2011 was an aberration for the Los Angeles Dodgers. For those of you who think the 2012 version of the Dodgers is not a very good team, I say: “I beg to differ. In fact, I will go as far as saying you are crazy if you think this is a bad team.” It’s popular to beat up on McCourt and the Dodgers – after all, most people are, right? I’m going to again say that conventional wisdom is very frequently wrong.
In case you have forgotten, here is what happened on the field in 2011 (and I’m not even going to discuss the divorce, the bankruptcy and the fact that some players wondered if they would get paid):
- In 2011, the energy level was very low during Spring Training – it was noticeable. I chalked it up to just the “spring training blues” but it was a malaise that hung over the team until late July;
- Three-fourths of the starting infield (Blake, Furcal and Uribe) were lost for very significant parts of the season;
- James Loney slumped until well after the All-Star break and was about as bad as nothing in first half;
- Andre Ethier was robbed of his power by a knee injury that took him from 30 HR to 11 HR; and
- The bullpen just never really got it together, although they had their moments.
Here’s some reasons to be excited over this season’s version of the Dodgers:
- The 2011 Dodgers were one of the best teams in baseball the last two months of the season;
- This year, Juan Uribe is healthy, and while he is not an All-Star, if he he can hit .250 with 20 HR (kind of his average season), that would be huge upgrade at 3B;
- Dee Gordon will make rookie mistakes, but his speed will cause lots of problems for NL pitchers;
- Everyone rags on Mark Ellis, but I think he’s a huge upgrade over 2B this year (yeah, Chase Utley is better, but Ellis is our guy, and I think you will be surprised);
- James Loney is showing that he’s at least back to his normal season (.288/15 HR/90 RBI) and maybe even more;
- Andre Ethier looks to be poised for a monster season in the field and at the plate;
- Juan Rivera has made a difference since he came to LA, and while not an All-Star he is a solid piece and makes people around him better;
- Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw will just keep getting better;
- I think Harang and Capuano will surprise everyone;
- Ted Lilly looks really serious this year and he was really, really tough the last two months of 2011;
- Chad Billingsley is looking like he wants to be a real #2;
- The bullpen has lots of arms with lots of options; and
- As maligned as the bench is (Sellers, Gwynn, Sullivan, Fields, Hariston, Treanor, Kennedy, et al), they are a bunch of junkyard dogs who have been there, done that.
The team has a lot to prove and has an attitude that I can see is very different this year. Of course, there could be injuries and issues we don’t know about, but I doubt that will will see as many problems as the Dodgers had last year, and that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the reason for my optimism!
Finally, in the I TOLD YOU SO Department:
According to Bill Shaikin of The LA Times, Patrick Soon-Shiong, the richest man in Los Angeles, has joined the Dodgers bid group led by hedge-fund billionaire Steven Cohen. Shaikin reported this:
The alliance is the strongest indication yet of Cohen’s intention to present outgoing owner Frank McCourt with a final bid that reflects prominent local support rather than just overwhelming East Coast money.
If McCourt were to accept the Cohen bid, he would be rejecting one led by local icon Magic Johnson. Soon-Shiong has held several meetings with McCourt since the Dodgers were put up for sale in November, according to people familiar with the process.
Soon-Shiong had been widely expected to join the bid group led by Johnson, from whom he bought a minority share in the Lakers two years ago. Soon-Shiong’s decision to join Cohen was confirmed Sunday by two people familiar with the sale process but not authorized to comment.
Soon-Shiong would be the owner of an undetermined minority share of the Dodgers, the people said. Cohen had submitted a bid under which he would own 100% of the team.
The new bid, if successful, would put the Dodgers in the hands of primary investors worth more than $15 billion.
Soon-Shiong, 60, is a doctor, biotech investor and philanthropist. Forbes this month estimated the net worth of Cohen at $8.3 billion and Soon-Shiong at $7.2 billion.
Cohen last fall retained Populous, a prominent sports architecture firm, to recommend improvements to Dodger Stadium. Cohen is prepared to commit close to $2 billion to buy the Dodgers and renovate their stadium without financing any of that amount, according to a person familiar with the sale process.
Successful people tend to gravitate towards successful people. Magic Johnson, while not a fraud like Josh Maccellio, is not financially qualified to own the Dodgers. Cohen and Soon-Shiong will form a financial powerhouse.
Ladies and Gentlemen: meet your new Dodger Owners.
Forget what all the rest of the blogs tell you – I give you the truth… and I told you that months ago!
This just in:
- Hong Chih-Kuo cut by the Mariners – maybe the end of the Road?
- Peyton Manning to sign with the Broncos
- Tim Tebow to the Jaguars?