The Dodgers’ failed campaign to reach the World Series cost them money and trust. Now you have to pay the bill

It was close to midnight on Saturday when Atlanta blew up. A sold-out crowd erupted. Fireworks sounded in the air. The players threw their caps and jumped through the playing field. The mascot entered the field, waving a huge red flag with the words “NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONS.”

But, as the Dodgers left the field for the last time this season, I wasn’t thinking about the Braves. I was thinking of the New York Yankees. I couldn’t help but think about what Aaron Boone, the Yankees manager, said after his team was eliminated in the playoffs this year.

“The league blocked our way,” Boone said.

The Yankees didn’t fire Boone for saying that. They just hired him for another three years.

The Yankees clearly demonstrated that financial might alone no longer guarantees success in this sport. That may be the situation for the Dodgers, at the end of the most glorious streak in the history of the proud franchise.

After seven years of winning division championships and rebuilding an organization, the Dodgers and their owners bet everything for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, committing $ 500 million to Mookie Betts last year and Trevor Bauer this year combined.

The Dodgers won the World Series last year. The flags fly forever.

This year they didn’t even make the World Series, and no, it wasn’t Bauer’s fault. The Dodgers replaced him with someone even better: Max Scherzer.

And they were very close: two games away from repeating participation in the World Series, even when they lost Max Muncy to injury on the last day of the regular season, too late to acquire a replacement, and on three consecutive days they lost a player. daily due to injury: Justin Turner, Joe Kelly and Scherzer.

Now you have to do the math.

The top prospects the Dodgers traded for Betts and Scherzer – pitcher Josiah Gray, catcher Keibert Ruiz, infielder Jeter Downs and outfielder Alex Verdugo – are no longer here.

They’re still here: David Price, who the Dodgers accepted as part of the Betts deal, and who wasn’t among the 13 pitchers the Dodgers used in the playoffs. Bauer is still here, too, at least until the commissioner’s office presumably suspends him following the completion of its investigation into the sexual assault allegations against him. Until that unpaid suspension is negotiated or upheld on appeal, the Price and Bauer contracts represent $ 80 million on the Dodgers’ books.

Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Corey Seager and Chris Taylor can be free agents. They are all 30 years old except Seager, for whom the bidding for a new contract could start at $ 300 million.

The league has cut unlimited spending on international amateurs, which Dodgers owners wisely used to rebuild the minor league system. The Dodgers’ system, which has been eroded by years of trading to bolster the major league roster, is currently ranked 15th out of 30 teams, according to Baseball America.

It remains to be seen whether Dodgers owners want to continue spending a quarter of a billion dollars on player payrolls each year. Whatever the level of spending, decisions must be smart.

For the Dodgers, so many decisions have gone well on this winning streak that it is shocking to realize how many others have gone wrong this year.

The fact that the Dodgers have won 106 games this year, with their pain points hidden until the postseason, is a testament to the solid foundation that Andrew Friedman and his baseball operations team have built.

Gavin Lux was learning center field in September and October because he couldn’t keep second base in April and May. Matt Beaty, Zack McKinstry and Edwin Ríos couldn’t replace Kiké Hernández and Joc Pederson on the bench. Saturday’s backup hitter in the seventh inning represented the tying run: Steven Souza Jr., 32, who has nine hits in the majors for the past three years.

The Dodgers started Corey Knebel in the first NLCS game and Kelly in an elimination game, in part because Kershaw and Dustin May were injured, but also because Tony Gonsolin did not develop as expected, and because the Dodgers acquired replacements for injury – Danny Duffy and Cole Hamels – who were also injured.

The Dodgers deployed Scherzer as closer and Julio Urías as utility pitcher in the playoffs, which made it difficult for him to be effective in his main starting role. A team that had eight starters in April reached the postseason with three. The administration tried unsuccessfully to hide the shortage of arms by thinking elaborate strategies, and the team finished the postseason with two healthy starters.

All of that pales, of course, in comparison to the Bauer debacle, not because it prevented the Dodgers from repeating the victory, but because it seriously damaged the team’s reputation.

The Dodgers were eliminated from the postseason after losing NLCS Game 6 to the Atlanta Braves. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts discusses what happened and what the offseason will bring.

“In the last six years,” Friedman said when the Dodgers signed Bauer, “some trust and credibility has been built in terms of the vetting process that we do on the players.”

That trust and credibility was sacrificed – by the front office – for the opportunity to sign an outstanding pitcher to a short-term contract.

In the big picture, the Dodgers play in a league increasingly filled with financially powerful teams. The AL’s two finalists, the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros, are coached by alumni of the Tampa Bay Rays, just like Friedman.

The Braves are led by Alex Anthopoulos, who worked under Friedman in Los Angeles. The San Francisco Giants are led by Farhan Zaidi and Gabe Kapler, both under Friedman in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers analytics guru left to start his own company. The Dodgers’ revenue guru left to help Fanatics attempt to dominate the sports business.

Perhaps the league has closed the gap with the Dodgers, as Boone said it had with the Yankees. Maybe not. The Yankees haven’t reached the World Series since 2009. The Dodgers have done it three times in the past five years.

The Dodgers continue to be blessed with abundant intelligence and large amounts of money. The rise of streaming It means viewers no longer have to pay for channels they don’t watch, which is how cable companies could afford to pay teams millions and millions for local broadcast rights. While the league and many of the Dodgers’ rivals try to adjust their money-making models on the fly, the Dodgers are set with a record $ 8 billion cable deal that runs through 2038. They should continue to prosper.

But you never know when the golden age may end. Los Angeles won a World Series and five division championships from 2002 to 2009. It looked like the good times were going to continue. They haven’t won a postseason game since.

For the Dodgers, it’s time to wait until next year.

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The Dodgers’ failed campaign to reach the World Series cost them money and trust. Now you have to pay the bill