Lately, we have been talking about “projections” – especially what Ethier, Kemp, Loney, Furcal, Uribe and Blake will do this year. Over the years, it has become increasing more difficult to make predictions with this bunch, especially after nearly everyone on the team grossly “underperformed” last year. Was 2010 just a freak “one-time-thing” or was it a preview of things to come? I have asked that before and will continue to ask until the players themselves answer.
It has been well established that the entire Dodger team underperformed last year. Was it because Joe Torre lost his passion, were the players under-prepared or did the loss of Manny kill the team? I THINK it was all three, and I KNOW that all of that drama is now gone. Mattingly and Company are determined to right this ship. I wasn’t a big Mattingly fan, but I am now coming around. I like what he is doing and how he goes about his business. I think that Davey Lopes and Maury Wills will work wonders together on some of the players on this team. Ditto with Tim Wallach and Trey Hillman.
2010 was the first year in a long time that I didn’t buy Bill James or Baseball Prospectus “Projection” books. I am convinced that the photo above is how they arrive at the numbers they do. [that's a joke, so] Actually, I’m sure that it’s some sophisticated computerized algorithm, but at any rate, Bill James especially has built his career on the premise that past performance is a good indicator of future performance. My only question is: Which past performance – 2009 or 2010? I can’t answer that question. The Dodger players will have to answer.
Will we see a platoon of Thames and Gibbons in LF or will Gwynn , Jr. step up and win the CF job? Both are question marks. While the Dodgers don’t really need another LH, they could use a speedy CF like Gwynn, who would improve the overall outfield defense immensely. The only problem is that Gwynn will probably have to hit .270 and get on base at a .350+ rate. That’s sounds like too much to ask, but I can dream, can’t I?
The reason I say he has to hit .270/.350 is that he needs to be the Dodgers CF, AND #2 hitter, or they can’t hide him anywhere. Again, I will say that Wills and Lopes could be critical in Gwynn’s re-development. He could become that #2 hitter the Dodgers need and I think he’ll be given every opportunity. Thames and Gibbons on the bench would be nice in the late innings as pinch-hitters. But, there are options.
There is a lot to be decided. I am looking forward to an interesting Spring! Predictions? I have one – this will be an interesting year!