Mar 30, 2012, 11:33 AM EDT
Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2012 season. Up next: The Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Big Question: How long until new ownership brings back the magic?
Sorry. That was kind of hacky, wasn’t it? Oh well. I coulda gone with “Showtime,” and I didn’t so consider yourself lucky.
But our hackiness can be forgiven, can it not? These are heady times for the Dodgers. Frank McCourt’s reign of terror is about to end and in comes the most beloved figure in L.A. sports this side of Vin Scully. And what’s more, Magic Johnson is accompanied by serious money in the form of Guggenheim Partners, and real baseball brains in Stan Kasten. That stuff has led to a zillion headlines this week, but how long until that translates to success on the field?
Maybe sooner than you think. Here was Magic Johnson early Wednesday morning, when asked if the new ownership group was going to approach things like the Yankees do:
“It’s not just the Yankees. The Angels invested a lot of money into Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. You see what the Tigers just did with Prince Fielder. Teams are investing. That’s what you do when you put a winning team on the field. We’re not going to be any different from those teams.”
Cole Hamles is available next year. So is Matt Cain. So is Josh Hamilton. In not too long Joey Votto will hit the market. There’s no reason to think that the Dodgers aren’t going to be in on that business. And if they are, they could start winning a lot of baseball games here pretty soon.
What else is going on?
- None of that is this year, though. For this year it’s their Cy Young pitcher in Clayton Kershaw, their MVP-caliber center fielder Matt Kemp and … a whole lot of blah. Or, as Jonah Keri put it so succinctly: “2012 could bring the Dodgers another Cy Young, an MVP award, and the league lead for crummy, overpaid starters named Juan.”
- Dee Gordon is about as exciting as it comes. He hit .304 with a .325 on-base percentage and stole 24 bases in only 56 games. He may be trouble for the Dodgers at the top of the order given how batting average-heavy that OBP is, but when he does get on base, watch out.
- Otherwise this is a pretty weak lineup. Outside of Kemp there are very few power threats and the one guy who could maybe turn into one one day — Jerry Sands — was just sent down to the minors. For this lineup to be any kind of respectable, the Dodgers need Andre Ethier, James Loney and Juan Rivera all to remember what they were like when they used to be something. That’s a tall order.
- Kershaw is less of a lone solider in the rotation, as Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly and Aaron Harang all look solid. Not spectacular or anything, but solid.
So how are they gonna do?
Not that great. I really don’t like anyone in this lineup not named Matt Kemp. The cupboard is basically bare here, as the minor league system atrophied under McCourt and Ned Colletti simply doesn’t appear to know how to assemble useful spare parts. All of that is a recipe for mediocrity at best. Even if there is excitement on the horizon.
- Adrian Beltre needs just five innings for the third cycle of his career 0
- Mets blow out Marlins, move past Nationals for first place in NL East 6
- Yordano Ventura calls Jose Bautista a “nobody” and accuses him of stealing signs 71
- And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights 85
- The benches cleared in Toronto, too 79
- The Reds’ and Pirates’ benches cleared after Brandon Phillips was hit with a pitch 65
- Reminder: even though the trade deadline has passed, trades can still happen 13
- Settling the Scores: Saturday’s results 36
- The benches cleared in Friday’s Giants-Rangers game (205)
- Blue Jays acquire David Price from the Tigers (113)
- Rangers land ace left-hander Cole Hamels from Phillies (106)
- Royals make another big move, get Ben Zobrist from A’s (95)
- Report: Rockies trade Troy Tulowitzki to Blue Jays for Jose Reyes and prospects (92)