For the Dodgers, it was the year of the star player. First there wa Andre Eithier making noise with his big hitting streak at the beginning of the year:
Then there was Matt Kemp with extraordinary MVP-type season:
Finally, who could forget the amazing season Clayton Kershaw had that won him the Cy Young Award:
(That is actually a picture from a game that I went to, I made sure it was specifically for the guest I had during that game, because he almost called a no-hitter before the game started. So, Chris, as in Cositore, if you are reading this, that picture is for you.) Chris Capuano, Todd Coffey, Mark Ellis, Jerry Hairston Jr., Aaron Harang, Adam Kennedy, and Matt Treanor.
Hiroki Kuroda, Rod Barajas, Casey Blake, Jonathan Broxton, Jamey Carroll, Hong-Chih Kuo,and Vicente Padilla.
Why?: This is a pretty sticky situation to try and decipher. No, not because of the whole “sale of the team” thing, but because the Dodgers rid themselves of two guys that, if they perform up to what the have shown previously, could make this a very bad offseason for them. Those two would be: Jonathan Broxton and Vicente Padilla. Think about it, if those guys get back to how they were not too long ago, the Dodgers would have gotten rid of a front-to-middle of the rotation starter and a bona fide closer.
Even outside of the offseason AND the sale of the team situation, the Dodgers are a mystery. Take Andre Eithier for example, this is a guy that we have seen hit 30 HRs in a season and drive in 100 runs before. If he does this last year, the Dodgers are probably in 2nd place in their division. He is just one example, but this team could easily be a contender in the division if all the players on their team matched what they have shown they can be. I realize that any team would be better if they did so, but it seems to apply to the Dodgers much more so than to any other team (last year the team I ascribed this trait to was the Arizona Diamondbacks).
Predicted Record Range: 81-86 wins
This image pretty much sums up the Royals’ 2011 season. The amazing farm system finally gave us a peak last season and the Royals were able to move out of that cellar they had been dwelling pretty regularly over the past few years:
Jonathan Broxton, Yuniesky Betancourt, Jose Mijares, and Jonathan Sanchez.
Why?: I don’t really know. The Royals do have many more people in the plus column than they do in the subtraction (and a few years ago, I would have said getting rid of Melky would be a positive) side. However, the additions they made really don’t make the team THAT much better in my mind.
The two “impact” acquisitions are obviously Broxton and Sanchez, but even they aren’t THAT big of an impact on the team. I guess you can argue that Betancourt and Mijares are polishing touches, but they really don’t pop out to you.
Also, Jason Kendall and Jeff Francis are still on the market and could sign with another team, making them notable subtractions. This definitely stayed in the back of my head while grading them, because it is a very real possibility,’even if the two players aren’t really team changers by any stretch of the imagination.
Despite what I may write about the offseason not working out that well as far as improving the team, I do think that the 2012 squad will be better than that of the year previous, because this may be the year we see most of the Royals’ famed farm system. This alone could get them five more wins.
Predicted Record Range: 75-80 wins