Wednesday, March 23, 2011

MLB 30 in 30: Los Angeles Dodgers

This is one of those teams that has differing opinions about them. They came off back-to-back NLCS appearances to finish fourth in the NL West last season. They made plenty of offseason moves, but will that be enough for the Dodgers to reclaim the NL West crown?

What they Have: The rotation saw plenty of newcomers this offseason, as is customary of a Ned Colleti team. In season acquisition Ted Lilly was resigned, as was Hiroki Kuroda. Those 2 pitchers are the key for the Dodgers to have success this season. They both had average to sub-par seasons in 2010, and for the Dodgers to compete with the likes of San Francisco and Colorado, they'll need great pitching from the middle of the rotation. They also acquired Jon Garland from San Diego. The bullpen is lead by Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, of whom the former could be a Cy Young winner this season. In the bullpen, the Dodgers got Matt Guerrier from Minnesota to help stabilize a shaky bullpen from last season. It's loaded with good pitching that did get bogged down at times last year. Closer Jonathan Broxton is a perfect example of this, and if he can regain form, the Dodgers will have the bullpen that they did in 2008 and 2009. Offensively, the Dodgers are lead by CF Matt Kemp, as he lead the Dodgers in almost every offensive category last season. RF Andre Ethier is a key player, along with 1B James Loney, and the new 2B Juan Uribe from the World Champion Giants. The rest of the lineup is supplemented with a good group of veterans who can help balance the lineup.

What they Don't Have: The bullpen still has the question marks from last season though. The team needs Jonathan Broxton as mentioned before to step up. Hong-Chih Kuo is a good pitcher otherwise, but he may not do too well with a heavy workload.  The rest of the bullpen had problems last season, but the additions of Matt Guerrier and Blake Hawksworth should help stabilize the pen. They do have an overflow of good pitchers for the bullpen, so the choices will be difficult. Offensively, they'll need more production from guys like Andre Ethier and James Loney in order to succeed, because there is no scary offensive threat on this team.

Any Help Coming? RHP Kenley Jansen burst onto the scene last season after being a sub-par minor league catcher. He pitched really well because of his maturity on the mound and his raw talent. He'll see action in the bullpen to start the season.  SS Dee Gordon (son of former closer Tom "Flash" Gordon) is one of the fastest guys in pro baseball and has plus defensive tools all around.  RHP Allen Webster is a very polished prospect, with good stuff and good maturity.

Outlook: The team has what it takes to challenge the Giants for the NL West, and otherwise enter the Wild Card race too. They don't have very much in terms of offense, but they do have a good rotation and a bullpen with promise. The big question is how will new manager Don Mattingly hold the team together? If he does a good job, look for the Dodgers to be in all the playoff hunts in the NL.

No comments:

Post a Comment