The Dodgers won the past two division titles, finished six games ahead of the San Francisco Giants and still ended up watching their rivals celebrate their third World Series title in five seasons.
Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi, who has a reputation for being one of the shrewdest analysts in baseball, said he plans to analyze the Giants to see if there are lessons to be gleaned while building Los Angeles' 2015 roster.
Farhan Zaidi said he plans to study the Giants to see if there are any lessons to be learned.
"I think any time a team has that kind of success, you really have to study them hard and see what lessons there are to learn," said Zaidi, who was introduced as the team's new GM on Friday at Dodger Stadium. "I'm sure that's something we'll look at. It's a fair question. I don't think you can win three World Series in five years just by being lucky. I think that's maybe stating the obvious."
In less than a month, the Dodgers have completely overhauled their front office, moving from an old-school, scouting-based group led by former general manager Ned Colletti to luring many of the top names in baseball's analytics community. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, hired last month from Tampa Bay, brought in Zaidi as his general manager and former San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes as his senior vice president for baseball operations.
The Dodgers also announced the hiring of former major league outfielder Gabe Kapler as their farm director, and Billy Gasparino, formerly of the Padres, as amateur scouting director.
Friedman said it's unfair to his group to classify it as a "Moneyball" front office.
"These guys are incredibly well-rounded. They have a lot of respect for and understand all that goes into making players what they are and evaluating players," Friedman said. "We have some really strong, evaluative voices who focus more on subjective evaluations, and we'll couple that, obviously, with the information we're able to generate. To us, information is king. It's about people who can synthesize from that information the best decision."
At the news conference, Zaidi, who grew up in the Philippines and has a doctorate from UC Berkeley, jokingly sought out a reporter from the Los Angeles Times who had written a blog post under the headline: "Geeks inherit the Earth, or at least the Dodgers front office."
"I brought my mini-screwdriver in case you want to leave your laptop with me after we leave here," Zaidi said.
The GM's box at Dodger Stadium figures to be crowded next season after the rash of hirings. The Dodgers now have five current or former GMs under contract in baseball operations: Zaidi, Friedman, Colletti, Byrnes and Gerry Hunsicker. Colletti and Hunsicker are special advisers.
"You can't have too much experience on a baseball staff. I'm thrilled to have those people to work alongside me," said Zaidi, who will try to guide the Dodgers to their first World Series since 1988.
Zaidi, 37, joined the Oakland Athletics in 2005 and worked his way up to become one of general manager Billy Beane's most trusted advisers. He was assistant general manager/director of baseball operations before taking the job in L.A.
Zaidi earned a bachelor's degree from MIT in 1998 and his Ph.D. in 2011. He had a reputation for heeding the advice of scouts as well as whatever the A's computers produced before offering his input on player personnel decisions.
Zaidi said he has had a couple of telephone conversations with Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.
"I just totally outed myself at the start of the call by telling him how much I idolized him when I was growing up, so I don't know if he's ever going to see me as being in a position of authority," Zaidi said.
Friedman said the Dodgers' entire coaching staff will return in 2015. The staff, which includes longtime pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, hitting coach Mark McGwire, bench coach Tim Wallach and first-base coach Davey Lopes, had been in limbo until the final top front-office positions were filled.