Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Los Angeles Dodgers' 2011 season outlook

This time of year is great. March Madness is in full swing, the NFL Draft is a month away and, most importantly, Opening Day is here.

While the Dodgers have given me reason to be optimistic for the last three or four years, I'm not so confident in their chances for 2011. The division is no longer the "NL Worst," with three teams finishing above .500 last season (yes, I'm intentionally not mentioning you know what).

The division also houses my pick for National League MVP in Troy Tulowitzki, while the Giants have some of the best pitching in baseball. I don't see the Padres or Diamondbacks being huge threats, but they'll be pesky whenever the Dodgers play them (they always are).

The homer in my could come out and say everything will be fine and they'll be a 90-95 win team

Too many questions:
  • Will Matt Kemp return to form?
  • Will Andre Ethier hit left-handers well enough?
  • Will Rafael Furcal play a quality 140-150 games?
  • Will James Loney improve on last season's dreadful second half?
  • Will catcher and second- or third base not be complete black holes?
  • Will Juan Uribe really be worth his contract?
  • Will Jonathan Broxton return to the pitcher he was before June 27?
  • Will the back end of the rotation stay healthy?
  • Will the middle relief be good enough?
  • Will the Dodgers make the necessary move to get over the hump if they're close?
  • Will the players buy into Don Mattingly's new philosophy?
There are just too many question marks on Dodgers' roster for them to be a 90-win team (a.k.a. a playoff team). With the aforementioned Giants and Rockies, the Dodgers would be extremely luck to finish in the top two spots in the NL West.

So what is a realistic scenario? Maybe Kemp puts up MVP-caliber numbers and Broxton returns to form, but that leaves too many unanswered questions.

The guys at True Blue L.A. chimed in with their prognostications. The predictions are actually a little more optimistic than I thought. Nothing wrong with that.

My prediction: 83-79

This team absolutely collapsed in the second half, finishing at 80-82. I know this team, even with its question marks, is a .500-plus team, but it isn't much better than that. Here's hoping something happens with the ownership situation. Bill Shaikin has an article on the L.A. Times which states the McCourts are "quietly" working on a settlement. I wouldn't expect anything anytime soon.

Unless the questions are answered by in-house options, the trade route is the only other way to improve this club. With Ned Colletti's track record, I wouldn't hold my breath.

It pains me to write this, as there is no sport I love more than baseball. But I must ground myself in reality and see that this is a team that's going to hover around .500 unless significant changes are made.

That isn't going to stop me from watching as much Dodger baseball as possible. Hey, at least we still have the immortal and irreplaceable Vin Scully to make things better.

Go Blue!

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