I don't understand the optimism I'm reading about in relation to how this current team is constructed. Some seem to think this team is better then what we went into spring training with last year. I believe they are delusional. Even if they aren't, last years team was fighting to stay afloat until Manny showed up.
The Dodgers have the capability of having below average players at 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and LF while crossing their fingers that the shortstops surgically repaired back holds up for at least 130 productive games. Along with those below average players we do not have a player who can prop them up. We do not have a clean up hitter of any note. We lost the best pitcher of the last four years and replaced him with a below average pitcher.
Lowe Versus Wolf
We lost the best peak pitcher of the last four ears and hope Schmidt can replace him. We lost the best clean closer of this decade and hope Broxton can replace him. We have yet to replace Broxton unless you think Mota is that man. We lost the best LH setup man this team has seen in 50 years. We lost the all time pinch hitter. We lost the the greatest fielding pitcher of the last 100 years. We lost a coin. We lost the Van Mural. We lost the greatest offensive 2nd baseman in history according to the Dodger PR staff.
Loney? Those infatuated with Loney are simply LOONY. Not many can combine below average power with below average defense while hitting double plays at a clip only Shawn Green fans can appreciate.
By the end of the year those of you who mocked Jeff Kent will be lighting candles in appreciation for what he did while he was here after getting a year full of DeWitt and Loretta.
Casey Blake? How often do 35 year old 3rd baseman who weren't very good to begin with earn a multi million dollar contract?
Juan Pierre? Hee Haw
I won't even bother laughing at the the losers Ned is bringing in to compete for the 5th spot. Shawn Estes, what was Russ Ortiz busy? Stoner Jeff Weaver? Home Run Milton? Claudio Green Light Vargas?
Who is going to replace Beimel. He was so good he made the all-time lineup and we let him walk without a replacement. That can't be good, I mean he's Joe All Time Left Handed Setup Man Beimel. That alone should sink this ship.
Kuo probably saw his last healthy season.
Broxton is still seeing Matt Stairs in this dreams. We'll be lucky if he's closing by the end of the 1st home stand once Torre see's him wetting his pants when called upon to save a run one lead. The Ox is more like the dancing hippo's in Fantasia.
The "ace" of the staff is the guy who got hammered in the playoffs, not once but twice. I thought only Odalis Perez could do that trick. Then he fell on his bum and broke his leg. Great, I'm sure that won't impact him this year.
According to Will Carrol Kuoda hit a wall at the end of the year. So I guess he's only a 1st half pitcher.
Has Matt Kemp ever seen a down and away slider that he hasn't waved at?
This team as constructed will be lucky to notch 81 wins and the Giants are the competition not the Diamondbacks who will run away this this division.
You make some valid points Nelly but as usual you go overboard with your negativity. Let us just start with the infield. Sure Loney was below average last year but that doesn't mean he can't improve or even become the 2007 version that excited us in the first place. Yes, I know all the projections show him to be an offensive liability for a 1st baseman but projections are only as good as the last season. For a guy with no power he sure found center field in Wrigly field to his liking. Maybe hitting the most important home run post season home run in the last twenty years will springboard this guy.
DeWitt can't hope to match HOF Kent but he can hope to match 40 year old Kent and that is what he will do. His defense must have been good enough for Torre and crew to install him at 2nd base while Hudson/Grundz go looking for work. His skill growth when he came up to play 2nd is another reason to be excited. Maybe we are looking at the next Utley instead of the next Brent Gates. Some will give that a hoo haa but over the last six weeks of the seson Mr. DeWitt totally outhit Mr. Utley. With Utley nursing a bum wing expect him to out hit him in April 2009 also. Actually it is a private belief that DeWitt is going to be the pleasant surprise of 2009 but I'll keep that to myself in case he sucks and Abreu has to come to the rescue. If that happens, Tony Abreu will be the biggest pleasant surprise of 2009. If he can't cut it then DeJesus will be ready to fill the void and he'll be the biggest pleasant surprise of 2009. Somehow the most pleasant surprise is going to be our 2nd baseman.
Casey Blake was blistering the ball with the Indians before coming over and even in a slump he still posted a 97 OPS+ which was lights above what LaRoche/DeWitt gave us at 3rd base. I don't understand the negativity about Blake, sure he's 35 but look at this list of old 3rd baseman who kicked butt.
Left field will be Manny Ramirez. Meercat can post all the silly alternatives he wants but at the end of the day Manny will be playing left field and batting fourth.
You can't just look at it in black and white with relation to Lowe and Penny leaving. Lowe/Penny aren't being only replaced by Wolf, but by a full season of Kershaw and Wolf. Once you take into account all the negative starts that Penny gave us the edge gets blurred. We don't know what Kershaw will give us but we do know that Wolf will be better then the Bad Penny of 2008. Kershaw may not be able to give us 2008 Lowe but I'd bet he gives us at least 2007 Lowe and together with Wolf I'd call that a push.
I see you didn't mention Jason Schmidt who is pain free. Jon Weisman feels he's a lock to be on the roster and who am I to argue with Jon. However if he's unable to go then we will run through Vargas, Milton, Troncoso, and Estes. Okay that looks ugly unless Troncoso really can start and get that wicked sinker to behave ala Mr. Webb. I might even be able to make a case for Milton but it would sound very much like the case I made for Loaiza last spring and we remember how that turned out so I'll keep that one to myself. Really.
Broxton will be a beast as a closer. Now Mota is not Broxton but maybe McDonald is. If not McDonald maybe Elbert is. Plus I think you didn't take into account that Weaver is trying to make it in the bullpen not the rotation. Either way I have little worries about the bullpen what with McDonald/Elbert/Lindbloom/Leach/Schlighting and others ready to help.
By the way Beimel sucks and just because some fools saw that glittering ERA doesn't mean he's worth a DoDo's dodo. No one has signed him because they know he was the luckiest pitcher on the planet and as soon as they give him a silly contract he will turn into the pumpkin that waiting to bust out. If you want a lefty with no control you might as well let Greg Miller give it a fling. A drinking game is waiting with Millers name on it.
Will Carrol doesn't like us. Kuroda was a 2nd half pitcher. His best months were Aug/Sept, if that is a wall sign me up. I think the Cubs missed that wall. We all know he hates Chad but big butt Chad keeps slogging out there, never missing a game, never missing a beat. He gave one green light to our possible rotation and that was Claudio Vargas. The one guy on the team who actually missed time with a sore elbow and thus was reduced to only 40 innings with the Mets.
Anyway once Frank opens up his wallet and brings Manny in house, this team will be ready to make some noise and the limitations of the infield, the rotation, and the bullpen will mean nothing when ManRam takes the field.