Throughout Florida and Arizona this week hundreds of players and coaches arrive at Spring Training camps, all with the hope that this year will be their year. In Mesa, Arizona the Chicago Cubs are preparing to defend a World Series Championship for the first time in 108 years, which has to give each team just a little bit more belief that anything is possible.
Some 30 miles to the west at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, the team the Cubs beat to get in the World Series – the Los Angeles Dodgers -is preparing to take that next step and get to their first World Series in 29 years. The team that takes the field on April 3rd at Dodger Stadium against the Padres will look an awful lot like the one that walked off the field October 22nd, 5-0 losers at Wrigley Field in Game 6 of the NLCS.
While the Dodgers shelled out $192 million dollars to bring back Rich Hill, Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen, their only major additions were trading top pitching prospect Jose DeLeon to Tampa for second baseman Logan Forsythe and signing Sergio Romo as a possible set-up man for Jansen.
The hope for the Dodgers is that Forsythe and his .278/.343/.475 career slash line against left-handed pitching will help improve their NL-worst (by nearly 30 points) .214 average against lefties.
The hope for the Dodgers is that the Yasiel Puig that came back to the majors after a midseason demotion (.281, 4 HR, 11 RBI – albeit in just 57 ABs) is the player they get all season.
The hope for the Dodgers is that Hill can make 30+ starts and that his blister issues, which limited him to just six starts after the August 2nd trade that brought him to LA, will not resurface.
The hope for the Dodgers is that Corey Seager doesn’t have a sophomore slump.
The hope for the Dodgers is that Andrew Toles proves that his .314/.365/.505 slash line was no fluke.
And the biggest hope of all for the Dodgers is that there is no recurrence of the back issues that cost ace and best pitcher on the planet Clayton Kershaw two and a half months in 2016.
If all these things occur the Dodgers stand a very good chance of winning their fifth straight NL West title and getting a rematch with the aforementioned Cubs.
In Dodgertown, as well as the other 29 major league Spring Training camps, hope that all goes well fits the feeling proliferating all across Arizona and Florida every February and March – Hope Springs Eternal.