Paul DePodesta deserved better as Dodgers GM

When you think of Paul DePodesta, Dodgers GM, a few insensitive tropes likely spring to mind. Word association may lead you to ‘Google boy,’ the pejorative moniker coined by TJ Simers of the Los Angeles Times. Perhaps you recall Times columnist Bill Plaschke lambasting DePodesta as a ‘computer nerd’ who ‘speaks in megabytes.’ You likely remember grumbles of the unorthodox exec being disingenuous, aloof and avoidant of tough conversations. To most, DePodesta is a baseball pariah who destroyed the Dodgers with timid leadership and harebrained trades. I strongly disagree, however, and this is an attempt to explain why.

Who is Paul DePodesta? The man behind the Moneyball memes

DePodesta was named Dodgers general manager in February 2004, aged 31, just days after flamboyant real estate mogul Frank McCourt bought the storied franchise from Rupert Murdoch and Fox. Luring DePodesta to Chavez Ravine was the first major success of a seemingly ambitious regime. McCourt vowed to end the Dodgers’ lengthy championship drought, and installing a new-age GM was central to that plan. This, after all, was the halcyon age of sabermetrics – the favouring of statistical analysis in the evaluation of players – and disruptive intellectuals like Billy Beane and Theo Epstein ruled the baseball zeitgeist. McCourt even offered Epstein an ownership stake in the Dodgers while attempting to pry him from Boston, but settled for DePodesta when Theo demurred.

At that point, true to the analytical milieu gripping Major League Baseball, DePodesta had a glowing reputation among the baseball cognoscenti. While assisting Beane with the Oakland Athletics, DePodesta evangelised advanced analytics, transforming loose statistical curiosity into stark organisational ideology. That ideology had a catchy name, of course, as DePodesta was an underrated protagonist in Moneyball, the 2003 book, written by Michael Lewis, which blew the lid off baseball’s covert fascination with using numbers to find and exploit market inefficiencies.

A Harvard economics graduate, DePodesta seemed ticketed for Wall Street, only to take an internship with the Cleveland Indians in 1996. Two years later, Beane became Athletics GM and poached DePodesta as an undervalued asset. Wielding a ubiquitous laptop, DePodesta earned a seat in the Oakland war room, where his objective data impinged – and eventually eclipsed – the subjective opinions of crusty scouts. A former ballplaying jock, Beane initially kept a toe in both camps, whereas DePodesta was belligerent in his trust of mathematics. In time, cajoled and convinced by DePodesta, Beane became a devout sabermetrician, and the A’s mastered a penchant for squeezing exceptional production from meagre resources.

Using advanced analytics to identify undervalued – and underpaid – players they could afford, Beane and DePodesta led Oakland to four consecutive playoff appearances between 2000 and 2003, despite a payroll perennially ranked in the MLB doldrums. The A’s failed to progress beyond the ALDS in any of those October trips, but merely getting there – while playing .595 baseball over 648 games – was an unlikely achievement. Few understood Oakland’s consistent contention.

Gradually, as word of DePodesta’s influence spread – carried by Moneyball and clandestine industry whispers – other MLB teams triangulated. Many tried to hire DePodesta, including the Toronto Blue Jays, but he had little desire to land an attention-grabbing GM job. Sure, exercising complete autonomy would be nice, but Beane trusted DePodesta impeccably, and the Ivy League brainiac worked better in the shadows, away from the prying demands of passionate fans and bloodthirsty reporters.

Paul DePodesta, Dodgers GM

Therefore, running a monolith like the Dodgers seemed incongruous with DePodesta’s personality, but the lure of such a prestigious institution won out when McCourt came calling. Los Angeles hired DePodesta to a five-year contract on 16 February 2004, making him the fifth-youngest GM in baseball history. Few reject the Dodgers.

“The Dodgers have a new face, and it is dabbed in Clearasil,” wrote Plaschke in the Times. “The Dodgers have a new voice, and it speaks in megabytes. Meet GeneralManager.com, otherwise known as Paul DePodesta, a 31-year-old computer nerd who was hired Monday to rid the Dodgers of their, um, virus.”

Against such prevailing pessimism, DePodesta outlined his vision. “What I’m looking toward is creating an organisational philosophy that suits the Dodgers,” he said in an early SF Gate profile. “Every situation needs a unique approach. I’m not just going to take what we did in Oakland and push it on the Dodgers. I think it deserves a little more creativity than that.

“We’re interested in being a lot more efficient. Sure, we have a lot more resources that will afford greater opportunities, but that doesn’t give us a license to spend poorly. I’m much better served involving the people who are here instead of instituting a philosophy that’s just mine. It’ll probably be something that doesn’t exist anywhere else. It’s what they used to call The Dodger Way.

“When I look at the history of the organisation, I see a common theme of incredible innovation. From breaking the colour barrier to Branch Rickey setting up a farm system to looking outside the US for players, they were incredibly innovative. I want to stay true to that tradition. That’s what made them good for so long. They were always the ones pushing the envelope.”

Indeed, contrary to biased portrayals of a number-crunching heretic wedded to spreadsheets and algorithms, DePodesta yearned to build a strong Dodgers farm system and develop a homegrown core around talented young players like Éric Gagné, Adrián Beltré, Alex Cora and César Izturis. However, upon taking control of the Dodgers, DePodesta had just seven weeks in which to mould a functional big league team. In fact, DePodesta first sat in his Chavez Ravine office two days before pitchers and catchers reported to Vero Beach for spring training. He was a long-term thinker in need of short-term solutions.

DePodesta did not inherit a juggernaut in need of mere fine-tuning, either. The Dodgers lost 77 games in 2003. They had not been to the postseason for seven years, and their last playoff win came 16 seasons prior. Despite vast resources and recurring championship demands, Los Angeles last won the World Series in 1988. DePodesta was 15 when a hobbled Kirk Gibson hit that famous home run. Suddenly, he was tasked with restoring glory to a faded baseball powerhouse.

Though hastily assembled and often overlooked, the 2004 Dodgers won 93 games and clinched their first division title in nine years. However, far from earning lavish praise for engineering an unlikely turnaround, DePodesta was vilified for a string of midseason moves that fractured the Dodgers’ clubhouse. At the July 2004 trade deadline, DePodesta dealt fan favourite Paul Lo Duca to Florida for Brad Penny, Hee-Seop Choi and Bill Murphy, while speedster Dave Roberts, another likeable grinder, was also dumped on the Red Sox.

As Boston surged to its first World Series title in 86 years – Roberts’ famous stolen base sparking an unlikely comeback against New York – the Dodgers lost in four NLDS games to St Louis. DePodesta was pilloried for ‘trading the soul’ of a promising team, but few critics acknowledge Lo Duca was a self-confessed performance-enhancing drugs cheat who received illicit deliveries to Dodger Stadium, per the 2007 Mitchell Report. Perhaps DePodesta was trying to cleanse the Los Angeles clubhouse rather than destroy it. Maybe he cared more about chemistry than most observers realised.

Similarly, many detractors conveniently forget the crucial role played by Steve Finley – a 2004 trade deadline pickup – in keeping Los Angeles competitive down the stretch. In fact, Finley clinched the NL West title with a huge walk-off grand slam against San Francisco. Furthermore, Murphy was part of the package that landed Finley, as DePodesta eyed simultaneous moves producing net incremental improvement.

In this regard, DePodesta was an early scion of ‘positive arbitrage,’ later ubiquitous in sports decision-making, but many baseball factions – including the Dodgers’ fanbase and commentariat – were unprepared for such an alien concept. Where DePodesta saw steady, rhythmic growth, impassioned onlookers saw a bunch of odd trades. The dye was quickly cast, and negative momentum chased DePodesta through an intransigent 2004/2005 offseason.

That winter, the Dodgers allowed Beltré to walk as a free agent following a major breakout year, only to watch him blossom into a Hall of Famer with Seattle, Boston and Texas. Finley was discarded despite his late-season heroics. Cora and José Lima were released, while Shawn Green – another beloved folk hero – was traded to Arizona. “The next time someone says you have to go to college to get ahead in life,” wrote Simers in the Times. “I suggest pointing to Google Boy, and reminding everyone just what a Harvard education can do to a baseball team.”

The 2005 Dodgers were undoubtedly a train wreck. At 71-91, DePodesta’s sophomore squad produced the worst Dodgers season since 1992, and the second-worst since the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1958. Injuries to Gagné, an indomitable closer, and JD Drew, an underrated savant, did not help, but the knives were out and a bellicose media smelled blood. Beleaguered field manager Jim Tracy was fired, as was DePodesta when McCourt became frustrated at his GM’s perceived inability to hire a marquee dugout replacement.

“Our high expectations were not met,” said McCourt at a 29 October press conference announcing DePodesta’s departure, just 20 months after his arrival. “I like Paul. He has many positive attributes, but at the end of the day, that’s my job: to make difficult decisions.”

While that is undoubtedly true, McCourt was also known to make kneejerk decisions based on external opinions peddled by local and national media. As a relative sports outsider, McCourt constantly sought validation from key industry figureheads – the more high-profile, the better. As such, when Jeff Kent, a veteran signed by DePodesta, allegedly threatened to retire unless the Dodgers hired a more traditional GM, a mutiny bubbled under the surface at Chavez Ravine. Even Vladimir Shpunt, the Russian psychic hired by McCourt to ‘think blue’ and send positive vibes to the team, diagnosed a ‘disconnect’ between DePodesta, Tracy and their players. The GM was ultimately dismissed with three years and $2.2 million remaining on his contract, and a gag order forbade DePodesta from discussing his Dodgers tenure.

Much ink was spilled on hyperbolic DePodesta obituaries, but the young core he nurtured actually paved the way for future Dodgers success. Los Angeles returned to the playoffs in 2006 before claiming back-to-back division titles in 2008 and 2009. Ned Colletti, the baseball lifer who replaced DePodesta, shot from the hip to sign faded veterans on bloated contracts, but any ounce of sustainability came from within. DePodesta made that possible.

True enough, in his short spell as GM, DePodesta had an outsized influence on the Dodgers’ player development operation. DePodesta drafted Kenley Jansen and Carlos Santana. DePodesta promoted several key prospects through the Dodgers’ minor league system – including Matt Kemp, Russell Martin, James Loney, Jonathan Broxton, Edwin Jackson and Chad Billingsley. DePodesta even played a somewhat dubious role in the Dodgers’ drafting Clayton Kershaw seventh overall in 2006. If Los Angeles did not lose so much the year before, the great southpaw would have landed elsewhere. Maybe that was all part of DePodesta’s long-term plan, a misunderstood prototype of the suck-now, dominate-later rebuilds subsequently mastered by the Royals, Cubs, Astros and Braves.

Indeed, if DePodesta went gung-ho and traded those assets in pursuit of immediate gratification – as lobbied by Plaschke, Simers, et al – the Dodgers may have been threadbare by 2009. Sure, such an aggressive pivot may have increased their chances of winning a championship earlier. And yes, in Los Angeles, there are huge expectations. Fans expect to win and they want to see bold moves that get the Dodgers over the hump. But anyone who seriously followed the Dodgers during that era knows how ill-equipped they were to sustain serious World Series contention. Additional context is desperately needed.

From 1998 through 2003, while owned by Murdoch, the Dodgers were an afterthought. Fox employed functionaries to run the baseball team just so it could monopolise lucrative media rights due for renewal. In terms of fielding a competitive ballclub, the Murdoch Dodgers had no vision, ethos, strategy or desire. As such, when McCourt and DePodesta arrived, the Dodgers had secured two playoff berths in 15 years. Sustainable success was an illusion in Dodgerland – a relic of bygone times. DePodesta wanted to change that, and a few years of pain may have allowed him to do so, but he was not given the time and support to realise that plan. McCourt cut bait at the first sign of trouble.

Paul DePodesta trades, transactions and signings as Dodgers GM

Even a closer analysis of DePodesta’s much-maligned transactions reveals a brighter picture than many critics acknowledge. DePodesta signed three major free agents – Kent, Derek Lowe and Drew – while leading the Dodgers, and they were all relatively successful. Kent spent four seasons in Los Angeles, hitting .291 with a .367 OBP. Lowe never missed a start in four years while recording a 3.59 ERA. And Drew posted a 133 OPS+ with the Dodgers. DePodesta was frequently chastised for including an opt-out in Drew’s free agent contract, but even that decision helped the Dodgers when the outfielder declined in Boston rather than Hollywood. Under DePodesta, the Dodgers received terrific production from free agent imports for limited expenditure – and that, ultimately, is the hallmark of a good GM.

Of course, allowing Beltré to leave for Seattle was perhaps the most indefensible act of DePodesta’s reign, and it remains the biggest pockmark on his Dodgers resume. To enter the 2005 season with José Valentín and Mike Edwards at third base instead of Beltré was particularly naïve of DePodesta, but every GM makes moves they later regret. Even Epstein once signed Carl Crawford, remember. Besides, Beltré’s agent, Scott Boras, defended DePodesta during the negotiations. “We had great success with Paul,” Boras told the Times. “It wasn’t really about him. I just think ownership wanted to spend their money elsewhere.”

To that point, the McCourts infamously drove the Dodgers to bankruptcy by 2011 after years of using the team as a personal credit card. Given such self-serving largesse, it can be reasonably argued that Frank McCourt should never have been allowed to own a major professional sports franchise. Accordingly, it was perhaps unwise to expect a rookie GM to thrive under the tutelage of such an intractable patriarch. Maybe DePodesta was destined to fail due to the environment set from above.

Working amid such a toxic atmosphere, with such limited time and such capricious resources, DePodesta had to get creative in reshaping the Dodgers’ roster. This leads us to the biggest misconception surrounding DePodesta and his Dodgers tenure: the inaccurate concept that he destroyed the team with absurd trades. In fact, DePodesta had a pretty good sense of player value, and his moves improved the Dodgers rather than ruining them. Just take a look:

Paul DePodesta trade history as Dodgers GM

Trade

Net post-trade bWAR

Jason Frasor to Toronto for Jayson Werth

+19.5

Steve Colyer to Detroit for Cody Ross

+13.4

Andrew Brown and Franklin Gutiérrez to Cleveland for Milton Bradley

-5.1

Jolbert Cabrera and Glenn Bott to Seattle for Ryan Ketchner

*Aaron Looper was also in this deal from SEA to LAD, but DFA’d him and SEA reacquired him for Bott

-0.7

Jason Romano to Tampa Bay for Antonio Pérez

-0.1

Rick White to Cleveland for Trey Dyson

-1.8

Tanyon Sturtze to the Yankees for Brian Myrow

-0.9

Paul Lo Duca, Guillermo Mota and Juan Encarnación to Florida for Hee-Seop Choi, Brad Penny and Bill Murphy

+4.9

Koyie Hill, Reggie Abercrombie and Bill Murphy to Arizona for Steve Finley and Brent Mayne

+1.9

Tom Martin to Atlanta for Matt Merricks

0

Dave Roberts to Boston for Henri Stanley

-4.2

Elvin Nina to Kansas City for Mike Venafro

+0.2

Tony Socarras to the Mets for Tom Wilson

-0.1

Jereme Milons to Arizona for Elmer Dessens

+0.9

Shawn Green to Arizona for Dioner Navarro, Beltrán Pérez, Danny Muegge and William Juarez

+7

Kazuhisa Ishii to the Mets for Jason Phillips

-2.2

Total

+32.7

 
You could reasonably argue that, statistically, Paul DePodesta never made an egregiously bad trade as Dodgers GM. The Bradley deal was probably his worst trade in Los Angeles, especially given the outfielder’s off-field issues, but overall DePodesta added 32.7 WAR of net future production via trades. That is quite a haul in 12 months of business. Most GMs would take that in a heartbeat.

Sure, WAR is not everything. That, of course, is a simulacrum of this entire debate. And yes, not all of those post-trade WAR were accrued with the Dodgers, so that skews perceptions slightly. However, a bigger chunk of those post-trade WAR may have been with the Dodgers if DePodesta was given a longer leash. Moreover, if he was allowed to keep trading – keep adding – the jigsaw may eventually have come together.

This, ultimately, is the bittersweet paradox of positive arbitrage – especially in big markets. Building to a climax in gradual, bite-sized increments requires patience and faith – attributes in short supply around juggernauts like the Dodgers. We are witnessing something similar right now as Chaim Bloom – another positive arbitrage disciple – remoulds the Red Sox in metronomic fashion. Many outsiders call Bloom risk-averse, and they denigrate his hoarding of top prospects. However, like DePodesta and many others before him, Bloom aims to win every trade by a small margin while avoiding costly disasters. That is how positive arbitrage eventually yields titles, but it can take many years to flourish. DePodesta was given mere months with the Dodgers, so expecting rapid results was borderline delusional.

Paul DePodesta, Frank McCourt and the Dodgers’ philosophical confusion

This dichotomy of approach and expectation speaks to the internal dysfunction that derailed the 2000s Dodgers. Did McCourt want DePodesta to implement Moneyball with a bigger crumple zone, or did the incoming owner use ‘data-driven efficiency’ as a ruse for scandalous cost-cutting to fund his own lavish lifestyle? What, exactly, were the Dodgers trying to do – enjoy sustainable success down the line, or instantly replenish their jaded brand with a supernova title in Murdoch’s aftermath? Ultimately, they flip-flopped between roadmaps, and DePodesta was an unjust casualty of their philosophical churn. 

To wit, DePodesta never hired his own manager with the Dodgers. He hired very few executives to a fractured front office stocked with holdovers from different regimes dating back to the 1960s. DePodesta had very few ‘number-crunchers’ on whom to rely, while the concept of a fully-fledged analytics department straddled science fiction. McCourt’s whimsy led the Dodgers to DePodesta and advanced analytics, but the team’s infrastructure did not cohere with that momentary impulse. It was a shitshow, quite frankly, and DePodesta tried his best.

Even the disastrous 2005 season cannot be blamed entirely on DePodesta. Sure, the Dodgers should have replaced Beltré, and they generally lacked depth around the diamond. But again, what was the overarching agenda set by ownership? What was the goal? The 2005 Dodgers ranked eleventh in MLB payroll. McCourt also slashed spending on international player procurement and development, all but mothballing the Dodgers’ once-trailblazing Dominican Republic academy. As such, the blame pie should be shared, rather than having DePodesta eat it all like Bruce Bogtrotter. It was all too easy to scapegoat the unconventional newcomer, and his tattered reputation has never recovered.

Legitimate criticisms of Paul DePodesta as Dodgers GM

If anything, DePodesta’s main failing was of communication, not of dogma or process – and even those criticisms are couched in lazy, hurtful stereotypes of aloof Ivy League geeks who assume they are the smartest person in any room. If DePodesta did intend to embark on a teardown-and-rebuild mission akin to Jeff Luhnow in Houston or Epstein in Chicago, he could have done a better job articulating that vision – to fans, reporters and perhaps even to McCourt during the initial recruitment process. The nuts and bolts of DePodesta's plan were deciphered through a whole heap of inference, and that lack of transparency hurt his approval rating from the start.

DePodesta did not always communicate well internally, either. When personnel no longer fit his plan – be it Finley, Roberts, Cora, coaches or scouts – they were often cut adrift with minimal explanation. That approach is true to the Beane doctrine, of course, as fuzzy relationships distract front offices from objective decision-making. Still, DePodesta seemed to make decisions in a vacuum, without seeking counsel, and several industry insiders cite a reticence to return calls as a key failing of his Dodgers tenure.

Even that is a double-edged sword, though. Obviously, it behooves any GM to play nice and maintain close connections, but that was not Paul DePodesta. If McCourt wanted a people-pleasing salesman, he should have hired Colletti from the off. Contrary to later clichés, DePodesta was a known commodity. An unproven one, sure, but his principles were clear. Above all esle, DePodesta valued impartial analysis, shorn of cuddles and sentiment. He was never going to spend time schmoozing with Tommy Lasorda around the batting cage, so expecting him to do that – and for that to be a focal point of his decision-making process – was a failure of philosophy and recruitment. Frank McCourt wanted it both ways, but he refused to wait for either.

Paul DePodesta was a martyr of baseball’s Sputnik moment

Now, do not be mistaken – I’m no sabermetric evangelist. I probably skew more towards the traditional end of the spectrum – more Art Howe than Billy Beane. Nevertheless, I was raised during baseball’s data age. I have a strong grasp of advanced analytics and can see their utility – especially in roster construction - but  I’m not a blind defender of analytical principles. I do not lurk in the Fangraphs comment section. I just see gross unfairness in the general portrayal of Paul DePodesta, and adding a more nuanced voice to the chorus seems beneficial.

DePodesta was one of the originators of baseball’s analytical revolution – an enlightened spring that brought World Series trophies to Boston and Chicago, along with pennants to Tampa Bay and Cleveland. Yet far from receiving praise, DePodesta is almost exclusively demeaned and admonished, abused and ridiculed. There is terrible hypocrisy in that realisation. It is like criticising Kool Herc for not being Jay-Z, despite Jay-Z mastering a genre that would not exist without Kool Herc. 

To that end, those who vilified DePodesta back then often praise Andrew Friedman right now. Friedman, of course, is the former Bear Stearns analyst hired to run baseball operations for the Dodgers after the 2014 season. Reared in the same Tampa Bay front office as Bloom, Friedman was brought to Los Angeles by Guggenheim Baseball Management, which bought the Dodgers out of bankruptcy in 2012. Relying heavily on advanced analytics, Friedman led Los Angeles to that long-awaited World Series championship in 2020, but few mentioned DePodesta while lauding Friedman’s accomplishments.

“Every decision he made was governed by the guiding principle of optionality, a term co-opted from Wall Street, where he had his professional start,” wrote Pedro Moura of Friedman in How to Beat a Broken Game. “The idea is to render no decision absolutely necessary, to preserve as many possible choices as long as possible. It manifests in many ways, most notably in the Dodgers’ relative lack of desperation. Desperate teams make decisions they will regret. Because of Friedman’s patience and ownership’s resources, the Dodgers stand perpetually ready to seize on opportunities created by another team’s desperation.”

This approach is strikingly similar to that proffered by DePodesta a decade earlier. It is also painfully ironic that the guy hired to replace DePodesta in Oakland – Farhan Zaidi, a graduate of MIT and Berkeley – served as Dodgers GM between 2014 and 2018, working in concert with Friedman, the president of baseball operations. Zaidi credits Moneyball with changing his life, and he landed a baseball operations role with the Athletics when DePodesta left for Los Angeles. Friedman later convinced Zaidi to join the Dodgers, and together they rebuilt the organisation using principles similar – though iterated – to those proposed by DePodesta.

Therefore, it is an interesting thought experiment to consider how DePodesta would have fared under Guggenheim, as opposed to McCourt, who failed to understand the sport – and the market – into which he invested. With even a modicum of the belief placed by Mark Walter and Stan Kasten in Friedman, DePodesta may have implemented his long-term plan. After all, it took Friedman six years to make the Dodgers world champions. DePodesta had 622 days.

Accordingly, perhaps DePodesta was a martyr of baseball’s Sputnik moment, when advanced analytics were still subterranean and emergent rather than omnipotent and ubiquitous. Perhaps he was just a bit too early – at least with a Dodgers franchise in philosophical flux. That may be true, but look at the other young executives who cracked the baseball code. Epstein lost 351 games in four years before ending the Cubs’ title drought. Luhnow authored three 90+ loss seasons before taking Houston to the promised land. Even Bloom has survived four underwhelming years without a Red Sox championship. DePodesta is a comparatively ephemeral outlier, despite paving the way for those ‘nerds’ to succeed.

Whatever happened to Paul DePodesta? A.K.A, who is Peter Brand based on in Moneyball?

After leaving the Dodgers, DePodesta took some time to recuperate, then joined the San Diego Padres as a special assistant for baseball operations. He was promoted to executive vice president in 2008, then joined Sandy Alderson's Mets as vice president of player development and scouting two years later.

When the Moneyball film began shooting in 2009, Demetri Martin was originally cast to play DePodesta, but delays and script changes forced Jonah Hill into the role as a foil to Brad Pitt as Beane. Upon reading a revised screenplay, DePodesta felt the script no longer accurately depicted him, and he requested his name to be removed from the movie. Hill's character – a fictional amalgamation of DePodesta and JP Ricciardi, another Beane assistant – was renamed Peter Brand, and the rest is cinematic history.

In 2016, DePodesta made a shock transition from baseball to football when the Cleveland Browns made him their chief strategy officer. The potential for an MLB return has rarely surfaced, although the Mets did inquire about DePodesta’s availability in 2021 while searching for a new president of baseball operations. I, for one, would be pleased to see DePodesta get another shot at building an MLB franchise in his own vision. He is still only 50-years-old, so never rule it out.

The complicated baseball legacy of Paul DePodesta, Dodgers GM

Ultimately, Paul DePodesta gets a raw deal in retellings of baseball history. In essence, the guy was abused for being an introvert in an extroverted market, for being a long-term visionary in a short-term climate, and for being iconoclastic in a traditional sport. That abuse – bordering coordinated defamation – was unconscionable. Nobody deserves that, and I will never forget it.

For his part, DePodesta took the verbal assaults with grace and made the path easier for every unconventional baseball executive that followed in his footsteps. We should celebrate his contributions to modern baseball, not litigate them through a bigoted prism.

You could say Paul DePodesta was an average GM whose plans did not work out. I can accept and understand that. You could even say he was ahead of his time and the Dodgers were not ready for such disruptive thinking. Ok, fine. But nothing justifies the level of sheer vitriol this guy continues to receive. Nothing condones the way Paul DePodesta has become a synonym for abject failure.

In my view, DePodesta was a very shrewd, intelligent baseball executive who did some very good – albeit unorthodox – things for the Dodgers. Contrary to any number of myopic Reddit memes, his time in Los Angeles was not a total dumpster fire. That is pure Plaschke propaganda. In fact, you could argue DePodesta laid the foundations for the Dodgers’ subsequent success. He will not join the Ring of Honour anytime soon, of course, but at least cut the guy some slack. He was not nearly as bad as people like to remember.

Sources


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