The Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t look like a very good team early in the season. Manager Don Mattingly actually looked like he was about to be canned. They called up Yasiel Puig and suddenly became the best team in baseball.
The Dodgers have deep pockets and have been throwing money at players since they signed their lucrative TV deal. They signed Clayton Kershaw to a long-term deal and have a half dozen players making more than $15 million this season.
Can Yasiel Puig repeat last season’s breakout season? Will Matt Kemp be moved before the end of the season?
Here is the 2014 MLB season preview for the Los Angels Dodgers.
2013 Win/Loss Record: 92-70
Key Additions: SP Dan Haren, SP Paul Maholm, RP Chris Perez, RP Jamey Wright, C Miguel Olivo, 2B Justin Turner & 2B Brendan Harris
Key Losses: SP Ricky Nolasco, 2B Mark Ellis, 3B Nick Punto, RP Peter Moylan, 2B/3B Michael Young, RP Ronald Belisario, SP Chris Capuano, 2B/OF Jerry Hairston Jr. & RP Carlos Marmol
Interleague Schedule: AL Central + Los Angeles Angels
Projected Starters: A.J. Ellis, Adrian Gonzalez, Alex Guerrero, Juan Uribe, Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Andre Either & Yasiel Puig
Projected Starting Rotation: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dan Haren & Josh Beckett
Closer: Kenley Jansen
Fantasy Sleeper: 2B Alex Guerrero – Guerrero is one of the handful of highly-touted Cuban players who defected to the U.S. in the last two seasons. He averaged .320 and 20 homers the last four seasons in Cuba. Do those numbers translate? Not really, but they are a nice benchmarks. If he hits .280 with 15 dingers, those numbers are above average for a second baseman. You should be able to get him fairly cheap and lower than other established at second base.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: OF Joc Pederson – The Dodgers are in a great position. Their 40-man roster is one of the best and they still have blue-chip prospects waiting in the minors. Pederson is their top prospect, but the Dodgers already have a crowded outfield with Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Andre Either fighting for outfield at-bats. If an injury sidelines an outfielder, or if the Dodgers find a team to take Matt Kemp and his contract, Pederson could find himself in the Majors. Unfortunately, a lot has to happen to make that possible. SP Zach Lee is another top prospect who is blocked. Paul Maholm and Josh Beckett are battling for the #5 starter spot. Keep an eye on both prospects, things could change if someone struggles or gets injured.
Team Analysis: If the Dodgers started out well, they could have cracked 100 wins last season. The front office has deep pockets and spending has translated into wins on the field. Clayton Kershaw got a big payday and is the best pitcher in baseball. When you have a great offense behind him, you’re nearly guaranteed a win every time he steps on the mound. The rest of the rotation is better than most other teams. Hell, their #2 starter, Zack Greinke, is getting paid $21 million this season. That is #1 starter money on any other team. Yasiel Puig exploded onto the scene when he was called up last June. He put together one of the best rookie seasons in recent memory. Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez won NL Rookie of the Year, but needed a historic season to beat out Puig. The Dodgers only have to worry about San Francisco Giants in the NL West. They will stay within striking distance for most of the season, but the Dodgers are in a class above them. St. Louis will give them a race for the best record in the National League. The Dogers are my pick to appear in the World Series.
2014 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 93 (Prediction: OVER)
2014 Projected Win/Loss Record: 95-67 (1st NL West)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.