|2010 Team Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on February 26, 2010
Hopping off the Plane at LAX:
* Signed minor league dealStrengths:Â Bullpen, offence?
While closer Jonathan Broxton is the most notable name in the Dodgers bullpen, the relief core figures to be the one rock solid area that the Dodgers have coming into 2010.Â It features four other relievers who posted sub 3.00 ERAs last season, including George Sherrill, Ramon Troncoso, Ronald Belisario and Hong Chi-Kuo.Â There is a bit of uncertainty to the durability of some of them,Â but it's as solid a bunch as you'll find anywhere in the NL, especially when you throw in James McDonald who might end up competing for the fifth starter job this spring.
In the wings are Cory Wade and John Link both of whom have upside and could take a step forward at any moment.Â Â Barring injury this appears to be as close to an automatic bullpen as any in the game today.
The Dodgers attack while strong may not be as good as it was last year.Â Last year the team was fourth overall in runs scored, but ranked 23rd in home runs which showed a distinct lack of power, but good plate discipline. Â Â Without Juan Pierre to provide depth the Dodgers might find that scoring runs a lot harder.
Of course that could change if they get better production out of players like Rafael Furcal (who was disappointing in terms of average and steals), Manny Ramirez (who hit just .255 after returning from suspension for violating MLB's drug policy and .218 after Sept. 1 of last season) and Russell Martin who just totally collapsed (putting up seasonal numbers of .250-7-53 with just 11 steals) after an amazing 2008. Martin has since added 25 pounds of muscle this offseason.
Weaknesses:Â Lack of depth, uncertainty in terms of starting pitching.
That kind of versatility is hard to come by and the Dodgers don't have anyone who can step in and do that in the outfield.Â A bench of Jason Repko, Brian Giles and Reed Johnson looks a little uninspiring when compared to Pierre.Â One major injury or another suspension for a key outfielder could leave the Dodgers hurting big time.Â The infield isn't much stronger as the backups project to be Jamey Carroll and Doug Mienkiewicz, who based on impact, most of the baseball world thought had retired years ago.
The starting pitching isn't a slam dunk either.Â Despite the fact that the Dodgers finished first overall in terms of ERA among major league teams, the starting pitching wasn't overwhelmingly successful.Â Ace Clayton Kershaw posted a terrific 2.79 ERA and 1.23 WHIP last season but didn't last long enough to win more than eight of his games in over 30 starts.Â Chad Billingsley managed a meager 12 wins to lead the team, and wasn't terribly impressive in terms of ERA 4.03.Â Then there is Hiroki Kuroda, an individual who has struggled with durability - managing just 117 innings last year.Â The fourth spot belongs to Vicente Padilla who hasn't managed a sub 4.50 ERA since 2003.Â The fifth spot is up for grabs but has plenty of contenders including young Eric Stults, bullpen pitcher James McDonald and a horde of retreads including Josh Towers, Russ Ortiz, Charlie Haeger, Scott Elbert, Jeff Weaver and Ramon Ortiz.
One Question which Needs Answering: