The Dodgers, despite a valiant and expensive effort, have failed to the reach the postseason. Now that they've been mathematically eliminated, let us properly mourn and remember them ...
What went right
Frank McCourt is no longer owner. When you succeed in making Frankie Parking Lots go away, the rest gravy, isn't it?
And speaking of gravy, there is some to be found. Clayton Kershaw, who, lest we forget is still just 24 years of age, has churned out another Cy-worthy season. The mind reels when you consider that he's not yet reached what should be his prime. A.J. Ellis carried on with his unlikely successes, and Kenley Jansen pitched like a shutdown closer. New ownership plus all the headline-grabbing trades (Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, Carl Crawford …) helped repair the brand in the eyes of the Dodger fan base.
The best news of all? Vin Scully will be back in 2013.
What went wrong
Too many lineup holes for too long. Consider that the Dodgers on the season got a sub-.700 OPS from four different positions: first base, third base, shortstop and left field. That's half of the hitters in an NL lineup. Yes, they addressed three of those four holes around the trade deadline, but in a very real sense the damage was done by that point. Matt Kemp lost more than 50 games to injury and was never the same after injuring his hamstring.
While the rotation was a pleasant surprise in the early part of the season, the starters behind Kershaw generally scuttled down the stretch. They got just 48 2/3 innings from Ted Lilly, and Chad Billingsley may be headed for Tommy John surgery. The Dodgers also locked up GM Ned Colletti despite little evidence that he's merited such an extension. All those contracts taken on at the deadline could be crippling in the future.
MVP: Kershaw. Obviously, Kemp was well on his way to claiming not only Dodger MVP but also NL MVP. Injuries snuffed out those hopes, however. Kershaw, meanwhile, paced the NL in ERA and WHIP, struck at least 200 batters for the third straight season and also logged 219 2/3 innings.
LVP: Dee Gordon. The steals are nice, but a .563 OPS is patently unacceptable.
MLB free agents to be: OF Shane Victorino, SP Joe Blanton, OF Bobby Abreu, INF Adam Kennedy
Whatever happens, it will be telling. The Dodgers already have more than $180 million committed to 17 players for 2013. Even if they could avoid devoting another dime toward player salaries (they, um, cannot avoid that), they'd still open the season in the top five in payroll. Even so, the Dodgers have needs. To wit, they could use a new third baseman and some outfield reinforcements. Rotation depth is another need. They'll rise or fall based on Colletti's "all-in" approach, but improvements at the margins are needed.
Ridiculously premature prediction for 2013
Carl Crawford rebounds with a solid season. Josh Beckett does not.