The future was looking bright for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2009: 95 wins and a playoff run that fell just short of the World Series. Legendary manager Joe Torre was just starting to find his groove.
Things were looking very good for Dodger fans.
Joe Torre’s departure seemed a bit abrupt, which seemed to raise a lot of questions about team management and ownership.
The new skipper is Don Mattingly. Before the end of last season Mattingly had never managed a professional baseball team before, but the players and fans seem to have high hopes for him.
In 2010 the bottom fell out, the Dodgers were 80-82. The Dodgers dropped in most offensive categories, their team ERA started to travel upwards and their closer took a dive reminiscent of Sonny Liston against Muhammad Ali.
Now we are in 2011 and the Dodgers have finished camp, but the future may not be so bright.
2011 Los Angeles Dodgers
The pitching staff, bullpen included, will be the key to a winning season unless the Dodgers’ bats come alive and give the pitchers some much needed run support.
The number one pitcher is left-hander Clayton Kershaw, followed by what looks to be a mediocre staff with a lot of potential.
The offense wasn’t exactly lights out in 2010; they ranked no better than eighteenth in all the major statistical categories. Matt Kemp was able to hit 28 home runs, which is a steady climb for him since 2008 when he hit 18 out of the park and added 26 in 2009.
Batting average was a different story. After hitting .290 in 2008 and .297 in 2009, Kemp's .249 average for 2010 didn’t help the club. His on base percentage also plummeted to .310 down from .352 the year before.
Andre Ethier is still the anchor in the outfield, and if Kemp can get his average up closer to .290 or .300, the outfield should be fine. Tony Gwynn Jr. will play left field but he doesn’t bring much of a bat, he seems to be their for his defense.
The Dodgers could also use a little more pop at the corners, especially at first base. I wouldn’t call James Loney an underachiever, but he needs to prove that he is much more than an average hitter. At third base enters world series champion Juan Uribe. Uribe doesn’t really hit for average but he is capable of providing the Dodgers with 20 or more home runs, he’s cleared 20 bombs four times in his ten year career including 24 last year.
If the Los Angeles Dodgers are going to compete, they will need better pitching and a heck of a lot more out of closer Jonathon Broxton. Manager Don Mattingly is also in the spotlight, and that light is very hot. Not that there is a lack of faith in “Donny Baseball,” but one would have to wonder, why would Torre bail on a club that he basically turned around in just two seasons, (not including 2010).
With all the question marks aside, only time will tell how the Dodgers respond when they step on the field in 2011.
Below is a look at the Dodgers staring lineup and pitching rotation, the fifth spot has yet to be determined.
2011 Los Angeles Dodgers’ Projected Line-up
- SS Rafael Furcal
- 2B Ivan DeJesus Jr.
- RF Andre Ethier
- LF Matt Kemp
- 1B James Loney
- 3B Juan Uribe
- LF Tony Gwynn Jr.
- C Rod Barajas
2011 Los Angeles Dodgers’ Projected Rotation
- LHP Clayton Kershaw
- RHP Chad Billinsley
- LHP Ted Lilly
- RFP Hiroki Kuroda