Five Major Questions for the 2016 Los Angeles Dodgers

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Can they stay ahead of the resurgent Giants and Diamondbacks?

As I’m sure you’re aware of, the Dodgers won the National League West last year. The second place team in that division finished eight games behind them. The third place team finished thirteen games back.

That second place team went out and spent on high-priced free agents like they had just won the powerball. First, the San Francisco Giants signed Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto to fill out their rotation. Both Samardzija and Cueto are top of the rotation talents that had bad contract years and should rebound nicely in pitcher-friendly San Francisco. Then, they signed Denard Span to take over for the ineffective Angel Pagan in center field. Span hit over .300 in the 61 healthy games he played last season for the Washington Nationals. Then there’s the fact that the Giants may have had even worse injury luck than the Dodgers in 2015 and still battled until the final week of the season.  If they can stay healthier in 2016, there’s no question they can work some more even year magic and take another shot at a world title.

As for the third place team, they spent all their money on stealing Zack Greinke from the Dodgers, then spent their entire farm system trading for Shelby Miller from the Braves. The result of their lavish spending is a pitching rotation that can finally pull their weight behind what has quietly become one of the league’s best offenses. The Arizona Diamondbacks have two possible MVP candidates in Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock, and some talented pieces around them such as Jake Lamb and Yasmany Tomas. All they needed was some top-end pitching talent, and now they have it in Greinke and Miller.

The Dodgers didn’t improve on paper as much as the Giants and Diamondbacks did, but they didn’t have to. Instead, they’ll rely on much of the same core that won 92 games and a division title. Clayton Kershaw is still on the team for at least three more years and figures to continue being the best pitcher in baseball during that time. Adrian Gonzalez still anchors the lineup. Corey Seager will get a full season of playing time at shortstop, and many are already crowning him 2016 rookie of the year. Justin Turner will be back, and the front office has made it clear that he is the Dodgers’ starting third baseman for the long haul. Dave Roberts, beloved by so many inside and outside the organization, has the confidence that he will lead the Dodgers to the place Don Mattingly never could: a World Series appearance. Will he?

That’s the biggest question of all.

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.

    Reply
  3. Carlos Rendo

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

    Reply

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