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Running Dodgers by the Numbers

Paul DePodesta, a devotee of statistical analysis, broke up a division winner and alienated some fans.

April 04, 2005|Steve Henson | Times Staff Writer

And so the pendulum swung. At Harvard he became smitten with Ayn Rand's philosophy of objectivism and reason-based decision-making theories. He interned with conservative author Jim Pinkerton, who cautioned him against accepting traditional beliefs that have outlasted their utility.

"Without the passion, reason doesn't get you anywhere," DePodesta said. "But raw emotion sends you down the wrong path."

DePodesta's staunchest defender is Beane. They chat on the phone nearly every day, bouncing ideas off each other almost as if they still worked for the same team. All that keeps their relationship from being a conflict of interest is that the Dodgers are in the National League, the Athletics in the American League.

"It may not become apparent to you off the bat, but given time, Paul can give you five reasons why he did what he did for now and the future," Beane said. "Knowing how Paul works, it's only going to get better over the next few years."

How long DePodesta plans to stay with the Dodgers is an intriguing question. He is in the second year of a five-year contract, an extraordinarily long commitment to a general manager with no previous experience.

He clearly is trying to build a team that can sustain success. He has avoided trading top prospects and added young players at every opportunity.

Yet because the job is all-consuming and uncommonly stressful, he believes that eventually he will be watching from the stands. His other interests include politics and screenwriting. He and Karen want more children. Baseball might be something he outgrows.

"There is a natural high that comes from the seminal moments during the course of a season, and I've never found anything that can substitute for that," he said. "A big win, or a big dramatic moment, that's hard to find in most walks of life.

"But this job will beat you down and beat you down in a hurry. At some point, I'm going to want something else."

First, he wants what every Dodger follower wants: A World Series championship. The teams he has worked for made the playoffs in eight of nine seasons, including the last five in a row, but none won it all.

"Winning is the only reason I do this," he said. "That's why we are all here. We all want championship rings.

"Our expectations are such that we are not going to let anything get in the way of winning now. But we also know we want to build this organization back into what it once was, where it is just a perennial powerhouse."



Five key moves made by Paul DePodesta

Adrian Beltre -- Didn't re-sign the third baseman, who had 48 home runs and 121 runs batted in last season.


Shawn Green -- Traded the outfielder/first baseman to Arizona for four minor leaguers, including catcher Dioner Navarro.


Jeff Kent -- Signed All-Star second baseman to a two-year, $17-million contract.


Derek Lowe -- Signed free-agent pitcher to a four-year, $36-million contract.


J.D. Drew -- Signed free-agent outfielder to a five-year, $55-million contract.


Source: Times staff


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