The Team To Worry About In The National League…

You notice I didn’t say the NL Central, but the NL itself.

The reason, while we do indeed have plenty of challenges in our division, it seems to me we have one clear threat if we want to represent our league in the World Series.

And that’s *after* this team traded one of its sluggers and let another good hitter go via free agency.

I speak of course of the Dodgers.

In the course of one off-season under the leadership of new baseball czar Andrew Friedman and his team, the Dodgers have revamped their up the middle defense, making it much better. They have acquired a new catcher in Yasmani Grandal, known for his pitch framing, a new double play combo in Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick, both good on both sides of the ball, and slotted youngster Joc Pederson into center, which will be a massive defensive upgrade.

They’ve done all of this while streamlining their budget and improving their clubhouse chemistry with the Kemp trade.

They’ve also played it smart, not overbidding on Jon Lester as they already had a pair of aces in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Would Lester have helped? Sure, he’d help anybody, but I think part of Friedman’s job has been, as mentioned above, to streamline the budget and make it more flexible, thus allowing him the ability to make in-season moves as needed.

Another part of his job is to increase the overall depth, both in the majors and minors. For the majors, that means more flexibility, which he’s done, and for the minors, that also means more depth, for two reasons: Future players with long term control, and more prospects to flip at the deadline to fill in season needs. He’s done all of these things in his short time on the job, and he’s just started.

Oh and he’s done all of this while keeping his top three prospects, as I mention below.

He’s also begun to work on the pitching staff as well: He upgraded the last spot in the rotation by trading off Dan Haren and replacing him with Brandon McCarthy. He also added a bullpen arm in Chris Hatcher, though I’m not sure Freidman is done with the bullpen just yet, as it was a weakness of the team last year.

A team with depth, flexibility, a trillion dollar budget and a smart and savvy baseball chief with a smart and rational crew? Yikes.

And yes, I realize some people would describe the Cubs this way as well, but Chicago, while a larger market than St. Louis, isn’t larger than Los Angeles, and doesn’t have their finances. Nobody does, not even the Yankees. Plus, unlike the Yankees, who ranked 20th in Keith Law’s farm system rankings in 2014, the Dodgers ranked above the median at 11th, just above the Cards who were 12th. The Dodgers have some good players in the farm system who’re just about ready to produce: Pederson (who got a cup of coffee last year) this year and Corey Seager and Julio Urias possibly next year, and there are others as well. And Friedman has already added some depth to that. (And yes, I realize the Cubs ranked 4th).

So watch out for the Dodgers now and in the future, with Andrew Friedman in charge.

As always, thanks for reading.

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