Strengths: Starting Pitching. Perhaps only the Detroit Tigers can also boast that they have two legitimate aces. The Dodgers also have a very very good number three in Hyun Jin Ryu. If they get even passable big league pitching from some combination of Danny Haren, Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley when he’s healthy, and Stephen Fife, they should be in excellent shape. The lineup looks very deep on paper too, but you’re crossing your fingers if you’re a Dodger fan, and hoping for a bit of luck with health.
Weaknesses: Leadership and the bullpen. Somehow, Don Mattingly finished second in the NL Manager of the Year vote. I don’t get it. He’s good enough with young players and coaxing over-achievement out of middling veterans, but if you need good decisions made late in games to pull out victories, he’s not the guy. And he’s proven it. The pen also stands to lose J.P. Howell and Brian Wilson, two key performers who were brilliant down the stretch and must be replaced if they can’t be resigned.
Off-season Needs: They need to figure out who is going to be at third. Former punchline Juan Uribe was quietly solid offensively all year, and oddly brilliant defensively. He can be had back but is it worth a two year deal? If they are going to overpay for someone, and they always do, they should make it Howell. He’s been excellent his entire career, has bundles of post-season experience, and the way Mattingly mismanages bullpens, you can bet Paco Rodriguez will probably falter again as the go-to lefty late in 2014.
2014 Outlook: NL West champs. They should win the division by a decent margin. The talent is there to win 100 games, you figure Mattingly will cost them about 5 with his atrocious managing, but 95 wins should still be good enough.