Sunday, March 4, 2007

Dodgers Have The Power To Be The Western Champs

The team that boasts the most in the Western Division of the National League will be the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles. The team spent over $98 Million last season and this year looks to be worth a division title.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Colorado Rockies
3. San Diego Padres
4. San Francisco Giants
5. Arizona Diamondbacks

Additions
OF Juan Pierre

LHP Randy Wolf

C Mike Lieberthal
RHP Jason Schmidt
OF Luis Gonzalez


Losses

SS Julio Lugo
RHP Franquelia Osoria

RHP Greg Maddux

OF Kenny Lofton

C Toby Hall

OF Jayson Worth

RHP Eric Gagne

OF J.D. Drew


The rotation has removed a 40 year old and put in his place is a 34-year-old RHP named Jason Schmidt. Schmidt went 11-9 with 3.59ERA in 213.1 INN with the Giants and will benefit from the improved line-up the Dodgers possess without the LF burden of Barry Bonds. Derek Lowe will take his 16-8 record from 2006 and will try to duplicate the number including his 218 innings of work. The hard throwing Brad Penny will look to post another 16 wins in the cause for the NL West Division title. Randy Wolf who is coming off a surgery that cost him a year. The Lefty still has heat in his arm and will be a solid addition to the rotation full of right handers. 22-year-old Chad Billingsley will most likely earn the 5th spot of the rotation after going an impressive 6-3 with 78K in 70.2INN in AA and going 7-4 with a 3.80ERA with 59K in 90 INN with the LA Dodgers last season. The kid has some very good stuff and this rotation will just be dominating with or without the run support. That will be generated from the line-up.

The bullpen has changed and features a new closer and a few starters now in relief roles. Takashi Saito took over the closing role from injured Eric Gagne last season and fared very will with 24SV and also posting 6 wins for the Dodger blue. Jonathan Broxton was able to go 4-1 in a setup role and sitting down 97 in only 76.1 innings of work. This 22-year-old will has the tools to be the closer of today for the Dodger blue but with a little maturing he will be another Eric Gagne, hopefully without all the surgeries. Mark Hendrickson, Elmer Dessens and Brett Tomko are the starters who have been sent to the bullpen and they will work wonders in the bullpen setting up for Broxton.

The line-up has improved leaps over last year’s squad. SS Rafael Furcal will still be the lead off batter as he had a good year batting .300 with 15HR and 63RBI while swiping 37 bases. Juan Pierre is a great addition to the line-up, not so much defensively in CF but hitting behind Furcal. Pierre had .292 average in 2006 with the Chicago Cubs and that earned him another 200+ hit year while swiping 58 bases from opponents. Steady Jeff Kent will be in the 3 hole, he had a really bad year as far as his career numbers are concerned. His 14HR and 68RBI are the lowest since 1996 when he hit 11and 55 respectively. Kent is going to be 39 at the start of the season but he can still contribute to the ball club, as well as their newest LF Luis Gonzalez. Gonzo departs the desert and now resides in the LF of Los Angeles. Gonzalez hit 15HR and drove in 73 last season and his numbers will look the same in 2007. His knowledge and leadership will be a greater asset to the team than his arm out in left field. The comeback player of the year, Nomar Garciaparra will be back at 1B and will hope to keep his good fortune going. Nomar hit .303 while driving in 93 runs with 20HR. he is no longer a threat on the base path but he is a smart runner who can go from first to third with the best of them. Wilson Betemit will get a regular spot at 3B, he is not a threat yet but at the age of 26 his good years are still to happen. Andre Ethier will be out in RF and he has as a good arm to match his bat. In 25G in AAA he hit .349 with only 1HR and 11RBI, but in 25G with LAD he hit .308 with 11HR 55RBI and 20 doubles and 7 triples. The kid can will be someone to watch this season. Russel Martin has worked his way through the system and has earned the starting catcher spot for the Dodgers. Martin will even learn more about catching from his backup C Mike Lieberthal. Martin will see about 120 games this season, preserving the young starter for years to come. In 121 games last season with the LAD he hit .282 with 117H, 26 doubles, 10HR and 65RBI. Oh yeah, Martin also stole 10 bases in the 2006 campaign. A far improvement from his AAA power numbers that saw him belt out 0HR and only 9RBI. Martin has to at least repeat the success he had at the plate this year, if he wants to continue sitting behind the plate.


The Dodgers are undoubtedly the team to beat this year in the NL West. And anything short of all the starters falling off the face of the planet will not stop them from winning the NL West crown. They have invested money and they will now invest time in a balanced squad with above average bats and a great rotation with a bullpen to back them up.