As someone who had to write an essay in school about where I would be in the year 2000, I’m having a hard time comprehending that in two days we are entering the third decade of the 2000s.
Many blogs have dedicated posts to ranking the best Dodgers players, games and moments of the last decade. There definitely were some incredible things to remember. Being the huge Clayton Kershaw fan that I am, his no-hitter and his Game 1 World Series start will always stand out to me as special games. He also was the Pitcher of the Decade, which is so special to have had in your organization.
The 2010s also gave us the emergence of role players into superstars, ala Chris Taylor and Max Muncy. It gave us walk-offs to win divisions, to win playoff games, an epic World Series game, and just normal everyday games that made them that much more exciting. Players who started the decade with the team came back around at the end, in Russell Martin and Matt Kemp. There were two Rookies of the Year, Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger. Two NL MVPs—Bellinger and Kershaw (and I will forever believe Kemp was the true 2011 winner). Three Cy Youngs for Kershaw, and a Manager of the Year award for Dave Roberts. Seven division titles, two National League pennants, but alas, no World Series wins.
We all have a favorite player or moment from the last decade but I’m here to fearlessly predict what will happen in the next decade of Dodger Baseball.
Walker Buehler will win multiple Cy Youngs—This one is probably a pretty easy pick. Buehler has become more dominant in each of his seasons, and as the Kershaw’s and Scherzers and deGroms of the world begin their down side of the hill, Buehler is poised to become the next elite Dodger pitcher of this generation.
Buehler will throw a perfect game—This one is a little more tricky, because it’s luck that brings you one of those. But Buehler has the raw stuff and the pure competitive fire to achieve one of the most illusive achievements in sports.
Gavin Lux will win Rookie of the Year in 2020—Another seemingly easy prediction. There is a reason that the Dodgers front office is unwilling to trade their No. 1 prospect. He made a splash when he first was brought up from Triple-A and regressed into the playoffs. But with that experience and another spring training under his belt, Lux will show why the Dodgers brass were so unwilling to let him leave their organization.
Clayton Kershaw will retire a Dodger—If this one doesn’t happen, I will be devastated for the rest of my life. Kershaw will be 32 to start the 2020 season with two years left on his current contract. He specifically stated the last time he was a free agent that he did not want to sign a longer term contract, knowing where he was in his career. I think both sides will be open to working out contract(s) until the time Kershaw decides to retire that will keep him forever in Dodger Blue. He’s not what he once was, but he’s a once in a generation pitcher that deserves to stay with the only organization he’s known. He will also stick around the organization, giving advice like his mentor Sandy Koufax.
Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager will not always be Dodgers—We all know the trends of this ownership group and baseball in general now. The goal is to keep making money and stay under the (self-imposed) luxury tax level. This ownership group could absolutely sign any free agent they want at any time, but they don’t want to have to pay extra in taxes for them (all the while raising prices on tickets and other in game commodities, but that’s for another blog post). As such, they won’t keep all their current superstars when their time comes to test the free agent market. Kershaw was an anomaly because of the generational player he is. They have three current players who will hit free agency in the next few years, and the Dodgers can only “afford” one or two. I think Seager is the first odd man out, and I also see the organization spending first on pitching before hitting. They could do both Buehler and Bellinger, but will they? As their trend is to sign no-names and turn them into stars and use their young talent, I’m a bit skeptical.
The Dodgers will win multiple World Series in the 2020s—Many fans think the window is closing for the Dodgers to finally win that elusive ring, and maybe they’re right. But at least for the foreseeable future, they have as good a shot as any other team. While they’ve been quiet so far this offseason, they have the resources to acquire the players to finally help get them to the promised land. Even though ownership doesn’t want to spend, I do think they recognize on some level they need to make a Championship happen—and soon. I kind of think that once that actually happens, it will happen again. Wishful thinking perhaps, but something has got to give with them group.
Dave Roberts will still be manager at the end of the decade—I know quite a few fans that would be mad at this news. I agree that the bullpen management in playoff games has been suspect at best. But I also think that Roberts has the right temperament and style to manage a team like the Dodgers. I don’t know of any other person who could have handled all the big names, egos, and ups and downs of the last few seasons with such calmness and lack of gossip getting out about some of those players and egos. The Dodgers have long been an organization to keep their managers for long tenures, and when you find one that works with both the front office and with the players, you don’t get rid of him unless something catastrophic happens.
I will write many columns, stay up too late and complain too much about the Dodgers—Hopefully, you will all be right there with me, with the ups and downs (and hopefully more ups than downs). Thank you all for the last four years with this little blog—I’m very much looking forward to what the next decade of Dodger baseball will bring.