Fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers have strong feelings of hope and expectation this season. Hope that all the new players can mesh together quickly early in the season, and the expectation that the rebuilt roster will power the team to a postseason berth in 2013. As April approaches, let’s recap some of the big offseason moves as well as the projected composition of the team.
The Dodgers were big players on the free agent market, making a big play for the best starting pitcher on the market and winning the bidding for a new Korean import. Key additions include:
Zack Greinke, SP — Free Agent
Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP — Free Agent
J.P. Howell, RP — Free Agent
Skip Schumaker, IF — Trade
Most of the team’s losses to free agency this offseason were spare parts that probably would not have played a big role in the team’s plans in 2013. Notable losses include:
Shane Victorino, OF — Free Agent
Juan Rivera, OF — Free Agent
Joe Blanton, SP — Free Agent
Bobby Abreu, OF — Free Agent
Matt Treanor, C — Free Agent
86 — 76, Second place in the National League West
2013 Projected Payroll
Projected Batting Order
I have previously covered how the Dodgers’ starting lineup could be a modern-day Murder’s Row for opposing pitchers this season. The lineup looks strong, but has question marks. The current lineup, according to the Los Angeles Times, projects as follows (a big question associated with each player is also provided):
1. Carl Crawford, LF – How much of the early season will he miss?
2. Mark Ellis, 2B – Will he be a capable fill-in at lead-off for Crawford?
3. Matt Kemp, CF- Has Kemp fully healed from his shoulder injury last season?
4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B – Will he regain his power and beat his total of 18 home runs from 2012?
5. Hanley Ramirez, SS – Can he ever hit .300 again?
6. Andre Ethier, RF- Is this the year he starts to hit lefties?
7. Luis Cruz, 3B – Can his feel-good story continue, along with the chant for Cruuuuuz from the Dodger Stadium crowd?
8. A.J. Ellis, C – Can he avoid a late-season fade like what occurred in 2012?
Key Reserves: Skip Schumaker, IF; Alex Castellanos, OF; Tim Federowicz, C; Nick Punto, IF
The Dodgers’ minor league system may be light on depth, Baseball America ranks them 24th overall, but features some quality players. Prospects that may get time at the major league level this year include catcher Tim Federowicz and lefty reliever Paco Rodriguez, who impressed me with his performance out of the bullpen in the second half of the 2012 season.
I think that prospects Yasiel Puig and Corey Seager offer future hope on the offensive side. Zach Lee remains one of the top pitching prospects for the Dodgers, ranked #5 by Baseball America. All three of these players are probably long-shots to reach the majors this season, but they could become factors in 2014 and beyond.
Projected Starting Rotation
The starting rotation for the Dodgers is strong at the top, with perhaps the best one-two pitching combination in the majors this season. Here is how the current rotation is taking shape:
1. Clayton Kershaw – Will this be a Cy Young Award-worthy season?
2. Zack Greinke – Can Greinke channel his 2009 performance to earn his big contract?
3. Chad Billingsley – Is his elbow properly healed or is Tommy John surgery on the horizon?
4. Hyun-Jin Ryu – Is he the second-coming of Chan Ho Park for the Dodgers?
5. Josh Beckett – Can he pitch like the ace he once was from the fifth spot in the rotation?
The rotation really hinges on the health of Billingsley. If he returns well from elbow soreness last season, he could slot in as the #3 man in the rotation. If not, one candidate from the Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, and Ted Lilly group currently excluded from the rotation will need to step up and pitch well this year.
The Dodgers’ bullpen features several strong arms and a good mix of veterans and young relievers.
Closer: Brandon League
Set-Up: Kenley Jansen, Paco Rodriguez, Ronald Belisario
Long Relievers: Matt Guerrier, Javy Guerra, J.P. Howell, Capuano, Harang, and Lilly
The Dodgers appear to have assembled a roster capable of pushing the team into the postseason in 2013. If the lineup and rotation meet expectations, Dodger fans should be happy with the results.
Will Delaux is a Southern California resident and has been a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers since childhood.
More from this contributor:
Los Angeles Dodgers: 2013 Lineup Should Be Hazardous for Opposing Pitchers
Los Angeles Dodgers: Top 5 Minor League Prospects for 2013