For the first time in several years, I am actually excited about spring training. That's right, I am a Los Angeles Dodgers fan, and I am excited about the prospects of this season.
I can't wait to hear Vin Scully say, "It's time for Dodger baseball."
Oh, don't get me wrong, I have no grand delusions of the Dodgers winning the World Series this season, but I just have a gut feeling that they are going to have a much better season than last year.
I mean, could it really get much worse than last season?
While the main distraction from last season—the ownership situation—hasn't been resolved yet, this year looks promising for Dodgers fans. We should know who the new owner of the team will be by the end of April, and then we can begin the process of rebuilding the Dodgers franchise back to where it has always been—one of the best in baseball.
Some Los Angeles baseball fans look down the road to Orange County and say that the offseason moves by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have made them the premier team of the area.
The additions of slugger Albert Pujols, pitcher C.J. Wilson and a few others have added strength to the Angels roster. There is no doubt the Angels are going to field a very strong team this season, and barring injuries, they are definitely one of the favorites to win the World Series.
But, I say the Dodgers have been and will always be the Los Angeles baseball team.
I'm not so sure I would have wanted the Dodgers to go out and give Pujols a 10-year, $250 million contract and C.J. Wilson a five-year, $77.5 million deal.
Yes, Pujols is a great player now, but will he be worth that kind of money in even five years? And while Wilson had some nice numbers last season, for the most part, he was very disappointing in the 2011 playoffs.
I think the Angels overspent for both Pujols and Wilson, and it will hurt them down the road. Yes, Pujols is probably the best everyday player in baseball right now, and Wilson is a good pitcher, but that is a lot of money to spend—money they may need in two or three years.
For that kind of money, the Dodgers should be able to sign five or six talented players who are able to help them become a better team. While the Dodgers didn't do much in the way of free-agent signings this offseason, with a new owner, they will be free to do so next winter.
And since the team should have a new owner in place by the end of April, the Dodgers will perhaps be able to make a few deals this season to add some much-needed hitting and pitching to help them in 2012.
So, while last season was a complete disaster for the Dodgers and their fans, I look for this season to be the beginning of a resurgence of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
Even without any big-name free-agent signings by the Dodgers this offseason, they have a chance to win the National League West title this season. After all, the NL West is not the strongest division in baseball.
Other than Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw, most of the Dodgers players had what could be considered "off seasons" last year. If Kemp and Kershaw can even come close to duplicating their numbers last season, and if the rest of the team rebounds from a lackluster 2011, the Dodgers could be right in the NL West divisional race come September.
That will be especially true if they can pull off a couple of key trades as the season progresses.
While I think the Dodgers have a chance to win the NL West title this year, they won't likely be contenders for any kind of World Series run with their current roster. However, that roster could change dramatically as the season progresses and put them in contention for a deep playoff run.
And sometimes the team that wins the World Series isn't the best team in the league—it is just the team that gets hot at the right time. Remember the 1988 Dodgers?
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