The NBA All-Star game is in the books and spring training is now in full swing with position players reporting. It is time to list the 10 things Dodger fans should love about the 2011 team. If you missed the 10 things to hate about the 2011 Dodgers, do not fret, it is archived here just for your pleasure.
The 10 things to love about the 2011 Dodgers:
- Clayton Kershaw. The guy is a stud. Manager Don Mattingly has already named Kershaw his opening day starter. Last year, Kershaw was one of only 12 pitchers to pitch for more than 200 innings and strike out more than 200 batters. Now it is time for Kershaw to prove the Dodgers correct in selecting him three picks before two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum.
- Return of Vin Scully. Scully is returning for his 62nd season as voice of the Dodgers. For any Dodger fan, or any baseball fan older than 20, Scully is the voice of baseball. Cherish this season Dodger fans. Scully is the single best voice in baseball. Period. No one is close. No one.
- Solid starting rotation. With the return of Jon Garland to the Dodgers, the Dodgers will feature a starting rotation in which no pitcher pitched fewer than Chad Billingsley’s 191.2 innings in 2010. Additionally, the highest individual ERA was Ted Lilly’s 3.62. The Dodgers will need these arms to be equally as effective as they were in 2010.
- Addition of Juan Uribe. Although Uribe hit only .248 with an OBA of .310, the hits and walks he did get, oftentimes were big ones. Of his 24 home runs, 11 either tied or put the San Francisco Giants in the lead. His two-run home run against the Dodgers on September 4 against Jonathan Broxton helped propel the Giants to a first place NL West finish. His solo shot in game 6 of the NLCS clinched the NL pennant for the Giants. Although the three-year, $21 million contract seemed too steep for the Giants, the Dodgers hope to capture some of the magic that propelled the Giants to their first championship since moving west.
- Healthy Andre Ethier. Ethier started the 2010 season mashing with a .392 batting average, 11 home runs, and 38 RBI through the first six-weeks of the season. After a freak batting practice accident on May 15, where he broke the small finger on his right-hand, he would slump to .263-12-44 over the final four months of the season. When Ethier is healthy, he wears opposing pitchers out. In 2008 and 2009, Ethier was one of the league leaders in average pitches seen per at bat with over 4.
- Rededication of Matt Kemp. Kemp worked hard during the off-season (losing ten pounds). He changed his diet and worked with a track and field coach at Arizona State University. Kemp is hoping to rebound from a .249 batting average with a franchise record 170 strike outs.
- Opening at home against the San Francisco Giants. In a schedule quirk, the defending World Series champions have to travel on the road to open the season. The Dodgers have an opportunity to make a statement right out of the gate.
- Versatility of Vincente Padilla. Since joining the Dodgers during the 2009 season, Padilla has gone 10 – 5 with a 3.82 ERA. He will supply insurance for the starting rotation and be a fearless member of the bullpen.
- Fresh start. Since Walter Alston managed his first game in Los Angeles, the Dodgers have had only two back-to-back losing seasons in over 50 years. If history holds, the Dodgers should be in the black in 2011.
- Dodger Dogs. Although a person may be able to find Dodger Dogs at Smart & Final in the frozen food section, there is nothing better than the real thing at Chavez Ravine. Each new season brings these babies back to life.