Why the Dodgers Will Win the NL West and Make Noise in the Playoffs

Daniel DonovanContributor IIIApril 11, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 20:  Starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw #22 and center fielder Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after Kershaw's complete game shoutout against the Detroit Tigers on June 20, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 4-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

I know Magic Johnson is simply the figurehead of the Dodgers, whose new ownership desperately needs to reignite the fans to help them flood the stadium after a disastrous and embarrassing past two seasons of public humiliation at the hands of a greedy, shrewd businessman and his debutante wife.

The Frank McCourt debacle has prolonged the trend of a major market team under-spending and falling short of expectations, as he and his family used the team's finances as their personal bank account.

Flash-forward to present day. The Dodgers have been sold for an exorbitant amount of cash, $2.1 billion (more dough to line greedy Frank's pockets). But in ridding themselves of McCourt and his shady ways, the Dodgers have started the long climb to prominence and reestablishment in the LA baseball market.

Sure, their four wins have come against the Padres and Pirates, but the glimmer of hope is already quite revealing. Here are five reasons the Dodgers can and will pull this off in 2012: 


More Money to Spend

The first major win here is the money they can spend. A record-setting sale price shows that Magic and company mean business, and they need a major return on their investment. Hold onto your hats, because the Dodgers are suddenly in every major trade and free agency discussion again.

Seeing the second-biggest market field the city's most historically popular team with slashed salaries and over-the-hill players was sad, but those days are gone. Welcome to a new era Dodgers fans.

This means that at the trade deadline, the Dodgers are once again buyers, and if they are in the thick of things come mid-July, look for them to add a significant piece or two.


Good Baseball Minds in Charge

Second, the real brains behind this transaction was not Magic, but longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten.

With Kasten at the helm, working with under-appreciated GM Ned Colletti—who has somehow continued to build this team through the McCourt charade—the Dodgers once again have good baseball minds at the top, and not only for transaction possibilities, but a guy with direct access to the loot.

Couple this with 'Donnie Baseball' as the manager, and the front office looks solid from the top down.


WASHINGTON - MARCH 29:  Stan Kasten, President of the Washington Nationals, talks to fans before the exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park March 29, 2008 in Washington DC.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp

Third is the play of the leaders on and off the field: the two Ks. You can never discount how much of a difference a top-tier pitcher or hitter can make in the win column, and the Dodgers are blessed with both.

Kershaw and Kemp are the best combination of five-tool pitcher and five-tool player in the league, and like last season, they can simply put the team on their backs at times. They have both come out looking strong—9 RBI for Kemp and a 0.90 ERA for Kershaw—so look for both of these guys to repeat their monster '11 seasons with a sequel in '12.



Fourth, they have speed and lots of it. Dee Gordon may be one of the fastest men in baseball. Matt Kemp can swipe 40 bags per year. Tony Gwynn Jr. stole 22 bases in spot work last year, as he will do again this year. If these guys can get on base, they will score runs simply because of their speed.  


The 'If' Factor

Finally, they have the 'if' factor. This is where the season will be won or lost. Sure, Andre Ethier is off to a hot start, but did he not do the thing same last year to simply fade away down the stretch until injuries ended his season prematurely? Can he continue his hitting? Definitely.

Hitting behind a feared menace like Kemp should boost his numbers, and if he can stay healthy, Ethier is capable of a 30-HR, 100-RBI season, and that should be his output by season's end.

Also, Chad Billingsley is off to a nice start, fanning 11 and almost posting a complete game shutout. If Billingsley can become the player he should be at the No. 2 slot, the Dodgers will be in good shape. His first start was no fluke; expect a strong season from Billingsley.


Even though it is drastically early, when you put all these things together, the Dodgers have a chance to instantly remove the poor taste left behind by Frank McCourt. Here's saying the Dodgers win the NL West and beyond...