The good news is, the MLB Preview 2011 issue of ESPN the Magazine (April 4, 2011) showed up in my mailbox today. It's so new, i can't even find a picture of it on the ESPN.com website (which is quite unlike Time Warner's curious strategy of sending its magazines to airport newsstands three days before it arrives in home subscribers' mailboxes).
The bad news is, the outlook ain't good for the Dodgers.
Buster Olney picks the Giants to not only win the NL West, but to take the World Series over the Red Sox. Might he be sniffing the shoe polish that Brian Wilson affixes to his beard?
Here's Olney's hackneyed, surprisingly uninsightful take on the NL West:
The Giants and Padres battled until the final day of the season in 2010, but the race won't be nearly as dramatic in 2011. Why? Because San Francisco will have catcher [Oyster Pubes] and lefthander Madison Bumgarner on the Opening Day roster. They were two of baseball's most productive rookies in 2010, despite spending more than the first six weeks of the season in the minors. San Diego will again be better than expected because of its ability to prevent runs, but only two teams have the upside to challenge for the Giants: the Rockies, if Ubaldo Jimenez can continue to refine the art of pitching at high altitude; and the Dodgers assuming Matt Kemp's 2010 season (.249 batting average) was a bump on the road to superstardom. Kemp's yearlong romance with Rihanna ended in December, so we can assume he's no longer distracted by the pop star.
Are we still rehashing the Matt Kemp-Rihanna breakup? I mean, the LA Times' Dylan Hernandez has moved on, noting Kemp has showed up to camp in excellent shape, with new Dodgers coach Davey Lopes providing a positive influence. Ken Gurnick over at mlb.com notes Kemp's sharpened focus, as well.
Has Olney turned into Jay Leno, forced to rely upon outdated material?
Here's the predicted finishes, courtesy of Dan Szymborski of Baseball Think Factory:
Aim high, boys!
They also project the Dodgers' offense to be fourth in the NL West: "Power outage: not one starter is pegged to slug higher than .500 this season." On the slightly more positive side, the Dodgers' pitching ranks third: "This may be the year Clayton Kershaw enters the Cy Young conversation. Finally."
And one last bit from DIamondbacks pitcher Ian Kennedy: "Best looking fans? I don't know personally, but the bullpen guys say LA, and they have a lot of spare time."
At least we've got our good looks.