In terms of interest level in sports, the offseason almost rivals postseasons. Fans love the idea of personnel movements being the only news. As Dan LeBatard says: “The transaction has passed the action in sports.”
So, it makes some sense that this Dodgers offseason would launch narratives of desperation given how little actual news of additions to the team has been made.
Projections all over the place, however, are telling us to calm down on the reinforcing our roofs for fear of pieces of sky falling.
ESPN’s David Schoenfield agrees with the projections and points to the following reasons to be optimistic.
- Clayton Kershaw. I mean, the point pretty much makes itself. And you can bet the “woe is me” takes on Greinke leaving make Kershaw all the more interested in picking up the load.
- The rotation after him, so long as they’re healthy, is pretty deep. Now, health is always a huge variable; but that’s the case for any team.
- The bullpen is much stronger than most think. Yes, they were a source of frustration last season. Yes, Aroldis Chapman would’ve been a welcomed addition. Much of the ERA concerns come from luck, though, as their strikeout and walk rates point to a bullpen should perform more closely to the one we saw in the postseason.
- Jimmy Rollins has turned into Corey Seager. Yasiel Puig is working his tail off. Yasmani Grandal is healthy again. Joc Pederson should take a step forward. Should I continue? The offense should be better.
Let Schoenfield sum it up.
Could they use another starter? Sure. Maybe they will make a big trade yet. Maybe they will hold on to Julio Urias and Jose De Leon, who could crack the rotation later in the season. The fans are restless, but the Dodgers are still the team to beat in the West.
Concerns are real. Second base is still a question mark as Dee Gordon is coming off one of the better seasons at that position in recent memory. That’s obviously a simplification, but the casual fans who only follow the team via headlines can’t help but notice the connection.
Zack Greinke left the team and stayed in the division, joining a team featuring Paul Goldschmidt, meaning they could have players contending for both the Cy Young and MVP. The San Francisco Giants didn’t win a World Series last year, so they’re obviously going to win this year. How could the Dodgers contend with those teams?
Well, the Diamondbacks won 79 games a year ago and are projected to match that. Greinke only pitches 30 games or so per year. Shelby Miller is a decent acquisition in a vacuum, but the deal was insanely lopsided, by several accounts.
Have you seen the Giants’ outfield? The names look good — their ages, mush less so. If we’re just taking for granted that they’ll sign someone to fix that, we should also extend the same benefit of the doubt to the Dodgers and their rotation. Not doing so wouldn’t be consistent logic.
I understand this has been a pretty consistent refrain this offseason and we might look back and laugh at ourselves for trusting and supporting this front office the way we have. For now, though, can we at least wait for a game to be played to damn this Dodgers team to mediocrity?