I admit that I make some predictions with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, however today I am deadly serious and will give you my honest assessment of how the Dodgers will do this season.
First of all, none of us can anticipate exactly what will happen, especially in regard to new ownership. Stan Kasten could be prepared to clean house when he takes control of baseball operations or he could stay with Ned and Company until the end of the season and then assess their performance at that time. Honestly, unless the Dodgers get off to a horrendous start, I would expect things to stay “status quo”. However, if the Dodgers are 10 games under .500 at the end of April, I would think that he might go ahead and terminate Ned and some others. That’s the part we don’t know.
Here’s what we know a little about – The way that this team is built, for the Dodgers to fare well in 2012, they will have to get a repeat season from Matt Kemp and “bounce-back” years from Ethier, Loney and Uribe on offense, and one from Chad Billingsley as a starting pitcher. Is all of that too much to ask? I don’t think so.
I believe (based upon what I have seen) that Andre Ethier is focused on a strong comeback and I believe he will finish in the TOP 5 in MVP voting. I have lower expectations from James Loney, but if he can hit .300 or close to it, James will drive in runs and be a big asset. Juan Uribes’ defense will be a plus, but I have no clue what to expect from him. He could hit .179 or .279 or anything in-between. He is the player that I believe is most likely to be replaced before the season is over. If he has to be released, that could precipitate a response from Kasten as well (i.e., Fire Ned). I would be alright with David Wright at 3B if the Dodgers had to give up 2 top prospects, not 3. Adrian Gonzalez cost the Red Sox 3 Top prospects and David Wright is no Adrian Gonzalez.
Juan Rivera looks re-vitalized and could be poised for a career year, and Jerry Sands will hopefully be in the wings soon, if he can straighten out his head. The bench is much maligned, but I think that Adam Kennedy will be a pinch hitter extraordinaire!
Then there’s Dee Gordon, who has to be the catalyst for this offense. That’s a lot to ask of a young guy who is small of frame, but did you know that he is bigger than Ozzie Smith was? Ozzie was pretty durable – I don’t see why Dee can be the same way. Mark Ellis has to put up decent numbers in the number two spot as well.
There are lots of questions offensively (-I know some folks are concerned with Matt Kemps’ strikeouts this spring), but I say wait and see what happens when the bell rings.
Look, the wheels could fall off this wagon, and like every team, some players need to have good seasons. If everyone tanks, like last year, then obviously the 2012 Dodger could have a sub .500 record. On the other hand, I think the pitching is going to be a strength and I think the hitting will improve over 2011. I also think that the Giants are way overrated and that the D-Backs could easily crash and burn.
My prediction is that the Dodgers will make the playoffs and maybe even win the division. 87 wins is my prediction, but it could be more, depending upon what the needs are and what the new management team decides to do. This team has a ton of talent (no matter what you all say) and well go as far as their rotation takes them. I predict a big acquisition (or three) and big years by Capuano and Harang, as well as comebacks by Loney and Ethier to go along with Kemp and Kershaw.
It would sure help if Chad Billingsley could get his act together.
- Fed-Ex finished Spring Training with a .290 BA (.421 OB%) – not bad for a guy who can’t hit.
- Nate Eovaldi got spanked in his last Spring appearence to show him that he still needs some work.
- Congratulations to Josh Lindblom and Justin Sellers for making the team.
To those of you who think the Diamondbacks are so great, look at the comparison of their lineup verses the Dodgers. Forget “potential” and make no excuses. Just look at the numbers: