Will the Dodgers’ big spending pay off this season? 

click to enlarge Matt Kemp is one of the megastars aiming to bring the glory days back to the Dodgers. - GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO
  • Getty Images File Photo
  • Matt Kemp is one of the megastars aiming to bring the glory days back to the Dodgers.

When it comes to Hollywood, the glitzier the better.

At least that is what all the marketing folks will say.

But when it comes to a baseball team, is that true? The new-look Los Angeles Dodgers are trying out that methodology to the extreme.

With a flashy new ownership group headlined by Los Angeles Lakers icon Magic Johnson beginning its first full season, the Dodgers have gone out and purchased big-ticket items in the hope of taking down their rival, the Giants, who have won two of the past three World Series.

But whether their acquisitions will pay off is another matter. Already possessing 2011 NL MVP runner-up Matt Kemp and 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers stockpiled even more star power with first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, pitcher Josh Beckett and still-injured left fielder Carl Crawford as part of the Boston Red Sox’s $262.5 million salary dump last season.

In the offseason, the Dodgers signed pitchers Zack Greinke (six years, $147 million) and South Korean rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu (six years, $36 million) to solidify their rotation and Brandon League ?(three years, $22.5 million) to help the bullpen.

But even big-budget films can flop. Just ask Kevin Costner about “Waterworld.”

After the blockbuster Red Sox trade, the Dodgers went 17-18, while the Giants pulled away from a two-game lead to win the NL West by eight games en route to the World Series title.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are the only other contender in the top-heavy West, but they traded MVP candidate Justin Upton to Atlanta in order to become a grittier team in the mold of manager Kirk Gibson.

Upton is joining older brother B.J. on a team for the first time in their playing history. The Braves are hoping the Uptons push each other to get the most out of the talent that made them top-two draft picks as they try to catch up to the Washington Nationals, who matured a little earlier than many experts thought.

The Nationals used tremendous pitching to overpower the NL East en route to the best record in the majors (98-64) last year. Controversially, young ace Stephen Strasburg was shut down in early September after reaching a team-imposed innings limit in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. That plus a bullpen meltdown in Game 5 ?of the NL Division Series against St. Louis short-circuited their postseason.

Whether St. Louis can keep up with Cincinnati this year in the Central is up for debate. The Cardinals lost ace Chris Carpenter to a potentially career-ending nerve injury, No. 2 pitcher Kyle Lohse to free agency and shortstop Rafael Furcal to a season-ending elbow injury. Adam Wainwright does return to the rotation. Cincinnati is gambling that lights-out closer Aroldis Chapman will slide into the rotation to get more juice out of his 107 mph fastball, while Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips could see more RBI opportunities with trade acquisition Shin-Soo Choo batting leadoff.


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Steve Drumwright

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