That was Then...
The City of Los Angeles hasn’t seen a construction project like the 2012 Dodgers since it filled in Chavez Ravine to build Dodger Stadium.
The year started under the blackest of clouds. Frank McCourt’s messy divorce left the team’s ownership in a state of flux with multitudes of groups lining up to buy the prestigious franchise. In the end it was an L.A. legend – Magic Johnson – who would front the successful group tasked with bringing stability back to Hollywood.
The season started well enough with the Dodgers playing .700-plus baseball through April and staying well over .600 into mid-June. Unfortunately they would lose a lot of that ground between mid-June and mid-July in a stretch that saw them lose eight of nine series, including three against divisional opponents.
Near the end of August, however, the new ownership announced its presence with authority. In a trade that added more than $250 million in salary commitments, the Dodgers brought on Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto. This deal came after a busy deadline spree that saw the additions of Shane Victorino, Hanley Ramirez, Joe Blanton and Brandon League.
The Dodgers – just two games back of the Giants at the time of the BoSox blockbuster – would miss the playoffs, in part to costly divisional series losses in late August and early September.
...This is Now
Zack Greinke joins a staff where he's not the only Cy Young-winner, joining 2011 NL rep Clayton Kershaw.
So how did the Dodgers respond to falling just two games short of a Wild Card berth? They opened their wallets even further.
The Dodgers locked League into a three-year extension before shoring up their rotation with a two-day spending spree. One day after agreeing to terms with Korean addition Ryu Hyun-Jin (see: YOUTH WATCH), the team inked Zack Greinke to a record six-year, $147 million deal to join the likes of Clayton Kershaw and Beckett in the starting rotation.
The rotation is now loaded – at least on paper – and the offence could be among the most potent in the senior circuit.
If the Dodgers can get any semblance of health and/or productivity out of Crawford it could nicely bolster the team’s power core of Gonzalez, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp. His health will be of particular importance to the Dodgers now that Ramirez will miss the first eight weeks of the season with a busted hand.
Of course, it’s Kemp that the team really needs a clean bill of health from. When healthy, he is a Triple Crown threat. Unfortunately, he missed 56 games last season during which time the Dodgers went 26-30.
Every year, we look for players 26-years-old or younger that could make an impact on their team in the upcoming season. The player might have already established himself with a regular role with the team, or he could make their mark later on in the season.
Past Picks: 2012 - Dee Gordon, 2011 - Jonathan Broxton, 2010 - Clayton Kershaw, 2009 - Chad Billingsley, 2008 - Matt Kemp, 2007 - Russell Martin, 2006 - Dioner Navarro, 2005 - Antonio Perez, 2004 - Edwin Jackson, 2003 - Joe Thurston
Their high payroll hasn' bought them a high position in the first ranking.
SP Clayton Kershaw is the highest ranked NL pitcher, and sits at 9th overall.
There are many fine fantasy options for the Dodgers, though losing SS Hanley Ramirez for the first couple months of the season puts a serious dent in his value.
Ace LHP Clayton Kershaw is a viable first-round pick, second only to Justin Verlander among starting pitchers.
CF Matt Kemp, 1B Adrian Gonzalez and RHP Zack Greinke are also high-end alternatives, while LF Carl Crawford has a chance to be an impact player if he's healthy.
RF Andre Ethier and RHP Chad Billingsley aren't exciting, but useful in deeper leagues and there is upside (and downside) in both veteran RHP Josh Beckett and rookie LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu that makes them late-round material. For as long as he has the job, closer Brandon League is worth owning too.