Sometimes there's a team—and I’m talkin’ about the Dodgers here, sometimes there’s a team, well, they’re the team for their time and place. They fit right in there. And that's the Dodgers. In Los Angeles. And even if they’re a great team—and the Dodgers are most certainly that--quite possibly the greatest in Southern California, which would place them high in the runnin’ for greatest worldwide. Sometimes there's a team... Ah, I lost my train of thought here.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Ballpark: Dodger Stadium (now the third oldest!)
Manager: Joe Torre
General Manager: Ned Colletti
700 RS 648 RA 87-75 pythag
Won Division Series (3-0) over Cubs, Lost NLCS (4-1) to Phillies
SP Derek Lowe
SP Brad Penny
CL Takashi Saito
RP Chan Ho Park
2B Jeff Kent
OF Andruw Jones
IF Nomar Garciaparra
2B Orlando Hudson
SP Randy Wolf
Util Mark Loretta
SP Claudio Vargas
Lineup (ZiPS Projections):
C Russell Martin 26, (.281/.374/.430)
1B James Loney 25, (.295/.347/.456)
2B Orlando Hudson 31, (.290/.363/.431)
3B Casey Blake 35, (.277/.346/.458)
SS Rafael Furcal 31, (.286/.358/.411)
LF Manny Ramirez 37, (.297/.394/.521)
CF Matt Kemp 24, (.295/.342/.477)
RF Andre Ethier 27, (.292/.363/.475)
Chad Billingsley 24, (3.35 ERA 204 IP)
Hiroki Kuroda 34, (3.84 ERA 171 IP)
Clayton Kershaw 21, (4.21 ERA 154 IP)
Randy Wolf 32, (4.68 ERA 127 IP)
James McDonald (R) 24, (5.46 ERA 140 IP)
CL Jonathan Broxton 25, (2.78 ERA 81IP)
Jason Schmidt (final year of contract, possible return--?)
Jeff Weaver (possible long relief)
SS Ivan DeJesus
LHP Scott Elbert
Eric Milton (!)
at LA 7/20, 7/21, 7/22
home 8/28, 8/29, 8/30
Last year the Los Angeles Dodgers won their first playoff series since 1988 (when you’ll recall Benny “the Jet” Rodriguez stole home to win the World Series). This was in large part thanks to the aquisition of Manny Ramirez. After July 31st they were 54-54, 2 games back of the Diamondbacks and averaging 4.16 runs per game. From August 1st on, with Manny in blue they averaged 4.63 runs per game.
Here's another one of those fun divisions between the stat heads and the traditional thinking. The Dodgers' offense didn't turn it on because Manny was protecting the other hitters (yes, protection is basically a myth). That extra half run per game came from Manny's bat (.396/.489/.743) and some long overdue additions by subtraction. Andruw Jones (OPS+ 34) had 224 PA before August 1st, 14 PA thereafter. Juan Pierre (OPS+73) went from 321 PA to 85. As for Andre Ethier OPSing .779 before Manny and 1.097 after? Hmm... correlation is not causation? It should be noted that Ethier's pitches seen didn't change with Manny hitting behind him. Regardless the Dodgers offense should be strong all season long this year.
The pitching is not as certain. If you were watching the non-Reds Opener last night you know Derek Lowe has taken his sinkerball to Atlanta. Randy Wolf has started 241 games while the other four starters have fewer than half as many starts in the Majors. Billingsley is great, but if rookie James McDonald doesn't work out (or when Wolf or Kuroda inevitably make a DL trip) the next options are Didn't-you-used-to-be Jason Schmidt and (drumroll)... Eric Milton. A Pedro signing might be in order. LA did lead the league in ERA+ last year so they could fall quite a bit and still be competitive.
The Dodgers could be in position to make improvements at the deadline. If what a lot of people expect is true, small and mid market teams might be selling off players and a large market like LA should capitalize. GM Ned Colletti has never been one to horde his prospects so he should be dealing.
Last year the Dodgers won 7 of 8 from the Reds, but this isn't your dad's Reds-Dodgers rivalry. The teams play only six games--3 in LA in late July and 3 in Cincinnati in late August. Rafael Furcal does have a .965 OPS against the Reds and the aforementioned Eric Milton is hiding somewhere in the Dodgers' system.
And that concludes the 2009 Red Reporter team previews. But don't go anywhere because in two weeks we'll have new previews of the American League plus the premiere of Parks & Recreation with Amy Poehler. Play ball!