In desperate search of that Dodgers’ off-season buzz
Excited are you? All tingly at the mere thought of the coming Dodgers season? Oooh, those baseball goose bumps.
No? Their off-season hardly has the blue heart all aflutter? Feeling rather ... what? Something less than enthralled by their moves thus far? Completely underwhelmed?
And just exactly how long can we keep saying thus far? Yep, spring training is still six weeks away and you can expect the front office to make additional roster adjustments, but the odds of a major move are reduced by the day. Major free agents get inked, teams complete off-season makeovers, options dwindle.
That doesn’t mean they can’t happen; it’s just that as the player pool from which to make a significant move decreases, so does the opportunity.
So thus far they’ve added Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda (still unannounced), which clearly makes the rotation better than it was a couple weeks ago, but not better than the unit they planned to open with last season.
The roster otherwise is pretty much unchanged. Same basic lineup, same bullpen. I was on the Bill Plaschke-Jeanne Zelasko radio show Monday morning -- yeah, add name-dropping to my list of sins -- and discussing the team when Plaschke mentioned how little buzz there was about the Dodgers off-season.
He’s absolutely right. The only time people discuss the Dodgers this winter is to complain about the loss of Zack Greinke and about management’s general lack of activity.
What exactly is there to get excited about? Who really believes that the Dodgers are a better team now than a year ago, when they were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs?
While the Giants and Diamondbacks have made serious off-season strides, the Dodgers have just sort of been there. There’s a pulse, but precious little movement. The Dodgers have averaged 93 wins in capturing the last three division titles, but a lot of things are going to have to fall right for them to earn a fourth consecutive National League West crown. Every position player is either coming off surgery, getting late into the battle with Father Time, unproved over the course of a full season or attempting a comeback from a poor second half. Every single one of them.
If the front-office guys are waiting for the kids to arrive and are really pointing to 2017 and beyond, then, despite all their declarations, they truly do not understand Los Angeles. The Dodgers are expected to seriously contend for a championship every single year, and this is a city more than hungry for its next title.
Last year, the young bucks took over the front office and produced a whirlwind of moves. Players were coming and going by the day, contracts were eaten, big names traded for and moved, the roster underwent a serious makeover. It was almost hard to keep up with it all.
This off-season, nary a move. Retirement homes are more hopping. Maybe they were happy with the work done last off-season and think the heavy lifting is all done. Maybe ownership has said enough with the record payrolls. Maybe they figure they lead the majors in attendance every year anyway, so pull back and wait for the prospects.
The only thing for certain is, thus far they’ve created no real buzz.
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