By: Adam Pasternak
After an incredibly eventful offseason, Spring Training is finally here! The players have all reported to their respective Spring Training facilities and the 2016 MLB season is only a month and a half away. Over the next couple of weeks we will cover all 30 MLB teams and talk about what’s in store for the coming season. Today, we talk about the Los Angeles Dodgers!
The powerhouse L.A Dodgers have had yet another big offseason, and come into Spring Training looking poised to make another run at the NL West division title. After letting manager Don Mattingly go, they decided to give the keys to the ship over to former big leaguer Dave Roberts. With a rookie manager, and a few new key editions to the rotation, the Dodgers come into this spring with somewhat of a new look. They also revamped their prospect pool in the three team Todd Frazier blockbuster. The Dodgers swapped prospects with the White Sox and Reds to acquire top infield prospect, Micah Johnson, as well as the brother of the NBA’s Klay Thompson, Trayce Thompson. With these moves, among others, President of Baseball Operations, Andrew Friedman, and GM, Farhan Zaidi, have the Dodgers looking every bit like a contender entering the 2016 MLB season.
The Dodgers rotation is much improved, in my opinion, and that is led by Japanese star Kenta Maeda and long time big leaguer Scott Kazmir. It will be interesting to see if Maeda needs any time to adjust to the American game, but I think he will fit in perfectly when it is all said and done. Kazmir brings the Dodgers a much needed lefty arm. Yes, they have Ryu, Anderson and possibly Wood – but Kazmir is the only consistent and reliable arm out of the four. Ryu has suffered with injuries in his brief MLB career, and he is even being given extra rest coming into the season. Anderson has also had to deal with many injuries over his career and Wood has yet to establish himself as a solid starter in the MLB. Of course the rotation is still led by arguably the best pitcher in the league, Clayton Kershaw. But with the loss of Zack Greinke, they will need the rest of the rotation to step up their games and give the Dodgers the pitching depth they need to succeed. It’s a new look rotation in L.A for the first time in a few years, but ultimately the results should be the same, if not better, than in the past.
The Dodgers bullpen is very similar to last years, filled with veterans, young guys and journeymen relievers. It’s the perfect mix of pitchers which creates an extremely reliable bullpen. Led by closer, Kenley Jansen, and with Louis Avilan and Yimi Garcia – the Dodgers will get quality innings out of their relievers, which should come up huge in October. If not for the domestic violence case, Aroldis Chapman would have been a Dodger as well. Could you imagine how dangerous their bullpen would have been if that deal went through? Regardless, they do have a solid closer in Jansen, but his health has been a concern of late. It will be interesting to see over the course of Spring Training if any young arms, or even older ones (maybe Joe Blanton or J.P Howell) can emerge and create even more stability at the end of ball games.
As for the infield, it is mostly the same as last season with only one minor change. Jimmy Rollins is no longer in the Dodger Blue, and star in the making, Corey Seager, has been given every chance to win the starting short stop job this spring. Justin Turner looks to man third when he returns from his injury, but until then Seager could even slide over to the hot corner. They also have Enrique Hernandez, who can play multiple positions all over the field. He could come in useful early on in the season until Turner is healthy. Look for Chase Utley and Howie Kendrick to share time at second base this year. With both players near the end of their career’s, their play has seen a drop as of late and making sure they both have their rest will be key. You will probably see Utley start against righties and Kendrick versus lefties. At first base is the dependable Adrian Gonzalez. He’s pretty much good for 30 homers a year and 90-100 RBI’s a year, and his defense is superb as well. Look for another solid season for him this year.
Minus the addition of Trayce Thompson via the White Sox, the outfield will look exactly the same. Carl Crawford will start in left, with Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig in center and right respectively. Andre Ethier and Thompson will provide exceptional depth at the position, as well as utility-man Scott Van Slyke. It will be interesting to see how Ethier and Pederson play in the spring, as Pederson started off strong in his rookie campaign last year but ended up struggling mightily towards the end of the season. If Ethier can outplay him this spring, he could end up taking the starting job. It will be interesting to see as the spring goes on, how the centre field position takes its shape.
All in all, it looks like it will be another big year at Chavez Ravine, and come late September look for the Dodgers to be pushing for yet another NL West title.
What do you think of the Dodgers offseason moves? Were they right to go in a new direction and let Mattingly go? Will Kenta Maeda work out? Comment below!
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