Monday, December 29, 2014

Los Angeles Dodgers: An In-Depth Look Using Customs

I have been tinkering around with my use of custom cards. For a while, I was releasing them one by one. I then moved to a voting system using two customs. Once again, I have altered my custom posts, and I have decided to move in a new direction. I will now posts customs one team at a time. The posts will not only include the fantastic customs done by me (self-promotion for the win), but a look back at the 2014 season, and a look ahead into 2015. 

What went right in 2014?
The Dodgers won 94 games and took first place in their division. They were led by a strong starting pitching staff headlined by Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-Jin Ryu, allowing them to have a cumulative starting pitcher ERA of 3.20, second in the league. The Dodgers also had a sound offense, ranking number one in OBP% and WAR, and second in WRC+. For fans of the more traditional stats, the Dodgers ranked in the top 10 in runs, RBI's, stolen bases, and batting average.

Clayton Kershaw and Josh Beckett also threw no-hitters, so yea, that was pretty cool too.

What went wrong in 2014?
The Dodgers were hampered by consistently inconsistent bullpen. The bullpen ranked 21st in ERA, 26th in BB/9, and 25th in WAR. The lack of a bullpen was on full display in the NLDS against the Cardinals, with Dodgers relievers allowing 6 runs in only 8.1 innings. Additionally, the Dodgers bowed out of the playoffs after only winning once in the NLDS. That was definitely not the outcome most Dodger fans were hoping for.

What has the club done to improve this off-season?
A lot. Andrew Friedman and company went on a trade binge earlier this off-season (perfectly timed right before my finals, thank you very much), dealing Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, Matt Kemp,  Andrew Heaney, and some minor leaguers for the likes of Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick, Yasmani Grandal, Joel Peralta and others. Needless to say, the team's defense should be vastly improved, both in the infield, outfield and behind the plate. The trades also opened up the door for Joc Pederson in center, though Friedman has not publicly committed to this.

In addition to all of the trades, the Dodgers signed Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson to solidify the back of the rotation, though it looks like the Dodgers will still be looking for at least one more starter. Can anybody say Chad Billingsley?

What should we expect in 2015?
Although a ton of casual Dodger fans may be viciously berating the Dodgers new front office, the club should be greatly improved in 2015. The defense up-the-middle has been improved dramatically. While Gordon was serviceable at second, watching Hanley play defense was like stepping on a LEGO while watching the Giants celebrate another World Series. It was seriously that bad. Rollins and Kendrick will be replacing Hanley and Gordon; and Joc Pederson, while not a great center fielder, has shown that he can handle the position rather well. Furthermore, Grandal is a huge improvement behind the dish, both on offense and on defense. While the Dodgers are losing the powerful bats of Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez in the middle of their lineup, they have lengthened it quite a bit with Kendrick and Grandal.

Overall, the Dodgers starters should be phenomenal once again. The bullpen is far from perfect, but it has improved greatly. The offense might take a step back, but there is quite a bit of break-out potential (Grandal and Pederson) and a ton more depth (Hernandez, Heisey, Guerrero). Expect another first place finish, and, hopefully, a deeper run in the playoffs.

Who's my favorite player in the organization's history?
Shawn Green.

I'm interested in hearing what you think about the team heading into 2015? Did you like their moves? What would you have done? Who is your favorite player in the organization's history?

While you think that over, take a look the rest of the Dodgers customs I created. 

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