2020 Might Be Now or Never for Dodgers

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(Getty Images photo)

The Dodgers have been lurking around the top of the baseball kingdom for the past seven years. They almost tasted all the glory. They’ve been so close, whether it was one broken Hanley Ramirez rib in 2013 or the bang of a trash can, followed by a charging whistle, in 2017.

Last season, the team had the best regular-season, franchise record, winning 106 games, but then came former Dodger Howie Kendrick’s grand slam in a win-or-go-home game in the Division Series against the Nationals. Once again, the Dodgers came up short.

Discussions all offseason surrounded whether manager Dave Roberts went to the right man out of the bullpen in that NLDS Game 5. Many called for the unseating of Roberts, but here we are again with the winningest manager, percentage-wise, since the team moved to Los Angeles.

Over the winter, the Dodgers went for all the marbles, acquiring former AL MVP Mookie Betts and former CY Young winner David Price, the latter who opted out of the shortened 2020 season amid health concerns. Dodger fans were worried that Betts would walk in free agency and never put on a Dodger uniform amid the lengthy battle between the owners and players association. Even though the 2020 season is a shortened one, a World Series trophy is still a World Series trophy, as the blood, sweat, and tears are all there to gain that ring.

After 2020, the Dodgers might be looking very different. They have 13 free agents, including fan favorites like Joc Pederson, Justin Turner, and Enrique Hernandez. Among those 13 is also the highly-coveted Betts.

Others include Pedro Baez, who’s been with the Dodgers since 2014, and Alex Wood, a former All-Star who’s back with the Dodgers for his second stint. The making of this team comes at an opportune time to capitalize with young flame-throwing right-hander in Walker Buehler, a hall of fame pitcher in Clayton Kershaw and a reigning 25-year-old MVP in Cody Bellinger at the forefront.

The Dodgers have certainly made the right moves to be in contention over the past several years, but still missed from the trophy cabinet is the elusive ring. A championship would certainly elevate Kershaw’s Hall of Fame chances even more and be the final puzzle piece. Players like Kenley Jansen, Pederson and Turner, who have been some of the longer-tenured Dodgers, would love to earn a ring for all their efforts.

Kershaw is now 32 years old and the talk of his career in recent years has been his ability to perform in the postseason. The Dodgers have had a run like no other winning seven consecutive division titles, and they find themselves as favorites to take that title once again. The Dodgers, alongside the Yankees, come in as the early favorites to win the 2020 World Series—two historic teams with deep pockets in the biggest markets.

Part of the reason why the Dodgers have been able to stay in contention is the team’s farm system. The ability of executive management, led by Andrew Friedman, to draft players who end up being coveted prospects is admired by rival front offices across baseball. This builds the Dodgers’ depth, while also giving them the flexibility to trade for superstar players. With designated hitter rule being invoked for the 2020 season, it gives the Dodgers another bat in a lineup full of mashing hitters.

The Dodgers payroll for the 2020 season is $227 million, and the team has a good amount of veterans mixed in with young talent. This year seems like the perfect fit for a championship, once the unorthodox 2020 campaign ends. Theoretically, the team might look completely different next year regarding player personnel.

While the Dodgers have proven their farm system is one of the best in baseball, fans are tired of waiting for players “to come of age.”

If the team does indeed make some postseason magic with the stands empty at Chavez Ravine this year, the fans will party like no other.

 

 

 

12 thoughts on “2020 Might Be Now or Never for Dodgers

  1. I expect Kike, Baez, Joc and Wood to leave after 2020 and JT to return.
    I have no clue how the Mookie Derby will resolve itself, but I think part of that will depend upon the experience he has here this year. I’m only sorry that he won’t have a chance to play in front of actual L.A. fans at Dodger Stadium.
    If we don’t win a ring again this year then it shouldn’t hurt to lose those guys next year because, after all, we couldn’t win when we had them.
    Anyone think Kershaw would consider becoming the closer after next year? His arm will have a lot of miles on it so his days as a starter might be numbered, Kenley will almost certainly be gone, and CK might really enjoy the challenge. I keep thinking of how Smoltz made that change very successfully.

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    1. No chance Kershaw will always be a starter until he hangs it up which he should be. I just can’t see him happy in the bullpen as regimented as he is. His routine on the day he pitches is legendary. Kershaw won’t be the type to be forced out of the game he will hang it up before he becomes a liability. If I had to put a number on it I think Clayton pitches 4 more seasons and hangs it up at 35 years old. I’ve always thought he would leave the game early. In other news Yasiel Puig signed with Atlanta. That’s a great signing for them.

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      1. You make some good points about Kershaw’s being very regimented Alex, which might make it hard for him to be a reliever when he would never know which game he was going to pitch in. On the other hand, I think the challenge of being a closer might just be something that would intrigue him. Right now, he still has enough to stay in the rotation so no change is imminent. If I were in Vegas, I would bet your side because I think the odds are that he does exactly what you’ve laid out here. His contract is up after next year. It’ll be interesting to see if the Dodgers do what they need to so that he retires a Dodger (they probably will) or if he finally goes home to Texas to pitch the last couple of years.

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  2. Never been a huge Roberts fan and even less so after his repeated post season gaffs. Game 5 last year was the culmination of many such peccadilloes over the last few years. Including pulling Hill when he was cruising. Jansen is signed through next year also. I think they start getting the young studs more reps, May, Urias, and Gonsolin. And some other pitcher like Gray might even step up. I think Graterol is the heir apparent at closer, and I think even thinking Kershaw would move to the pen is asinine. This is a sprint. Kersh will be fresher in the post season than he has ever been. The entire staff will be fresh. SO yes, maybe this is the core groups last shot at the big win. Remember, 81, that is the way that the infield went out. They won a shortened season, then beat the Yanks in the series, after losing the first 2 games. Then sweeping 3 at Dodger Stadium and winning game 6 in New York. Yasiel Puig signed with the Atlanta Braves, who have a hole because Markakis opted out.

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    1. I think the thought of CK’s moving to the pen may be far fetched Bear, but I don’t think it’s asinine. Smoltz did it very successfully and became the only pitcher to ever have a 20 win season and a 50 save season. I don’t think anyone would have thought he’d be a reliever until he did it. I agree the odds Kersh would do it are slim, but they aren’t zero.
      Asinine? How rude. You’re starting to sound like MT. 🙂 (inside joke)

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      1. I know who MT is…trust me. Asinine may be a little strong, but it comes from a huge gut feeling about Kersh’s mind set. He has one year left on his contract. No way he goes out as a reliever. As for Smoltz, completely different kind of pitcher and circumstances. He became a closer out of need. The Braves did not have anyone they felt could do that. Smoltz also only did it for 4 years, and then went back to being a starter.

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      2. When I made my original comment, I stated that I didn’t see any way he’d even consider relief during his current contract (this year and next). I was referring to after this contract, depending on his general situation. But never mind, I think we’ve covered this topic. You and Alex have me outnumbered. Majority rules.

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      3. It is always healthy to have a discussion. And this is one subject we can agree to disagree. I do not think at any time in his career going forward that Clayton Kershaw ever considers the bull pen as an option. If he ever did consider it, I would be totally surprised. I also will be totally surprised if he is still making 30 plus million a year after this contract is up. If he is, it most likely will not be as a Dodger.

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      4. Now that’s a point we can agree on. I would be totally astonished if he’s making 30 mil/yr on his next contract, whether that be from the Dodgers or any other team.

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  3. The Dodgers have a plethora of power arms, and that is the kind of pitcher they prefer as a closer. CK no longer has that kind of fastball.

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