With Opening Day exactly 90 days away, there are three things that I see as paramount for the Dodgers to make it into and winning the 2013 World Series. Ironically, none of the them have anything to do with the nearly half billion dollars that new Dodgers ownership has spent since acquiring the team last May (although that certainly will have a lot to do with the end results too).
First – A healthy Matt Kemp. I’m not necessarily talking a 40-40 Matt Kemp, but I am definitely talking something close to that. And like all Dodger fans, the first six to eight weeks of the season will be a very anxious and nervous time for me and should give us all an indication as to whether or not he is actually 100% healthy. But the cold, hard, bottom line fact is – So goes Kemp, so go the Dodgers.
Second – A healthy Clayton Kershaw. In my opinion, Clayton was two strikeouts away from winning his second consecutive Cy Young Award in 2012. Granted, he did not have the wins that R.A. Dickey or Gio Gonzalez had, but he led in nearly every other important pitching category, especially ERA and WHIP. I would be lying if I said that I will not be worried about Kershaw’s hip issue every time he takes the mound in 2013. Simply put – without a healthy Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers aren’t going to the Fall Classic.
Third – A healthy Chad Billingsley. I sure wish that I had the same confidence and optimism that he, Ned Colletti and others seem to have that he is actually 100% healthy heading into spring training, but I simply do not believe this. I am certainly no doctor, but much like Kershaw’s torn hip labrum, I simply do not believe that a torn elbow labrum will heal all by itself. That said, if Chad is as healthy as he is trying to convince everyone that he is (even himself), I would love nothing more than to see him finally become a solid number two – something that I have been waiting for for seven years.
Of course there are other facts that will determine the Dodgers success in 2013, such as Greinke’s and Ryu’s success on the mound, Carl Crawford finally being 100% healthy, Hanley Ramirez returning (at least somewhat) to the Hanley of old, Luis Cruz continuing his offensive and defensive effectiveness at third base, and Adrian Gonzalez finally getting it together; but I sincerely believe that those top three things will be the difference between a ring and an also ran.
What are your thoughts?