Will the 2013 Dodgers Follow the Same Path as the 2009 Yankees?
Led by free agent signings of CC Sabathia, Mark Teixiera and A.J. Burnett, ageless wonders like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera and a shrewd trade by general manager Brian Cashman for the undervalued Nick Swisher, New York jumped from 89 wins in 2008 to 103 and the AL pennant in 2009.
At 83-55 through 138 games, the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers are looking to make a similar jump from 2012 as the Yankees made from 2008 to 2009. After the blockbuster deal that changed the fate of both the Red Sox and Dodgers last August, the 2012 version of Los Angeles' National League team finished at 86-76.
By signing Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu, trading for Ricky Nolasco, giving Adrian Gonzalez a full season at first base and calling up the ultra-talented Yasiel Puig, the 2013 Dodgers have given their fans an October to dream about. If everything breaks right, the 2009 Yankees and 2013 Dodgers will have one major thing in common: Both will be World Series champions.
The people @BovadaLV have updated the World Series odds. Rangers now 10-1. Dodgers the favorite at 13-4.— Anthony Andro (@aandro) September 4, 2013
Yet, it's the future that's so interesting for Los Angeles when comparing them to New York of four seasons ago.
On one hand, if the current Dodgers follow the exact path of the 2009 Yankees over the next handful of seasons, their ledger would look like this in September of 2017:
2013: World Series title
2014: National League Championship Series appearance
2015: Playoff appearance
2016: National League Championship appearance
2017: Within striking distance of a National League wild card berth in September
Not too shabby, Dodgers fans.
Naturally, there is another side to the fate of becoming the 2009 Yankees all over again: After winning the World Series, the team has not returned to the Fall Classic. In fact, with only a 10.5 percent chance (according to MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus' playoff probabilities) of capturing capturing a wild card berth in 2013, the team looks to be on the way down.
With their best player, Robinson Cano, heading for free agency, their 17th ranked offense could be worse in 2014. Add a down year from CC Sabathia, impending free agency for Hiroki Kuroda, injury concerns for Derek Jeter and a potential long-term suspension for Alex Rodriguez, it's not hard to imagine next season representing the second consecutive dark October in the Bronx.
Can the Dodgers win big now, but avoid a similar fate as the Yankees down the line?
The question is difficult to answer because of unknowns with injury and future free agent markets, but Los Angeles has three distinct factors working in their favor to become a consistent winner in both the short and long-term: endless pockets, young stars and Stan Kasten at the controls of their player development system.
First and foremost, the Dodgers will spend.
Calling the Yankees shrewd or cheap is ridiculous, but their self-imposed mandate to move under the $189 million luxury tax bracket before 2014 has had ramifications, including allowing Russell Martin and Nick Swisher to walk away in free agency.
Don't expect money issues to keep Los Angeles from re-signing players they are interested in keeping long-term. If that means a $200 million contract for Clayton Kershaw or pursuit of Robinson Cano this winter, it's not hard to envision L.A. keeping a payroll of over $200 for years.
Speaking of Kershaw: The soon-to-be two-time NL Cy Young award winner is just 25 years old. Los Angeles can likely garner six or seven more excellent seasons out of him before decline begins to set in.
On offense, Yasiel Puig has electrified the sport, dominated the National League and dealt with growing pains of adjusting on the fly to new competition and being placed in the national spotlight. Due to his presence and ability, it's often forgotten that he's only a 22-year-old. Yes, folks, Yasiel Puig was born in the 90s.
When the 2009 Yankees captured their flag, their best players were 28-year-old CC Sabathia (already 1,900 innings into his career) and 35-year-old Derek Jeter. Now, Sabathia is in the midst of his worst season and Jeter has had multiple disabled list stints, robbing him of his durability and athleticism.
The 2013 Dodgers feature two current Cy Young/MVP level stars, but neither is over 25. In five seasons, Kershaw might still be the best pitcher in baseball and Puig may just be reaching his prime.
Lastly, Los Angeles isn't just planning on competing with deep pockets.
With Stan Kasten at the helm, the Dodgers will have a solid player development system.
Outside of the emergence of Ivan Nova, New York has struggled to develop impact players over the past few seasons. That's a major part of their dimmer outlook in 2014 and beyond.
In an interview with MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby in May, Kasten spoke about the restrictions on international spending and the need for developing players through scouting.
"If baseball is going to put limits on what you can spend to sign players, the advantage is going to go to the teams that have the best scouts and the best people in player development," said Kasten. "That's something we want to be proactive in addressing.''
Who will win more World Series over a five-year span?
Deep pockets. Young, dynamic stars. Executives focused on player development.
The ingredients for a run at the 2013 World Series are easy to see on a nightly basis, but Los Angeles also possess the essentials to surpass the run of success New York has enjoyed since 2009.
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