Now I remember.
Now I remember what a long offseason feels like.
As I wrote to a friend recently, this is my first offseason in five years not working for the Dodgers (and my first in about 15 years not blogging regularly). During that time, I was happy for the break from the season. Not that I minded it starting, but I really needed the time to recover from the long season and then work on the yearbook and gear up for the thousands and thousands of words to be written.
This offseason, man, I am ready for baseball to come back. I saw this, and I just about tingled.
First Dodgers lineup of 2018 pic.twitter.com/FtH183niGE
— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) February 23, 2018
I had another post in me about the top Dodger storylines for the coming Spring Training and in turn the season, but I’m going to steal from that right here. Near the top, if not No. 1, is this: Will the Dodgers remind everyone of their greatness?
The glass-completely-empty folks look at last season as a bust because the Dodgers fell one game short. Nevertheless, the 2017 Dodgers won 114 games in seven months. For all the talk of how little they did this offseason, remember how strong they were heading into this offseason.
If it makes you feel better, imagine that Kenley Jansen was a free agent this past winter and was signed to a four-year, $66 million deal. Imagine that Justin Turner was a free agent and signed a three-year, $48 million deal. Because essentially, that was the core of the Dodgers’ 2016-17 offseason, and it still applies today.
— Kenley Jansen (@kenleyjansen74) February 23, 2018
Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger might be candidates for regression in their rate stats, but even if that’s true, their presence in the starting lineup for a full season could compensate. In general, thanks to a young lineup, there are several candidates for progression. Short of Matt Kemp getting some kind of role, Turner (33) and Logan Forsythe (31) are the only starters above the age of 30.
Neither Yu Darvish and Brendan Morrow, the two most lamented departures from the 2017 Dodgers, played in the team’s first 50 games. No one (except for this guy) had either of these guys on the radar for meaningful contributions to a National League pennant. To replace Morrow, the Dodgers have several unheralded candidates, just as they did a year ago to replace Joe Blanton. To replace Darvish … well, we’ll see what the summer brings.
The Dodgers enter Spring Training with seven starting pitchers who combined for 132 starts last year. The rotation does present questions, the most of any shelf in the pantry. The master, Clayton Kershaw, has averaged exactly 162 innings the past two regular seasons — he’s a pitcher who might be as vulnerable to attrition as he is likely to uncork his fourth Cy Young season. Alex Wood and Hyun-Jin Ryu also fit into the could-do-better, could-do-worse conundrum. Kenta Maeda will battle the perception that he is a reliever in starter’s clothing. Rich Hill is turning 38. Behind them, Brock Stewart and Ross Stripling, as well as wild-cards like Wilmer Font, lurk mysteriously.
I’m not scared. I’m really not. I’m excited.
Last season was a crazy, fantastic ride, a Hands on a Hard Body spectacular, a dance marathon that ended with a collapse in the final jitterbug. But time enough has passed since then. I’ve got spring in my step, and I think the Dodgers do, too. Let’s boogie.