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2012 PREVIEW- A New Era For Both Dodgers, Angels PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Terry, Contributing Writer   
Thursday, 05 April 2012 01:56

Anaheim Signs Albert Pujols; Dodgers Are Sold To Investment Group Fronted by Magic Johnson

Batter Up.

And hurry up.

After somewhat dreading the past couple of Major League Baseball (MLB) seasons, Southland seam-heads can't wait to see how this one will play out. That's because the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim both made cannonball splashes in the offseason to reinvigorate their franchises and fan base.

The Angels did it by nabbing the two biggest available free agents – first baseman Albert Pujols, a three-time MVP who won two World Series in 11 seasons with St. Louis, and left-hander C.J. Wilson, who pitched in the last two World Series with the Texas Rangers.

The Dodgers' biggest addition was the subtraction of embattled owner Frank McCourt, who sold the team to an investment group which includes former Los Angeles Lakers player Magic Johnson. The sale, which must be approved by federal bankruptcy court, should be official no later than April 30.

Anaheim appears locked and loaded to make the playoffs. The Dodgers have two of the game's best players in National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, and MVP runnerup Mat Kemp, although there is not much else about their lineup and rotation that other teams are panting over.

But here is why the 2012 postseason is a possibility for both teams.

In March the MLB powers decided to expand the playoff format, adding a second wild card team in each league to the six division winners and two wild card teams already there. The two wild cards will have a one-game playoff, with the winner advancing to the Divisional Series.

Not that either manager sees the extra spot as key to the upcoming season.

"I think at the end of the day it's nice to know that's a possibility," Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said. "But everyone wants to go out and win a division. Because that wild card now is something that can hurt you.

"I mean you're in, but that's not the way you want to be in. You're playing one game, and if we had to use Kershaw just to get to the next round, then you start [that next round] behind the eight ball in a sense. So it's the way you want to get in if it's the only way. But it's not something you want to have to pin your hopes on. We want to win the division."

Angels Manager Mike Scioscia concurs.

"(The extra wild card) is something way down the road," he said. "Our goal is to focus on every game. And then, as you get through a season, if you've played to your potential you live with the [results]. And when you get to the end of the season, some of those questions [about playoffs] become relevant. But right now no, not at all."

The Dodgers begin the regular season today, April 5, in San Diego. The Angels open the regular season at home against Kansas City on Friday, April 6.

Here is a closer look at both teams and what is possible by October. The stats next to each player's name are from the 2011 season.

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