Bless their little hearts, the Dodgers want to get younger. And don’t we all.
Alas, despite bold pronouncements, the Dodgers have had about as much current success discovering that fountain of youth as Ponce de Leon.
With only slight off-season personnel changes, the Dodgers last seen in the postseason are going to look amazingly like the Dodgers who open the 2016 season. Only they’ll all be a year older.
They lost Zack Greinke, age 32, and replaced him with Scott Kazmir, age 32. Shortstop Corey Seager is 16 years younger than Jimmy Rollins, but had already supplanted him by the end of the season. Second baseman Howie Kendrick is 32, and has apparently been replaced as the primary starter by Chase Utley, who’s 37.
Kenta Maeda brings a touch of comparative youth to the rotation, but turns 28 in April. The only addition to the bullpen figures to be 35-year-old Joe Blanton.
Not exactly what most imagined when Dodgers General Manager Farhan Zaidi said in October at the news conference to explain Manager Don Mattingly’s departure:
“We expect to have a younger team going forward.”
Guess he didn’t specify forward in 2016. Overall, the Dodgers will actually be a tad older than they were last season. Most of that youth they’ve been clinging to in the minors figures to remain there next season.
By the end of April the Dodgers may have only eight players under 28 on their roster – Alex Wood (25), Luis Avilan (26), Yimi Garcia (25), Yasmani Grandal (27), Enrique Hernandez (24), Joc Pederson (24), Yasiel Puig (25) and Seager (21). But they’ll have 10 over 30 – Chris Hatcher (32), J.P. Howell (33), A.J. Ellis (35), Adrian Gonzalez (33), Justin Turner (31), Carl Crawford (34), Andre Ethier (34), Kazmir (32) and Blanton (35).
Not exactly a team trending younger. They have more youth in the front office than on the field.
The prospects on the rise who could appear this season are almost all starting pitchers – Julio Urias, Jose De Leon and Frankie Montas – so real change in the lineup is either still years off or will have come via trades.
Hey, you know what Sinatra sang. Fairy tales can come true when you’re young at heart. Young and prime-time ready, however, can prove a difficult match -- despite all those youthful ambitions.