Here it is at last, the first day of the new season, with the changes the new management made over the winter soon to be on display.
Will Jimmy Rollins play better defense than Hanley Ramirez? Will Howie Kendrick hit better than Dee Gordon? Will Kershaw win a fourth Cy Young Award? Can he lead the National League in ERA for the fifth consecutive year? Will Hyun-Jin Ryu recover from his shoulder woes and win more than fourteen games? Can Kenley Jansen come back from his foot woes and regain his form as an elite closer? Will the Dodgers miss Matt Kemp’s bat more than they’ll be helped by Puig’s play in right field? Can Uribe play up to his standard of the past two years while remaining healthy enough to play 125 games or so? Can Justin Turner keep up his torrid hitting from last year while coming off the bench and playing all over the infield? Will Joc Pederson keep up the hitting he did in spring training? What’s going to happen with André Ethier?
Questions, we have questions. Today we start getting answers.
Your #OpeningDay#Dodgers lineup:
Correction: I thought the Dodger Insider post I linked to was written by Jon Weisman. I’m still not used to thinking of that site as a multi-author blog. It was actually written by Cary Osborne. I’m sorry for the misattribution!
By Mr. Weisman’s Cary Osborne’s calculations, the moves the Dodgers made during the off-season have made them the most improved team in the West in terms of Defensive Runs Saved.
Huh? What’s that number, you ask? Defensive Runs Saved is an attempt to determine the value of a player against other players of the same position. As Joe Posnanski put it at his blog: “the number determines (using film study and computer comparisons) how many more or fewer successful plays a defensive player will make than league average.”
Gone from the Dodgers are Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Dee Gordon, who combined for -37 DRS. In are Howie Kendrick, and Jimmy Rollins and what appears to be either Joc Pederson or Andre Ethier. Since there isn’t enough Major League statistical data on Pederson, we’re going to slot Ethier into the replacement for Kemp. Rollins, Kendrick and Ethier combined for six DRS. That’s a swing of +43 DRS.
He’s got the other NL West teams’ DRS data, and he comes up with the startling fact that the Dodgers are the only team in the division whose changes over the winter give it a net positive number.
Update: Kemp is gone to the Padres for catcher Yasmani Grandal and a pair of pitching prospects. Fedex also goes to the Padres, along with about $30M to defray part of the cost of Kemp’s contract.
Wow! In very short order today the Dodgers
Got 36-year-old shortstop Jimmy Rollins from the Phillies to fill the gap left behind when Hanley Ramirez went the free agent route
Traded Dee Gordon and Dan Haren to the Marlins in exchange for pitcher Andrew Heaney, backup catcher Austin Barnes, minor leaguers Enrique Hernandez and Chris Hatcher
Flipped Heaney to the Angels for second-baseman Howie Kendrick
May be close to signing free-agent pitcher Brandon McCarthy
and have discussed adding pitcher Cole Hamels and second-baseman Chase Utley to the Jimmy Rollins deal with the Phillies
And there’s still tomorrow to find deals which send Ethier, Crawford or Kemp to somebody for a starting pitcher or prospects!
Now that they’ve gotten Kendrick, I can’t see why they’d want Utley except as more bait to trade off, as they did with Heaney (hey, kid, I’d have liked to see you pitch!). Do the Phillies need an outfielder?
Update: changed the post title to day 3, which is accurate. I lost a day somewhere.