Big-budget Dodgers hope 2014 is a smash hit

Thu Mar 20, 2014 5:15pm EDT
 
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By Larry Fine

(Reuters) - The Los Angeles Dodgers appear poised to cash in on their big-budget blockbuster of a roster and end a 26-year wait for another World Series in the 2014 Major League Baseball season.

A dream starting rotation topped by double Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke and Korean import Ryu Hyun-jin, and a strong offense could turn Hollywood's team into a juggernaut if all the pieces fall into place.

The Dodgers do not figure to be threatened in the National League West, and the reigning NL champion St. Louis Cardinals, whose payroll is more than $100 million less than the Dodgers' projected total of $232 million, have lost some offensive punch.

Meanwhile, the Washington Nationals added right-hander Doug Fister to a formidable pitching staff supported by some big bats, including young slugger Bryce Harper, to rate as top pick in the NL East, followed by the 2013 division champion Atlanta Braves.

The array of Los Angeles stars will be on display in Australia, for a Down Under opening of the MLB season against the Arizona Diamondbacks at the Sydney Cricket Ground where the NL West rivals stage a two-game series starting on March 22.

Emboldened by a TV deal expected to bring billions of dollars into the Dodgers' coffers, the team has spared no expense in procuring players and the spending blitz may reap dividends with their first Fall Classic title since 1988.

Fueled by a payroll that puts the Yankees to shame, the Dodgers could well advance beyond their NL Championship Series showing in 2013 as outfielder Matt Kemp and shortstop Hanley Ramirez rebound from injury-shortened seasons.

Kemp, who had only 263 at-bats, and Ramirez (304 at-bats) should fully join an attack including slugger Adrian Gonzalez and Cuban dynamo Yasiel Puig, whose mid-season arrival sparked an L.A. hot stretch that carried them to the West crown.   Continued...

 
Mar 9, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) pitches the third inning against the San Francisco Giants at Camelback Ranch. Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports