Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dodger Lineup for 2010

The dust is settling and the picture of what the Dodgers will be this summer is starting to take shape. Their defense is still solid. Not lock-down or overwhelming but good enough. Their lineup will be nearly identical to last year. The lingering question will be pitching.
Loney at first base will anchor the corner for the next ten years. He's good for average and drives in a lot of runs. If he could hit about 10 more home runs a year he'd be in an elite class and  would make up for the lack of production at third.
Second base it looks like will be by committee until somebody steps up. blake Dewitt will get another year in the minors and the recently signed Belliard will compete with Jamie Carroll. If Belliard is as productive as the end of last season, the Dodgers will be pleased with his production. Carrol could be relegated to this year's Mark Lorretta.
Third base will be solidly held by Casey Blake. He's no Aramis Ramirez but very reliable. If he gets hurt, they can shuffle the infield with  Ronnie Belliard or they can call up Dewitt. He's average with the bat but is clutch at times. 
With Rafael Furcal at shortstop there will be some questions. Number one is his health. can he stay healthy for the whole year. Number two, his OBP was 0.335 last year. He needs to get on base more, get moreManny with was over 80 points higer, hitting in the three and four spot. He needs to be that spark. Walk more, be a threat to steal. 12 steals just doesn't do it. Now the Pierre is gone, he need to be more productive. Otherwise, they need to put Kemp in the leadoff but that will negate his power a bit.
In the outfield, the Dodgers are in great shape. Top to bottum, arguably, the best in the League, if not baseball. Three 30 homerun hitters, one Gold Glove, respectable D in right and Manny in left.  Ethier was clutch last year but needs to be a bit more consistent. He was a bit up and down. I expect Manny to have a great year since this is a contract year. He's got his goals and may need one or two seasons to reach those after this year. Kemp should just be getting better. He's got nowhere to go but up. He could be a bit more patient. But with maturity he should.

The resigning of Brad Ausmus will be a good, mature insurance policy. Russell Martin needs to stop overswinging this season and start getting on base more. He needs walk more as well.  Ausmus will hopefully get Martin to relax and stop regressing. Otherwise, the Dodgers will have to start looking at him and decide whether he's going to be in there future. He will be too expensive for his average production.

Finally, a look at their batting or should look something like this.

1. Rafael Furcal
2. Matt Kemp
3. Andre Ethier
4. Manny
5. James Loney
6.Casey Blake
7. Ronnie Belliard
8. Russell Martin

At first glance, it looks OK. Dodgers need to make sure the lead off is solid or they're going to be behind the eight ball.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Will There Be Pitching In 2010?

There's an interesting article on the Dodger website that puts out there many of the key issues for the upcoming season.
Some of the keys have to be Kershaw and Billingsley. Obvious I know but the fact that the let Wolf go only exacerbates the problem. They could really be a formidable 1-2 punch or a real grease fire not knowing where they're going or what they're throwing. While I think that Kershaw can and will be the eventual ace, he's got a ways to go before he's the next Sandy Koufax. As for Bills, I've heard 29 different excuses on what happened the second half of last season and I'm still coming down on the side of mental. He seem to have been rattled and was not able to get himself back on track. If you tell me it was physical, I'll tell you that the medical staff and coaches need to wake up then. You don't nose dive so severely with a physical ailment and not have anything to show for it. Let's get the story straight whatever it is. He's got too much talent to be an average pitcher. I think he could be an Andy Petite type, a really good number two,  if he can get his head on straight and get a more aggressive.
It's hard to have much to say about the rest of the starting staff as we don't know who it will be yet but I'm sure there will be plenty to say once they get it. Hopefully, Colletti has a plan.
The other pitching issue has to be the bullpen. The article asks who will be the next Bellasario. That's an important question as Torre has a quick hook with his younger pitchers and needs horses in the bullben to bail him out. We'll have to see. It might be someone in there already, if not, they better find him. Equally important and somewhat overlooked is big Jon Broxton. He's shaping up to be a great April to August guy but come playoff time, look out! He may need to se a hypnotist or psychologist. He needs something because to successive breakdowns and he might be relegated to Trevor Hoffman status. Great for regular season, blowing it in the clutch. We'll have to see. I wouldn't have a problem with Sherrill competing  for the job. A shake up might be good.
Next time I'll discuss the field and offense. That could be short and mildly frustrating.