Why my Dodgers glass is half full for 2012

Andre Ethier and the Dodgers hope that 2012 will bring more of these moments. (laobserved.com)

I’m a glass is half full kind of guy. I always try to look at the bright side of every situation. Even when the odds are stacked against me, I try to find something positive on which to focus.

When the car ahead of me gets the last “Reserved for Expectant Mothers” parking space at the grocery store, I try not to get mad. When I see a grown man wearing an Aeropostale or Abercrombie & Fitch shirt, I resist the urge to slap him upside the head.

So, that being said, I’m excited about 2012 and what it might bring for my beloved Los Angeles Dodgers. To answer your question, no, there is no drug testing for writers here at Through The Fence Baseball.

I actually think there are plenty of reasons for hope for the Dodgers next season. Why? I’m glad you asked!

Here is why my Dodgers glass is half full for 2012:

Our selfish/lying/cheating/inept owner will be gone – I don’t care whether it’s billionaires Mark Cuban or Steve Cohen, the O’Malley family, Orel Hershisher, Magic Johnson or Steve Garvey, the new owner of the Dodgers will be better than Frank McCourt. McCourt helped to turn the Dodgers from a franchise that players want to play for into a team that almost couldn’t make payroll on numerous occasions. I used to be proud to wear my Dodgers gear, but now it is a little more challenging after the debacle that was the McCourt era. With a new owner in place in 2012, stability should soon follow.

Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw No matter how much turmoil surrounded the 2011 Los Angeles Dodgers, two rocks helped to anchor the unsteady ship: Kemp and Kershaw. Kemp, who was robbed by not winning the NL MVP award, had a career year with a .324 average, 39 homers and 126 RBIs. He fell one homer short of the 40-40 club in homers and stolen bases. After signing a big extension this winter, Kemp can now just focus on getting better (if that’s possible!). Kershaw also had a year to remember for the Dodgers, winning the NL Cy Young and posting a 2.28 ERA while winning 21 games and only losing five. Both Kemp and Kershaw should continue to lead the Dodgers in 2012 and beyond.

Andre Ethier should be more stable mentally and physically – Ethier entered 2011 as the man most people thought would lead the franchise at the plate and off the field. After smacking 31 homers in 2009 and 23 in 2010, it seemed like Ethier was destined for even bigger and better things. Then 2011 arrived and his knee was almost as fragile as his feelings. He pouted and limped his way to 11 homers and 62 RBIs while missing almost 30 games. Hopefully Ethier’s knee is healing this off-season, and he’s chanting his daily Stuart Smalley affirmations in the mirror: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”

The kids are alright – Every good baseball team has the right mix of veterans and youth. In 2011, the Dodgers got a good glimpse of a bright future via a pipeline from Chattanooga, Tenn. Dee Gordon, Jerry Sands, Justin Sellers, Rubby De La Rosa, Nate Eovaldi, Javy Guerra, Kenley Jansen and Josh Lindblom all made an appearance in Los Angeles after working their way up the minor league ladder. Gordon will be the starting shortstop in 2012, while Guerra should be the closer and Eovaldi and De La Rosa will battle for spots in the starting rotation. All Jansen did was break the MLB record for strikeouts per nine innings, averaging 16.10.

James Loney moved from a milk carton to first base – Loney is never going to be mistaken for Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols. He is not now, nor has he ever been, a power hitter. What Loney has done, though, is play stellar defense and drive in runs. During the first half of the 2011 season, Loney was on the back of milk cartons all over Los Angeles with the caption: “Have you seen my bat?” Loney hit below .200 and looked lost at the plate until August. Then something happened, and Loney turned his season around. He ended up with a .288 average with 12 homers and 65 RBIs. If Loney can be the player he was the last two months of the 2011 season, then things will be much better for the Dodgers in 2012. Loney’s contract status is still uncertain, but look for the Dodgers to sign him to at least another one-year deal.

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