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Relief for Your Dodgers Doom Boner

Picture of an old, beat up, Dodger blue van that looks as old as Dodgers Stadium that has "Bandwagon Dodgers" written on the side in Dodgers script. Above and below, it says, "For sale $100. 2014 Bandwagon. Low Miles, barely driven, runs out of gas in October."
I KEED! I KEED!

I hate Jeff Passan. Okay, I don't literally hate him. In fact, Jeff Passan is one of maybe two MLB journalists these days that I truly trust to break news about signings, trades and other goings-on without wondering if they have ulterior motives, bad sources or are just being used by player agents to drive up the offer from their team of choice. Who knew this guy would turn out to be the most trusted source in MLB news here in the year of our Lord 2023?

Jeff Passan wearing his "Unwritten Rules Glasses."
I mean.

My frustration lies mostly in the fact that he stole my idea for this blog entry before I could put words to post. The baseball world is reeling over the "Super Team" the Dodgers are currently constructing in Los Angeles, and while I highly encourage you to read Passan's piece, I want to add some thoughts of my own on why you shouldn't let your Dodgers DOOM overtake you just yet.


Before we go on, I'd like you to consider the following stats over a consecutive, three-year period:

  • .301/.403/.533 139 OPS+

  • .308/.374/.535 137 OPS+

  • .319/.412/.598 157 OPS+


Now, consider adding the player that earned those stats, who also finished top ten in MVP voting each of those years, to two elite players on your team that have three MVP awards among them. Add to that a couple of top 10 ranked prospects in MLB, a manager with a proven track record and an ace starter with a solid rotation, and that sounds like the recipe for division domination and a near sure World Series win, right? Well, you might already know where I'm going with this...

I forgot he could smile, to be honest.

A lot of people seem to forget that the Angels did kind of try to add around Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout, most notably signing Anthony Rendon after he won a World Series with the Nationals. No one, and I mean NO ONE, could have predicted the way injuries have plagued Rendon since he moved to Anaheim, where he's struggled to play even half a season or produce at a league-average level since 2020. The Angels also tried hiring a fancy manager with a proven track record in Joe Maddon. You all might be familiar with that guy, so I probably don't need to say much about his history. Unfortunately, Maddon's style started to come off more like schtick as the modern game began to pass him by and he was ultimately fired.


Then there's poor Jo Adell, who has struggled to live up to his prospect hype, and Brandon Marsh who... oh wait, he's doing just great. On the PHILLIES. The solid, young rotation the Angels planned to build around Ohtani was partially derailed by the internal malfeasance that led to the tragic death of Tyler Skaggs, and partially by the injuries that kept Ohtani himself from staying on the mound for more than a full season in half of his years with the team.


You may be asking... what the heck is my point? Teams have been winning the World Series for the past six years, and not one of them had Shohei Ohtani on the roster. In Anaheim, despite the Angels' efforts, a number of factors kept the team from producing a winning product during Ohtani's Orange County tenure. Passan did a fantastic job of highlighting how "super teams" have been unable to win in recent years, but let's also talk specifically about the team the Dodgers are building:


  1. Two of the Big Three are on the wrong side of 30


Anyone who knows me knows how much I respect Freddie F-ing Freeman. He's one of my favorite players in the sport--maybe in all of sports. Freeman is a fantastic player and a future Hall of Famer. He's also going to turn 35 during the 2024 season and let me tell you--Father Time is undefeated. Sure, there have been a few exceptions to the rule, but it's highly possible that Freeman will decline soon. Like, in-the-next-season-or-two-soon. Similarly, Betts will turn 32 in 2024, and it will be much harder for the Dodgers to continue playing him at premium positions while hoping his offensive production stays put.


See? Freddie knows I'm right.


2. The Dodgers starting rotation is great... if you like injuries and uncertainty!


I'm not gonna lie--I was disappointed when the Dodgers traded for Tyler Glasnow. I've wanted the Cubs to make that trade for years, and thought he'd be an awesome one-year acquisition until Cade Horton or one of the other kids on the farm is ready to stake his claim to a spot in the rotation. That said, the Dodgers trade-and-extend of Glasnow is a high-risk, high ceiling move for a guy who has never exceeded 120 innings in a season and has had a sub-4 ERA only three times in 8 years. Glasnow joins a rotation of Ohtani (can't pitch in 2024), Walker F-ing Buehler (coming back from Tommy John surgery after missing 2023), and Yoshinobu Yamamoto (hasn't thrown a pitch in MLB), an expensive group rife with uncertainty about how they'll fare in 2024 and beyond. Oh, and Buehler is a free agent after 2024, so the Dodgers will necessarily need to figure out how to replace his innings. It's a group with great potential for both dominance and failure, and everything in between.


3. The rest of the Dodgers line-up is kind of... uninspiring?


Remember that year when the Dodgers traded for Trea Turner and had Betts, Freeman, Justin Turner, Will Smith and an actually productive Gavin Lux in the line up? And had four starters with sub-3 ERAs? And they still got knocked out of the playoffs? And that other year they had Betts, Freeman, Smith, J.D. Martinez, Jason Heyward being decent against righties, an actually productive Max Muncy and half a season of James Outman being unstoppable, and they still got knocked out of the playoffs? Martinez is gone, Outman struggled the last half of 2023, and I'd wager a good chunk that Heyward won't repeat his success in 2024. Even with Ohtani, the rest of the lineup after the "big three" looks kind of beatable.


Overall, even with the additions L.A. has made this off-season, I'd still bet the field to win the World Series in the next decade. Dodgers fans can have fun in their loud ballpark winning the NL West, but the "get in and win" nature of the playoffs will still make this anyone's game. Looking at their team on paper, I'm still keen to see how things play out before I go shuttling the World Series trophy over to Chavez Ravine before the season even starts. Stranger things have happened.





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