollins to waive his no-trade clause to be a part of a run at another World Series championship. Rollins also is looking forward to assuming a leadership role with the Dodgers, whose clubhouse chemistry seemed quite suspect at times last season.
''I've had successes, I've had failures,'' Rollins said. ''I have a lot that I can provide. When people have questions, hopefully I can have answers. If things start going a little crazy, I could bring a little stability. ... That'll probably be my job, to be the glue and make sure everything works.''
Kendrick's excitement about joining the Dodgers was muted by his departure from the Angels, where he had hoped to retire after spending his entire career in Orange County. The Angels traded Kendrick for young pitching prospect Andrew Heaney, who had been acquired from Miami by the Dodgers.
Kendrick's 5-year-old son, Owen, was disappointed about trading red for blue - until he learned he could get a new jersey.
''They were trying to free up salary and acquire pitching, so that's one of the reasons I'm over here,'' Kendrick said. ''It wasn't disappointing to me, because I understand the game. There's no room to be heartbroken or anything.''