I am a life-long, tried and true, bleed Dodger blue, good times and bad, Vin Scully worshiping, Los Angeles Dodgers fan.
Miles was nasty when he wanted to be. I remember that hilarious homerun against his former team with position player Schumaker pitching. And he batted better than almost any other infield bench performer in baseball. When Juan Uribe went down, and Rafael Furcal was injured or traded, Miles stepped up. So did Jamey. You could argue that Jamey didn't slug, or have great OBP. But, his 2011 numbers were on par or better with his career stats line. He gave them a better AVG than ever in 2011, while playing in damn near every game. That's what the Dodgers hired him for. He delivered. All the same could be said for Miles.
Now, we may lose Hiroki Kuroda forever. Anyone who's been paying attention knows he's better than what the W/L category shows. I was at Dodger Stadium one night when he had a no-hitter into the 8th inning. He ate innings. He is the epitome of class, an example of Japanese stoicism. And Hiro is a charitable, quiet professional that most teams dream for. It will be a shame to lose him, but it looks like it's in the cards. He will most likely go to another team or back to Japan. I realize the money is an issue, but in a perfect world, Ned wouldn't still owe over 20 million in deferred salaries. (ahem, Manny...)
James Loney will continue to confound me in 2012. The two Ellis' will hit for a combined .250 with 12 homers between them. The only reason Mark Ellis hit 7 HR's was that he played for Colorado. A.J. Ellis could hit 7-9 HR's if he plays a ton. Juan Uribe will be an overpaid old fatty, with 3 stints on the DL next season. He will be lucky to hit .225 and 5 HR's. Dee Gordon needs a backup SS only because he has yet to play an entire big league season after spring training. He has defensive issues, and needs to save his legs for the end of the season. If we get close to the playoffs, he will need to run more than ever.
Matt Kemp will be a show stopper, unless he starts hooking up with Rhianna again, and she puts that Caribbean voodoo on him like she did in 2010. If he comes to opening day in the same shape, with the same speed he did for spring training in 2011, and hasn't let the contract curse get to him, he will kill. Juan Rivera will be a solid .270 batter while protecting Kemp in the lineup, with situational hitting, RBI's, and a good to excellent glove.
Andre Ethier... I will admit it. I have been an fan of Andre since the first time I saw that swing. You know the swing. Long, perfect extension. Eyes on the ball. The guy hits for power and AVG. If he had stayed healthy, quiet, and humble, he could have been giving Kemp a run for his money last year. I don't know if the Ethier of old will ever come back, but if he does, our outfield will rival the Brewers' and then some. I don't know if Andre's body will stay intact this offseason/spring training. I can hope, but I keep having a nightmare that the Dodgers will trade him for pitching, and call up Jerry Sands. I had hoped to finally have my favorite Dodger be a franchise player. But, alas, I don't know if it will happen.
Before I get too soap-boxy, the brass tax is that the roster below is not stronger than last season's, even if you compare projected team AVG year to year. Because you can't expect anyone on the team to do the same or better than the did last year, with the exception of Kemp who may be able to hit .330 for the year (prediction?).
We have just 8 players with contracts signed. 5 players who are arbitration eligible, including Ethier, Loney, and Kershaw. And, the other 12 are under team control (in other words, rookies/young kids/or Ramon Troncoso).
OPENING DAY 25 MAN ROSTER:
(2011 season avg. included)
Projected Team BA for 2012 =.275 would put us around 5th in the majors if we stay healthy and hit that mark. The last time we hit that as a team was 2007 when Kent, Martin, and Pierre led in all major categories.
Actual Team BA 2010-2011 .255 put us around 15th in the majors. Smack in the middle.
What can I say about this bench? Umm. Average at best. Gwynn will get better, and be a defensive stud in clutch situations late in games, but still no power, and not a great average. Oeltjen, Mitchell, and Sellers are not good enough backups or pinch hitters. I would prefer Sands, Carroll, and Miles, but we know how that turned out. That is a big downgrade in my opinion. We got one older catcher and lost our other one? Well at least Barajas had power, and is an L.A. boy. Big mistake losing him. He would have stayed for a song, if they had just offered it to him. Treanor will not be a good backup C, and FedEx is still growing. In my opinion, catcher will be our biggest need for the next decade or more.
SP Clayton Kershaw
SP Chad Billingsley
SP Ted Lilly
SP Dana Eveland
SP Nathan Eovaldi
I will keep this short and sweet. If I can. Kershaw... 'nuff said. Billingsley had the worst year of his career, and he looks shook. Ted Lilly has yet to make me a believer. With an ERA around 4.00, and 28 dingers handed out, I can't get behind old-man Lilly. Eveland is not a starter anymore. He hasn't pithed more than 50 major league innings in 4 seasons. He would make a hell of a set-up man or long reliever, but still not more than a spot starter in my estimation. Eovaldi is a promising rookie but there is no telling how a full season might affect him. Also, he had about the same amount of BB's as he did SO's. Again, start a few, but give him relief innings too.
Bottom line is, we need starting pitching, badly. We are done for if we cant come up with three solid 15 game winners, especially when we are up against pitching the likes of the hated ones (Gigantes), and the Phillies.
CL Javy Guerra
RHP Kenley Jansen
RHP Matt Guerrier
RHP Blake Hawksworth
LHP Scott Elbert
RHP Josh Lindblom
RHP Ramon Troncoso
This is a bit more promising than our starting rotation. The one two punch of Jansen and Guerra could be the best in baseball, if all goes well. In any iteration. Either one could close or set up. But, I understand the need for role consistency, so we may not see anything different. Elbert is slowly becoming a decent reliever, and Hawksworth is a 4.00 ERA pitcher at best, with moments of brilliance. Guerrier is way overpaid for the 66 innings he pitched for a 4.07 ERA. Get rid of Troncoso fast, and continue to groom Lindblom. Overall, not bad at all. We need one more lefty, at least. With a few tweaks, trades, and barring injury, our bullpen could be amongst the elite.