Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, with a note for my East Coast subscribers: If you think you have it bad weather-wise, it was so cold in California this morning that I almost had to put on a sweater.
Not in first
In the last Dodgers Dugout, I asked fans to vote in a poll as to where the Dodgers would finish in the NL West this season. The results: 44.7% said first place, but 55.3% said not in first, broken down like this: Second place, 22.2%; third place, 27.9%; fourth place, 2.8%; and last place, 2.4%.
Here are some of the comments I received:
Bryan Denny: Let's not forget when comparing where last year’s team finished in the standings to what this year’s team might do, to take into consideration what Arizona and San Francisco did to upgrade their lineups and pitching. I see the Dodgers either third or fourth place. Fans used to be able to count as many as 18 to 20 victories out of Greinke. Where are those wins going to come from now?
Bryan Mori: There are too many question marks for a first-place finish, so I voted second place. The outfield is getting older with Crawford and Ethier, and Pedersen has to show me he knows how to hit, not just home runs when he runs into one. In the infield, Adrian will start to show his age soon, like the second-half of 2015, and that will leave a big hole in RBIs; and will Turner recover his form following the surgery?
Jonathan Kent: Isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Yes, this team won the division last year, but Arizona and San Francisco have improved significantly in the off-season, while the Dodgers have essentially regressed. Kazmir + Maeda does not = Greinke.
Ira Barnett: Try looking at the upside once in a while. New field management and a team that finished first in its division.
Toyo Kimura: I think the Dodgers will finish first. I like how the team is constructed so far, and if the team is slumping or on the edge of making the playoffs come the trade deadline, I trust the front office will make the necessary moves to succeed. In other words, I believe in the front office and their vision.
Cynthia Tyler-Campbell: The bottom line for me is that the Dodgers have not gotten better, while their National League division opponents have improved. My guess is they'll come in third place this year. I'm probably one of the few Dodgers fans that can access -- and watches -- almost every game, now that my family moved from Pasadena to Eugene, Ore. See Dodger fans? All it takes is an out-of-state move and an MLB subscription and you can see all the games on television!
Bob Conway: We need a bat. Forget Cespedes, we need Kendrick back at second and we must improve the bullpen if we want a chance in the division. I have been a fan since the 1959 playoffs and I will die a Dodger fan but we are not going anywhere with the team as is.
Pete Kossoris: This team looks worse than recent ones. For one thing, a number of key players are aging and regressing. That includes Ethier, Crawford and Gonzalez. Turner is a good hitting third baseman, but his durability is in question. The team looks much weaker at second base and overall, the team’s offense looks worse than 2015. Of course, the principal loss is Greinke, so the Dodgers look worse on offense & defense than last year. I predict the Dodgers will not be in contention by late summer, will be a very mediocre team except for the days when Kershaw pitches.
An average Joe
Remember Joe Blanton? The Joe Blanton who went 2-4 with a 4.99 ERA in 10 starts for the 2012 Dodgers? The Joe Blanton who went 2-14 with a 6.04 ERA for the 2013 Angels? The Dodgers gave him a one-year, $4-million deal last week. He will pitch in relief. Last season, he pitched for Kansas City and Pittsburgh and went 7-2 with a 2.84 ERA overall. If he pitches for the Dodgers like he did for Pittsburgh (5-0, 1.57 ERA in 21 games, with 39 strikeouts in 34 1/3 innings), then it is a good deal. But which seems most likely: He pitches like he did in 21 games last season, or he pitches like he did in the 280 games prior to that? Maybe he has reinvented himself, but I will believe it when I see it.
Just a reminder that Vin Scully is heading into his final season, and most of us still can’t watch the Dodgers on TV. I’m going to repeat this in every newsletter until someone important, either with Time Warner Cable, the cable/satellite providers or the Dodgers decide to do something, or at least pretend like they care.
He misses Zack
Fans aren't the only ones a little down about losing Zack Greinke. Andre Ethier is too.
The Dodgers will host their fourth annual FanFest on Jan. 30. Learn more about it here.
Have a comment or something you'd like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston