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
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Yes, it truly was a tale of two seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011:
Casey McGehee, Rod Barajas, Clint Barmes, Erik Bedard, Ryota Igarashi (because he’s the only Major Leaguer I’ve played catch with), Nate McLouth, and Doug Slaten.
Paul Maholm, Joe Biemel, Ronny Cedeño, Ryan Doumit, Nelson Figueroa, Ross Ohlendorf, Chris Snyder, and Jose Veras.
Why?: The Pirates have had the most transactions of any team I have done a recap for (the total number of names is probably double that of the list of notable transactions. That said, they also don’t have the big names going back and forth so its kind of hard to account how much all of these little gains and losses will affect the team in the aggregate. Some of these additions might not even give the Pirates an extra win. I mean will Doug Slaten have much of an impact of the Pirates? Probably not. I’m not that sure of how these things will pan out in most predictions, much less so many of them.
Anywho, they did make some higher impact changes. Paul Maholm was a big part of their rotation that has left, and the acquisitions of Erik Bedard and Casey McGehee are sure to help the team have their first winning season of the last 20.
However, this grade could possibly and probably should be lower. The reason the grade isn’t where it most likely would be had I done this recap in a month is because two Pirates (Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick) are still on the free agent market and I have to leave the possibility open that they will return to the Pirates-even if they probably won’t. If both of those are on the “Notable Subtractions” list, my grade for the team is probably a half a grade lower, if not more.
Predicted Record Range: 79-84 wins. The NL Central is depleted, but this number will go down if Lee and/or Ludwick don’t re-sign.