Mar 16, 2013, 11:28 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 2013 season. Up next: The Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Big Question: Will the big spending lead the Dodgers back to the postseason?
It’s a new world in MLB and the Dodgers are playing by their own rules. While the mighty Yankees are making plans to get under the luxury tax threshold, that’s not a concern for the new ownership group in Los Angeles. The Dodgers are projected to have a payroll around $225 million this season, the highest in major league history. Having a new $7 billion cable deal helps.
After adding big names like Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett in trades last season, the Dodgers signed Zack Greinke to a six-year, $147 million contract over the winter and committed $61.7 million to sign Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu. But for all the spending, the Dodgers still have their fair share of questions.
After ranking 26th in runs scored last season, the offense should be better, but by how much? Matt Kemp is coming off shoulder surgery while Crawford is still rehabbing his elbow following Tommy John surgery. Adrian Gonzalez is healthy by all accounts, but he hasn’t shown much power since his shoulder surgery two offseasons ago. Luis Cruz has a lot to prove after playing well in a small sample last year. And yes, Andre Ethier still can’t hit lefties.
Clayton Kershaw is arguably the game’s best starting pitcher, ranking second in the majors in ERA and first in WHIP and strikeouts over the past two seasons. Greinke’s upside is obvious, but it looks like he’ll get a late start to the season following a sore elbow. Beckett had better results after coming over from the Red Sox last season and should benefit with a full season in the easier league. However, things get a little dicey after that. Ryu is an unknown quantity and hasn’t been overly impressive this spring. The Dodgers are hoping that the ulnar collateral ligament in Chad Billingsley‘s elbow will hold up, but they have Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang and Ted Lilly in reserve in case things go awry.
It’s easy to envision a scenario where the Dodgers run away with things in the National League West, but like with any team, there are also ways that things could go wrong here. Injuries. Underperformance. It happens. This is baseball. Still, the pressure will be on after they came up short last year. If the Dodgers aren’t playing in October, manager Don Mattingly will likely be out of a job.
What else is going on?
- The Dodgers’ spending hasn’t been exclusive to the talent on the field. They have also directed roughly $100 million in improvements to Dodger Stadium, including the return of hexagonal scoreboards, upgrades to the sound system, bathrooms, and concourses, the construction of a new clubhouse for players and bullpen overlooks which will create standing-room views for the game. Much-needed upgrades for a stadium which is now the third oldest in the majors behind Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.
- Can Luis Cruz keep the starting third base job? There’s reason to be skeptical. After hitting just .261/.296/.394 over 12 seasons in the minor leagues, the 29-year-old delivered a surprising .297/.332/.431 batting line in 78 games with the Dodgers last season. The crash back to Earth could be ugly. Moving Hanley Ramirez back to third base (where he likely belongs) could give Dee Gordon another chance at shortstop, but the young speedster still carries plenty of questions of his own.
- After posting a 2.30 ERA in 28 appearances after coming over from the Mariners last July, Brandon League was retained this winter on a three-year, $22.5 million deal and is expected to open the season as the Dodgers’ closer. The contract is questionable enough, but Kenley Jansen is the best pitcher in this bullpen if healthy. The contract probably gives League some job security out of the gate, but with the Dodgers determined to win now, don’t be surprised if there’s a change at some point.
- With all the money flying out the door, when will Kershaw get his piece of the pie? The soon-to-be 25-year-old is under team control through 2014, but there is mutual interest in getting a long-term extension done. He remains the best bet to be the game’s first $200 million pitcher.
- Vin Scully, 85, is set to begin his 64th season of announcing Dodgers games. Enjoy it.
Prediction: It should be a close race with the Giants, but I have the Dodgers in second place in the NL West. They will secure one of the two Wild Card spots, though.
Aug 27, 2015, 3:24 PM EDT
Aug 27, 2015, 3:13 PM EDT
This is a great slice of weird, totally suitable for killing time on a slow afternoon. Bonus: Bon Jovi is tangentially involved.
Aug 27, 2015, 2:16 PM EDT
Los Angeles acquired Callaspo from Atlanta in a late-May trade.
Aug 27, 2015, 1:34 PM EDT
Last week’s rumored trade with the Dodgers apparently fell through.
Aug 27, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
“Smithers’ I’m beginning to think that Homer Simpson was not the brilliant tactician I thought he was.”
Aug 27, 2015, 11:44 AM EDT
He’s having an incredible season.
Aug 27, 2015, 11:34 AM EDT
Basically, we’re all miserable EXCEPT Cubs fans. What a bizzaro world we live in.
Aug 27, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
Jennings spent three months on the disabled list following knee surgery.
Aug 27, 2015, 9:57 AM EDT
No wins in over three months despite a 3.24 ERA.
Aug 27, 2015, 9:06 AM EDT
Boycotts thrive on publicity. This one ended as soon as the publicity started.
Aug 27, 2015, 8:38 AM EDT
This is why Starlin Castro does not have the shortstop gig anymore.
Aug 27, 2015, 7:45 AM EDT
Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got something to say, but nothing comes out when they move their lips, just a bunch of gibberish, And opposing teams act like they forgot about JV.
Aug 26, 2015, 11:20 PM EDT
Crawford is having a breakout season at age 28, with an .806 OPS (123 OPS+), 19 home runs, and 75 RBI in 121 games.
Aug 26, 2015, 10:32 PM EDT
Verlander still managed to go the distance against a good Angels offense for his first shutout since 2012.
Aug 26, 2015, 9:26 PM EDT
It is August 26, 2015 and Justin Verlander has a no-hitter going against the Mike Trout-led Angels.
Aug 26, 2015, 9:05 PM EDT
Good on everybody involved in wanting to get ahead of a potential tragedy.
Aug 26, 2015, 8:21 PM EDT
Marlins Park has some of the longest dimensions in Major League Baseball along with some of the tallest walls.
Aug 26, 2015, 7:37 PM EDT
Padres outfielder Wil Myers has appeared in just 35 games this season due to an ongoing left wrist injury.
Aug 26, 2015, 6:24 PM EDT
Tigers right-hander Shane Greene allowed just one earned run over his first 23 innings (three starts) this season, but the wheels quickly fell off from there and now his 2015 ends with injury …
Aug 26, 2015, 5:10 PM EDT
Porcello has had a miserable first season in Boston.
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights 75
- MLB “actively studying” fan safety; Phillies plan to expand netting at Citizens Bank Park 26
- Marlins might move in and lower the fences at Marlins Park 23
- Astros beat the suddenly skidding Yankees, top last year’s win total 28
- Curt Schilling taken off of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball telecast this week 131
- Joe Girardi would like Carlos Gomez to “play the game right” 90
- And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights 76
- Indians place starter Carlos Carrasco on 15-day disabled list with right shoulder discomfort 1
- Dan Patrick: When does ESPN cut ties with Curt Schilling? (198)
- Curt Schilling taken off of Little League World Series duty for making a really bad tweet (169)
- Curt Schilling taken off of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball telecast this week (131)
- Phillies announcer calls Mets fans “obnoxious” (122)
- Let’s all argue about team chemistry again (118)