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On the Dodgers expectations, what’s next this offseason & the path ahead

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Shohei Ohtani Mural in Hermosa Beach Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The idea of a “super team” doesn’t hold much weight for me when it comes to baseball, especially when individual stars can only have so much impact on a particular game. It’s nothing like basketball, for instance, a sport in which single players can dominate in a way unknown to baseball just by virtue of getting more chances to do so.

So I cringe a little bit when I see the 2024 Dodgers referred to as a “super team,” even though they should be very exciting.

Maybe the execrable starting pitching in the National League Division Series left an indelible impression that is still fresh, or maybe it’s that this year’s rotation will count on Tyler Glasnow and Walker Buehler, who should be very good to excellent while on the mound. But Glasnow whose 120 innings last season were his most since a 2017 campaign split between Pittsburgh and Triple-A. And Buehler’s innings will be limited in 2024 after coming off his second Tommy John surgery.

The Dodgers very well might still add yet another starting pitcher, and one could argue they very well should, and I’m talking about someone in addition to Clayton Kershaw, who if he returns won’t be able to pitch until the second half of the season coming off shoulder surgery.

Chelsea Janes at the Washington Post wondered Saturday if the Dodgers have done enough even with their whirlwind winter.

“So for all the Dodgers have done this offseason — and to be clear, they have deserved every headline,” Janes wrote, “they have not necessarily secured themselves anything.”

But as is, there is still a lot to like with the 2024 Dodgers. After all, they did sign the two best free agents on this year’s market in Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, with record contracts for each star.

Take this with a grain of salt, but the folks at Bet Online set the Dodgers’ win total over/under this year at 103½, an eye-popping number, but perhaps to be expected given the team has averaged just under 106 wins over the last three seasons.

Atlanta has an over/under of 101½ wins, and is stacked as well, which should at least give pause when considering these Dodgers a “super team” just yet.

Tom Verducci at Sports Illustrated does a good job in laying out the reasons why the Dodgers are the best team — he likes them more than Atlanta — and that even though Los Angeles might be the favorite to win the World Series doesn’t mean a championship is the likely result:

But a lock? No way. What can go wrong? The postseason. Start with this: In the 26 full seasons of the wild-card era, the team with the most wins has won the World Series only seven times. What was the rule is the exception. Stop bellyaching about the playoff format and embrace the unpredictability of the new world.

Links

The Dodgers drafted Patrick Copen in the seventh round last year out of Marshall, and he pitched a total of three games and 4⅓ innings between the Arizona Complex League and Rancho Cucamonga in his first professional experience. The right-hander spoke with Brian Crawford at Main and Buttles about heading into his first spring training:

Currently using a five-pitch mix of: a 4-seam fastball, a 2-seam fastball, a cutter, a curveball, and a slider; Copen talks about how he works off his 4-seam fastball.

“I use my 4-seam to set up my other pitches that will hopefully throw off the hitter’s timing, creating weak contact,” explained Copen. “I also use my fastball in leverage counts up in the zone as a swing-and-miss pitch.”

Roman Barinas spent 16 years with the Dodgers, in player development and scouting, and most recently was in international player development. But he left this winter to join the Twins as their director of Latin American Scouting. Dan Hayes at The Athletic talked with Barinas about his experience and his new role with Minnesota.

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