Five Major Questions for the 2016 Los Angeles Dodgers

SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 12: Los Angeles Dodgers players high-five after beating the San Diego Padres 4-3 in a baseball game at Petco Park June 12, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Credit: Denis Poroy / Getty Images North America

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2015-16 offseason has been unpredictable, unlucky, and sometimes even uninspiring. Expectations are higher among fans than perhaps at any other point in franchise history, thanks to a streak of three straight division titles followed by a heartbreaking playoff loss each time. The Dodgers have had a World Series caliber team every year since 2013, but have yet to make it to their first Fall Classic in nearly three decades. With a payroll that has led the major leagues for that entire time and nearly passed $300 million in 2015, it’s safe to say that LA has been dealing with as much pressure as any other team in the league.

As Andrew Freidman entered his second offseason in charge of the Dodgers front office, he was expected to face tough decisions as he built around the club’s existing core of talented veterans and future stars. Zack Greinke, the Cy Young runner-up coming off arguably the best season by a pitcher since 1995, opted out of his contract and entered free agency along with starting second baseman Howie Kendrick. Adding to the intrigue, manager Don Mattingly left the team in a “mutual parting of ways” less than a week after the Dodgers were eliminated by the New York Mets in the 2015 NLDS. In his place entered former Dodger player Dave Roberts and an overhauled coaching staff.

Then everything came crashing down: the Dodgers looked like they were pulling ahead in the bidding war with the Giants for Greinke’s services, only for the Arizona Diamondbacks to swoop in and bowl him over with an offer at the last minute. The Dodgers regrouped, however, agreeing to terms on a contract for free agent starter Hisashi Iwakuma and finalizing a trade with the Cincinnati Reds to acquire flamethrowing closer Aroldis Chapman for prospects. Both deals fell through, however, after Iwakuma failed his physical and Chapman was implicated in a nasty domestic violence incident, and both players ended up on other teams.

As the front office was skewered by media and fans alike, Freidman stayed calm while methodically working to improve the roster to be both competitive in 2016 and flexible in the years beyond. Even still, many questions swirl around the Dodgers as they gear up for spring training. Here are five big ones.

3 Responses

  1. Michael N. Norris

    Lets put it this way…….fans HAD high expectations. If Greinke was still a Dodger and they had that lock down 1-2 punch they had last year with the new additions, then yeah. BUT, this is a flawed roster filled with more holes than Swiss cheese.

    Reply
  2. bandrewv

    Basically none of the hitters in last year’s lineups had spectacular years. Bright spots, there were a few, but we won 92 games despite the fact, as was mentioned in the article, we had the 3rd lowest run production in the second half of the season. I think it is fair to count on most of this lineup regressing and showing improvement back to more typical production (maybe not for Crawford, he seems to be done…). All over the diamond, I think you can say, “odds are that guy will be better than he was last year.” I feel OK about the starting lineup and feel perfectly comfortable in Friedman’s judgement of what it takes to get this team back into the playoffs. Lucky for him, he has the resources to make in-season moves. Better to be in a decent position with plenty of options to start the season, than a marginally better position with much fewer options. As we’ve seen time and time again, it’s all about getting into the playoffs. Once there, it’s anyone’s guess who will take the crown! So, in my humble opinion, Friedman, if you can get us to the playoffs year-in and year-out, that’s the #1 most important thing. I’ll take the opportunity to coin flip over the “guarantee” of a championship any day.

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  3. Carlos Rendo

    Great article! Unfortunately, I injured my hamstring reading it.

    Reply

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