Trying to bring a little common sense to the game of baseball. But considering many of the people who read baseball blogs, I'm probably just pissing into the wind.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Los Angeles Dodgers preview

The West Coast version of the East Coast bias, with a little bit of Hollywood thrown in. These guys were Showtime before the Lakers starting winning again, and still think they are. No matter what happens with this team, they still can’t get over the Tommy Lasorda experience. My third least favorite team, and I find it hard to say anything good about them ever. And I use to live in Los Angeles.


Rod Barajas. A good catcher with slightly better than back up numbers, because he gets a lot of starts, but never all of them. He has some power and can drive in runs. He doesn’t walk much, but he doesn’t strike out as much as you might think he would. He’s excellent defensively, and that will offset any deficiencies with the bat. This is a rebuilding team, and he’ll be good for them.

Upside:  is able to do something positive with the pitching staff

Downside:  becomes the long term answer

Score:  + 1

First base:

James Looney. He’s kind of a strange one for first base. His numbers are declining every year, even though they are remarkably consistent. He’ll hit for decent average and walk, but not enough of either. Medium power only. He’ll hit a good number of doubles, and he’s started to run a little more. His defense is getting better, but he isn’t the long term answer here. He’s a good piece on a contender, but not here.

Upside:  finds his power stroke

Downside:  keeps declining

Score:  0

Second base:

Jamey Carroll. Had his best season last year as mostly a starter. He hit for average and walked, and had a good on base percentage. He also didn’t hit a single homerun and didn’t have any extra base hits, so to speak. He ran a little more than he usually does, and doesn’t strike out much. His defense is good, and he’ll be a help out in the field, but won’t bring much to the line up unless he can hit at the top of the order.

Upside:  better suited to a utility role

Downside:  will be the starter  

Score:  0

Third base:

Casey Blake. He’ll start the season on the disabled list after having the worst season of his career. He stopped walking and struck out more than he usually does. Medium power with some extra base hits, but no speed. He doesn’t run, and he doesn’t score many runs, which means the bottom of the order isn’t getting him around. He’s good defensively and the infield will good all around.

Upside:  doesn’t stay on the DL too long

Downside:  prolonged injury makes a starter of Uribe

Score:  0

Short stop:

Rafael Furcal. A good short stop when he’s healthy, and that’s always the question. He’s in his 13th season, and I can’t believe it. He’ll get on base, but he doesn’t run anymore. He lost whatever power he had, and doesn’t hit triples or doubles anymore. He’s cut down on his strikeouts, so he doesn’t give away at bats. His defense took a small hit last year, but that’s not necessarily a trend.

Upside:  stays healthy the entire year

Downside:  lives on the disable list

Score:  0

Left field:

Tony Gwynn, Jr. A legacy from another team, he’ll get the start. He hasn’t done a lot so far in his career. He had one year with an above average on base percentage, but nothing else. He can run a little, but not if he doesn’t get on base. He has no power and doesn’t hit for extra bases. His defense is not good, and he doesn’t bring a lot to the club as a starter.

Upside:  won’t really make a difference what he does

Downside:   no one realizes he’s a fourth outfielder

Score:   - 1


Matt Kemp. Mr Hollywood. Had a down year last season, and has never really hit his stride as the next great center fielder. He has shown the ability to get on base via the walk and hit. Good power and he runs well. His defense is okay, but took a dive last year. He doesn’t hit enough extra base hits, and strikes out way too much. He does play every day, and is the face of the franchise.

Upside:  goes 30 / 30

Downside:  Willie Wilson instead of Willie Davis

Score:  + 1

Right field:

Andre Ethier. Actually the best player on the team. He does a little of everything. He can get on base and hit for average. Good power and lots of extra base hits. He doesn’t run, but doesn’t need to. He doesn’t strike out much either. His big issues are staying healthy and staying in the line-up and his defense. As good as the infield will be defensively, the outfield will be that bad.

Upside:  an average year for him will be an excellent year

Downside:  has to do too much by himself offensively

Score:  + 2

Pinch hitter/general utility:

Aaron Miles. Moving into career back up status. He’s a switch-hitter who can play all over the infield, so that’s good. He’ll hit for average, but not much else. No walks and no speed. No power at all. He doesn’t strike out a lot, so that’s a good thing. He’s good defensively everywhere but short stop, but Uribe would move over there while Miles is at third. A useful piece for a team with full time starters.

Upside:  only starts 10 times or less at each position

Downside:  injuries

Score:  - 1

Backup catcher:

Hector Giminez. A career minor leaguer who has done nothing in very little playing time. His minor league numbers make him a career back up. He has medium power, but strikes out too much without walking enough. He’s a switch-hitter, so that’s always an advantage. His defense behind the plate isn’t good, but he can play a good third base, and might get some time there, if needed.

Upside:  Barajas starts 140 games

Downside:  becomes a platoon

Score:  - 1

Backup first baseman:

Jay Gibbons. Getting his shot at redemption, he’ll do a lot. He’ll back up first and the outfield, and be a primary pinch hitter. He doesn’t get on base that well, but he does hit for average. He doesn’t strike out much, and has had power seasons in the past. His defense isn’t good and he doesn’t run much at all. He’s still a good bat to have on the team and will help.

Upside:  remains a utility player all year

Downside:  ends up starting in left field

Score:   0

Back-up infielder:

Juan Uribe. An average player who will bring some power to the team, but not much else offensively. He’s good for 20+ homeruns, but doesn’t walk and will strike out too much for what he gives. Not too many extra base hits and he doesn’t run. He’s good defensively and can handle all the positions. He’ll move around a lot and end up with over 400 at bats.

Upside:  has a typical year

Downside:  loses his power

Score:  0

Back-up outfielder:

Marcus Thames. Puts up some good numbers in limited playing time, but that is probably best. Doesn’t walk very much and doesn’t run at all. He does have good power and will hit quite a few in Dodgers Stadium. He strikes out too much, and is better suited against lefties. He’ll do a little of everything to include platooning with Gwynn. He’ll do a good Jim Spencer act.

Upside:  Dodgers face a lot of left handers

Downside:  has to play everyday

Score:  0

Rotation (front 3):

Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsly, and Ted Lilly. Three good starters who strike out a lot of batters. They don’t give up a lot of homeruns or hits, but they don’t pitch enough innings either. They all had a complete game shutout last year, which only the Phillies could match. They don’t walk too many guys, and if they should be able to get a lead to the bullpen most day. If they can go that far.

Upside:  more complete games

Downside:  never make it out of the sixth inning

Score:  + 1

Rotation (back end):

Hiroki Kuroda. He’s got the same problem as far as not going deep, but is a good pitcher. He could easily be in the top three. Garland or Padilla will be the fifth guy once they are off the disabled list, but starting the season with an injury doesn’t bode well. If they are both healthy, and Garland has never had problems, this will give them six starters, which is a good problem to have.

Upside: don’t need a fifth starter yet

Downside:  not enough starts for all of them

Score:  + 1


Hong-Chih Kuo, Kenley Jansen, Matt Guerrier, Ramon Tronsco, and Blake Hawksworth. A good bunch, if unspectacular. They’ll strike out a bunch of hitters, which is good. Most of them can go more than an inning, if needed, and that will be needed, as the starters didn’t go deep at all. They should get some leads to work with, and if they are effective, the team will compete.

Upside: keep striking everyone out

Downside:  too many innings

Score:  0


Jonathan Broxton. A good, experienced closer and reliever who had his worst season last year. He still struck out a lot of batters, but all of his numbers were down. He was good instead of being very good. He also walked a career high, so that will be a concern. If the starters can go deep enough for the bullpen to get him a lead, he’ll be okay. If he’s pitching too many innings, it will be a problem.

Upside:  regains his form

Downside:  starting the closer slide

Score:   + 1

Team speed (which includes base running):

None. They can get some steals, but it’s all the infield, and they spread it out. That’s good, but they don’t hit doubles and triples very well. There is good range around the infield, but not a lot in the outfield. The pitching staff is good, but they’ll need more help form the outfield than they are going to be able to give. If everyone is healthy, they’ll pick up more stolen bases, as long as they get on base.

Upside:  speed is there, they just don’t use it

Downside:  lack of power makes it important

Score:  - 1

Team defense:

Good. Especially behind the plate and all around the infield. Uribe and Miles will help out also when they are in there. The outfield defense leaves something to be desired, but you can’t have everything. With all the strikeouts and groundballs, the defense will be good and they shouldn’t give up to many free outs. Balls rolling around the outfield for extra bases will be the big problem.

Upside:  nothing but groundballs

Downside:  lots of power hitters in the National League West

Score:  + 1

Team batting:

The downfall of the team. This team just doesn’t hit. They don’t hit for average, and they don’t have any power. No extra base hits, and no running to go with it. They don’t walk and they strike out too much. The defense and pitching will be good, but they have to score to win. That’s going to be a problem for this team, and I don’t think they can hit enough to contend.

Upside:  pretend it’s the ‘60’s and Koufax and Drysdale are pitching

Downside:  it isn’t

Score:  - 1

Team pitching:

Good, but will it be good enough. Good starters all the way through, but they don’t go enough innings. The bullpen is solid, if not great, with lots of strikeouts, but will have to go too many innings. The closer is good if he’s back from a down year. There is a lot of potential with the staff, but the lack of offense is going to hurt them. They pitch well, but lose close.

Upside:  starters pitch a lot of shutouts

Downside:  offense scores negative runs

Score:  + 1

Total score:    + 4


  1. To be really good,this Dodgers team is really missing just a few players: Sandy Koufax, Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson, Don Drysdale, ...
    They make it tough to be a fan. :-)

  2. They just seem to have all the talent in the world, but aren't really doing much with it. I think the players have gotten popular and they are afraid to trade them off. For all of his issues, Campanis was smart enough to do that with the likes of Cey, Garvey, and Baker, when the time came.

  3. I wonder how much the divorce issue is hampering the team. I know a lot of people are blaming it for the problems, but this hasn't been a really good team for a while (1988 for its last Series appearance). A decent team maybe, but not really a good one.

  4. I think they're using it as an excuse not to go after the premium free agents, but they haven't been doing that for years.

    I think its scouting and evaluation. They are suffering from the PCL effect and the gaudy minor league numbers aren't translating well to Dodger Stadium. Good minor leaguers, marginal major leaguers.