30 Days for 30 Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers

BY AXEL BOADA

2013 Record: 92-70 (1st Place NL West, – GB)

As of March 23, the Dodgers are first in the majors in categories such as batting average, batting average against, runs scored and ERA.

Sure, that is because they played an early series against Arizona down in Australia, but many are projecting Los Angeles to be among the league’s best all season long.

With a $220 million team salary, the expectation should be nothing less. In fact, anything short of a World Series championship would be considered a bust for the Dodgers.

Key Acquisitions

SP Dan Haren  (1 yr/ $10M)

RP Chris Perez  (1 yr/ $2.3M)

Haren is a solid starter who can get a team 12 to 14 wins a season. However, he greatly disappointed last season with the Washington Nationals. He went 10-14 with an absurd 4.67 ERA, the highest since his rookie year. The Dodgers still think Haren has some good baseball left in him, evident by the $10-million option for 2015 if he pitches at least 180 innings.

Apparently, Perez’s dog likes to smoke that green, green grass. Despite being a bad pet-parent, Perez holds some upside for Los Angeles. He has 132 career saves and even made a pair of all-star games in 2011-12. Now moved to the set-up role, Perez joins former San Francisco Giants closer—and equally weird dude —Brian Wilson in, arguably, the league’s deepest late-inning bullpen. If Kenley Jansen goes down with injury or is in a slump, either pitcher could certainly fill in for him.

Key Losses

SP Ricky Nolasco: In just 16 appearances with the Dodgers, the righty went 8-3 with a 3.52 ERA. That was significantly better than the 5-8 line he put up with the Miami Marlins in 18 starts with the team last season. Los Angeles currently has three starting pitchers on the DL, so the team could have really used Nolasco at the tail end of their rotation.

RP Carlos Marmol: After 7 1/2 seasons terrorizing the Chicago Cubs by blowing save after save, Marmol became the Dodgers’ problem after acquiring him in a trade. He didn’t pitch terribly for Los Angeles, mostly because the team did not give him much of an opportunity to do so. He appeared in just 21 games, pitching 21.1 innings total.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Everyone knows Yasiel Puig is a stud. However, the right fielder’s spring training performance raised a few red flags, especially since he showed up 26 pounds heavier than he was the end of last season. This is not a huge deal. But his .122 batting average during the spring? That is more of a cause for concern. Puig is so physically gifted and talented, there is little reason to believe he will not build on last season and continue to show improvement. However, manager Don Mattingly is not a big fan of the exuberant player. Keep an eye on their relationship this season.

Projected Opening Day Lineup

dodgers opening day

Shoulder surgery will keep Matt Kemp out of the outfield until early-to-mid May. The Dodgers should fare well even without his presence.  Many believe the World Series is this team’s to lose. While it is too early to see how the team performs on the field, as opposed to on paper, it is reasonable to expect Los Angeles to be a top-5 team in all of baseball. A 95 to 98-win season and NL West title are in order for the Dodgers.

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