Football season is over, and we’re in the home stretch. 5 days until the Dodger Blogger Softball Tournament.
Okay, seriously now...15 days until pitchers and catchers report. 28 days until the first Spring Training matchup and 59 days until opening day against San Diego at Petco Park. Additionally, I calculate that it’ll be 84 days when a new oner is in place. That latter number is based on my estimation that the new ownership takes the reigns of the club on May 1st.
This has been a long haul for us this off-season, with so much at stake in the ownership process. And here we are on the verge of the start of the new season and still, there remains so many unanswered questions with regard to the future of the Dodgers.
|Dee Gordon and Justin Sellers, the DP combination of the future?|
Nevertheless, I’m approaching this season with optimism. Not because I believe that the Dodgers will be contenders for the National League Pennant. It is mainly because I am hoping to see further development from such players as Gordon, Sands, AJ Ellis, Lindblom, Jansen, Guerra, Eovaldi, Sellers and Federowitz. The kids will hopefully get a chance to show what they can do.
|A.J. Ellis and Kenley Jansen|
It is sort of like 2007, when we already had glimpses of Loney, Kemp, Billingsley and Ethier, from the previous year, but finally we’d get to see them perform more frequently as they developed as players. 1973 was similar too, with the arrival of the Garvey, Lopes, Russell and Cey infield and additional key players like Ferguson, Joshua, Paciorek, Rau, Zahn and others that aren’t coming to me at the moment.
The kids seem to arrive in waves and hopefully they develop well enough to hold up until the next surge of prospects develop. Baseball America is telling us that the Dodger farm system is barren now. The cupboard is not as quite as full as in years past, so this current crop of arriving prospects will have to perform, or the Dodgers are doomed for a season or two.
What will we be looking at next year as the 2013 season approaches? Will new ownership have signed us a Cole Hamels for the rotation? Will they go out and get us another big stick in the lineup to protect Kemp? I drove long distances over Friday and Saturday on a work assignment, with only the Giants flagship station to keep me somewhat informed on the sporting events. Saturday happened to be the San Francisco Giants Fanfest. I must say that their followers are extremely optimistic on Giants hopes this off season.
It was the general consensus of the average Giant fan that if they don’t make it to the post season, especially now, with 5 teams qualifying, then their season will be considered a failure. Not much talk was made about the Dodgers, only poking fun at us for the most part. Giant fans consider the Diamondbacks and Rockies as tougher opponents int he NL West this coming season.
That is good news. Extremely good news. I see a youthful Dodger team being one that can sneak up and surprise many. I see a Dodger club with veteran leadership in Kemp and Kershaw that are hungry to get some national exposure and get to the World Series. This is a Dodger team that has players that seek to redeem themselves, with Ethier playing for the big payday and Chad Billingsley pitching to re-earn that respect he had two years ago when he made the All Satr team. I see a starting pitching staff that is not fantastic, but is definitely to be respected and a back end of a bullpen that has the makeup to be the best in the National League with Jansen and Guerra. This is a team that has a coaching staff that keeps the players loose, comfortable and in a positive mode. This is a group that can succeed and if everything clicks just right, they’ll contend.
Most importantly, I see potential new ownership that will step up and make some moves if the Dodgers remain in the race at the trading deadline. If that occurs, 2012 can be a real fun year.
|Billingsley has something to prove in 2012. Here's hoping he is succeeds.|
That is a lot of “ifs.” I am aware of that. This club could have the injury bug hit them and be decimated. Then again, an injury to Kennedy and Ellis at second base could open up an opportunity to a youngster like Sellers or a starter could be hit by injury and Eovaldi can step in. Injuries sometimes have a way of creating positives (i.e. Furcal went down last year and Gordon emerged). The way I see things, Uribe can’t get worse, Ethier will improve, so will Billingsley. Those three changes will certainly add a few wins by seasons end.
Yes, 2012 can be a very positive year. But by 2013, I have to believe that the Los Angeles Dodgers will be the National League force that all will fear with an ownership group that will raise payroll by upwards of $50 million. By next years 2013 Giant Fanfest, the off-season talk will be of what it should be: “How are we going to beat those $&%ing Dodgers?” That’ll restore order to the universe again. We’ll be the feared ones, and for years to come.
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