Key Additions—-Juan Uribe, Jon Garland, Marcus Thames
Key Losses—George Sherrill, Ryan Theriot, Scott Podsednik
Lineup—After a few years, the Manny Ramirez experiment is over in LA. Replacing him in LF is Marcus Thames, who finally should get a full time job to show what he can do. The other 2 outfield spots are good young players in Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Both of these guys have shown flashes of excellence at the major league level and have the potential to be very good major league players. If they can put it together at the same time this outfield could be very dangerous. James Loney has provided a solid bat at 1b, and should be a stalwart in the middle of this lineup. A big question is what this team can get from Rafael Furcal, who is still quite dangerous when healthy, however at his age is rarely healthy for a full season. Casey Blake provides a solid bat and good leadership at 3b and the addition of Juan Uribe bolsters the 2b position. I like how this lineup is put together, and think it should be good enough to contend in the division.
Rotation—I really like how the Dodgers put together this rotation. At the top Clayton Kershaw is quickly turning into the ace of the staff. He has the ability to shut down opposing teams, and go late into games. Chad Billingsley is a big question mark. When on, he is very good, but he is very inconsistent. What he gives the Dodgers may go a long way in not only determining this season, but also his future with the organization. Hiroki Kuroda has good stuff, and provides you a solid option in the middle of the rotation. I really like that they have 2 veterans in Ted Lilly and Jon Garland in this rotation. Both our guys that will give you innings and solid outings, and should put up good numbers as well. Outside of Kershaw this isn’t a dominating staff, but a very deep and winning rotation.
Bullpen—As with most teams, the bullpen could be a real issue for this team. Jonathan Broxton has the ability to be a lockdown closer, and has proven he can do it in the past. But can he do it again and become consistent. That is a huge question mark over this bullpen and team. The rest of the pen leaves something to be desired, but I don’t see it being as large of an issue because of the starting staff’s ability to go deep into games. They do have some good arms to bridge that path, but the key to this bullpen will be what they get from Broxton.
Impact Rookie—Kenley Jansen, RHP. Many of you will remember Jansen for wowing the World with his arm in the 2009 WBC as the catcher for the Netherlands team. Problem is, he couldn’t hit a lick. Converted to pitcher, Jansen’s mid 90’s fastball allowed him to reach the major leagues just a year later. Jansen will be a major part of this team as a set up man and possible replacement for Broxton if he falters again.
Outlook—This team had a very disappointing 2010, but I think they have all of the pieces in place to get back to winning and competing in 2011. I really like the depth of this rotation from top to bottom, and think that with a little luck can have a pretty impressive lineup. Can they compete with the Rockies and Giants, that is to be determined, but I think this team has a chance to be there until the end.
Brad Koesters, MLB Correspondent
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