Dodgers now more of a team

first_imgIn less than one week, the champion of Super Bowl XLIX will be crowned the best team in the NFL. Will it be the defending champion Seattle Seahawks, or the controversial New England Patriots? Will Pete Carroll win his second consecutive Super Bowl, or will Brady add a fourth ring to his collection?I don’t know, and you’ve come to the wrong place if you’re looking for speculation on the Big Game.Don’t get me wrong. I love football just as much as the next person, but for the past week all I have seen on TV or read about in the newspaper is either in regards to Deflategate or Super Bowl XLIX. Hopefully I can provide you with a break from the monotony.In one month, pitchers and catchers will report to training camp in Phoenix for their first spring workout of 2015. That means we’re one step closer to opening day and the return of America’s favorite pastime.Come April, Dodger Stadium will be home to a very different Dodger team.The 2014 Dodgers won a second straight National League West Championship. To most, the Dodgers’ 2014 season would be considered a success, but to the Dodgers, the season ended in another disappointment. That’s because for the second consecutive year, the St. Louis Cardinals knocked the Dodgers out of the playoffs in the National League Division Series. To add insult to injury, the rival Giants pulled off a Cinderella story to win the World Series.Between the 2013 and 2014 seasons, the Dodgers made minimal changes and consequently saw minimal results in 2014. This year, the Dodgers immediately began making changes as soon as their season ended.The first major change was the demotion of Ned Colletti from general manager to senior advisor to the president. The Dodgers hired the A’s assistant general manager Farhan Zaidi as director of baseball operations.Zaidi’s areas of expertise are providing statistical analysis for evaluating and targeting players in the amateur draft, free agent and trade markets. Zaidi will oversee the Dodgers’ scouting and player development.After Zaidi’s arrival, the Dodgers didn’t wait long to start clearing out the old and making room for the new.Most notably, the Dodgers traded All-Star outfielder Matt Kemp, catcher Tim Federowicz and $32 million to the San Diego Padres in exchange for catcher Yasmani Grandal and pitchers Joe Wieland and Zach Eflin.Kemp was an asset to the Dodgers who had the ability to elevate the team and make them better as a whole, but was consistently plagued with injuries. Kemp’s departure also solves the problem the Dodgers had in 2014 with four outfielders rotating between three positions. The Dodgers also sent All-Star infielder Dee Gordon, who led the National League in stolen bases, to the Miami Marlins.Though the Dodgers parted ways with two All-Star players, they added veterans to the roster. In the same trade that sent Kemp to the Padres, the Dodgers acquired shortstop Jimmy Rollins from the Philadelphia Phillies. The Boys in Blue also signed former Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick in the deal that sent Gordon to Florida.In nearly every trade the Dodgers have made this season, they have placed a premium on depth in the pitching rotation and defense. The Dodgers let go of slugger Kemp and lead-off hitter Gordon for sturdy defense in Rollins and Kendrick. The biggest statement the Dodgers made in favor of a stronger defense was parting with clean-up hitter Hanley Ramirez, who cost Clayton Kershaw a perfect game with a defensive error in June.According to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, the loss of offensive power is balanced by the team’s stronger defense, because “you don’t need to score as many runs when you limit and give up less runs.”Despite leading off the rotation with National League Cy Young and MVP Award winner Clayton Kershaw, and number two pitcher Zack Greinke, who would be an ace on almost any other team, the Dodgers struggled with depth in the rotation.The 2014 Dodgers were a team of egos and tension that banded together to win 94 games but were humbled for the second-straight year in the post-season.This year, the Dodgers have made changes in hopes of executing a more successful playoff run ending in a World Series victory. The Dodgers are a talented team more than capable of winning it all, but probably not with as much regular season dominance.To quote Mattingly again, “I think the pieces fit together more as a baseball team than a collection of talent.”last_img

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