Complete Los Angeles Dodgers 2013 Season Preview

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2013

Dec 11, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Zack Greinke (center) poses with Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti (left) and co-owner Magic Johnson at press conference to announce Greinke's signing as a free agent pitcher at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Record: 86-76 (second in NL West, missed postseason)

Key Arrivals

SP Zack Greinke (FA), SP Hyun-Jin Ryu (FA), RP J.P. Howell (FA), IF/OF Skip Schumaker (Cardinals), RP Mark Lowe (FA), RP Kevin Gregg (FA), RP Peter Moylan (FA), C Jesus Flores (FA), RP Rob Rasmussen (Astros).

Key Departures

CF Shane Victorino (FA), SP Joe Blanton (FA), RP Randy Choate (FA), RP Todd Coffey (FA), RP Jamey Wright (FA), IF Adam Kennedy (FA), OF Bobby Abreu (FA), OF Juan Rivera (FA), SP John Ely (Astros), C Matt Treanor (FA), SS Jake Lemmerman (Cardinals).

Projected Starting Lineup

1. 2B Mark Ellis (.258/.333/.364, 7 HR, 31 RBI, 62 R)

2. LF Carl Crawford (.282/.306/.479, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 23 R)

3. CF Matt Kemp (.303/.367/.538, 23 HR, 69 RBI, 74 R)

4. 1B Adrian Gonzalez (.299/.344/.463, 18 HR, 108 RBI, 75 R)

5. SS Hanley Ramirez (.257/.322/.437, 24 HR, 92 RBI, 79 R)

6. RF Andre Ethier (.284/.351/.460, 20 HR, 89 RBI, 79 R)

7. 3B Luis Cruz (.297/.322/.431, 6 HR, 40 RBI, 26 R)

8. C A.J. Ellis (.270/.373/.414, 13 HR, 52 RBI, 44 R)

Lineup Overview

All the pieces are there for the Dodgers to have one of the most dangerous lineups in the game this coming season, it will just be a matter of how they come together as a group.

Second-half additions Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez are entering their first full season with the team, and they join Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier to give the Dodgers five superstar-caliber players in the lineup.

A.J. Ellis enjoyed a breakout season last year, leading the team with a .373 on-base percentage and Luis Cruz and Mark Ellis will fill out the lineup and should put up solid numbers.

There's not much depth here (more on that later), so injuries could be a major issue, but if they can stay healthy expect them to be among the NL leaders in most offensive categories.

Projected Bench

C Tim Federowicz (.294/.371/.461, 11 HR, 76 RBI, 71 R at Triple-A)

2B/OF Skip Schumaker (.276/.339/.368, 1 HR, 28 RBI, 37 R)

IF Nick Punto (.219/.321/.281, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 20 R)

IF Juan Uribe (.191/.258/.284, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 15 R)

IF/OF Jerry Hairston (.273/.342/.387, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 19 R)

Bench Overview

The Dodgers lost perhaps their two most productive bench players in Juan Rivera and Adam Kennedy to free agency, and while they're left with a veteran group, there is not much in the way of production.

Hairston can play anywhere and will likely be the team's top contributor off the bench, while Federowicz has the potential to be among the better backup catchers in the game.

Dee Gordon could win a spot if the team opts to release Juan Uribe, and Alex Castellanos (.328/.420/.590 at Triple-A) could earn a spot as well with a strong spring.

Projected Starting Rotation

1. LHP Clayton Kershaw (33 GS, 14-9, 2.53 ERA, 229 Ks, 227.2 IP)

2. RHP Zack Greinke (34 GS, 15-5, 3.48 ERA, 200 Ks, 212.1 IP)

3. RHP Josh Beckett (28 GS, 7-14, 4.65 ERA, 132 Ks, 170.1 IP)

4. LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (27 GS, 9-9, 2.66 ERA, 210 Ks, 182.2 IP in Korea)

5. RHP Aaron Harang (31 GS, 10-10, 3.61 ERA, 131 Ks, 179.2 IP) 

Rotation Overview

The Dodgers have one of the best pitchers in the game in 24-year-old Kershaw, and their biggest need entering the offseason was a front line starter to slot behind him in the rotation.

They found their guy in Greinke, signing him to a six year, $147 million deal. They also signed the top foreign arm on the market in Ryu to a six year deal, as he'll look to duplicate the success he had in seven seasons with the Hanwha Eagles.

The rest of the rotation will be filled out by a handful of veteran arms, as Beckett, Harang, Chris Capuano, Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly will all be vying for rotation spots. As a result, the team could look to deal an arm this spring, either way, they'll have plenty of depth.

Projected Bullpen

CL Brandon League (74 G, 2-6, 15 SV, 3.13 ERA, 6.8 K/9)

SU Kenley Jansen (65 G, 5-3, 25 SV, 2.35 ERA, 13.7 K/9)

SU Ronald Belisario (68 G, 8-1, 1 SV, 2.54 ERA, 8.7 K/9)

MR J.P. Howell (55 G, 1-0, 3.04 ERA, 7.5 K/9)

MR Matt Guerrier (16 G, 0-2, 3.86 ERA, 5.8 K/9)

MR Javy Guerra (45 G, 2-3, 8 SV, 2.60 ERA, 7.4 K/9)

LR Chris Capuano (33 GS, 12-12, 3.72 ERA, 162 Ks, 198.1 IP)

Bullpen Overview

The Dodgers will be without a pair of key bullpen arms in Jamey Wright and Josh Lindblom this coming season, but a healthy Matt Guerrier and free agent signing J.P. Howell should be able to replace them.

League was re-signed to a three-year, $22.5 million deal after being acquired from the Mariners at the deadline last season. Jansen still has the best stuff on the team but his heart problems last season were enough for the team to look for another option at closer.

Prospect to Watch

CF Yasiel Puig (.354/.442/.634, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 20 R in Rookie League and High Single-A)

Puig defected from Cuba last season and established residency in Mexico, and on June 28 the Dodgers signed him to a seven year, $42 million deal.

The 21-year-old was impressive in his 23-game debut last season and he'll move quickly if he can perform at a similar level in his first full pro season.

Ranked as the team's No. 2 overall prospect, according to Baseball America, Puig has 30/30 potential, and once he is ready, the team will do what it takes to find a spot for him in their everyday lineup.

With Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford signed through 2017, and Matt Kemp signed through 2019, it will take a trade to open up a spot for him. Still, he could see a September call-up with a strong season and could force the Dodgers hand going into the 2014 season. 

Final Thoughts/Predictions

The Dodgers are clearly ready to do whatever it takes to win under their new ownership group, and if their veteran pieces can come together as a team and they can avoid injury, all the pieces are there for them to be legitimate title contenders.

They'll have to contend with having the reigning champs in their own division, as well as an improved Diamondbacks team, but the postseason is well within reach.

As of now, I would rank the Nationals, Reds, Braves and Giants ahead of the Dodgers in National League and have them at No. 8 in my preseason power rankings.

Predicted Record

89-73 (second in NL West, No. 2 Wild Card spot, loss Nationals in NLDS)


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