Thursday, March 17, 2005

 

2005 Season Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers

I am confident the Dodgers can repeat as NL West Division Champs this season, because they improved a few pieces of their team, and no longer have to worry about Juan Encarnacion's bat. The rotation is improved greatly, and the lineup will miss Adrian Beltre, but not too much considering J.D. Drew will be around, and as I already mentioned, Juan Encarnacion won't be. On to the transactions and lineup, audio powered by Queens of the Stone Age.

(Note: Is it bad that I almost copied and pasted the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's transaction list from Microsoft Word into this post? *shakes fist at Arte Moreno's money making schemes*)

Wilson Alvarez, RP/SP: Useful to have around, especially considering it wouldn’t be a real baseball season if one of the Dodger’s real starters didn’t go down with an injury for some period of time. Lima Time is gone, so Alvarez is the only fill in starter…well unless Edwin Jackson comes around, but that itself is looking sort of sketchy. You could do worse things with your $2 million.

Paul Bako, C: Sub-.300 OBP…isn’t really going to do much considering the Dodgers picked up Navarro from the D’Backs for the future, and are hoping he can catch as soon as this year.

Elmer Dessens, RP/SP: Dessens is another of the spot starter reliever types the Dodgers seem to enjoy, and he should probably be as good as Lima if everything goes right. He can’t strike anyone out either, so besides the personality no one will notice the difference.

J.D. Drew, OF: I’ve always liked Drew, and always wished him the best of luck. So I was happy when he went a full season without going on the DL last year. Of course I don’t think he should be rewarded with a five year deal for $55 million because of it. Statistically, he deserves it. Health wise…well the Dodgers seem to have a history of overpaid stars getting hurt at the most inopportune times…like always. But the Dodgers are paying this much for Drew for the same reason the Red Sox overpaid Renteria and Varitek: because they can.

Scott Erickson, SP: I’ve always hoped Erickson wouldn’t get hurt so he could actually pitch and stuff, ya know? But that never seems to be the way with him.

Jeff Kent, 2B: His numbers will suffer from going to Chavez Ravine after playing in Minutemaid, but he should still put up better 2B numbers than most of the league. Oh yeah, and he’ll outperform Alex Cora. By a slim margin, ya know? (Cora 19.4 VORP, Kent 55.2 VORP). Kent's decline phase has been hidden by playing in Minute Maid Park, but it has not taken a severe drop yet, and his defense is excellent and unheralded (probably because it isn't pretty enough).

Ricky Ledee, OF: I don’t understand why he always has a job. But he does. Someone needs to look into this. It isn’t so much that there is a job, it is that the job requires the doling out of a seven figure salary.

Jose Valentin, SS/3B: I am glad someone decided to take a chance on this power/power combination of Valentin. He walks. He just never hits. .216/.287/.473. I saw an odd stat on Valentin a few years back when he was on my fantasy team, I don’t know if it is still in effect but he was a .200 hitter with no one on base and a .280 hitter or something like that with men on. Put him behind an on-base machine! I’d look it up but it isn’t that important at the moment, and I'm sure DePo knows why he signed him.

Odalis Perez, SP: Got Perez back in the rotation, and at a bargain price considering the market for average pitchers. Perez isn’t the greatest pitcher in the world, but he sure as hell is better than what Kris Benson might do.

Derek Lowe, SP: Everything that could be said about this deal has been said. Going to LA will help his numbers considerably by cutting down on his doubles and triples allowed, and since he doesn’t give up homeruns that tendency of Chavez Ravine won’t be an issue. Does it justify the contract he was given? We’ll see after its over.


Brad Penny, SP: He isn't really a free agent signee, but since he barely pitched for the Dodgers last year I'll include him on the grounds that he is like a free agent pickup.

1) Cesar Izturis
2) Milton Bradley
3) J.D. Drew
4) Jeff Kent
5) Hee Seop Choi
6) Jose Valentin
7) Jayson Werth
8) David Ross

I really like this lineup actually, now that it is written down here. A very effective 2-6 in the lineup, and Jayson Werth has a decent bat himself. David Ross is better than the vomit-inducing numbers he posted last season, and Izturis isn't Dave Roberts, but he'll do. Hee Seop Choi needs a platoon partner at first base for when lefties are pitching, and Jayson Werth is going to miss some time with an injury he sustained in spring training, so the lineup will change often.

1) Odalis Perez
2) Derek Lowe
3) Brad Penny
4) Jeff Weaver
5) Kaz Ishii/Edwin Jackson

If Brad Penny is healthy he should suffice as an ace, because with Perez and LA modified Lowe and Weaver, the rotation is actually pretty good. Hopefully Edwin Jackson gets it together and is able to pitch effectively out of the #5 spot. Hopefully Lowe doesn't have any serious road issues, or else the rotation will take a serious hit in their depth and effectiveness. If Penny is healthy and Lowe is better than last year, I'll give this rotation a solid grade.

Eric Gagne. He's ok you know. I heard he's pitched well a few times. Seriously though, the Dodgers pen is actually very good besides Gagne, with Yhenzy Brazoban, Elmer Dessens, Darren Dreifort, Wilson Alvarez, Duaner Sanches, and Giovanni Cararra. Dessens and Alvarez are capable of spot starts, Dreifort is extremely effective out of the pen (and his injury risk is reduced some) and the others are all extremely capable setup men. If the starters can get 6 quality innings every time out, the pen should have no trouble finishing off the opposing team.

This team, after putting it down here, is better than I thought it to be. I was sort of just assuming the Dodgers would repeat based on their previous win and the Giants lack of serious moves in the offseason (relative to the amount the Dodgers made I mean). I can see them finishing in first place easily if the team can just stay healthy; one injury to J.D. Drew or Brad Penny and all of a sudden the team looks completely different.

Comments:
why do dogs lick themselves marc? because they can!...jd drew is being paid the big bucks solely on the potential he has always showed and the games he played last season, there is no chance he will put up the the numbers beltre did last year but i would be willing to bet his numbers are comprable to beltre's this season...where has ericksen been in hiding these past years, no matter what i will always honor him for helping the twinkies win the world series...it is a pretty safe bet regardless of any decline jeff kent will outperform the ageless alex cora...rickey ledee hit a few home runs for the yankees early in his career and ever since then each team has attempted to catch that magic in a bottle but have come up empty handed...first of all i hope the dodgers hide valentine's atrocious defense at third we are talking todd walker bad, if you want an infielder who will hit home runs with a low average he is your man...the dodgers rotation has potential to be bad as much as it does to be great, perez does not consistently offer the numbers you would want out of a #1, lowe goes without saying and weaver is much of the same with endless potential but translating potential into quantifiable performance is a horse of another color, penny needs to stay healthy to regain what he had in florida...you have to love the lineup this season if you are a dodgers fan after the past few seasons before beltre busted out last year where great pitching went to waste far too often -jt
 
I agree...this team is capable of a lot of success, but one or two breaks in the wrong direction and the shit is going to hit the fan.
 
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