So long as the Los Angeles Dodgers are spending more than any other team, they will be judged on the George Steinbrenner scale: Anything short of a championship will be regarded as a failure, particularly for a team that hasn't won a World Series since 1988. The Dodgers spent more than $230 million this year, including a disabled list that was more expensive than the entire payroll of other teams, and they again will watch other teams vie for the championship.
But it's hard to draw any fair big-picture conclusions regarding Andrew Friedman's stewardship of the franchise, as you can with Theo Epstein's operation of the Cubs, because while Epstein had the opportunity to rebuild a team from the clubhouse to the closer, Friedman has had to work through a lot of existing complications, including some whopper contracts for which he was not responsible. The Cubs faithful are drenched in the glory of the team's first World Series bid in 71 years, but the Dodgers came close to knocking out Chicago, before losing that pivotal Game 4 and then getting steamrollered by a better team in Games 5 and 6.
It's too early to say whether Friedman's vision for the Dodgers will work out or not. The team's heavy reliance on mixing and matching all the elements of their roster propelled the Dodgers to another NL West title, but it's hard to know whether the team will get consistent buy-in from established veterans to that sort of system. Former Dodgers outfielder Chris Heisey said aloud earlier this month what other players are saying privately: Some veteran players will be turned off by the Dodgers' method of operation.
Sources say that some players don't feel they're privy to the logic behind the decisions and are merely expected to accept whatever is rendered, and that ultimately, their own ability to improve, adjust and compete is regarded as entirely secondary to numbers that often don't reflect intangibles. The lineups that constantly changed made some in the clubhouse question whether choices are being made on the smallest of sample sizes.