Originally posted on Razzball  |  Last updated 2/18/12

We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2012 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2012 Dodgers Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness.

1) What’s your thoughts on Jerry Sands for 2012?  What would your projections for him be?

Coming off a big 2010 (35 homers, .981 OPS) between Single- and Double-A, Sands was so impressive in camp and in the first few weeks at Triple-A that the Dodgers surprised us all by making it only to April 17 before recalling him. In his time in the bigs, he was really two different players; the first edition of Sands lasted with the big club until June, struggling terribly to put up a .200/.294/.328 line. After mercifully being sent back to the minors, he made some significant mechanical adjustments and returned to the Dodgers in September, playing every day and bashing out a .342/.415/.493, admittedly over just 20 games.

He’s going to be 24 in 2012, gets phenomenal reviews for his makeup and coachability, and he has absolutely nothing left to prove in the minors, so my outlook should be bright. I’d like to say that he could do a .260/.340/.450 line with ~15 homers and ~35 doubles, which isn’t exactly superstardom but is still plenty good from a player in his first full year.

Unfortunately, Ned Colletti was so infuated with the one good month Juan Rivera had that he felt the need to go throw $4.5m at him, and the Dodgers don’t pay that kind of money to someone who they don’t plan on starting every day. So it remains to be seen if Sands starts the year on the bench – there’s plenty of room for a righty bat who can spell Andre Ethier in RF and James Loney at 1B – or if he starts back in Triple-A to get daily playing time.

2. Andre Ethier is a popular bounce back candidate for 2012.  Do you have the same feelings?  What do you expect from him this year?

I agree. Ethier has always been the type of player who’s never really been as good as he thinks he is, but I do think everything has lined up for him to have a really good season this year. Most importantly, he’s healthy, after dealing with a broken finger in 2010 and suffering through a knee that eventually required surgery in 2012. You can see that he started well in each year and went downhill after trying to return too soon (in 2010) or trying to play through it (in 2011).

In addition, Ethier is a notoriously emotional player, one who thrives on the idea that he doesn’t receive enough respect. (This is the same guy who complained, just hours before Opening Day last year, that the Dodgers might actually non-tender him following the season.) He’s entering his walk year in 2012, and there’s been no progress on an extension for him, after the Dodgers have locked up both Chad Billingsley and Matt Kemp in the last year, and he’s clearly behind Clayton Kershaw on the priority list. There’s also been plenty of noise that he’s unhappy in Los Angeles and might prefer to play at home in Arizona, or in Boston with buddy Dustin Pedroia, or anywhere else, so a healthy Ethier with a lot to prove should turn into offensive production.

3) Dee Gordon — over/under for 45 steals?

Over. He might only get on base 45 times this entire season, but he’ll steal at least one every time. Seriously, just look at this animation-heavy post that may destroy your browser – he’s the fastest player I’ve ever seen. It remains to be seen if his zero-power approach will prevent pitchers from ever giving him a free pass, but if he’s healthy, he’ll get his 45. That’s really the biggest issue with him, because he’s so scrawny that it’s not hard to see him getting banged up easily, as we saw near the end of last year.

4) Javy Guerra didn’t do horrible last year, but everyone, including me, wants Kenley Jansen to close games in 2012.  Will it happen?  How do you see the saves breaking down this year for the Dodgers?

Guerra’s going to start the season as the stopper, simply because he’s now a Proven Closer™. You know, nerves of steel, guts of lava, balls of adamantium, all that. I think that status comes with a merit badge and a pass to the secret Proven Closer™ lounge in the basement of every stadium. He was actually pretty surprisingly effective last year, so he hasn’t given the team a reason to make the switch, and while this doesn’t help fantasy players, you could make a pretty good argument that having Jansen available to put out fires in the 7th and 8th is a far more effective use of his skills than shoehorning him into the 9th.

All that being said… Guerra walked 7.3/9 in the minors in 2010, and was decidedly less effective in the second half of 2011 than in the first. Meanwhile, Jansen struck out four guys while I was writing this sentence. It won’t happen immediately, but sooner or later Guerra’s going to blow some leads and Jansen will be racking up saves by midseason.

5) If Frank McCourt owned a fantasy baseball team, how would he distinguish himself vs. the other owners in his league?

You know the guy who “forgets” to pay his entry fee before the draft, and then keeps claiming “oh, it’s in the mail” throughout the season, and then as his team falls further out of the race he ignores the question entirely before claiming that the league was unfair anyway? We all know that guy. We hate that guy. He’d be that guy.

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