For the first time in years, the Los Angeles Dodgers might enter spring training as the NL West with the most expectations. In fact, some might even argue the most expectations in the league.
As fans, however, (and maybe it’s just the pessimist in me), I think sometimes we need to step back from it all and say: Could it really be that good? Are we getting too excited?
As a Dodger fan surrounded by the opposition, I’m faced with questions like this daily, and to be fair, I think it’s perfectly justified.
In 2013, the Dodgers will be putting a lot of pressure on a number of guys who I think it’s safe to say haven’t proven completely they can handle it.
Sure, there’s Kershaw, Kemp and Greinke, but outside of that trio, is there anyone you’d be willing to bet your life on?
Andre Ethier? Josh Beckett? Carl Crawford? Hanley Ramirez? Adrian Gonzalez?
But before we get too pessimistic, I think it’s time for Dodger fans to simply step back and objectively evaluate what needs to happen for things to go right and then wrong.
As objectively as possible, I’d like to think it’s safe to assume that of the five question marks mentioned above, at least two of them will perform at an all-star level. If you forced me to guess, I’d say Ramirez and Gonzalez are safe bets to return to the top tier of their position.
The question is, however, if the Dodgers get quality contributions out of any two from that group, will that be enough?
Well, here in lies another question: Enough for what?
Enough for a division championship? Probably. Enough for a World Series, though? No way.
You see, I don’t think there’s a team in recent memory that has relied upon more question marks than the 2013 Dodgers will.
The good news is that those question marks have upsides as high as the moon. The downside? They’re serious question marks.
Ethier is coming off a season in which he hit .222 against lefties. Beckett posted a 4.38 ERA in the two-and-a-half seasons prior to coming to LA. Crawford hit .255 with 11 home runs in 2011 and played in just 31 games last season. Ramirez hasn’t hit over .257 in either of the last two seasons. Gonzalez saw his batting average drop 39 points last season while he hit nine less home runs.
Not exactly the group of guys you want your season depending on, huh?
Then again, as any Dodger fan will tell you, it’s light-years better than the alternative (which we’ve been stuck with for years).
So what’s the point of all this?
My point is simple: As fans of a team that has spent more money this summer than we’ll all make in our lifetimes combined, it’s easy to get overconfident. And partly, it’s for good reason.
But despite all the reason for hope and optimism, it’s still baseball and anything can still happen. While the odds are surely resting in our favor, the deck isn’t stacked and it’s not a sure-thing.
Be patient, be calm, and be confident. Just not too confident.
Then again, as soon as we pound the Giants on Opening Day, that might be the time for confidence.