The Dodgers make it so difficult to hate them

The Dodgers signed Andrew Toles so he will have access to health care.
Image: Getty Images

On Tuesday the Los Angeles Dodgers re-signed Andrew Toles so that he can have access to mental health care and therapy as he battles schizophrenia. Toles played in just 96 major league games for the Dodgers and hasn’t played since 2018.

This is an incredibly nice move by an organization that was under no obligation to do this, signing him with the knowledge that the 29-year-old outfielder will likely never play again. It’s pretty fucked up that we live in a country where in some cases the discretion of billionaires is what decides who does and doesn’t get mental health care, but that’s a whole other can of worms.

It’s a classy move regardless, and emblematic of the Dodgers organization as a whole. They seem to do everything well, from taking care of their own, to drafting, to development.

March Madness isn’t quite over and it’s the tournament that’s an annual reminder of why we watch sports. It’s to cheer for the underdogs. It’s fun to cheer for St. Peter’s over teams with 5-star recruits because they’re not supposed to win.

The Dodgers are perennial contenders and have the highest payroll in the league. They’re everything human nature compels us to jeer, and yet it’s still hard because it feels like they’ve earned their success rather than bought it.

For reference, their $274,808,333 payroll is enough to pay the Orioles’ roster almost nine times. In a league with no salary cap, this is the surest way to have a competitive advantage. It’s still hard to be upset with them when you consider that they’re not just offering the most for already star-level free agents, though it’s easy to forget that given the recent signing of Freddie Freeman.

They’re great at taking relatively mediocre players and turning them into stars. In two seasons in Oakland, Max Muncy had an OPS+ of 70, making him a far below average hitter. Justin Turner’s was 92 through five seasons with Baltimore and the New York Mets. Chris Taylor’s was 71 in two seasons in Seattle.

Since becoming Dodgers, Muncy has been an All-Star twice and finished as high as 10th in MVP voting, Turner has been an All-Star twice and hasn’t had an OPS+ less than 121, and Taylor just made his first All-Star team.

Granted, their pre-Dodgers days were pretty small sample sizes of young players still trying to find their way in the league. It’s possible they might have become what they’ve become had they never gone to L.A. Yeah, and the Dodgers might have a rainout.

They’ve also drafted many of their current stars. Cody Bellinger won the MVP six years after being a 4th-round pick, and the Dodgers also drafted Clayton Kershaw, maybe the best pitcher of his generation. “You don’t have to be a genius to draft Kershaw! Anyone could see he was great!” I hear you cry out in unison in a hellish chorus. Maybe true. It’s also true that six teams passed on him. Five of the six picks before Kershaw were pitchers and none of Luke Hochevar, Greg Reynolds, Brad Lincoln, Brandon Morrow, and Andrew Miller are debatably the best of their generation.

The Dodgers draft well, develop well, and find hidden gems. They do everything the Yankees don’t. That’s right! This Dodgers appreciation article was merely a Trojan Horse for a dunking on the Yankees article. Shame on you for ever thinking otherwise.

The Yankees have the third-highest payroll this year, but are routinely top two as they try and fail to buy the World Series trophy. They don’t draft or scout well. Of the 30 players projected to be on their roster (28 plus 2 IL), only six were either drafted by the Yankees or signed by the team as international free agents: Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, Miguel Andújar, Kyle Higashioka, and Nestor Cortés Jr.

Judge is the only star player that they’ve drafted in recent memory. They don’t win so much by discovering talent early in their career, so much as they go “Hey, that Gerritt Cole guy is pretty good. Let’s give him $36 million per!” What’s weird though is they’re so bad at developing players that they seem to get worse once they get to the Yankees.

Joey Gallo had an .869 OPS with Texas last season, but a .707 one with the Yankees, and in a home stadium that should greatly favor lefties with that short porch. The 24-year-old Gleyber Torres has inexplicably been regressing for two seasons. Giancarlo Stanton has actually been better than people give him credit for, with his second-highest home run total (38) coming in his first year with the Yankees, but has missed considerable time due to injuries and has yet to wear pinstripes in an All-Star Game.

The Yankees somehow always find a way to be less than the sum of their shiny, expensive parts.

The Bronx Bombers don’t do much right, but are still relevant because of their high payroll. The Dodgers do pretty much everything right, and have the luxury of being able to pay players a lot. I wonder which one has been to three World Series since 2009. And while the Dodgers do things like re-sign Toles, the Yankees just have a weird rule about beards. The next time you close your eyes and see Rougned Odor’s bare chin, remember whose fault it is and who to blame.

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