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Los Angeles Dodgers: 2014 Season Preview

21 Mar

Standing O Sports is previewing all 30 Major League teams seasons, division by division, team by team. Up next in the NL West is the Los Angeles Dodgers.

What Happened Last Season

The 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers season was the definition of a roller coaster ride. Led by Magic Johnson, the teams payroll shot up to a ridiculous $243 million dollars. Despite all that money, the Dodgers’ season was looking disastrous. On July 1st, the team was in last place and Don Mattingly was going to be fired no matter what. Then Puig-Mania took over and the Dodgers rallied to take the division with 92 victories, and became the 4th team in National League history to finish in first place after being in last place on July 1st or later. LA went on to defeat the Braves in the division series, before eventually falling to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. After coming up just short in 2013, the Dodgers look poised for another deep run into October in 2014.

Offseason Headlines

  • Re-signed pitcher Clayton Kershaw to a 7-year $215 million dollar contract, the largest contract ever given to a pitcher.
  • Re-signed Juan Uribe to a 2-year $15 million dollar deal
  • Signed Cuban second baseman Alexander Guerrero to a four-year $28 million dollar deal
  • Signed Dan Haren to a one-year $10 million dollar contract
  • Signed Paul Maholm to a one-year $1.5 million dollar contract
  • Signed Brian Wilson to a one-year $10 million dollar deal

Take: The Dodgers spending spree of last offseason is history, but General Manager Ned Colletti made sure Clayton Kershaw would not touch free agency. He brought in another Cuban player in Alexander Guerrero, and made several minor, but noteworthy moves. If one’s things for sure, the Dodgers on paper look to be one of the game’s most talented teams.

Projected Lineup

Yasiel Puig (RF)
Carl Crawford (LF)
Hanley Ramirez (SS)
Adrian Gonzalez (1B)
Andre Ethier (CF)
Juan Uribe (3B)
A.J. Ellis (C)
Justin Turner (2B)

**Matt Kemp is still working his way back from injury, and figures to slide into the starting lineup once he’s ready. The big question is who does Kemp replace?

Breakdown: No player in baseball busted onto the scene quite like Yasiel Puig in 2013. He came out of nowhere, and was the spark the Dodgers needed to make a run at the playoffs. His honeymoon is now over and he won’t be sneaking up on anyone this season. After Puig is Carl Crawford who is nowhere near the player he was since he left Tampa. The meat of the Dodgers order comes in the 3-4 spots. Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez are a lethal 1-2 punch, but following that, it tails off fast. Andre Ethier was a .270 hitter in 2013, Juan Uribe is an average offensive player, A.J. Ellis isn’t much of an offensive threat, and Justin Turner has just 8 career home-runs. He will hold the fort until Alexander Guerrero is ready. The top of the order should provide more than enough offensive support.

Projected Pitching Rotation

Clayton Kershaw
Zack Greinke
Hyun-Jin Ryu
Dan Haren
Paul Maholm

**Chad Billingsley continues to recover from Tommy John surgery and looks to be on track to return sometime in May. Josh Beckett is dealing with a thumb injury and it’s unknown how much time he will miss and if he will be apart of the starting rotation.

Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball entering 2014, but as history shows, once pitchers get paid, they tend to tail off a bit. Think Justin Verlander. Just something to keep in mind. Zack Greinke is the best number 2 pitcher in the game and Hyun-Jin Ryu had a very solid first season. Dan Haren comes to the Dodgers from the Nationals. Haren had a brutal 2013 season, and Paul Maholm is a prototypical number 5 with not much upside.

X-Factor: Durability
The season hasn’t even started yet and the Dodgers already have a laundry list of injuries. Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Matt Kemp are all recovering. This team has more than enough talent to win it all, but the injury bug could spoil LA’s championship aspirations.

Season Outlook

The National League West is the Dodgers to lose. Anytime you have Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke in the same rotation, and the lineup this team has, there’s no reason why LA shouldn’t make a run at the World Series in 2014.

Prediction

Frankel: 95-67 (1st in NL West)

 
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Posted by on 03/21/2014 in MLB

 

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