Posted on March 9, 2011 at 11:01 AMTwo years ago, I started a series I called Playing Pepper, where I asked questions of bloggers of each major league team about the season to come. Not only was that informative and entertaining, it led to the spawning of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. With spring training coming up, it's time to get back into shape by again playing a little pepper.
Filed Under: Los Angeles Dodgers
| Playing Pepper
Los Angeles Dodgers (80-82, 12 GB and fourth in the NL West)
The Dodger franchise used to be one of stability. Same managers, same players, same success. It's not like they've never been controversial--remember, this is the franchise that moved from Brooklyn to LA--they have been, on the whole, a well-oiled machine.
That has not been the case as the divorce of owners Frank and Jamie McCourt has shadowed the team's performance on the field. After a trip to the '09 NLCS, expectations for a repeat of that were high out on the West Coast, only to see them stumble through the year.
I rounded up a couple of Dodger bloggers to talk about their team. Matt writes for Feeling Dodger Blue
, another member of the Blogs By Fans family and is the head of the BBA LA chapter. You can also find him over in the Twitterverse
Alex and Chris Volk write for Dodgerfan.net
. Not only are they members of the BBA, but they are one of the few blogs that has been offered media credentials by the Dodgers. You can keep track of them on Twitter as well
Follow on for more talk of the McCourts and how it'll impact the 2011 squad.
Scroll Down to Continue Reading
C70: What was your opinion of the Los Angeles offseason?
FDB: My opinion of the Los Angeles farm system was like putting a
bandaid on a gunshot wound. All the team did was fill huge needs with
average to below average players. The left field situation is a joke,
they overpaid for Juan Uribe and Ted Lilly when what they could have
done was give some kids a chance to play, save the money you spent on
those guys and go after a couple of big names in the very talented
2012 free agent pool. 2011 will not be a good season, so at least give
the rookies some playing time.
DF: Ned Colletti was squarely focused on pitching in the offseason and that showed in his player signings. Kuroda and Lily were extended and with the signing of Jon Garland there's no question that there is significantly more depth in the starting rotation. It's a bit surprising that the Dodgers didn't sign a big bat to help them more offensively, but the efforts on pitchers should pay strong dividends this season.
C70: Will the McCourt's divorce have an impact on this season?
FDB: The McCourt's divorce will have a huge impact, and the team will
not be sound until that SOB is forced to sell. We can only hope that
it isn't too late and that they are able to lock up and keep the core
players like Kemp, Ethier and Kershaw.
DF: It's possible that it is already having an impact - the Dodgers certainly didn't spend like a team in the #2 market and if a divorce is finalized this season, it could have significant ownership implications. There's a great site called Dodger Divorce
that has provided some interesting insights into the proceedings and is written by a law student who generally knows his stuff and is passionate about the topic. The general consensus is that, unless there is a settlement, a trial could be two or more years away and thus we could see the team remain in somewhat of a holding pattern from a front-office perspective.
C70: What will be the major differences between Don Mattingly and Joe Torre?
FDB: I think Mattingly is going to be a little more hard-nosed and
demand accountability. Torre was definitely more mellow and let the
players figure things out for the most part, but Mattingly will be a
little more in their faces when the time comes for it.
DF: Mattingly will likely be a much more hands-on manager than Torre was. Joe had a more laid-back style (he's been quoted in the past as saying he often 'runs on instinct') and doesn't seem to match with the styles of guys like Mattingly and Lopes. We expect Lopes to really challenge the players to be more aggressive on the base paths in particular. Also expect more personal accountability from players than you might have seen in the past.
C70: Is there a Dodgers prospect that will make a significant impact this season?
FDB: I think Kenley Jansen is figured into the bullpen, so I won't say
him. I would like to think that Ivan DeJesus Jr. will finally get a
shot to play. Casey Blake appears to be on a steady decline, so if
Uribe shifts to third I think DeJesus Jr. will get a chance at second
DF: Jerry Sands definitely appears to be the frontrunner at this point. He's had a great start to spring training and, while the current consensus is that he'll start playing AA ball, he could get called up in a hurry if players don't deliver the offense the team needs this year. Sands is a legitimate power threat and the Dodgers are just trying to be cautious about when they call him up so he'll be successful in the long run.
C70: What's your prediction for Los Angeles's record and divisional finish?
FDB: I think the team will finish with 82-84 wins and finish third in the NL West.
DF: We haven't seen anything yet to indicate that the team is going to be significantly better or worse than last year, so I'd expect them to end up about .500. If they are going to contend for the divisional title this year, the keys will be player health (a definite issue in the past), stronger defense overall, and increased leadership and production from Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.