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View from the other side: Dodgers questions for Eric Stephen of True Blue LA

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Dodgers Stadium
Dodgers Stadium
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays are starting a weekend series with the Dodgers tonight.

The Dodgers are 14-14 tied for first in the NL West with the Rockies and the Giants. They are 6th in the NL in runs scored per game at 4.32. On the defensive side, they are 4th allowing 3.93 per game.

We sent off some questions to Eric Stephen of True Blue LA, SB Nation's Dodgers blog.

You guys have our old (and much loved) GM in your front office. Do you have any idea what his role is there?

It is kind of a running joke in the local media how large the Dodgers front office is, with most of the coverage colored with a "too many cooks" lens. There are technically seven current or former GMs employed by the Dodgers (Ned Colletti and Pat Corrales are special assistants, and Tommy Lasorda is around. I didn't count Stan Kasten, who has been team president or above in MLB but was once GM of the Atlanta Hawks), but the actual decision-making group is a quartet. Andrew Friedman ultimately has the final call, but is surrounded by Farhan Zaidi, Alex Anthopoulos and Josh Byrnes. Not to pigeonhole them, but Byrnes does more scouting and minors work, and Zaidi is more involved in the 40-man roster.

Anthopoulos described his role as more in the office, working directly with Friedman and Zaidi. His hire fits the Dodgers' desire to sort of be active on multiple fronts at the same time, and having the executive manpower now to handle more. How Anthopoulos described it in January made sense to me:

"It felt like we never had enough time of the day to get things done [in Toronto]. You're also talking about a large-market club that can play in any field or any market. There isn't anything that these guys can't do or can't get involved in."

Rookie Kenta Maeda is having a great start to the season. I haven't had a chance to see him yet. How has he been so successful? Can he keep this up?

Keeping up a sub-2.00 ERA? Maybe not (we'll settle for 2.15). But he has all the tools to be a successful starting pitcher in MLB. His biggest strength is his command, and his ability to throw four different pitches (fastball, slider, curve, change) for strikes. He has attacked the strike zone and at different speeds, keeping hitters off balance.

You've had the new ownership group for 4 years now. How different are thing under the new folks? Do you sometimes feel bad about cheering for a team with an unlimited payroll?

It would be be disingenuous for Dodgers fans to view this ownership group as anything but positive from a baseball standpoint (the main negative, which is huge, is that their massive TV deal that created their own station gets the Dodgers paid but is on a station that the bulk of Los Angeles hasn't been able to watch since the start of 2014), given how much they have invested in the team, but this season will go a long way to see if/how the ownership group deals with adversity.

The Dodgers have won the division the last three years, the only time in franchise history they made the postseason three straight years, but only won a single playoff series. To date they haven't panicked. Most of their moves have been measured with long-term goals in mind, especially hiring Friedman to mold their new front office. I think they will have the patience to let him see that through rather than overreact to fans complaining about trading Dee Gordon and not signing Zack Greinke.

Basically where they are at is an organizational rebuild - spending a ton on infrastructure and international free agents during this period ($90 million to date, including penalties) - while at the same time competing at the major league level. They have resisted trading top prospects, though I wonder if that might change this trading season. The top two pitching prospects - Julio Urias and Jose De Leon - are both in Triple-A, knocking loudly on the door. Both will likely pitch in Los Angeles this year, either in the rotation or bullpen, or both.

It is certainly weird to go directly from the Frank McCourt bankruptcy years to a payroll that this season tops $230 million yet is somehow way down from last year. Hard to fathom, really.

You have a new manager there, Dave Roberts. What are your first impressions of him? Any ideas of his strength and weaknesses?

One thing noticeable with Roberts immediately is his positive energy, and he seems to command the locker room pretty well. We are only 28 games in, but he seems on board with the front office in most areas, such as platooning players, having players play multiple positions (Howie Kendrick on Wednesday played 2B, 3B and LF in the same game), and players getting regular rest. Roberts still is like almost all managers in some things, like not using his closer in a tie game on the road, instead saving him for a lead that might never come.

Can we have a quick scouting report of the starting pitchers the Jays will be facing (don't suppose Kershaw could come down with a stomach flu or something could he?)?

The Dodgers had both Monday and Thursday off this week, and a rotation shuffle means both Kenta Maeda (Friday) and Ross Stripling (Sunday) will be pitching with seven days rest. I think the Maeda flip-flop with left-hander Alex Wood had more to do with not wanting to have Toronto's murderer's row of RHB tee off on Wood. Maeda has the four pitches and will throw strikes. Stripling has four pitches too put is much more reliant on his fastball, and he doesn't have Maeda's command. Stripling's slider has been hit well to date, but his change and curve have been effective. If Stripling can't get the curve over on Sunday, I doubt he gets through five innings.

Clayton Kershaw is just Kershaw. I'm running out of words, man. He has 54 strikeouts and three walks so far this season. We are used to Kershaw getting off to a relatively slow start (with him, that means an ERA that might start with a 3) then just dominating from June or July on. This year, he is out of the gate in polished form, and has lasted seven innings in each of his first six starts, something he has never done before.

Is Vin Scully really retiring after this year? What do Dodgers fans think of Vin? I remember being at a game there, many years ago and half the crowd had a radio on (it seemed like he was coming out of the loudspeakers). He still sounds like baseball to me.

Vin Scully is the most beloved Dodger in many ways, even more so than any other player since the franchise moved to Los Angeles for some. But yet, this year, his 67th (!!) is his last. He is simulcast the first three innings on TV and radio but otherwise just does TV, and only does home games (though this year he did opening day in San Diego and plans to end the year in San Francisco). That adds to the angst over the lack of wide distribution for the Dodgers' TV network, because so many can't hear his final season.

Who is your favorite Dodger to watch?

I almost said Yasiel Puig just because you never know what you might see, but I will go with Kershaw here. His consistent excellence if anything is underrated. My uncles all got to watch Sandy Koufax pitch, and I get to hear great stories from them. Some day I can tell my nieces and nephews just how great Kershaw was "back in my day."

Thanks Eric.

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