Los Angeles Dodgers State Of The Union: 2014 Preview

Clayton Kershaw agreed to a 7 YRs/$215 MIL extension last week - that will run through the years of 2014 - 2020 with the LA Dodgers.   The deal is slated for an opt out clause after the 2018 season by Kershaw, when he will be only 30 years old.     This is the greatest single Annual Average Salary ALL - Time of $30.7 MIL per year, and is the 6th biggest contract ever in the history of the MLB.  Last year was his mos dominant to date, with a 16 - 9 record, an NL Leading 1.83 ERA and 232 SO.  The about to be 26 Year Old, also nailed down his 2nd NL Cy Young win in 3 years, and the other year he was the runner up in that time frame.  He may be the single most important player to any franchise in the National League.

Clayton Kershaw agreed to a 7 YRs/$215 MIL extension in the offseason – that will run through the years of 2014 – 2020 with the LA Dodgers. The deal is slated for an opt out clause after the 2018 season by Kershaw, when he will be only 30 years old. This is the greatest single Annual Average Salary ALL – Time of $30.7 MIL per annum, and is the 6th biggest contract ever in the history of the MLB. Last year was his most dominant to date, with a 16 – 9 record, an NL Leading 1.83 ERA and 232 SO. The about to be 26 Year Old, also nailed down his 2nd NL Cy Young win in 3 years, and the other year he was the runner up in that time frame. He may be the single most important player to any franchise in the National League.  Kershaw is the 3 time reigning NL ERA champ.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

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The Dodgers are beginning year 2 of potentially a half-dozen years of dominance.  They have a team filled with ALL – Stars, superior Starting Pitching, and have deep pockets to seal the deal with necessary changes.

The NL West might be stronger this year with more competitive rosters from the D’Backs, Rockies and Giants, yet I still think the Dodger Blue will pulverize the competition, particularly in their own division.

Our Chief Writer Hunter Stokes wrote a great article on the Dodgers taking the 1st few series of the year not as seriously as the rest of the year here.

I fully agree with his stance, yet I don’t think it will make much of a difference.

Injuries aside this team is ready to take down the National League.

Greinke is 21 - 6, with a sub 3 ERA in his Game Starts over the last year and a bit for both of the LA Angels and LA Dodgers.  Last year, the RHP fashioned an ERA of 2.63 in just 177.2 IP.  The 10 Year Veteran and 30 Year Old, finished 8th in NL Cy Young Voting.  Along with Kershaw, they provide the best 1 - 2 punch in any starting rotation in the majors.

Greinke is 21 – 6, with a sub 3 ERA in his Game Starts over the last year and a bit for both of the LA Angels and LA Dodgers. Last year, the RHP fashioned an ERA of 2.63 in just 177.2 IP. The 10 Year Veteran and 30 Year Old, finished 8th in NL Cy Young Voting for 2013 – and won the Silver Siugger Award for Pitchers. Along with Kershaw, they provide the best 1 – 2 punch in any starting rotation in the majors.  Greinke is also 40 – 13 (.755) with a 3.28 ERA for his time in the NL, which holds 2 years of pitching in Milwaukee as part of that time frame.

Here are a few quick glimpses how they plundered through their 2nd half schedule once they saw Hanley Ramirez and Zack Greinke fully healthy – with Yasiel Puig blitzing onto the scene.

Los Angeles was 58 – 23 in their last 81 games, and managed a 42 – 8 (50 game stretch) between the June and July months.

If those 58 wins were to be duplicated over a full season, they could challenge the 116 win clubs of the 2001 Seattle Mariners and the early 20th century Chicago Cubs.

I don’t believe this squad will win 116 in 2014, but I do believe they will win their Division going away.

Lets face it. Clayton Kershaw is the best player in the National League, and not just the best Pitcher.  Zack Greinke isn’t far off, and I expect these guys both to win 20 games this year.

Lost in last year's great run was the brilliant rookie campaign of Hyun-jin Ryu.  A 14 - 8 record, with an even 3 ERA led him to finish 4th in Rookie Voting in the NL.  As a #3 Starter, Ryu is money in the bank.

Lost in last year’s great run was the brilliant rookie campaign of Hyun-jin Ryu. A 14 – 8 record, with an even 3 ERA led him to finish 4th in Rookie Voting in the NL. As a #3 Starter, Ryu is money in the bank.

Hyun-jin Ryu is a solid #3 starter, Dan Haren is a competent #4 guy, and you have to think Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley and Paul Maholm should provide enough Innings to compliment the top 4 starters.

The Bullpen features 5 former current and former Closers in : Kenley Jansen, Brian Wilson (fully expect to be the stopper by Post Season), Chris Perez, Brandon League and J.P. Howell, while their specialists of Chris Withrow and Paco Rodriguez also featured ERA’s of 1.71 and 2.32 respectively during their work in 2013.

This facet of their game is strong, and with the rotation lugging enough Innings, this will only help the success off the relief core in the latter portion of their games.

Zack Greinke is 30 – 9 (.769) over his last 2 years, with an ERA just north of 3.00, with his last year mark of 2.63 in Chavez Ravine.

I fully expect 40+ wins out of him and Kershaw.  Ryu and Haren could combine for another 25 victories.  The 5th starter just needs to total a .500 clip.

Ryu could be way higher on most clubs, as he was 14 – 8, with an even 3 ERA.

Dan Haren has averaged 14 wins per full year, and I expect him to take his second half progression ( 6 – 4, 3.52 in 13 GS), into a hitter friendly Division of the NL West, to have a solid year.

Billingsley also features .570 Career Win Pctg. while hovering around .500 the last few years, however most of those starts were without a potent offense like will be seen in 2014.

I am not sure Beckett can pitch a full year, but he was 2 – 3, with a 2.93 ERA in his starts for the 2012 Dodgers, before he was plagued with injuries all last year.

If Beckett can’t return to form, the team will quickly move on to other candidates.

Paul Maholm is a great swing guy in either the Bullpen and Rotation, and should be able to provide a mid 4 ERA with a near .500 record as he did with Atlanta last year (10 – 11, 4.28 ERA), in his 153 IP worth of work.

As stated above, I think Wilson will be so dominant this year that he will beat out Jansen for the Closers role.

The most important note is that the ‘Weird Beard’ is filthy in the playoffs, having yet to surrender an Earned run in 17.2 IP worth of work.

From 2008-2011, Brian Wilson was one of the top closers in the Majors with 163 Saves.  He Saved 48 Games with a 1.81 ERA only 3 years ago in  2010 for the World Champ Giants.  He went through TJ Surgery for a 2nd time in April of 2012 - who will give him a chance in 2014, by signing the pending Free Agent?  The Dodgers are hoping he can duplicate his 2013 performance, and any other year he has played a full campaign in recent memory. Wilson has pitched in 17.2 IP worth of work in his playoff Career, and has yet to give up

From 2008-2011, Brian Wilson was one of the top closers in the Majors with 163 Saves. He Saved 48 Games with a 1.81 ERA only 3 years ago in 2010 for the World Champ Giants. He went through TJ Surgery for a 2nd time in April of 2012. The Dodgers are hoping he can duplicate his 2013 performance, and any other year he has played a full campaign in recent memory. Wilson has pitched in 17.2 IP worth of work in his playoff Career, and has yet to give up any runs.

Jansen has to battle his blood ailment every year. and with the Dodgers winning a lot of the games, I am not sure he can take the lionshare of the Closers Innings, and still be left standing at the end of the year.

The lineup is stronger than it has been since the days of Steve Garvey, Ron Cey. Davey Lopes and Bill Russell.

Puig slowed down a shade from his torrid 1st month pace - however still slashed .319/.392/.925 - with 19 HRs, 42 RBI. 66  Runs Scored and 122 Hits in just 434 AB.  He has in the 2nd YR of a 7 YR/$42 MIL contract in his pocket, and that may be the bargain of ALL - Time if he continues these type of numbers all the way throughout his length of the deal.  Puig finished in 2nd for NL Rookie of The Year Voting, and placed 15th in NL MVP balloting as well.

Puig slowed down a shade from his torrid 1st month pace – however still slashed .319/.392/.925 – with 19 HRs, 42 RBI. 66 Runs Scored and 122 Hits in just 434 AB. He has in the 2nd YR of a 7 YR/$42 MIL contract in his pocket, and that may be the bargain of ALL – Time if he continues these type of numbers all the way throughout his length of the deal. Puig finished in 2nd for NL Rookie of The Year Voting, and placed 15th in NL MVP balloting as well.  He is too good of a hitter to slow down significantly,  but will probably see a slight drop in Averages.  Hitting the talented young Cuban in the Leadoff spot will be interesting.  I think he might lead off the game with a HR in double digit contests this campaign.

Yasiel Puig is going to leadoff, and I think he should hit .300/.360/.490 – and will start being a threat on the basepaths once he slims up a little bit from his 26 LBS over report weight.

I would not be surprised to see him challenge Rickey Henderson‘s record for HRs to lead off a game this year.

i would hit Carl Crawford 2nd.  He can lay down some bunts. still has decent speed, and could clearly move along Puig to the next base.

Even if CC only plays 120 GP this year.  I look for a .290/.330/.750 this campaign with about 20 SB.

Hanley Ramirez took over the reigns of leadership in LA this year, slashing .345/.402/1040 in half of a years worth of AB (306).  It was only when Ramirez returned, that the Dodgers took off.  After Kershaw, he was the teams MVP.  He is signed for one more year - and you can bet he will be extended.  This ends up being a proverbial 'HR' of a trade for LA - unless Eovaldi is a repeat ALL - Star.

Hanley Ramirez took over the reigns of leadership in LA last year, slashing .345/.402/.638 in half of a years worth of AB (306) – with 20 HRs and 57 RBI. It was only when Ramirez returned, that the Dodgers took off. After Kershaw, he was the teams MVP. He is signed for one more year – and you can bet Los Angeles will work to extend him. This ends up being a proverbial ‘HR’ of a trade for LA a few years back as he was acquired for Nathan Eovaldi.  Ramirez matured a ton over the course of the season, starting with the 2013 WBC, and it ended when Han-Ram was hurt in the playoffs.

Hanley Ramirez should hit 3rd in this lineup, and I am thinking he is poised to have his best power year for his career in 2014.

I expect Han-Ram to be a serious NL MVP candidate, club 30+ HRs, knock in over 100 RBI, and hit .300/.365/.525.

With Ramirez in a walk year for his contract, the 30 Year Old should be well motivated to put forth a fantastic season.

I would rather hit Ramirez 3rd then Gonzalez (especially if CC hits 2nd to go RHB/LHB/RHB/LHB in the 1st 4 hitters), although you may see Mattingly choose to rotate the guys in the 3rd and 4th slots.

A-Gon is a perennial .290 - .300 with 100 RBI - and nearly 60 - 70 RBI, whether he or Hanley Ramirez hitting 3rd and 4h respectively should not matter, as both will likely produce great seasons.

A-Gon is a perennial .290 – .300 with 100 RBI – and nearly 60 – 70 XBH, whether he or Hanley Ramirez hitting 3rd and 4h respectively should not matter, as both will likely produce great seasons.

Adrian Gonzalez had a nice 2013 season.  This man has had 7+ years of 99+ RBI, including 100+ in 6 of those campaigns.

The former Padres and Red Sox 1B is consistent as they come in California.  He is a professional hitter, and will produce greatly in this lineup.

I sincerely think he will smack 60 – 65 XBH, plate 100+ RBI, and play a great First Base.

Hitting 5th maybe Matt Kemp.  Man, if this guy comes back to form that saw him finish 2nd in 2011 NL MVP Voting, this Division will be a sure fire lock.

Coming back from a litany of injuries to the arms and ankle, the doubts may be cast early. If Kemp could manage somewhere near his career OPS of .844, this will be acceptable.

I think that Mr. Kemp can play about 120 Games this year.  I think 20 HRs, 60 RBI and an OPS of .770 – .800 is not to far off what he will do.

If he can’t put these forward, Andre Ethier might be able to salvage the OF.  The Dodgers having 4 good OF is a nice problem.

I think barring injury, Puig will be out there for 150 Games.  This leaves 330 Games divided by the 3 other players beyond the grass.

Carl Crawford almost single handedly kept the offense afloat the 1st month of the year. He  also scored 41 Runs in his 1st 74 Games  played in so .  His numbers in 2013 were close to his Career Average - which LA gladly took in his 116 GP, and would take them all again in 2014.

Carl Crawford almost single handedly kept the offense afloat the 1st month of the year for 2013 with others struggling. He also scored 41 Runs in his 1st 74 Games played in. His numbers last year were close to his Career Averages – which LA gladly took in his 116 GP, and would take them all again in 2014.

With Kemp and Crawford battling health, and Ethier struggling against LHP, you could see an equal amount for each guy.

If all 3 are healthy, I place Ethier on the bench until the 1st injury arrives. The About to be 32 Year Old, touted an .854 OPS versus RHP in 2013 (337 AB) – as oppose to a .613 OPS (145 AB).

Should the team experience health all year, the bench becomes deep with Ethier being able to be used in a pinch hitter role.  I could also see him go in as a defensive replacement for Kemp early.

The Dodgers will also have 10 games where they can use one of these players as the DH in AL Parks.

Andre Ethier features a Career 3 Slash  of .288/.360/.470.  Against RHP, it escalates to .309/.388/.518.  Against LHP, it drops to .235/.294/.351 in 1155 AB. Los Angeles should try to rest guys like Kemp and Crawford if a RHP is chucking on any given day.  Ethier may also be the best CF replacement should Puig go down to injury.

Andre Ethier features a Career 3 Slash of .288/.360/.470. Against RHP, it escalates to .309/.388/.518. Against LHP, it drops to .235/.294/.351 in 1155 AB. Los Angeles should try to rest guys like Kemp and Crawford if a RHP is chucking on any given day. Ethier may also be the best CF replacement should Puig go down to injury.

Ethier had his worst campaign as a pro last year, although he still managed a 3 slash of .272/.360/.423, which is less than his career mark of .288/.362/.470 however his OBP was still only 2 PTS behind his lifetime average.

However Donnie Baseball decides to place his offense, the top 5 guys all yield lifetime averages hovering around .290/.360/.475 at the minimum – with the top end even more prominent.

The 6th – 8th slots will be made up of the likes of Catcher A.J. Ellis, 3B Juan Uribe and the 2B position, which could be either Dee Gordon, or young Alex Guerrero.

A.J. Ellis should be good for an OPS of around .700 – .725, plate 50+ RBI and probably hit for double digits in HRs.  His backup will be Tim Federowicz.  He will probably hit 7th.

Juan Uribe carried a nice .769 OPS amidst his 12 HRs and 50 RBI In 388 AB during the 2013 year.  The problem is he rarely has back to back seasons where he plays well for the same team.

If he could just play to his career 3 slash of .253/.299/.420 – with an occasional big hit, the club would take it in a heartbeat.

With Dee Gordon and Alex Guerrero either hitting 8th, this position could get ugly quick.  With the rest of the batters 1 – 7, the team could probably suffer lowers numbers out of the 8th slot.

Gordon has no power at all, but has swiped 66 bases in just 621 AB in his life at the big league level.  With his totals, include 81 Runs Scored.

The unfortunate part is a low walk rate, and OBP.  There is also no power to be had, with just 26 XBH in that time frame.

Guerrero may start the year in the MInor Leagues, to effectively work on his less than stellar defense at the new position.

Included in the realm of possibilities may also be Chone Figgins.

Once used in 6 different positions on a regular basis, Figgins was once the best Utility player in MLB. 

3 brutal seasons in Seattle saw him hitting in the .180′s at the end of his tenure. and he was bought out  and served his walking papers.

He was a near .400 OBP player after he left Anaheim in 2009.  His ability to play so many different positions may keep him around with the team, or perhaps be a September callup.

Also in the mix is Justin Turner.  The former Met, and 29 Year Old, has a 3 slash of .260/.323/.361 in 841 lifetime AB.

My bet is completely on Dee Gordon to start.  He can produce runs with his speed, and may have some upside on the Batting Average.  Plus his defense will better than all suitors.

Others on The Bench

OF Scott Van Slyke: He clubbed 7 HRs and 8 Doubles in just 129 AB for the 2013 campaign.  This is decent production, and you could see this player be 2nd up to the extra OF as a PH.

You will have a back up Catcher in Federowicz, one of the OF, Turner, Van Slyke, the 9 starters and possibly 12 pitchers on the 25 man roster.

Injuries will occur, and then you have Figgins, Guerrero – and maybe even a prospect like Joc Pederson early on the injury taxi – squad.

This teams top end talent should propel them to one of the three best records in baseball this year.  The club should win from 93 – 99 games this campaign

I am only not giving them a chance to win 100 because I think they will lock up the division too early.

Just a little note here.  I am not officially predicting the regular season and playoffs until 3 weeks from now, I am leaning on picking the Dodger Blue to make their 1st World Series since 1988.

Matt Kemp was on top of the world in the 2011 season, with hitting 39 HRs and stealing 40 bases, en route to a 2nd place finish.  2012 started like 2011 ended, before Kemp has battled a myriad of injuries over the last 2 years, and has caused doubt to whether he can regain his previous form.  While he may not get there, look for a decent Batting Avg and OBP this year.  Kemp is recovering from a broken ankle and has resumed running drills.  If he is not able to go on Opening Day. at least the Dodgers have Andre Ethier next on deck.

Matt Kemp was on top of the world in the 2011 season, with hitting 39 HRs and stealing 40 bases, en route to a 2nd place finish in NL MVP Voting. 2012 started like 2011 ended, before Kemp has battled a myriad of injuries over the last 2 years, and has caused doubt to whether he can regain his previous form. While he may not get there, look for a decent Batting Avg and OBP this year in 2014. Kemp is recovering from a broken ankle and has resumed running drills. If he is not able to go on Opening Day, at least the Dodgers have Andre Ethier next on deck.

 *** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***

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Chuck Booth and Larry Lucchino talk baseball in the RF reserved seats at Fenway

Chuck Booth and Larry Lucchino talk baseball in the RF reserved seats at Fenway.

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About chuckbooth3023

I played competitive baseball until 18 years old and had offers to play NCAA Division 1 University Baseball at Liberty University. Post-concussion symptoms from previous football and baseball head injuries forced me to retire by age 19. After two nearly made World Record Attempts in 2008, I set a New World Record by visiting all 30 MLB Parks (from 1st to last pitch) in only 24 Calendar Days in the summer 0f 2009. In April of 2012, I established yet another new GWR by visiting all 30 Parks in only 23 Calendar Days! You can see the full schedule at the page of the www.mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker

Posted on March 5, 2014, in MLB Teams State Of the Unions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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