As Spring Training goes through and Opening Day approaches We’ll take a look into the different areas from Pitching, Outfield, Infield, and So on. Today we start off our Spring Preview with Starting Pitching. Last year the Dodgers Starting pitching had very few bright spots. Clayton Kershaw had an outstanding 2011 Season going 21-5 pitching 2.28 but outside of Kershaw the Dodgers had big issues. Hiroki Kuroda couldn’t get run support, Chad Billingsley mid game imposlion, and Ted Lilly’s Home Run Give aways Starting piching was something that harmed them. Not to mention the Injury to Ruby De La Rosa that ended his season. Towards the end Young players like Nathan Eovaldi and Dana Eveland stepped up to play a big role for the Dodgers 2011 Ended with a bright future. Come up towards the 2012 Season Dodgers will have two brand new pitchers in the starting rotation after losing Kuroda via Free-Agency and Eveland via Trade. Signings include Aaron Harang (Padres 2011) and Chris Capuano (Mets). A Key to the Dodgers success is going to have to lay with the Starting Pitching.
Questions to be answered: Theres two questions to really be asked about the Starting pitching. One: Will Kershaw continue his Cy Young Pitching performance? To be honest Kershaw has been improving every season and last year winning Cy Young was huge. No doubt come 2012 He won’t disapoint and find more ways to continue his dominace on the mound. Two: Will others Step up? This is the Question that others will be asking and I think we will see come spring and early on in the season. Will Ted Lilly and Billingsley Snap out of it to provide the help the Dodgers need? They’re going to have to in order to take pressue off the Dodgers offense. If Billingsley plays without the Midgame Meltdowns and Lilly stop giving up Home Runs constantley then the Dodgers will be in Good shape.
New Players playing a role: Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano will have a lot of expections from some Dodger fans. Not many people were happy with the signings of the two so if they don’t live up to expectations not only will they ask for their heads but further ask for the head of Ned Coletti which I’ll explain later. Harang isn’t that bad of a pitcher, Coming from San Deigo where he went 14-7 but pitched a 3.64 ERA.. Capuano on the other hand wasn’t the best of signings out there looking at his stats. 11–12 4.55 ERA with the Mets last year. As I always say its a Brand new season but having one of the two step up to help wouldn’t hurt the Dodgers at all.
What to watch for this Spring:The thing to look out for this spring is the performace of the younger Pitchers in Nate Eovaldi and others from the Minors. It will be interesting to see how the future of the Dodgers starting pitching pan out and what we can look forward to. Zach Lee who is a highly talented Pitcher from LSU that was making some noise within the Dodger Minor League teams and may be a player who could be pitching in the Spring. Also the new signings of Harang and Capuano giving us a glemps of what could help or hurt the Dodgers.
Overall the Dodgers Starting Pitching was a concern and until someone outside of Clayton Kershaw can give us a reson to not worry it could be that way but Spring Training is a time to give them a chance to fix whats needed before Opening Day in San Deigo. This is more of a wait and see type of thing. So many things can emerge that can give this starting pitching staff life or take it away. We can All Say this. We know what to expect from an Indiviual Cy Young Award Winner but World Series Teams need more than One Pitcher to help them out.
Next Spring Preview: Bullpen Pitching.
Last Season Ethier’s season was an up and down season for him. Starting off the season with some comments that have made some Dodger fans like myself unhappy with him before going off on a 30 Game Hitting streak and making the All-Star team Ethier was being Andre Ethier but the downside to his season came with a Slump, From what some viewed a poor attitude with management and so on, and a Season ending Injury in the 2nd half of the season. For what many called a Down year Ethier’s stats wasn’t really that bad. .292 BA 11 HR and 62 RBI isn’t that bad given the Dodgers season in the first half. Its a new season in 2012 and Ethier is in a Contract year, With new Ownership on the horizan he can put new focus towards the field and not worry about McCourt or the on going situation. The question remains is this….Will Andre Ethier improve from last year? In my opinion my simple answer is yes.
Last year with all the ownership issues, McCourt’s Divcorce, and Dodgers season Andre from what you can say was pretty much bothered and you can tell it by his attitude. Some Dodger fans were pretty much fed up with him and his attitude and comments but this year with all of that out the way and a new season coming up he will be rejuvinated and ready to have a breakout year. What makes me so confident that he’ll have a Breakout year? Well one its a contract year as I mentioned earlier. When in a contract year you’re going to want to play like no other to either impress the other teams or get you’re own to sign you to a well worth deal. Ethier wants a bigger deal but weather its with the Dodgers or not is up to him. What also makes me confident that he will have a breakout year is the fact that this team is hungry and knowing Andre he’s a winner and after reporting to camp his attitude was straight forward. He wants to win ball games and is going to do whatever he can to contribute to this team. When Fielder signed with the Tigers he felt this could’ve been the Dodgers making big signings and is going to do what he can to help the Dodgers get to where they want. Last but not least Haven’t we seen this story before?
Lets think about this for a few seconds here. Matt Kemp didn’t have that good of a year according to some and then the next season was the best player in Baseball (MVP in my opinion). Russell Martin was the sameway even though it was in New York he had a sup par season then was an All-Star with the Yankees. Andre Ethier I believe will have a better year just like how Matin and Kemp did. Its bound to happen for him. Now if he declines and doesn’t improve next season will he be Traded? My guess would be yes but Ethier plays a big part in the Dodgers line up so it could be risky. If he’s declining then Trading him would be the thing to do BUT Ethier will have a breakout season. If any year had so much riding on it it’s right now. Its his make or break year with the Dodgers and at this point he will Make it!!
While the 2012 Season has yet to hit and still in the off-season I couldn’t help but to look towards the 2013 Off-Season. This year the Dodgers were basiaclly crippled in the Off-Season with the Ownership issues and Payroll issues the Dodgers could only do small contracts for certain guys and Unload Money on Matt Kemp for a long term contract. So assuming we have a new Owner and better Payroll at the end of 2013 the Dodgers may be able to make some good signings to help the Dodgers get back to the top. While its very early and extentions and Trades may happen stuff may get very interesting in LA.
Looking at the list of Potental FA theres some Big Bats and Pitching help that can help the Dodgers. A list which headlines pitching could mean something Major with the Dodgers and with a brand new owner the Dodgers Payroll may be going up and a fix could be coming. While the Dodgers have a bright future theres a few Free Agents out there that could fill a few roles. Looking at the list of potental Free Agents the major thing I see could be the pitching. Kershaw will have a good contract and the rest of the Starting pitching and the bullpen is a question mark. Its already shown that the Dodgers have Jansen and Gurrea for the future and Ruby De La Rosa,Nathan Eovaldi, and the Ace Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers can pick up guys like Rafael Soriano to improve the Bullpen. Starting pitcheing can also use some help and with Zack Greinke, Colby Lewis, and Coles Hamles out there the Dodgers may swoop in and sign one of those guys if they’re on the market come next winter to throw in a Line up with Kershaw.
Now for the infield and out field the Dodgers can go either way. Starting at 1st Base and Right Field where Andre Either and James Loney are in a contract year. (Free Agents if they go that route) Depending on the type of year will tell what the Dodgers will do. If Andre Either has an improved year to where he can aboslutely give some big help to the Dodgers then it will be settled that he’ll get a good extention and the Same goes with Loney but if not then they’ll either be traded or free to walk into Free Agency. If so then the Dodgers can get that Bat thats very needed for them. Lance Berkman who’s currently 36 but can contribute but if they want a younger 1st Base man then sticking with Loney or Jorge Cantu would be a nice pick up. 2nd Base the Dodgers could choose to go with Justin Sellers who came in towards the end of the 2011 season and played really well or choose to sign a Free Agent . Brandon Phillips, Ryan Therot, and maybe Ian Kinsler will be out there for the taking. Orlando Hudson who was with the Dodgers in 2008 and 2009 will also be out there if the Padres choose to bring him back. Assuming Ethier stays the Right Field position is locked up and the same goes with Left Field if Jerry Sands is starting there and Juan Rivera and Tony Gwynn Jr is still there as well. If not Josh Hamilton anyone?
Things can still change before we even hit the 2012 Winter Meetings and the 2013 FA Class looks pretty solid. With other MLB excutives out there saying the Dodgers could be the Yankees of the West (Depending on the Owner) Things will be looking up for the Dodgers. The Dodger name and Los Angeles Tells the Story itself. Watchout MLB the Dodgers haven’t gone anywhere yet.