Dodgers: How many wins in 2011?
Tony Jackson, ESPN LA Dodgers beat writer: I'm predicting 85 wins for the Los Angeles Dodgers this season; probably not enough to get them into October in the National League West. It is five wins more than they had last year, which I'm putting on the fact that manager Don Mattingly is probably worth five wins just because of his strong relationship with some of the players.
The Dodgers could win more than that, but they can't afford long-term injuries to key players. They have already had short-term injuries to four key players before the end of spring training.
This team isn't likely to be popping any champagne come fall, but the Dodgers could, and should, take a significant step forward from last year's crash-and-burn. Prediction: 85 wins.
Jon Weisman, Dodger Thoughts author: If the pitchers stay hale and hearty and the hitters bounce back from last year's decline, this is a 90-plus-win division champ. If the pitchers succumb to inconsistency and age and the hitters can't find their groove, this will be the worst Dodgers team since the 91-loss squad of 2005. Both scenarios are plausible.
That, plus a shaky defense, leaves me uncomfortable doing more than splitting the difference and setting the bar for the Dodgers at 80 wins, the same total as last year, by coincidence. Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Rafael Furcal are being asked to carry the offense almost by themselves, and while that offense might not need to score much more than four runs per game, that assumes that Hiroki Kuroda, Ted Lilly and Jon Garland will have no issues. Given the injuries that hit the Dodgers regularly through spring training, that doesn't seem so safe an assumption. The 2011 season certainly has potential, but the Dodgers have to hope that good luck shifts from San Francisco to Los Angeles this season (and bypasses Colorado). Prediction: 80 wins.
Ramona Shelburne: ESPN LA columnist: General manager Ned Colletti has done what he always seems to do: Scrape together enough valuable spare parts to complement the team's young core and put the Dodgers in position to contend for an NL West title. Whether he's done much more than that remains to be seen. Without making any major trades, and barring any major injuries, I'd peg the Dodgers' win total around 88 games. Why the increase from last year's 80 wins? Call it ascension to the mean. The Dodgers averaged 87 wins from 2007-09.
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Last year Matt Kemp, James Loney, Jonathan Broxton and Andre Ethier all had subpar years. If even two of those players regain their previous form, I think that's enough to generate eight more wins over the course of the year. Prediction: 88 wins.
Arash Markazi, ESPN LA columnist: Maybe I'm just blinded by the success the Dodgers' young players had in 2009, but something tells me the down years Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and James Loney had in 2010 were an aberration and we'll see them return to their old form in 2011. Add to the mix the continued rise of perhaps the brightest young star on the team, Opening Day starter Clayton Kershaw, and the Dodgers should be a better team this year than they were last year. That still doesn't mean I like them to win the division or even make the postseason, but Don Mattingly's first year as the Dodgers' skipper should at least be better than Joe Torre's last year with the team. Prediction: 83 wins.
Mark Saxon, ESPN LA Angels beat writer: There aren't a lot of teams with a young core as talented as Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and James Loney, and the rotation looks solid. Prediction: 89 wins.