Now that pitchers and catchers have reported to camp and spring training is beginning on Feb. 23, no team has done more than the Los Angeles Dodgers to improve their standing. They have spared no expense in signing the best free agents for 2013.
With action in the Los Angeles Dodgers spring training facility, Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., all seems right with the world. With most of the country buried under snow or near-freezing temperatures, the Dodgers' pitching staff is ready to set the league on fire.
Here is a breakdown of not only one of the best rotations in Major League Baseball, but also a quality lineup of position players.
Magic Johnson and others in Guggenheim Baseball Management went on a shopping spree making Zack Greinke one of the highest-paid pitchers in the game, signing Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu and re-signing closer Brandon League. Greinke and Ryu will be great additions to a rotation that already includes ace Clayton Kershaw, arguably the best pitcher in the National League.
They now have one of the deepest rotation in the majors with Josh Beckett, Chris Capuano, Chad Billingsley and Aaron Harang.
Their bullpen is also strong with League, Kenley Jansen, Ronald Belisario and Javy Guerra. With any luck and run support, we won't have to see much of the middle relievers and what we do see are solid holds.
The projected lineup looks to resemble an All-Star squad more than a single team's day-in and day-out card. The outfield of Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier is going to be outstanding with an MVP and Gold Glove between them.
Crawford struggled a bit in Boston the past two seasons, but he will be much improved with the change of scenery as well as playing alongside two great players in Kemp and Ethier.
The infield is also impressive due to free agency with Adrian Gonzalez on first and Hanley Ramirez at shortstop. Gonzalez is a career .294 hitter that has hit over .300 the past two years.
Ramirez is a career .298 hitter and is only a couple years removed from his .342 hitting crown. His batting average improved in his time with the Dodgers over the past two seasons and he looks to keep it growing strong.
Second baseman Mark Ellis is entering his 10th season in the majors and is aging like a fine wine. His power has dropped off but he is still fielding well and maintaining a solid average. Luis Cruz fills out the infield at third base and is coming off his strongest year batting .297 in 2012.
Catcher A.J. Ellis will be behind the plate as the Dodgers' everyday catcher after having a solid 2012 season. He played 133 games and knocked in 44 runs off 114 hits. He finished with 13 home runs and 52 RBI. Quality numbers from a quality catcher.
When you look not only at the starting lineup, but also the legion of eligible backups in Nick Punto, Dee Gordon, Skip Schumaker and Jerry Hairston, this Dodgers team will not only win their 12th National League West title, but will stop nothing short of their 22nd National League Pennant and their seventh World Series title.