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Playing Pepper 2012: Los Angeles Dodgers

Posted on March 8, 2012 at 11:30 AM
Filed Under: Los Angeles Dodgers | Playing Pepper
In 2009, I decided to get a feel for other teams around baseball by asking bloggers for those teams some questions about their squad.  Not only has this series been very popular, but it spawned the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.  With camps opening up again and spring training getting into gear, it's time once again to play a little pepper.

Los Angeles Dodgers
82-79, third in the NL West

At one time, the Dodgers were one of the crown jewels of baseball.  Their name and uniform inspired memories of Jackie Robinson, the "Boys of Summer", even Orel Hershiser and Kirk Gibson.

Lately, though, the on-field stuff has been very overshadowed by the ownership debacle as Frank McCourt dealt with a messy divorce, then had a public battle with MLB.  While this was going on, the product on the diamond suffered, and even though they were able to scrape to a plus-.500 record last season, they never seriously contended.

Now that McCourt has agreed to sell, perhaps the Dodgers are back on the path to normalcy.  To that end, it's time to talk to their bloggers about what is going to happen in 2012.

To start off with, we have the brother/sister combo that is over at Lasorda's Lair.  Scott and Stacie both spent some time answering the questions, giving a unique spin on it.  You can find Scott at formatallan on Twitter, Stacie at organicallyrude on the site.

Gareth contributes to the Dodger blog Feeling Dodger Blue, which is also here on the Blogs By Fans network.  

Ernest Reyes writes about the boys in blue at Dodgers Blue Heaven and can be found on Twitter at ernestreyes.

Come along as we talk ownership and which major award winner from 2011 is most likely to repeat their great work.

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C70: What was your opinion of the team's offseason?

LLSc: The Dodgers had a busy off-season despite the flux of Ownership. The Dodgers spent a lot of cash on mid-level type free agents in order to fill holes, while the team is being sold. While I did like the acquisition of Juan Rivera, whose solid bat definitely made a difference in the Dodgers phoenix from the ashes resurrection back to the .500 mark last year. The rest of the signings were ok, but the best part of winter was the contract extension to the best position player in the National League Matt Kemp. That man is worth every cent. Also the two year extension to the most utterly dominating pitcher in the National League reigning Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, although we wanted to see a longer deal. Unfortunaly we lost Hiroki Kuroda, our heroic Japanese ERA champion, and we were unable to obtain that big bat we have been looking for. We also lost several other long time Dodgers to free agency. 

LLSt: This offseason has been surprisingly busy with some signings and the ongoing ownership issues and auction. The highlight for me was when the Dodgers signed Matt Kemp to the 8-year deal, but the other signings were disappointing. Sadly, we lost some long-time Dodgers like Hiroki Kuroda, Hong-Chih Kuo, and Casey Blake. The new players we picked up were mostly cheap aging veterans who will most likely make no impact offensively next season.

FDB: One of the most boring offsesons in recent memory. Biggest move will be addition via subtraction with owner Frank McCourt agreeing to sell the Dodgers by April 30th. With regards to the roster, instead of adding Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, Jerry Hairston Jr., Juan Rivera, and Mark Ellis I would have rather seen the team resign Kuroda and make a stronger run at Prince Fielder and let the younger players such as Jerry Sands, Nathan Eovaldi and Ivan De Jesus Jr. fill the other holes.

DBH: Considering the current ownership situation I can't be too displeased. If we were able to keep Kuroda I would have been very happy, but what can you do? I would say that signing Kemp to a long term deal and Kershaw for an additional couple of years were the highlights of the winter.

C70: Will the ownership issue continue to make an on-the-field impact?

LLSc: The ownership issue has been making an impact on and off the field since the McCourt's announced they were divorcing on the eve of the NLCS almost three years ago. Things got way worse when the team filed for bankruptcy, and we have been unable to spend money on the top level free agents. Fortunately the team must be sold by April 30th, and we will know who the new owner or owners are by April 1st. Once new stable ownership is in place, everything should stabilize and this ownership saga will finally be over.

LLSt: Hopefully the ownership issues will make a positive impact on the field once the new owner takes the helm this April. The new owner needs to put money into better players and also restore confidence to the players remaining from the old regime.

FDB: I have no trust in Frank McScumbag and have doubts as to this entire process. Selling the team and stadium and keeping the parking lots and surrounding property isn't an option and would further keep Frank and Dodgers in the headlines. How is the team worth 1.5 billion plus without the parking lots and land? Only removing him all together will keep the issues to a minimum and let the Dodgers and its fans move on.

DBH: I hope not. At least, it shouldn't. Although, the lack of fan attendance certainly put a damper on things and probably effected the play of several players (obviously not Kemp or Kershaw). That being said, if the rumors of McCourt continuing his ownership of the Dodger Stadium parking lot becomes true you will see the fan boycott continue. Count on it. We do not want that man anywhere near our team.

C70: Who is more likely to repeat their 2011 season, Clayton Kershaw or Matt Kemp?

LLSc: I am 150% confident that not only will Matt Kemp have another monster year, but he will have an even better year than 2011, if you can believe that. Mark my words, 2012 is going to be another monster year for Kemp. We knew the way he advanced through the minors so quickly that we had something special. We knew he was a toolsy prospect with a high ceiling, but it's more than that. Not only is he a five tool player, all-star, team captain, but he is one of the greatest hitters I've ever seen play for the Dodgers since Mike Piazza. But as far as regression, I don't think he has ever had a regression except for his 2010 season. He hit .342 in 2007, .290 in 2008, .297, in 2009, and .324 last season. His 2009 was terrific, he hit 26 homers,101 RBI, 34 stolen bases, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, 10th in NL MVP voting, and that was his 2009 season. The only regression he has ever had was in 2010, but he still led the team in home runs, and RBI with 28 and 89 respectively. I think the Dodgers new coaching staff has made a huge difference, especially base running guru and Dodger legend Davey Lopes. If he continues his strength and conditioning that he does during the offseason, he will have an even bigger year. A lot of people before last season were calling for him to be traded, because of his 2010 decline in average, and base-running, but that just gave Bison more fuel for his fire. He promised us he would go 40/40 before 2011, and he was just one home run shy. Mark my words, there's another Bison stampede on the way, so watch out. 

As for Clayton Kershaw, I think he should prepare a space on his shelf for another Cy Young Award. Kershaw is one of the greatest Dodger pitchers I have ever seen in my lifetime. His poise and command are beyond his years. Hard to believe that he is only 23 years old. The first time Stacie and I saw him we knew he was the one. The descendent of Sandy Koufax, destined to lead the Dodgers and their pitching staff back to greatness. Kershaw's complete and utter domination against all opponents, was a refreshing joy for Dodger fans to watch in an otherwise forgettable year. Mark my words, National League you have been warned. I think both will repeat and surpass their 2011 seasons. National league, you have been warned. Watch out for the Bison and Kershaw in 2012.

LLSt: I think both Kemp and Kershaw will pick up from where they left off last season, but Clayton Kershaw is so good at such a young age the sky is the limit for him. He could be the best Dodger pitcher in our generation like Sandy Koufax was to my parents' generation.

FDB: Tough question, although I think it would be easier for Matt Kemp to repeat his performance, especially with a healthy Andre Ethier, Kemp still hasnt been as consistent as Kershaw. Kershaw is still so young and has improved every year I see Kershaw more likely to repeat his Cy Young performance.

DBH: I think Kemp is more likely to repeat. Kershaw's season was so remarkable I'd be shocked if he did as well. I do believe he'll be close, though. I think Kemp will strive for 50/50 (like he has been saying), but will fall short. Still, 40/40 isn't a bad accomplishment.

C70: Is there a prospect that will make an impact on this team this season?

LLSc: Not really, although the Dodgers do have some interesting pieces down on the farm and a small arsenal of solid pitching prospects. The Dodgers might be thin on bats in their farm system, but they have plenty of pitching. I think Rubby De La Rosa could make a big impact, but he won't be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery until late summer. Perhaps the biggest pitching prospect to make an immediate impact will be Nathan Eovaldi. He filled in admirably last year, and if anyone gets hurt, I think he would be the first to be called up. There are other prospects that are likely one or two years away from making any kind of impact on the big club. Guys like Shawn Tolleson, Chris Withrow, Zach Lee, Garret Gould, and Allen Webster all could see a September call-up, but won't likely make the big club this season.

LLSt: I think that there are a few young hurlers who we could get a look at this season including Chris Withrow. Nathan Eovaldi could also play a role if the Dodgers let him have a chance either in the rotation somehow or out of the pen. Josh Lindblom looked real good at the end of last season as well, and FedEx will probably see some time on the big club too.

FDB: Jerry Sands isnt officially a prospect anymore but he is one of the younger guys who we are going to get a better look at. Eovaldi will be one of the first called up if/when a starter goes down. We should keep an eye on Chris Withrow who has disappointed as a prospect but might be able to put everything together.

DBH: I expect Dee Gordon to prove his worth as lead-off man this season. He'll remind us of past great Dodger base-stealers. Another guy to pay attention to is Javy Guerra as our closer. I think he'll eclipse 30 saves this season.

C70: Where will the team finish in their division and what are you most excited about for 2012?

LLSc:We are definitely most excited about new ownership. Hopefully the new owner or owners will bring an influx of cash, preserve Dodger tradition, and bring the World Series back to Chavez Ravine where it rightfully belongs. I think the Dodgers could finish as high as second place. As far as a division title? Probably not, since we still have a lot of offensive question marks. However with a solid pitching staff, better fielding, and renewed hope, the Dodgers could sneak into the playoffs, since there is no clear cut favorite in the NL west.

LLSt: I think the Dodgers could definitely finish at least second in the division, but will have to generate some offense to compete with the D-Backs. I am most excited to start fresh with a new owner this season, and hopefully the transition will be smooth and translate to wins.

FDB: The NL West as always is up for grabs. The Diamondbacks have the best all around team and the giants have strong pitching but the worst offense. The Rockies took a step back and will always have a strong offense but they are lacking in arms. And the Padres are still in rebuild mode. Since we put together the same team as last year I see us placing third in the division. Expect the same results as last year.

DBH: I am an unabashed die-hard Dodger fan, so I always feel at this time of year that the Dodgers will win the division. Realistically, I think there's a good chance they make a game of it and go wire to wire with the Diamondbacks and Giants, but are likely to fall short. On the plus side, I am certain they will have a winning record. 

What am I most excited about this season? Well, I think all Dodger fans are excited to see McCourt go. I want to erase the past decade of terrible ownership from my mind.

My thanks to all that participated in this one.  Hopefully the Dodgers can get back to their past glories soon and regain their place in the firmament of Major League Baseball.

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