The Dodgers have put a big target on their chests with the amount of money they have spent for their players. Expectations were high last season and while they made it to the NLCS, more was expected based on the payroll. Since the end of last season, Clayton Kershaw (16-9, 1.83, 33 starts, 232 Ks in 236 IP) became the 1st $200 million pitcher, the team re-signed 3B Juan Uribe (.278, 12, 50) and RHP Brian Wilson (2-1, 0.66, 18 games) and signed free agent pitchers Dan Haren (10-14, 4.67, 30 starts) and Paul Maholm (10-11, 4.41, 26 starts) as well as RHP Chris Perez (5-3, 25 saves, 4.33 in 54 games) and infielders Justin Turner and Chone Figgins.
Kershaw made and won his first start of the season in Australia. He is now on the DL for what the team describes as "precautionary measures." RHP Zack Greinke (15-4, 2.63, 28 starts) takes over as the ace, joined by LHP Hyun-jin Ryu (14-8, 3.00, 30 starts) and Haren. Maholm is the 5th starter temporarily as RHPs Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley start the season on the DL.
The Dodgers have a stacked bullpen led by RHP Kenley Jansen (4-3, 28 saves, 1.88, 75 games, 111 Ks in 76 2/3 IP), Wilson and Perez. LHPs Paco Rodriguez (3-4, 2.32, 76 games) and JP Howell (4-1, 2.03, 67 games) will join RHPs Brandon League (6-4, 5.30, 58 games), Chris Withrow (3-0, 2.60, 26 games) and Jamey Wright (2-2, 3.09, 66 games) to form the deepest bullpen in all of MLB.
Starting CF Matt Kemp (.270, 6, 33 in 73 games) will start the season on the DL. That makes the projected OF log jam not an issue at the moment. RF Yasiel Puig (.319, 19, 42 in 102 games) is the starting RF with Andre Ethier (.272, 12, 52) playing CF and Carl Crawford (.283, 6, 31 in 116 games) starting in LF. 1B Adrian Gonzalez (.293, 22, 100) and SS Hanley Ramirez (.345, 20, 57 in 86 games) center the lineup pretty well with Uribe playing 3B. Dee Gordon gets the first crack at playing 2B, with Turner and Figgins on the roster. Free agent signing Alex Guerrero seems to have the most upside and will likely be playing 2B before too long. AJ Ellis (.238, 10, 52) will be the starting catcher again. I'd line the Dodgers up like this: Crawford LF, Puig RF, Gonzalez 1B, Ramirez SS, Ethier CF, Uribe 3B, Ellis C, Gordon (or other 2B) 2B. The bench is solid, especially with Kemp back in the lineup. Scott VanSlyke, Mike Baxter and backup catcher Drew Butera join Turner and Figgins at the moment.
Few teams will consider this season a failure if they do not win the World Series. The Dodgers are one of those teams. It will be expected because of the amount of money they have spent and the fact that owners Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten will not have the patience to wait on their investment. Vegas gave the Dodgers the highest O/U in all of baseball at 92.5. I think they can win more than that. I have them at 94-68, 1st place in the NL West division. I have them losing in the NLCS this season, just like they did last season.