Tagged: Los Angeles Dodgers

2010 Los Angeles Dodgers Preview

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dodgers.gif2009 Record: 95-67, 1st NL West

2009 Prediction: 87-75, 2nd NL West

2010 Prediction: 1st NL West

 

Impact Player: Matt Kemp

Impact Pitcher: Chad Billingsley

Top Prospect Player:
SS Dee Gordon

Top Prospect Pitcher:
RHP Chris Withrow

 

Manager: Joe Torre, 3rd Season (179-145,
.552)

 

Significant
Acquisitions
:  INF Jamey Carroll, OF Reed Johnson, OF Brian Giles,
INF Nick Green

Significant Losses: 2B Orlando Hudson, OF Juan
Pierre
, INF Mark Loretta, INF Juan Castro, 1B Jim Thome, LHP Randy Wolf,
RHP Guillermo Mota, RHP Jon Garland

 

During the regular season, the Dodgers were easily the best
overall team, not just in wins, but in everything.  They were number one in team ERA, runs
allowed, and hits allowed, and also number one in hits, batting average and
on-base percentage.  The Dodgers went to
the NLCS for the second straight year against the Phillies, and for the second
straight year they were bounced by the bombers from Broad Street.  This offseason, the team’s owner are engaged
in a bitter divource settlement that has led to a very unstable ownership
status, and the team is unwilling to spend any money at the moment.  Very little was done in the way of
acquisitions while the team lost many key parts including Randy Wolf, Orlando Hudson,
Juan Pierre, and Jon Garland.  There is little doubt, however, that the
Dodgers still have the depth of talent to win again in the improving NL West.  Two young hurlers in Clayton Kershaw and Chad
Billingsley
anchor the rotation while three bourgeoning young hitters are
about to become perennial MVP threats in Matt
Kemp
, Andre Ethier and James Loney.  There’s little standing in the way of LA
making it back to the playoffs.

 

Pitching

ChadBillingsley_2007_003.jpg

There is a lack of depth in the rotation that could be the
Dodgers biggest hurdle this season, but the top of the rotation is overflowing
with promising talent.  Billingsley is
about to become a true ace, the likes of which have not been seen in LA since the
days of Orel Hershiser.  He’s a dominating pitcher with the composure
of a winner.  Last season he wore down on
the second half after a very strong first half. 
With another year under his belt, he should be able to put together a
full season.  He won 16 games with a 3.14
ERA in 2008.  Kershaw is a Cy Young Award
waiting to happen.  He’s only 22, and he’s already an
established Major League arm.  Last
season he was only 8-8 in 30 starts, but he often didn’t pitch very deep into
games party because of a high walk rate, but also because there was a conscious
effort on a part of the Dodgers to limit his innings; there will be no such
limit this season.  His ERA last year was
a terrific 2.79, if he continues to pitch like that, he’ll be winning 15-20
games without batting an eye.  Hiroki Kuroda struggled with injuries
last season, but still had a 3.76 ERA in 20 starts; if he’s healthy he’s a
solid number 3 pitcher.  Vicente Padilla was much better after
the Dodgers acquired him from Texas and was re-signed to be the fourth guy.  The fifth spot will be a Spring battle
between lefties Eric Stults and Scott Elbert as well as bullpen
standout James McDonald.  Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger will be in the mix as well.

 

Jonathan Broxton
certainly has the mound presence of an elite closer at 295 pounds and a
fastball that touches 100 mph, but he’ll need to be slightly more consistent to
be considered in a group that includes Rivera, Papelbon and Nathan.  There’s no doubt that the ability is there,
though.  The bridge to Broxton is as
solid as anyone with lefty specialist and setup man George Sherrill back for a full season.  McDonald has become a dependable late inning
option as well and will be there unless he’s starting.  Ramon
Troncoso
and Ronald Belisario
were dominant last season with 2.72 and 2.04 ERAs respectively, while
dependable lefty Hong-Chih Kuo is
back from his shoulder injury and will look to remain healthy for the whole
year.  Cory Wade will be in the mix as well after shoulder problems kept
him from a repeat of his ’08 performance when he had a ridiculous 2.27
ERA.  Many other arms are also in the mix
and could step in if there are injuries, including Eric Gagne who’s back with the organization after a few years away.

 

ROTATION

Age

B/T

Chad
Billingsley

25/6

R/R

Clayton
Kershaw

22

L/L

Hiroki
Kuroda

35

R/R

Vicente
Padilla

32

R/R

Eric
Stults

30

L/L

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Jonathan
Broxton

25/6

R/R

George
Sherrill

33

L/L

James
McDonald

25

L/R

Roman
Troncoso

27

R/R

Ronald
Belisario

27

R/R

Hong-Chih
Kuo

28/9

L/L

Cory
Wade

26/7

R/R

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Scott
Elbert

24/5

L/L

Charlie
Haeger

26

R/R

Carlos
Monasterios

24

R/R

Armando
Zerpa

23

L/L

Justin
Miller*

32/3

R/R

Jeff
Weaver

32/3

R/R

*=newly acquired

 

 

 

Lineup

matt-kemp1.jpg

Manny Ramirez‘s
suspension for steroid use last season derailed the image of the fun-loving,
uber-talented star outfielder and it now appears that his career is winding
down.  He’s still a terrific player and
is a force in the middle of this lineup, but even he acknowledges that this
could be his last season; it’ll definitely be his last in LA.  Along with Manny in left, the Dodgers have
one of the scariest outfields in baseball with young All-Stars Kemp and Ethier
in center and right respectively.  Kemp
is one of the best all-around players in baseball, doing everything very
well.  A 30/30 season seems
inevitable.  Ethier led the team in 2009
in both homeruns (31) and RBI (106), making the 50-game absence of Manny seem
like nothing at all.

 

First baseman James
Loney
should eventually develop more power than he’s shown so far, but his
all-around game is impeccable; he should win a Gold Glove any year now.  Rafael
Furcal
is back at shortstop and will look to bounce back from a
disappointing season a year ago.  He’s
still only 32 and is an elite defender.  Ronnie Belliard won’t play defense at
the level Orlando Hudson did last
year at second base, but he was basically the starter over Hudson down the
stretch and in the playoffs, while steady veteran Casey Blake is back at third base until the team finds a better
option there.  If ownership gets
steadier, they may make a run at Mike
Lowell
if he’s healthy to provide some depth at the position.  Catching will be the responsibility of
Canadian Russell Martin who will
look to prove his accusers wrong after a powerless 2009.  He’s still one of the best defensive and
game-calling catchers in the NL.

 

The bench has some depth with veterans Jamey Carroll and Reed
Johnson
and Blake DeWitt will
also be around.  DeWitt may still be
future at third.  41-year-old Brad Ausmus is back for yet another
year to backup Martin, while Jason Repko
and veterans Brian Giles and Alfredo Amezaga will fight for the last
roster spot.

 

Pos.

 

Age

B/T

SS

Rafael
Furcal

32

S/R

1B

James
Loney

25/6

L/L

CF

Matt
Kemp

25

R/R

RF

Andre
Ethier

28

L/L

LF

Manny
Ramirez

37/8

R/R

C

Russell
Martin

27

R/R

3B

Casey
Blake

36/7

R/R

2B

Ron
Belliard

35

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

C

Brad
Ausmus

41

R/R

INF

Jamey
Carroll*

36

R/R

INF

Blake
DeWitt

24/5

L/R

OF

Reed
Johnson*

33

R/R

OF

Jason
Repko

29

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

INF

Chin-Lung
Hu

26

R/R

C

A.J.
Ellis

29

R/R

INF

Angel
Berroa*

32

R/R

INF

Nick
Green*

31

R/R

1B

Doug
Mientkiewicz*

35/6

L/R

INF

Argenis Reyes*               

27

S/R

OF

Brian Giles*

39

L/L

UTIL

Alfredo Amezaga*

32

S/R

*=newly acquired

 

The Dodgers still have one of the best teams in the NL.  Kemp, Ethier and Loney will be stars for a
long time and Billingsley and Kershaw are the future and the present in the
rotation.  The division looks to be more
competitive than it has been in years so the goings might be tougher this
season, but that adversity may end up helping them come October.

Final Prediction:
92-70, 1st NL West

’09 Preview — Los Angeles Dodgers

MLB_Dodgers.gif2008 Record: 84-78, 1st NL West
2009 Prediction: 2nd NL West

Impact Player: Manny Ramirez
Impact Pitcher: Chad Billingsley
Top Prospect: Andrew Lambo, OF

Significant Acquisitions: 2B Orlando Hudson, P Randy Wolf, P Guillermo Mota, C Brad Ausmus, INF Mark Loretta, P Shawn Estes, P Claudio Vargas, P Jeff Weaver
Significant Losses: 2B Jeff Kent, SS Angel Berroa, OF Andruw Jones, INF Nomar Garciaparra, 1B Mark Sweeney, P Derek Lowe, P Brad Penny, P Greg Maddux, P Takashi Saito, P Joe Beimel, P Chan Ho Park, P Scott Proctor

DISCLAIMER:  As I said in the last entry, this preview will be written as if Manny Ramirez has signed with the Dodgers as it is my belief that it is only a matter of time.  As we saw in the Braves preview involving Ken Griffey Jr., I have a tendency to be wrong about these things.  With my luck, he’ll sign in Kansas City before nightfall.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were the beneficiary of baseball’s weakest division in ’08, finishing with only 84 wins but winning the West.  But the Dodgers ended last year as a team that was much better than most other 84 win teams in baseball history.  The Dodgers entered September with a 67-70 record when Manny Ramirez was still getting used to his new surroundings; and Manny’s new surroundings were still getting used to him.  They figured it out.  The Dodgers finished with a 17-8 September and won the weak West by 2 games over the Diamondbacks.  Then they stunned the hapless Cubs in 3 straight in the NLDS before falling to the Phillies.  Manny should sign any time now and the Dodgers can enjoy/loathe a full season of what he can bring to the table.  With him in their lineup and the unflappable Joe Torre still at the helm, the Dodgers can challenge for a playoff spot. 

Pitching
The Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t have a great off-season in terms of their pitching staff, what with losing Derek Lowe, Greg Maddux, Brad Penny and four key members of their ’08 bullpen, but there are a number of pitchers that should step into new roles and succeed with the talent they have.  Chad Billingsley emerged as an ace in ’08 posting a 16-10 record with a 3.14 ERA in 200.2 innings.  Billingsley is still only 24 and could be a challenger for the Cy Young in the next couple years.  Hiroki Kuroda took a while to get used to his new major-league setting after coming over from Japan but should continue on his incline that started late last year.  He finished ’08 with only 9 wins but by the end of the year had lowered his ERA to a very respectable 3.73.  Randy Wolf was brought back for a second tour with the Dodgers and was 12-12 with a 4.30 ERA between pitcher-friendly Petco in San Diego, and the hitter-friendly “juice-box,” Minute Maid Park in Houston.  21-year-old Clayton Kershaw will have every opportunity to crack the rotation after showing a lot of promise in 22 starts last season, however, at only 21, you never know what you’re going to get.  Jason Schmidt will attempt to comeback from a long string of arm problems that has seen him start only 6 games since the Dodgers signed him before 2007, but if he fails, veteran lefties Shawn Estes and Eric Stults could also vie for spots.  This rotation needs someone to step in and be reliable; Schmidt could be that pitcher with a return to form, but the Dodgers could also use another outside influence such as Pedro Martinez…just saying.

In the bullpen, the Dodgers will give the closing job to Jonathan Broxton who had 14 saves last season.  With Saito now gone to the Red Sox, Broxton could become the dominant closer most envisioned him becoming since he’s been in the majors.  Lefthander and converted starter Hong-Chih Kuo should be the team’s go-to lefty this season after posting a 2.14 ERA last year.  Guillermo Mota was signed from the Brewers and will make his return to SoCal and could function as the primary setup man if his decline last year was incidental.  If it wasn’t, 26-year-old Cory Wade emerged as a solid option posting a 2.27 ERA in ’08.  The final three bullpen spots could go to any number of pitchers including Yhency Brazoban, Claudio Vargas, Estes, Stults, Ramon Troncoso, Scott Elbert, James McDonald, *DEEP BREATH* or minor league contract recipients Charlie Haeger, Tanyon Stultze, Jeff Weaver, Eric Milton, and Stephen Randolph.

Rotation (Handedness/Age on June 30, 2009)

  • Chad Billingsley (R/24)
  • Hiroki Kuroda (R/34)
  • Randy Wolf (L/32)
  • Clayton Kershaw (L/21)
  • Jason Schmidt (R/36)

Bullpen

  • Jonathan Broxton (R/25) — CLOSER
  • Hong-Chih Kuo (L/27)
  • Guillermo Mota (R/35)
  • Cory Wade (R/26)
  • Yhency Brazoban (R/28)
  • Claudio Vargas (R/31)
  • Eric Stults (L/29)


Lineup
This lineup is scary with or without Manny.  With him, it’s downright urine-inducing.  Assuming Manny starts in Left, he will likely end up with his usual .310-40-130 season, especially if he’s motivated and could be a prime contender for MVP.  In Center should be Matt Kemp who’s combination of power, speed, and defensive ability makes him one of the better Centerfielders in the National League, and in Right will likely be Andre Ethier who is emerging as a true star.  This may be the best outfield in baseball.  In the infield, Casey Blake resigned and will play Third and James Loney is yet another budding star-in-the-making at First.  In the middle-infield, Rafael Furcal chose to remain in LA, rather than bolt back to Atlanta and if healthy is a dependable leadoff hitter at Short, while 3-time Gold Glove winner and former Jay Orlando Hudson was signed to play Second.  Hudson is also a great clubhouse presence.  Catching will be Toronto-native Russell Martin.  Martin has become a truly superior catcher doing everything in the game very well.  Players like him are key components to any contender.

The bench is laden with experience and skill.  Juan Pierre provides tremendous speed from the fourth outfielder spot and always seems to be a big part of good teams.  Veteran infielder Mark Loretta was signed in the offseason and brings versatility and a solid bat to the mix.  Blake DeWitt can play any infield position and will give Casey Blake some much needed days off at Third.  Veteran catcher Brad Ausmus was signed to be Martin’s backup and outfielder Delwyn Young should also crack the big club.

Lineup (Handedness/Age on June 30, 2009)

  • SS  Rafael Furcal (S/31)
  • C    Russell Martin (R/26)
  • CF  Matt Kemp (R/24)
  • LF  Manny Ramirez (R/37)
  • 1B  James Loney (L/25)
  • RF  Andre Ethier (L/27)
  • 3B  Casey Blake (R/35)
  • 2B  Orlando Hudson (S/31)

Bench

  • OF  Juan Pierre (L/31)
  • OF  Delwyn Young (S/27)
  • INF Mark Loretta (R/37)
  • INF Blake DeWitt (L/23)
  • C    Brad Ausmus (R/40)


Outlook
The Los Angeles Dodgers are a good team without Manny Ramirez; with him they are a true contender.  They have one of the best lineups in the NL which consists of a nice mix of savvy vets and young talent and their bench and bullpen are very deep.  The only small problem with this team is its depth in the starting rotati
on.  Although the rotation is still solid, an emerging arm or mid-season pickup would be welcome for Dodger fans; without it, they may just miss out on October baseball.  Final Prediction: 87-75, 2nd NL West

 

#30! and some Manny housekeeping

Hey everyone,

I just want to thank you guys for making me #30 on the fan blogs list in only 4 weeks of writing.  It means a lot.  Again, a special thanks to Julia from Julia’s Rants and Mark from the Blogosphere for doing what they do.  I am realizing very quickly that there is a strong sense of community on MLBlogs and to be honest I think it’s fantastic.  Nothing like baseball to bring people together.  Anyway, I hope everyone continues to enjoy what I do here.

As for the previews, they are almost done.  Only the Dodgers, Padres, and Giants remain.  Today is going to be the Dodgers and as you probably know…Manny still hasn’t signed.

340x.jpgI’ve had enough of the distraction as I’m sure everyone in the baseball world has…especially his prospective Dodger teammates.

Since he has not signed, the Dodgers preview is very difficult to write.  Quite clearly this Dodger team was MUCH better with Manny in the lineup than they were before he was traded there at last year’s deadline.  Having said that, he almost definitely will sign in Los Angeles, it’s just a matter of time.  Therefore, the Dodgers preview that will be up later today will be written as if he’s on the team.  If it so happens that he signs somewhere else, I’ll address the issue then.

Here’s to hoping the insanity ends today and Manny just signs and gets on with playing baseball.

Anderson signs with Atlanta; Manny still sits at home

Garret Anderson has signed with Atlanta

athletes_garrett_anderson.jpgAnderson has long been one of the unsung heroes of many great teams in Anaheim over the years and should step into a Left Field platoon Matt Diaz.  Anderson will provide some much-needed pop to the middle of the Braves’ lineup.

Obviously, Atlanta needed to explore other options when Griffey signed in Seattle and Anderson should work nicely in that role.

And just one more thing before I stop writing: Manny Ramirez.

I think it’s time that the Dodgers put a deadline on him signing or not.  If I’m Joe Torre, I want to start preparing my outfielders for the season and how are you supposed to tell Juan Pierre that he’s only going to start if Manny doesn’t sign.  It’s not fair to the guys who are at camp Milwaukee+Brewers+v+Los+Angeles+Dodgers+UjVmevbDfNLl.jpg
already, waiting to see what their role will be.

Quite clearly Scott Boras thinks he’s still in a position of power with his client Ramirez.  I would argue that each day Manny doesn’t sign, he has less and less power.


Comment discussion time!  What does everyone think about this situation?  Is there a realistic possibility that Manny could sit out part of the season to get his demands?  If he does that, does he gain more or less leverage with potential suitors? 

Given the past, when I write about a player, they usually sign mere minutes after I post, rendering my writing completely useless (See Griffey).

NL Central Previews start tomorrow with the Chicago Cubs, enjoy!