PHOENIX -- There is still a week before opening day, but consider this a snapshot preview of sorts of the 2016 season for the Dodgers, who have to be itching to start playing some actual games that count.
After all, the offseason has brought a series of metaphorical losses, first in the hot stove season then on the trainers table with the injury plague of spring training. On Sunday in the media room at the Dodgers complex, the prevailing discussion was of what number would be higher — the total number of Dodgers on the disabled list on opening day or the number of former or current general managers in the Dodgers front office*.
If anything, games that count would provide a much-needed outlet for the Dodgers to vent what has to be mounting frustration. This feels like the beginning of 'No Vaseline' by Ice Cube, one of the greatest diss rap songs ever.
The Dodgers lost Zack Greinke to a division rival. "Here's what they think about you."
Tried to sign Hisashi Iwakuma, who by the way isn't Greinke, but he failed his physical. "Here's what they think about you."
Traded for Aroldis Chapman, only to back out after reports surfaced of domestic violence at his home. "Here's what they think about you."
Hyun-jin Ryu won't be ready for opening day, and probably won't pitch for the Dodgers until June at the earliest. "Here's what they think about you."
Brett Anderson, after setting a career high in innings pitched, is out three to five months after back surgery. "Here's what they think about you."
Andre Ethier fouled a ball off his right shin, and will miss 10-14 weeks. "Here's what they think about you."
Only instead of "F**k all y'all," as Ice Cube said at this point in the track, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Freidman was much more diplomatic.
"Nobody's going to feel sorry for us," Friedman said last week. "We have a lot of really talented and motivated players in the clubhouse, and Doc's mindset is 'Let's win anyway'."
Doc in this case isn't The D.O.C., even though No One Can Do It Better, but Dave Roberts, the Dodgers' first-year manager about whom nobody seems to have a bad thing to say. Roberts does still have a lot to work with.
"Now let's play big bank take little bank."
The best pitcher on the planet still goes every fifth game or so for the Dodgers, but Clayton Kershaw isn't exactly alone. Kenta Maeda looks pretty good so far, and the duo of Scott Kazmir and Alex Wood have combined for between 4.4 (Baseball-Reference) and 5.0 (FanGraphs) Wins Above Replacement on average over the last three seasons.
Ryu (shoulder), Anderson (back) and Brandon McCarthy (Tommy John surgery) will all be back at some point this year, not any time before June, but still potentially with enough time to make an impact. If even one of the three can be nearly as effective as they were previously, that's the equivalent of making an impact trade at midseason.
The bullpen has a chance to be strong, led again by Kenley Jansen. The newcomers were at one point a part of the 2015 Royals, with Joe Blanton and Louis Coleman now on board. Later in the season, flamethrowers Frankie Montas and Yaisel Sierra could make an even bigger impact.
The club will look to replace the lost half-season from Ethier with a full, healthy season from Yasiel Puig, and will have a full season of Corey Seager replacing Jimmy Rollins at shortstop.
But what will make the biggest difference is if catcher Yasmani Grandal and center fielder Joc Pederson can be productive after fading down the stretch in 2015. Grandal was felled by a bum shoulder the final two months of the year and had surgery, but is now dealing with nagging forearm soreness that could land him on the disabled list to open the season. Pederson struggled over the final four months of 2015, and has a revamped swing in 2016.
Justin Turner is healthy after microfracture surgery on his knee, and has picked up right where he left off in October, hitting a ridiculous .647 (11-for-17) with six doubles in seven Cactus League games so far.
Not exactly in the mold of Roberts the player, but expect the club to be more aggressive on the bases this year but in a controlled, smart fashion.
Prospects to watch
The Dodgers' farm system is at or near the top in baseball, with Seager leading the national individual lists. Seager is already up with the big club to stay, but could be joined at some point in 2016 by some friends.
Julio Urias and Jose De Leon could each at some point pitch with the Dodgers this season, though just how long a stint remains to be seen. The club is also high on Ross Stripling, who is already on the 40-man roster and currently ahead of them on the starter depth chart, possibly in the mix for a spot start or two in April.
I still think the Dodgers are deep enough and talented enough such that their win total will begin with a nine. The Giants, who very well could win the division, are the Dodgers' biggest threats in the National League West, with the Diamondbacks a notch behind and in contention for a wild card spot.
Come to think of it, maybe 'No Vaseline' isn't the best song to choose for a Dodgers preview, and not just because the misogynistic and homophobic lyrics don't exactly hold up more than two decades later. There is a part in the song where Ice Cube makes fun of Eazy E, who sold out - "I'll never have dinner with the President, I'll never have dinner with the President" - but seeing the President is sort of the ultimate goal, since it would follow a World Series championship.
But it's an even year anyway.
*In case you wee wondering, the DL figure will likely be higher with eight players (Brandon McCarthy, Frankie Montas, Hyun-jin Ryu, Brett Anderson, Andre Ethier, Mike Bolsinger, Yasmani Grandal, Howie Kendrick) compared to seven GMs (Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi, Josh Byrnes, Alex Anthopoulos, Gerry Hunsicker, Ned Colletti, Tommy Lasorda), though if we count basketball then Stan Kasten (only a president in his baseball executive days) would be an eighth GM.