CHAVEZ RAVINE (CBSLA.com) — Following yet another year of the Los Angeles Dodgers falling short of their goal of a National League Pennant, team president Stan Kasten decided the front office, in addition to other areas of the club, was in need a big shake up.
After Andrew Friedman, formerly of the Tampa Bay Rays, was added to the office in the position of President of Baseball Operations, former General Manager Ned Colletti was replaced by statistical-leaning analyst Farhan Zaidi. Colletti, meanwhile, still goes into the 2015 season with the Dodgers, but in another new position of Senior Adviser.
With such a large amount of hiring, moves, and switches, and with just two weeks to go before pitchers and catchers report to camp, frustrated fans want to know what else is needed for that elusive World Series appearance, and what is next for their club.
"I am to blame for everything that goes on here, that's just the way that it is, and I take that blame. It's my responsibility," Kasten told CBS2 Sports Director Jim Hill. "But, we are a large company with many different functions. We have 3.7 million people come through these gates, and that involves an awful lot of people on the front end selling tickets, on the back end servicing them..."
The most prolific changes to the Dodgers during the 2014-15 offseason, however, were not in the office, but on the field. In addition to the blockbuster trade that sent former frontman Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres for catcher Yasmani Grandal, other moves shook up the NL West as well.
Young speedster Dee Gordon was traded to Miami, along with pitcher Dan Haren, while shortstop Hanley Ramirez left for Boston via free agency. The moves left questions of who might take on leadership roles in the clubhouse.
Subsequently, the shortstop role was filled by veteran Jimmy Rollins, while former Angels infielder Howie Kendrick takes over second.
Rollins, specifically, has given Kasten reason for excitement over a potential answer to the question of leadership.
"The obvious one is what they say about Jimmy Rollins. He's always had that role in Philadelphia, and with what little time I've spent with him, I understand why he has that reputation," Kasten said. "Howie Kendrick is another play who, although quieter, like Jimmy, also has that kind of strength of leadership by example.
Kasten also suggested that there was leadership in the clubhouse before these additions, however, noting Adrian Gonzalez, A.J. Ellis and Clayton Kershaw.
"...I think our locker room is going to be a good one," Kasten noted. "Maybe better than last year. None of it's going to matter if we don't win on the field, but I think we'll be better both in the locker room and on the field."
Another lingering question was over the potential growth of star outfielder Yasiel Puig, both on and off the field. Kasten pointed to Puig's undertaking of learning English as an example of where Puig's mentality is going into the 2015 season.
"Yasiel is at an age where he really can make a step up," Kasten said. "I've talked to him about certain things. Learning English. He's done very well in two years. If he takes another couple of strides, that could improve everything around him, not only his communication with his players and coaches, but his communication with his fans, and in the marketplace."
As far as Puig's development on the field, Kasten believes his young star is in the perfect point in his career for a big jump, and that he will only get better.
"That's what happens with superbly talented athletes who are very young," Kasten said. "He would have had a learning curve if he were 24 and born in downtown Los Angeles, but being born in not just a different city or state, but a different country, speaking a different language, these are all additional challenges, and additional adjustments that he has to make."
"I think he's done OK so far. Obviously, he could have done it better, but I think what he's accomplishing, what he's given us so far, I'm very happy with his progress so far, but I do think he has more in him, and I expect that we're going to continue to see progress."
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