Without question, one could write a full-length, comprehensive novel about the trials and tribulations of the 2010 Los Angeles Dodgers.
Looking back, it’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years already.
For the record, 2010 was the last year the Dodgers registered a losing season. Finishing with a 80-82 record, the Dodgers ended their campaign in fourth place in the National League West behind the Giants, Padres and Rockies.
Entering the season, Los Angeles was coming off back-to-back appearances in the National League Championship Series, and the club appeared to have enough talent to make another strong playoff run.
However, the central theme of the season would surround owner Frank McCourt and the divorce proceedings with his wife, Jamie. The players and the coaches constantly deflected questions with regards to how much of a toll team ownership took on the club over the course of the year. The whole saga about the divorce could be a book in itself.
On Opening Day, the team payroll was just over $94 million, good enough for the 12th highest in baseball and down almost $10 million from the previous season.
During the winter prior to the 2010 regular season, McCourt extended General Manager Ned Colletti to a long-term deal, seemingly rewarding Ned for his ability to scrape the bottom of the bargain bin for some very economical deals. The idea at the time was that McCourt was hoarding as much money as possible before the courts ruled what was to be split with Jamie in the divorce.
Colletti was often credited for his creative abilities to assemble an experienced squad with very little resources.
Among Ned’s prized free agent signings that winter and throughout the regular season were infielder Jamey Carroll, pitcher Vicente Padilla, catcher Brad Ausmus, infielder Ronnie Belliard and outfielder Reed Johnson.
Colletti’s biggest trades of the season occurred in a flurry just before the July 31 deadline when the team received pitcher Ted Lilly and infielder Ryan Theriot from the Cubs, alongside outfielder Scott Podsednik from the Royals and aging reliever Octavio Dotel from the Pirates.
Coincidentally, the Dodgers led the entire MLB in attendance in 2009, but by the time the smoke settled on the 2010 season, the team dropped to third place behind the Phillies and the Yankees, undoubtedly affected by the uncertainty of ownership.
Here’s how the Opening Day lineup card was written out:
- Rafael Furcal SS
- Russell Martin C
- Andre Ethier RF
- Manny Ramirez LF
- Matt Kemp CF
- James Loney 1B
- Casey Blake 3B
- Blake DeWitt 2B
- Vicente Padilla P
The starting rotation wasn’t really that bad, although there was not an overwhelming amount of depth. 22-year-old staff ace Clayton Kershaw led the team with 32 starts, followed by 31 each from righties Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda. Righty John Ely made 18 starts, Padilla made 16 and Lilly notched 12.
Kershaw finished the year with a team-leading 13 victories. His 2.91 ERA that season was the second-worst of his career, aside from the 4.26 mark during his rookie year in 2008.
Offensively, shortstop Rafael Furcal was the only regular to finish the season hitting over .300. 25-year-old outfielder Matt Kemp led the team with 28 homers and 89 RBI while outfielder Andre Ethier slugged 25 long balls. First baseman James Loney finished just behind Kemp with 88 RBI.
Personally, I was in the front row right beside the Dodger dugout for the Opening Day festivities at PNC Park. When Torre opted to give the ball to Padilla instead of Kershaw at the beginning of the year, I had a feeling that the season was going to be a long one. The Dodgers lost, 11-5. Padilla ended up surrendering seven earned over just 4-1/3 innings of work.
Secondary to the McCourt divorce was the never-ending injury saga of Manny Ramirez. It seemed as if he was suffering from a hamstring injury every other week. To account for his absence in left field, the Dodgers turned to Johnson, Podsednik, Garret Anderson, Jay Gibbons and Xavier Paul, but their respective production was mediocre at best.
Things got so bad that the club released Manny in late August.
The scars of the 2010 campaign would last almost three full years, as it took the club until the 2013 season to finally return to the playoffs.