With all the off the field distractions last year concerning Frank McCourt, its easy to forget about the actual team on the field. The Los Angeles Dodgers did manage to finish above .500 last year and with Clayton Kershaw winning the Cy Young and Matt Kemp finishing second in the MVP voting, the Dodgers have two of the best players in the NL.
However, even with the talent at the top, you do not have to dig too far to find some potential keepers on this team. Here is a look at some of the players who could become keepers.
RP Kenley Jansen is slated to work as the setup man for closer Javy Guerra this year, but that may be just temporary. Jansen has been dominant, when healthy, and could take over the reigns as closer if Guerra should happen to slip. With a career K/9 rate of 15.3, he certainly has the stuff to close, its just a matter of opportunity. Now might be your last chance to grab him before he assumes the closer role.
OF Andre Ethier reportedly has battled a knee injury the last two years, before finally undergoing surgery last September. Its highly likely that his knee issues sapped his power, holding him to only 11 homeruns in 487 at bats in 2011. If he is healthy, the power should return and he still maintains a career .291 average to go with it.
SS Dee Gordon has speed to burn and is slated to start at short. After getting a tryout last year, in which he hit .304 with 24 stolen bases in 224 at bats, Gordon should easily double that stolen base output in 2012. He is another player to target now before his value skyrockets.
SP Nathan Eovaldi ranks as one of the Dodgers top 5 prospects and is currently 6th on the Dodgers starting pitching depth chart. Given that its rare for any rotation to make it through a whole season intact, look for Eovaldi to get another shot as a starter in 2012. He is a good pitcher to stash in a bullpen or bench spot.
OF Jerry Sands is a former top prospect who didn’t live up to his billing last year. However, with only Juan Rivera ahead of him on the depth chart, Sands should get another shot to prove himself in 2012. Worse case scenario is he spends a good chunk of the season in AAA, but with Rivera only signed through 2012, Sands could be worth stashing away for 2013.
SP Rubby De La Rosa came out of the gates hard, when he was called up last June, posting a 3.71 ERA and striking out 60 in 60.2 innings. It all came crumbling down when he underwent Tommy John surgery in August and he is expected to miss most, if not all of the 2012 season. However, he is another player worth stashing for 2013.
The rest of the Dodgers roster does not look keeper worthy. RP Javy Guerra will be the closer, at least at the start of the season, and could net you some cheap saves. However, with Jansen breathing down his neck, he will have a very short leash.
SP Clayton Kershaw was dominant last year on the way to his Cy Young award. However, that alone will likely make him overvalued in 2012 and unless he can repeat his performance from 2011, he is unlikely to get you full value in 2012.
The same goes for OF Matt Kemp, who put up a near 40/40 season while also producing a .324/.399/.586 slash line. Despite his predictions of a 50/50 season, some drop off is expected and he is unlikely to earn what you will have to pay for him.
Finally, 1B James Loney just does not produce like a first baseman and should be left to deeper NL only leagues or at best your utility spot. He has hovered around the .280-.290 mark with 10-13 homers the last 4 years and is unlikely to produce much more than that.