Los Angeles Dodgers Odds to Win 2014 World Series
by Alan Matthews - 3/4/2014
Did you ever have a Major League Baseball team that you rooted for growing up -- or still do -- as long as it didn't conflict with your overall favorite team? For me, that "other" team was the Los Angeles Dodgers (helps my favorite club was in the American League). L.A. had really cool uniforms, interesting players and the greatest play-by-play guy ever in Vin Scully. Now, however, I find myself rooting against the Dodgers like I do the Yankees, and it's really simple why: They simply outspend everyone else to achieve success. Evil Empire West.
Maybe Dodgers fans deserve the current ownership group that includes Magic Johnson. After all, previous owner Frank McCourt was one of the worst in baseball history by some accounts. Still, the team has never bottomed out like a Kansas City or Pittsburgh. In the past 20 years, for example, the Dodgers finished with a losing record just twice. They were still pretty competitive under McCourt, who was officially approved as team owner in early 2004. The Dodgers made the playoffs four times under his ownership before his spending started harming the product and led MLB to take over the club.
The excitement around the new owners was evident last year as the Dodgers led the majors in attendance and returned to the playoffs for the first time since '09. Cuban minor-league call-up Yasiel Puig was a sensation from the moment he arrived in the majors on June 3. The Dodgers really took off on June 22. They entered that game 31-41 but routed the Padres in San Diego. L.A. amazingly wouldn't lose back-to-back games after that win until late-August on the way to cruising to the NL West title. It saved manager Don Mattingly's job, and he finally got a three-year extension this winter. Now the pressure is really on, as the Dodgers are considered the team to beat.
Dodgers 2014 Projected Lineup
Even though L.A. is swimming in cash thanks to a multi-billion dollar local television deal, the team actually was pretty quiet this offseason in adding anyone from outside the team. The biggest deal went to Cuban second baseman Alexander Guerrero for $28 million. However, he never played second before and apparently has looked shaky in camp. He could start the year in the minors. So that could be a problem position with someone like Dee Gordon or Chone Figgins manning the spot.
The outfield looks crowded with four very good players for three spots: Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Puig. The latter isn't going to sit, that's for sure. The club tried to trade Kemp during the offseason, but he hasn't been healthy since his monster 2011 season and still isn't. It's hard to forget how good this guy was in '11 after injuries have devastated him the past two years. He won't be ready for the start of the season. Thus, it was likely smart for L.A. to hang onto Crawford, not exactly a bastion of health himself, and Ethier.
L.A. is working on a long-term extension with shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who had his own injury issues last year but hit .345 with 20 homers in 86 games. Ramirez would have won the NL batting title if he had enough at-bats. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez remains a fine player but isn't what he was from his Padres days and is vastly overpaid. Los Angeles also re-signed third baseman Juan Uribe. He's serviceable at best. I'm really not a big fan of this lineup at second, third or catcher (A.J. Ellis). The bottom half could be easy sailing for opposing pitchers.
Dodgers 2014 Projected Rotation & Closer
The reason many are on the Dodgers bandwagon is the excellent rotation led by clearly the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw. What more can you say about the two-time NL Cy Young winner and three-time reining major-league ERA leader? All that Dodger money went to his startling seven-year, $215 million extension. Teams usually get burned on those huge deals, especially to pitchers. But the Dodgers couldn't let Kershaw, still only 25, get to free agency after this season.
Don't look for Kershaw to pitch in the season-opening two-game set in Australia as the team wants to monitor his workload closely after he pitched a career-high 251.0 innings last season (including playoffs). Also out for Australia is No. 2 Zack Greinke, who is dealing with a strained right calf. The team isn't worried about that long term but no reason to rush him. Greinke had a tremendous 1.85 ERA after the all-star break last season. He loved Dodger Stadium, with a 2.11 ERA there compared to 3.21 on the road. No. 3 starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, (14-8, 3.00 ERA) was terrific as a rookie. From there, the Dodgers are looking at camp battles between the likes of Josh Beckett, Dan Haren and Paul Maholm for the final two spots.
The bullpen looks tremendous with Brian Wilson setting up flame-throwing closer Kenley Jansen. The team also added former Indians all-star closer Chris Perez, so that group should be dynamic.
2014 Los Angeles Dodgers Odds to Win the World Series and Futures Odds with 2013 Trends
At Sportsbook.ag, Los Angeles is favored across the board: -260 to win the NL West, +250 to win the pennant and +550 to win the World Series. The Dodgers' "over/under" wins total of 93 (both -115) is also the highest. L.A. was 73-82-7 O/U last year and 88-74 on the runline. Kershaw is given a wins total of 16.5, with the over a -130 favorite. Greinke is 14.5, with the over a -120 favorite. Puig is listed at 21.5 homers (over -120 favorite) and 156.5 hits (both -115).
2014 Los Angeles Dodgers Season Picks and Predictions
This has nothing to do with my personal feelings, but I'm not on this team's bandwagon as heavily as many are. I see two potential holes in the rotation and those three in the lineup. The team has injury-prone stars like Crawford, Kemp and Ramirez. Puig started like gangbusters, but pitchers figured him out and he hit only .214 in September. He's been living like a star in the offseason, too, and showed up well overweight to camp.
That said, L.A. will spend to add pieces if need be. The NL West title seems likely, and having Kershaw and Greinke in any short series can be tough to beat. I lean just under the 93 wins. I'm going over Kershaw's wins but under Greinke's. Puig's average will drop this year, but he will top 21 homers. I'd lean under the hits. I think a pennant and World Series is possible depending on any additions, but don't see it at the moment.
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