This is the 4th of 30 MLB season previews. The Dodgers finished a dissappointing 82-80 which was good for 4th in the NL West. This year the Dodgers improved their team by signing CF Andruw Jones, Japanese pitcher Hiroshi Kuroda, and backup C Gary Bennett. They lost P Randy Wolf backup catcher Mike Liberthal to retirement, and backup IF Ramon Martinez. Look for the Dodgers to bounce back playing in Dodgertown for the last time ever this spring.
Rotation:(Last years stats)
1.Brad Penny-R- 16-4, 3.03 ERA, 208 IP, 135 K's
2.Derek Lowe-R- 12-14, 3.88 ERA, 199.1 IP, 147 K's
3.Hiroshi Kuroda-R- Did not pitch in MLB last year
4.Chad Billingsley-R- 12-5, 3.31 ERA, 147 IP, 141 K's
5.Jason Schmidt-R- 1-4, 6.31 ERA, 25.2 IP, 22 K's
Brad Penny anchored the rotation last year. He needs to do it agin this year if the Dodgers are going to make the playoffs. Drek Lowe sinkerball is always effective but last year the Dogers struggled to give him run support during the season. In his 14 losses the Dodgers failed to give him more than 3 runs in support in 10 of them. Hiroshi Kuroda was 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA last yeear in Japan. He is a location pitcher with a sinking fastball and has a good splitter. Chad Billingsley had a break out year last year. He was 12-5 with a 3.31 ERA in 20 GS. Look for another big year from him. Jason Schmidt is the biggest ? in the rotation. Will he ever repeat his form from the Giants when he was a perrenial Cy Young contender. Or will he be the injury stricken pitcher who you can't rely on. Anyways Esteban Loiza is on the team to be the spot starter in case of injury to Schmidt.
LR-Esteban Loaiza-R- 7 G, 37.1 IP, 2-4, 5.79 ERA, 20 K's
LR-Clayton Kershaw-L- Did not pitch in MLB last year
MR-Rudy Saenez-R- 73 G, 76 IP, 6-3, 3.79 ERA, 1 SV, 73 K's
MR-Joe Beimel-L- 83 G, 67.1 IP, 4-2, 3.88 ERA, 1 SV, 39 K's
MR-Scott Proctor-R- 83 G, 86.1 IP, 5-5, 3.65 ERA, 64 K's
SU-Jonathan Broxton-R- 83 G, 82 IP, 4-4, 2.85 ERA, 2 SV, 99 K's
CP-Takashi Saito-R- 63 G, 64.1 IP, 2-1, 1.40 ERA, 39 SV, 78 K's
Saito pitched good last year but if he falters at all Jonathan Broxton is waiting in the wings. Scott Proctor, Rudy Saenez, and Joee Biemel return to form the MR of the bullpen. If they can repeat last year's performance the Dodgers are in good shape. In long relief Esteban Loaiza brings a veteran arm who'll be the spot starter. Clayton Kershaw will get a look here and may get a start here or there.
1.LF Juan Pierre-L- .293 BA, 0 HR, 41 RBI, 96 R, .331 OBP
2.SS Rafael Furcal-S- .270 BA, 6 HR, 47 RBI, 87 R, .333 OBP
3.2B Jeff Kent-R- .302 BA, 20 HR, 79 RBI, 78 R, .375 OBP
4.CF Andruw Jones-R- .222 BA, 26 HR, 94 RBI, 83 R, .331 OBP
5.C Russell Martin-R- .293 BA, 19 HR, 87 RBI, 87 R, .374 OBP
6.1B James Loney-L- .331 BA, 15 HR, 67 RBI, 41 R, .381 OBP
7.3B Nomar Garciaparra-R- .283 BA, 7 HR, 59 RBI, 39 R, .328 OBP
8.RF Matt Kemp-R- .342 BA, 10 HR, 42 RBI, 47 R, .373 OBP
The Dodgers have one of the best 1-2 combos in the majors. Jeff Kent should continue to be a primier 2B. Andruw Jones will bounce back from last year. Russell Martin in my mind is the best C in MLB. James Loney is a future #4 hitter. He will be huge batting 6th for the Dodgers. Nomar is still a very good Defensive player. matt Kemp is a great hitter batting in the 8th spot. In the future he projects as a 3 or 4 in the lineup.
Projected Finish: 2nd in the NL West(Wildcard)
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