One week ago, I wrote an article for The Hardball Times where I claimed the Dodgers 2012 season was impossible to predict. With no knowledge of ownership, how could anyone say for certain how anything was going to unfold.
Here we are a week later and I picked the Dodgers to win the NL West title.
So what changed?
Everything… and nothing.
I don’t think you can underestimate the effect of having the ownership situation resolved in Chavez Ravine. For those of you outside of our fair Los Angeles county, you might not understand. But the ugliness of the McCourts hung over everything in Dodgerland. Not just with the embarrassing headlines and uncertainty. There were some weeks it looked like they weren’t going to make payroll. They didn’t know what an MLB takeover would mean.
And all this taking place in a half empty Dodger Stadium scattered with bitter fans.
Now there is going to be at least relief. The embarrassment is over.
So are the tight purse string days. The Dodgers desperately needed an ace pitcher when they were on the verge of putting together a real World Series contender. CC Sabathia changed unifoms twice since the start of the 2008 season. Cliff Lee has switched teams 4 times. Roy Halladay and Danny Haren went to different clubs. And none of them were rumored to be Dodger bound.
The Dodgers made one blockbuster move in the last few years: Bringing in Manny Ramirez. And that trade included the Red Sox paying nearly all of Manny’s salary.
New management knows that there is a lot of bad feeling in Los Angeles regarding the Dodgers. It is a safe bet to assume the team will try to fill in holes and make a blockbuster move.
And, despite all the turmoil, there was a lot right with the 2011 Dodgers that will return in 2012.
The NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw is still there. Newly signed Matt Kemp will bring his MVP worthy butt to center field. And perhaps a sensible conclusion can be found for the Andre Ethier contract.
Either way, logistically and emotionally these could be good times now in Los Angeles. And the pieces were in place for a team that finished with a winning record despite the turmoil.
The team won 82 games. Peace of mind is probably worth 2 or 3 wins.
A happy and relaxed Andre Ethier protecting Matt Kemp in the like up is probably worth a win or 2.
Mix that with the Giants injuries and weak linup and the Diamondbacks counting on a lot of young players to replicate their 2011 Division title.