Any disagreement so far? OK! I know we have some common ground already. I’m not saying that they won’t win more, but I tend to think that 81 is something that is very plausible. I mean, they won 80 in 2010 when
everything went wrong. So, winning 81 really isn’t raising the bar much.
However, you need to consider what could happen is some players rebound, have a career year, have a superior year than last year or just play a little better. Ken Gurnick of Dodgers .com says that Don Mattingly predicts that Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, James Loney and closer Jonathan Broxton are mentally ready to get their games back on track; he’ll keep to a structured rest schedule for Rafael Furcal and Casey Blake, and he intends to platoon in left field (Marcus Thames and Jay Gibbons) and catcher (Rod Barajas and Dioner Navarro).
What would it be worth in wins to the Dodgers if the following things happened (I am puting in parenthesis how many games difference that each event could make):
- If after taking “two steps back,” Matt Kemp took three steps forward and became the player he is capable of being? (5)
- If Andre Ethier stays healthy and played like he did the first six weeks of 2010? (5)
- If James Loney moves up his power numbers and hits over .300? (3)
- If Rafael Furcal is healthy all season? (4)
- If Casey Blake could just hit 20 HR’s and bat .265? (3)
- If Marcus Thames and Jay Gibbons could hit 30+ HR and deliver 100 RBI combined in LF? (3)
- If Rod Barajas and Dionar Navarro could hit 20 HR and bat .270 combined while playing stellar defense? (3)
- If Juan Uribe could hit 20 HR, 85 RBI and bat .260 at 2B? (3)
- If the bullpen returned to it’s 2009 form? (12)
- If the starters can stay healthy and each pitch 200 innings? (8)
If you add all that up, that’s 50 more games the Dodgers COULD win in 2011, but obviously, not all of that is going to happen. Some of it will happen, part of some of it will happen and some of it won’t happen. I think it’s safe to believe that a few of those things can realistically happen and the Dodgers could win up to 98 games. That’s a lot to hope for and some good stuff has to happen in order for it to occur. The Dodgers will win 81 games, plus a few more. My guess is about 90 or 91… but you never know. That’s the question, and that’s why Spring Training is a truly unique time.
Ken Gurnick of Dodgers .com says that Hong-Chih Kuo never stopped throwing over the winter. Ummmm, OK? When can we expect his arm to fall off?
“It’s counter-intuitive,” conceded trainer Stan Conte. “But there’s really no way to explain the guy. There’s everybody else, then there’s Kuo. We didn’t shut him down this winter because he was going so good at the end, we didn’t want to change anything, so he kept throwing about 50 or 60 percent without stopping.
“We figured once he stopped, he might not be able to start again, sort of like an old car that keeps running. The problem with an arthritic joint, you don’t feel it as much when it moves as when it doesn’t move and you try to get it going again. At least, that’s the theory.”
Dylan Hernandez of The LA Times reports that Chad Billingsley is trying to win the battle of his head and “has the stuff of an ace but can too easily lose confidence in it, which can turn one bad inning into a bad outing, and a bad outing into a bad month. He says he’s trying to train himself not to over-think things, and to trust his stuff.”
He’s reluctant to talk about his individual goals, but insists he has several.
“I want to win 20 games,” he says. “I want to make it to the World Series. I have those goals that any pitcher has.”
Tony Jackson of ESPN/LosAngeles has an excellent summary of what a quiet spring training could mean. He talks about the roster possilities (and there are many) and concludes with:
The landscape could change dramatically over the next six weeks, of course, but the volatility that usually accompanies spring training with the Dodgers just doesn’t appear to be there this time.
It might make for a quiet spring, but for a team that has been besieged in recent years by distractions, that could be just what the Dodgers need.