Dodger outfielders Justin Ruggiano (#27), Yasiel Puig, (#66), and Kike Hernandez (#14) congratulating each other after a game. Photo courtesy of calltothepen.coi
LOS ANGELES DODGERS – 2015 BY THE NUMBERS:
Record: 92-70, National League West Champions, finishing eight games ahead of the San Francisco Giants
* Lost to the New York Mets in the NLDS, three games to two
Team Leaders – Pitching
Zack Greinke: 19-3, 1.66 ERA (led MLB), 200 strikeouts
Clayton Kershaw: 16-7, 2.13 ERA, 301 strikeouts (led MLB)
Kenley Jansen: 2.41 ERA, 36-38 saves
Team Leaders – Hitting
Adrian Gonzalez – .275 average, 28 home runs, 90 RBIs
Justin Turner – .294 average, 16 home runs, 60 RBIs
Howie Kendrick – .295 average, 9 home runs, 54 RBIs
Clayton Kershaw being his usual dominating self with his 300 strikeouts in 2015. Photo courtesy of fansided.com
Four days after Daniel Murphy’s home run down Dodger Stadium’s right field line killed any hopes for the team’s first World Series since 1988, the Dodgers and all of Dodger Nation are still in mourning, to the point where the perhaps the team colors ought to be temporarily changed from blue to black.
A payroll that set the record for the highest in North American sports history that failed to deliver a championship will do that to a ballclub and its fan base.
The worst part of it all is the likelihood that this blue-clad franchise from Chavez Ravine may be sporting some significant changes when the players convene at Camelback Ranch in Scottsdale, AZ next March.
It has already started as Zack Greinke, who along with Kershaw made up the best righty-lefty pitching combo L.A. has seen since Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale with his epic season, has already declared that he will opt out of his contract and become a free agent as he can possibly get around $150 million for his services rather than the $71 million he has left with the Dodgers.
As the Dodger brass has stated that they want to build for the long haul and would rather not commit hundreds of millions to one guy, we have most likely seen Greinke in a Dodger uniform for the last time.
Which means that the pitching staff will be more of an overall question mark next year as it will feature two sure things – Kershaw and the closer Jansen – and a bunch of maybes and we-will-sees.
As for the hitting, one thing is for certain:
We can say goodbye to veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins as by batting an outstanding .337 over 27 games, Corey Seager not only proved that he was ready for “The Show”, the 21-year old also demonstrated once and for all that he belongs with the big club.
Starting in 2016, Seager will be the man at shortstop – or perhaps third base – for (hopefully) a long, long time.
As for all the speculation of the manager, Don Mattingly, possibly being fired for not getting his team to the World Series despite making the postseason for the third consecutive year – a franchise record by the way,
I have two words regarding what needs to be done:
Yes, I fully understand that these Dodgers not being in the Fall Classic for the 27th straight year is a huge disappointment, and that Mattingly has made some questionable in-game moves.
If anybody can name someone who can do better, I want to meet him or her.
Indeed, I can only think of two people I would like to see given the keys to the Dodger Blue Kingdom should the announcement come down that Mattingly has been let go:
One, a Dodger star from the 1970s who, after managing three major league teams and making a World Series, is retired from baseball for good and wouldn’t want to “come home” because of the way he was ultimately treated in L.A. (Dusty Baker),
and the other is a former key Dodger from the 1980s who has not only won a World Series with a certain team located 35 miles to the south of downtown Los Angeles, it has already been confirmed that he will return for his 17th season as the skipper for that red-clad Orange County squad (Mike Scioscia).
Other than those two, I truly cannot think of anyone who is both available and who would entice any real excitement and optimism to the point of “We’re gonna win for sure!”
So for those reasons, Mattingly might as well stay.
Outside of what was said here, I’m not 100% sure what the Dodgers will look like in 2016.
Will more money be spent in that 27-year quest to secure the team’s seventh World Series crown (sixth in Los Angeles)?
Will there be more of an emphasis on young players like Seager and Joc Pederson, who displayed good power with his 26 home runs but has some maturing to do as he batted just .210 and struck out 170 times?
Will the team look more or less the same?
Or will there be pronounced changes?
We’ll find out when those Dodgers report to spring training in five months.
At least attendance won’t be a problem as over 3.7 million fans came through the turnstiles at Dodger Stadium this year, which led the majors once again.
How many of these players will remain Dodgers next season? Photo courtesy of rantsports.com