I know this is a Giants blog, but in this blog entry, we will be previewing the rival Los Angeles Dodgers. I always write the posts, but this time I brought in a guest blogger who knows more about the team than I do. His name is Robert Cody Binyon and he's the author of a fine blog called LA Sports Minute. Check it out. He lives in LA, goes to UCLA, and loves LA Sports, but lets not get on him too much Giants fans. I want to thank him personally for taking the time to write for us. Here's his preview of the Dodgers
Last season the Dodgers ended with an 80-82 record, far below the 95 wins they had in 2009. A few different things contributed to their drastic fall in performance. In no order:
1.) Matt Kemp - Since 2007, when Kemp played 92 games and had nearly 300 at bats, he's never had a season in which he batted below.290. Last season he hit only .249, and while his power continued to develop, his tremendous decrease in contact made him a less dangerous RBI guy, and robbed him of several possible home run opportunities. I don't know if its his newly formed relationship with Rihanna or just an off year, but Kemp's defense also took a terrible tumble. He was coming off a gold glove season in center field with every night having a possible web gem, but last season he continuously misplayed balls and looked foolish. Kemp will need to regain his earlier, more promising form if the Dodgers are going to have a chance to win the NL West.
2.) Jonathan Broxton - What the hell happened to Broxton? He was terrible last season. All of a sudden he looked scared and confused, like he had no idea what he was doing on a pitcher's mound. In previous years, when the Dodgers would send Broxton and his 100MPH fastball out for the final 3 outs, there was very little doubt that he would get the job done. Maybe his two previous collapse's in the NLCS against the Phillies finally caught up to him, but last season his ERA ballooned to 4.04. In his previous four seasons, Broxtons ERA had only been above 2.85 once (3.13, 2008). Unless Broxton is dealt this season, he will need to come back down to Earth and start knocking people down again.
3.) The Divorce - The McCourt's looming divorce didn't allow the Dodgers to go out and add the pieces they needed in order to compete. They needed to fill out the rotation better and the people who we did add were all old journeyman. It was almost as though they made some moves to make it look like they were still trying to compete. This off-season however, when many people thought that the trend would continue, we've been one of the most active teams (besides Boston, or New York). We've gone out and bolstered our starting five, with the re-signing of Kiroki Kuroda and Ted Lilly along with the addition of Jon Garland. Based on last year's statistics, this group is the best rotation in the MLB. If they can continue to work deep into ballgames, and keep our team in position to win games, we just have to hope our pen can handle the rest.
4.) Manny Ramirez - Well...Manny wasn't really Manny anymore. Maybe this is the new manny we have to look forward to, but luckily, as a team, we don't have to worry about it anymore. Personally, I've always been a big Ramirez fan, but after he was suspended for his "PED's" he was never the same. Coincidence? I don't really care, either way he was not the same middle of the lineup threat that he used to be. In 66 games with the Dodgers he did manage to hit .311, but only hit 8 homeruns. In 2010 his AB/HR ratio was 24.5/1, a far cry from the end of 2008 when he came to the Dodgers and propelled them into the playoffs when it was 11/1. Manny has to be having fun to play good baseball, and after he was suspended fifty games he didn't seem to handle the pressure of the LA fans very well. Good luck Manny.
With these reasons looking to change, the Dodgers should be at least 10 wins better than they were a year ago. That puts them at minimum 90-72. Not the 100 wins that I boldly (and semi-jokingly) predicted at the beginning of this preview. The biggest weaknesses for the Dodgers last season were driving in runs, and late-game bullpen issues. Those are two very pivotal issues when it comes to baseball, but I think with Matt Kemp returning to form, the possible addition of Bill Hall (+ power), the additions of Vicente Padilla to the bullpen and Tony Gwynn (+ speed) to the outfield, the Dodgers have already improved. With the rumors swirling that they are after Prince Fielder (for Broxton and Loney), the Dodgers aren't done changing this team. At the current state the Dodgers are in I think think they are a lock for nothing lower than #2 in the NL West. With the addition of a big bat in Left Field and ONE MORE ARM in the bullpen, I think we can realistically contend for a 100 win season, and the NL West title.
Those were Mr. Binyon's thoughts on the Los Angeles Dodgers. Thank you Cody! Bad luck to the Dodgers.
To end the preview, here are some links to some top moments between the Giants and Dodgers (mostly in 2010).
1. Joe Morgan's home run to knock the Dodgers out of the play-offs in 1982.
2. Betty White's refusal to root for the Giants during the 2010 post-season.
3. Steve Finley's grand slam to clinch the NL West title for the Dodgers in 2004.
4. Matt Cain gets his first career win against the Dodgers in 2010.
5. Tim Lincecum hits Matt Kemp; then Clayton Kershaw is ejected for hitting Aaron Rowand (2010).
6. Barry Bonds hits home run number 73 in 2001.
7. Steve Perry of Journey upset over Dodger Stadium playing "Don't Stop Believin" in the bottom of the 8th inning of every game (2009).
8. Pat Burrell's dramatic go-ahead home run off Jonathan Broxton on Fox Saturday Baseball (2010).
9. Manny Ramirez's home run against Sergio Romo to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead (2010).
10. Juan Uribe's 9th inning go-ahead home run against the Dodgers in September (2010).
11. Andres Torres' clutch 2-run double in the 9th inning that gave the Giants a lead at Dodger Stadium. This was after Bochy had Broxton removed from the game because Don Mattingly made two trips to the mound.
This concludes me and Cody's NL West Preview #2. Just to throw in my two cents, I disagree with Cody. I predict that the Dodgers will come in 3rd place in 2011, mostly because they have not solidified their sub-par bullpen. Also, I see a noticeable regression in Loney, Kemp, and Ethier, the Dodgers' core young players. I wanted to highlight Kemp especially. He made so many mental errors this year, especially against the Giants, that cost his team ball games. One noticeable incident was when Matt Cain picked him off on Sunday Night Baseball or when he foolishly tried to move first to third on a single during the Mattingly mound incident (I think he got frustrated when Lincecum hit him).
Next, I will be previewing the Colorado Rockies, and I will write my piece on Vin Scully. I also want to put up some of my top 10 Giants moments of 2010.
Please contact me with questions or comments. My email is email@example.com or just reply with a comment with your feedback. I want to know what you're top 10 Dodgers/Giants moments were or even your top moments from 2010.