TMS MLB Preview 2009: Los Angeles Dodgers

12:00 PM | Comments (0) | by Governor X

All through March, Thunder Matt's Saloon will be previewing each Major League team. We'll give you the ins and outs of the upcoming 2009 season, how each team will do, and some other useless crap you'll wish you had never read.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

2008 SEASON: 84-78 (1st place in NL West, lost NLCS to Philadelphia)

SO LONG: AndrEw Jones, Jeff Kent, Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, Takashi Saito, Nomar Garciaparra, Joe Beimel, Greg Maddux

WELCOME: Orlando Hudson, Randy Wolf

PROJECTED LINEUP:
1. Rafael Furcal SS
2. Russell J. Martin C
3. Manny Ramirez LF
4. Andre Ethier RF
5. Matt Kemp CF
6. James Loney 1B
7. Orlando Hudson 2B
8. Casey Blake 3B

Starting Rotation: Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda, Randy Wolf, Jason Schmidt/Hong Chi Kuo/Jeff Weaver
Setup: Guillermo Mota, Cory Wade
Closer: Jonathan Broxton

Before the trade deadline last year, the Dodgers were pitiful. They couldn't put anything together and the mediocre Diamondbacks were always just out of reach. Then Manny showed up, essentially for free, and carried the Dodgers to 1st place. As my co-bloggers are well aware, LA promptly swept the Cubs in the NLDS and then ran out of gas against eventual world champion Philadelphia.

In 2009, for the first time in my lifetime, the Dodgers enter the season without a gaping hole in their lineup. One through eight is solid and that nearly thirty year long problem at 3rd base appears to be solved with the return of Casey "Beardo" Blake. To mix things up, this year the pitching staff is a bit of a mess. There is no clear 5th starter, the ace has about two and a half years of major league service, and the #2 is so young he wasn't able to drink champagne in the locker room when the team won the division last season. In fact, as I write this, he still can't buy a drink (Happy 21 on the 19th Clayton). The pitching problems aren't limited to the starting staff either. The loss of Joe Beimel is going to hurt and the return of gas can Guillermo Mota isn't going to be pretty. Broxton was fairly solid filling in for Saito last year, but he's far from automatic and sure to give any Dodger fan indigestion. The Dodgers appear to have enough offense to beat the NL Worst into submission, but don't figure to get deep into the playoffs.

PRESEASON AWARDS:
Mr. Sexy Time - I was going to be an ass and give this to someone other than Manny, but lets face it, Manny is going to be the center of attention all year. Justifiably so quite frankly. The Dodgers haven't had an offensive threat like #99 since, well since ever.

Gratuitous Name Change Award - Russell Martin is now Russell J. Martin in honor of his mother, Suzanne Jeanson. From the who knew department, Martin's full legal name is Russell Nathan Jeanson Coltrane Martin Jr. "J. Martin" will appear on the back of his jersey this season.

See You on the DL by the End of May Award - Randy Wolf & Rafael Furcal. Randy Wolf is a 32 year old with the body of a 52 year old and since the Dodgers medical staff still applies leeches, I expect his arm to fall off after a handful of starts. Furcal has a gimpy back, which anyone with back problems will tell you, doesn't just go away. Fortunately LA is better prepared to absorb his loss this year. No such luck with Wolf.

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