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April Flowers
2004-04-02 08:56
by Jon Weisman

The Dodgers' April schedule, with opponents' projected records according to Baseball Prospectus:

Six games vs. San Diego (84-78)
Six games vs. Colorado (73-89)
Six games vs. San Francisco (82-80)
Three games vs. New York (76-86)
One game vs. Montreal (79-83)

That's a sub-.500 opposing schedule. Unfortunately, BP pegged the Dodgers at 75-87. Now, I don't mean for you to take the projected records without salt grains, but the gist is this: If the Dodgers want to beat those projections, a good start before they take on the best of the NL Central and NL East wouldn't hurt. (Smothering any mojo the Padres and Giants seem to hold over the Dodgers would help as well.)

Rob Neyer said on today that the Dodgers are "a 78-win team that has the potential for complete collapse." You have to agree with him in the sense that it is more likely for the starting pitching to falter than for the current offense to get hot - despite Dave Roberts' guarantee that "this offense will be a whole lot better than last year." (Someone may need to supplant Roberts himself in the lineup for that guarantee to be fulfilled.) Smart acquisitions could work wonders - but how smart will the Dodgers be able or allowed to be?

While we wait for that answer, Opening Day approaches. The season is about to start. Though pennants are not won or lost in April, they are nudged in one direction or another. It will simply be one day, one game, one inning, one at-bat at a time. Make good pitches; make good swings.

Soon, it won't be about predictions. The game will be out of our heads and onto the field.

Teams will score nine runs and lose one day; score one run and win the next.

Injuries will come at the most expected and most unexpected places.

There will be good luck and bad luck.

Small events will trigger larger ones. Game of inches.

And then, slowly but surely, though, trends and reality will emerge. And we'll finally see what the 2004 Dodgers are.

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