The encouraging bent on the Dodgers’ upcoming season finds its origin less in what the front office accomplished in the offseason than in how the team finished last season.
Which is to say, very well. So well, in fact, that they were able to climb from 14 games under .500 to finish 82-79.
Now that still makes for a very mediocre team, but it was how the Dodgers closed their season that offered particular encouragement: They won 25 of their final 35 games.
Which is swell, but what does it really mean for 2012? Not all that much, said Manager Don Mattingly.
Certainly not a lot of those winning ways were on display for the Dodgers in a 12-3 loss to the Angels on Monday night, when the Dodgers went to an all-bullpen staff for the game at Angel Stadium and five of them gave up runs.
But it was simply one last exhibition game leading up to Thursday’s season opener, hardly comparing to their strong finish in 2011. Or so the theory goes.
“What’s that going to do for you?” Mattingly asked. “It can build a little character for us. We have a lot of that same core group back, that have a feeling that they can do some things.
“But at the end of the day it starts over. You gotta go play again, you have to put wins on the board. We’re back to square one as soon as the season starts.”
Which, thankfully, doesn’t include Monday’s effort.
Mattingly has praised an improved bullpen for one reason the team is in better position to compete this season, but it wasn’t Monday for Todd Coffey (three runs, three hits, two walks in two-thirds of an inning), Kenley Jansen (three runs, two hits, a walk in one inning) and Ronald Belisario (four runs, three hits, two walks in 1 1/3 innings).
Jansen was left with a 5.00 earned-run average, Belisario a 7.45 ERA, Coffey a 10.57 ERA and Mike MacDougal, who gave up a run in one inning, a 7.88 ERA.