At $230 million, their payroll is the biggest in both the history of the franchise and among the 30 Major League Baseball teams this season.
With their rival San Francisco Giants having won two out of the last three World Series, they have put together a virtual All-Star team, which included signing the top free agent prize among pitchers, Zach Greinke, for six years and $147 million of the Guggenheim Group’s (featuring Magic Johnson) money.
However, the jury’s out on some of those all-stars – namely Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, and Chad Billingsley – in regard to whether or not they can sufficiently recover from their injuries.
The jury’s likewise out on whether Hanley Ramirez can be his standout self at shortstop, or should he be moved to third to allow the speedy and talented but still raw Dee Gordon to play there.
Eight established starting pitchers are up for the five rotation spots, which is a dream problem for any manager to have.
And speaking of the manager, Don Mattingly is essentially on the hot seat with a mandate to win now as he hasn’t been signed to an extension.
That is the situation that the Los Angeles Dodgers are in as they reported to Spring Training at Camelback Ranch in Phoenix to prepare for a season filled with the highest expectations of any previous Dodger team in, well, a very long time.
Being that it has been 25 years since Kirk Gibson’s shot off Dennis Eckersley propelled L.A. to their last World Series title, and with the big names they have on their roster such as Adrian Gonzalez and Clayton Kershaw along with everyone else that was mentioned, everyone in Dodger Blue, from Magic to team president Stan Kasten to GM Ned Colletti to the fans in the left and right field pavilions at Dodger Stadium, expects big things to happen this year.
The biggest question on the table is, can the Dodgers fulfill their expectations?
Can Kemp, Gonzalez, Ramirez, Crawford and Andre Ethier provide a lineup that’s the most potent in the National League?
Can Kershaw, Billingsley, Greinke, and the other two starters – whoever they may be – match their promise as the N.L’s best starting five; Kershaw, who was the league’s ERA champion in 2012, and Greinke are guaranteed to be 1-2 in the rotation, but can the 3-5 starters step up just as well?
And can the Dodgers’ bullpen, with newly signed Brandon League as its closer (for now) and only one healthy left-hander, J.P. Howell, do its job, as that’s where games and championships are ultimately won or lost.
Those questions will be answered fairly quickly starting on April 1, when they begin their quest to take the MLB crown from the Giants as they host the defending champs.
The money has been spent.
The players are signed, sealed, and ready to prepare for the 162-game campaign as they begin the first of their 41 Spring Training games against their Camelback Ranch campmates, the Chicago White Sox, on February 23.
Vin Scully, the greatest play-by-play man in the history of sports, will be back for his 64th season as he, as well as former manager and all-around Dodger ambassador Tommy Lasorda, are the Dodgers’ last links to their Brooklyn days.
Now it’s time for this team to show their worth on the field and prove those through-the-roof expectations.